Sunday, February 08, 2009

4 studios, 2 towns and 27 books in 10 days!

This week I've stayed at four different houses in two towns, culminating with moving into my own room in a lovely share house which I hope will provide me with the stability I need to really get to work.

This week of moving around also unexpectedly coincided with an exciting commission to make an edition of 25 little books (plus two samples) within 10 days. Unlike say, sketching or crochet, making an edition of books is not a particularly mobile activity.

The clock started while I was house-sitting for Katie and Nip in Whangarei. No-one familiar with my process will be surprised that I chose this project to try out an unfamiliar technique. The book structure (what Alisa Golden calls a flower fold) is the same one I used for The Optimistic Heart in an edition of 1000 (although only 400 or so were completed before the reamining unassembled pieces got water damaged). Even though I made The Optimistic Heart edition in back in 2004, I vividly remember the efficient assembly line process I used to make such a lot of books. But it would be too easy, too boring, to simply replicate what I've done before. So my first step this time was to hand paint every page on both sides before printing the text.** After some trial and error, I discovered that line drying followed by pressing under piles of books created the most beautiful results.

The house-sit included a beautiful studio with a ledge in front of the window, just wide enough to work on. I completed the two samples and sent them off to the USA on Day 3. Day 4 I moved out of the house-sit into a Couchsurf with Chris and Tagish. There I started cut most of the pages for edition on their dining table (but forgot to take a photo).

Day 5 I packed up again for a ride to Hamilton where I was house-sitting for Sarah, Ramona and Eli. Their kitchen bench is just the right height for me to work comfortably standing up and I finished cutting the pages and started folding them.

Day 6 I moved into my big sunny room in a character villa sharehouse full of funky art and two cats called Bubbles (who has already made herself at home in my bed) and Minx. Day 7 (today) I painted the covers and pasted all the pages, so that right now the text blocks and covers are drying in separate stacks of books. When I was sorting all my things for storage last year I discarded my lovely book-pressing masonite boards.** Big books are ok for pressing, but awkward to work with as they are not of uniform size and weight.

The fiddliest part of making this kind of book is putting wax paper masks between every single fold so that none of the adhesive goes where it shouldn't. On a book like this with lots of folds nearly half the time the assembly time is spent on making and placing masks before the paste dries.

With all that behind me, I now have three days remaining in which to print, cut and glue the covers and attach them to the text blocks so that they look like the samples pictured below, and then package them up to send off for their adventures in America.

* Sadly the timeframe means the text is laser rather than letterpress printed
** In this case, the pasted-up pages; more traditionally, the sewn-together book pages
*** If anyone knows where I left my masonite boards wrapped in brown paper, please let me know


Sally said...

sweetie, this is really amazing. I am sooo intrigued.
do you run workshops - how fun would that be?
thanks for sharing all the pics
hope you got it all done - I'm sure you did!

Ngaio said...

Meliors, you are in Hamilton ?? Me to, and I love your work, I so wish I had brought one of your pieces years ago when I saw you at the Hn summer festival. I see where you are writing on the pavements in the Gardens for this years festival - is that right ? I would love to learn how to make the gorgeous things you do .. .

Pherenike said...

I am captivated by those blue pages hanging on the line. I can imagine a really large version as an outdoor public art instillation. That would be amazing.

I'll have to read more of your blog to find our about their adventures in America.