Monday, November 02, 2009

Work in Progress - November Giveaway

In some ways an artist’s book can be more like a performance than like an ordinary book, both for the artist and the audience. For a start, they are often encountered in public settings and are rarely read in bed. More importantly though, artist's books can be multi-dimensional, sensual, time-based. Designing an artist's book is therefore a complicated process, taking into account at least seven inter-related decisions.

Click to enlarge this diagram

I think my best book designs are those that begin with the content, but sometimes a structural experiment or an inspiring piece of paper will launch a design which can hold its own.

The decision making process is iterative as each consideration has to be checked against the others. Design decision making require balancing conceptual expression against the demands of the materials, the requirements of different structures, the needs of an imagined audience and the limitations of my production capacities.

For me, designing a book to make as multiples for an edition has many more limitations and demands than designing a unique, one off, book. A unique book can be more elaborate and time consuming to make, it can use expensive rare materials, its content can be created by hand rather than printed or it can be very big. My unique books can be, and often are, experimental.

My editioned books on the other hand, should be relatively economical in both the materials and effort required to make them.
Right now I’m in the process of developing an edition that was conceived when some very small images and some small pieces of paper were occupying my attention for different reasons.

My search for images of fossils to embroider exposed me to some beautiful electron microscope photographs of microfossils, and I decided to make sketches of some microfossils on small loose pages made from the creamy offcut strips left over from the history book edition.

As my stack of sketches of radiolaria and other microfossils gradually expanded, I began to experiment with miniature book bindings, reteaching myself neglected skills, since for many years I have favoured contemporary folded and adhesive structures over sewn ones. So far I have made seven miniature case bound books, each slightly different, as I experiment with variations and try to perfect my skills (and get quicker, since production speed is important to the economics of editioning).

Meanwhile I am trying to figure out the most economical way to reproduce the images, which I think may be to print them onto a single sided A3 sheet. That requirement in turn influenced the book structure which now involves sewing accordion folded signatures inside a hard cover. Single sided printing generally leads to more folding than cutting and the resulting folded foredges lends a pleasing thickness to the text block, giving more substance to the tiny book.

I will continue reassessing every aspect of the project until all the elements are in harmony, so nothing is final including the content.
Happily I have no immediate deadline, so I can continue toying with the design until it is just right.

In the meantime, I thought I might share some of the bounty of my mini book binding experiments. Bibliophilia’s November giveaway is a pair of miniature blank books: two of the series I have made as practice. They won't be perfect, but they are cute! If you would like a chance to win a pair of tiny blank books, comment on this post before 18 November. I will randomly select a winner and make an announcement soon after.


Anonymous said...

Well, as someone currently trying a "different way" of producing a folded book I'd certainly be interested in seeing your book. So, yes, I'm in the hat.

Miranda said...

These delicate mini books remind me of an exhibit I saw at the Boston Public Library a couple years back.

Would LOVE to give them a happy home.

Tanya Dann said...

Cute is right!!! These are adorable Meliors :) You can see the time and effort you placed into these books. You've made me want to brush up on my own very neglected skills, if only there were more hours in a day!!! I do need some new notebooks for art ideas ;p

Helen said...

These are lovely, those sketches of radiolaria are amazing, great work.

Lindz Carmichael said...

Oh i would love to give these to my kids, they look lovely! they would love to draw and write in them :)

Ngaio said...

Love those little books Meliors.

Great article and photo in the paper today, I wish I could come on Mon but will be teaching that night.

My email on blogger doesn`t work, my wintec address is how to get me at the moment. I did like your exhibit at ArtsPost also - I love the way you do fossils !

Rayna said...

Thanks for the discussion about process Meliors. I finally popped my book making cherry not long ago (aside from tying together paper with wool which doesn't quite count..). I'm quite keen to start one of those stupid epic projects that sounds amazing in theory and next to impossible in process. So I appreciate the tips in that regard.

Thanks hon.


Lucy said...

Hello Meliors, people say that the internet is no replacement for holding real books in your hand, but your blog brings the joys of bookmaking and art and life into sharp digital focus. These little books look gorgeous... I think they would be perfect for my new project, gifting favourite baking recipes to friends. And given your love for Tim Tams I think we could come to a mutally beneficial arrangement!

Camilla said...

I've only just found your work, and your blog, and i'm blown away by it. I would love to win one of your books- in the meantime i've got a lot of reading to catch up on!

Nicole D. said...

Such cute little books! Please enter me!

Carol said...

Glad I've caught up in time to leave a comment Meliors. These little books are lovely and I know they will have the quality you put into all your work.

Deedles said...

Love your little books! Please add my name to the drawing.

Aneta said...

Kia ora Meliors, I was inspired by your bus trip presentation yesterday and loved your work at the museum (one of our later stops). I would like to see more of your work, including these books, like you said seeing them tells so much more than description with words.