Monday, 26 March 2012

Books in the Garden

A few years ago - in 2005, I made this artwork called Botanical Books, inspired by the plants I see in my garden every day, so many of them looking like little book structures. One of them was a Kalanchoe Flapjacks I was admiring this morning looking plump and happy with all the rain we've had. The Kalanchoe is in the artwork and at the time it was single - now it has multiplied to dozens.

The little book sculptures were made from a few different kinds of vellum, mainly calfskin, and were all sewn in a binding style I was able to name, along with the name of the plant in the accompanying little concertina. The illustrations were drawn from the live flowers onto a perspex plate and then rubbings in brown pencil were taken - they reminded me of soft chalk drawings. The piece was selected and exhibited in The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize at the South Australian Museum in 2006.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ready to go

After much procrastination I went out to find a suitable post box for the BAO books. Well of course there was nothing readymade suitable for my unusually shaped books - anything small was too shallow.
I ended up buying some readymade postboxes and cutting them in half, then inserting the book and bubble wrap into some folded cardboard like a kind of drawer on the open side, and wrapping all in brown paper and twine, always trying to find the happy medium between being strong enough but not too heavy.

I'm hoping they all arrive in perfect condition and they weighed in at less than 250 gms. the lowest post rate, which was great.

So the books will be posted on Monday and members of group 5 can expect to receive them, depending on where you live, within the next week or so.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Bespoke Box

Due to a beginner's error - that of writing two posts at the same time and delaying the posting of one, the post on the Bespoke Box has inserted itself lower down under Simple Slipcase variations. Please scroll down if you wish to read this post.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Simple Slipcase Variations

This post is a continuation from the last one about making simple slipcases. Once you can make the basic slipcase, it's very easy to adapt your pattern to accommodate other shapes, such as a triangular slipcase for a triangular book.

In this pattern, A= book width and height (book based on a square) and C= spine width. Again, a solid line indicates a folded line and a broken line indicates a cutting line. The extensions are cut to the same length and width as the spine, and are optional, but useful to glue down to reinforce the base and spine areas. You can reinforce the sides by completing the square as for a square book, making the diagonal line a fold line and gluing down the fold-in triangle on both sides.

A similar slipcase is one for a quarter circle book (again based on folded squares). Instead of cutting a diagonal line between the line where the base of the book will sit and the top of the slipcase, you cut a curved line or whichever shape it might be that fits your book.

The next post will be about making the unusual book box for That Unbearable Lightness.

A Bespoke Box

My book That Unbearable Lightness for BookArtObject evolved in the making and I wasn't sure how it would end up until I got there -which was as a sculptural structure which folds between book covers. It did, however, end up forming an unusual shape which was going to need an unusual box to house it. As five of the books were to be posted overseas, keeping the book and the box small and lightweight was a priority.
The box needed to be wider at the foredge and narrow at the spine end, and the spine edge needed to slant inwards. Obviously I was going to have to come up with an unusual solution for this particular book box.

I found a pattern for making a trapezoid, which wasn't what I needed and in all the wrong proportions - it had a small narrow top, wide base and slanted sides. I needed a lidded box to make it easy to get the book inside. However, as the trapezoid had sloping sides it gave me an idea of how to approach this box. I'm not a mathematical wiz, so with a lot of cutting and pasting and fitting pieces around the book, I eventually came up with this made-to-measure solution and made the pattern pieces below for the box and the lid. All this was the hard part, and once I had cut out the pattern pieces, it was as easy to score, fold, glue the tabs and finish the box as the other slipcases I make.......and it was perfect for this book.

Making simple slipcases and boxes

I've been making slipcases based on the same basic pattern for over 20 years. It was taken and adapted from a sock case in a book called Creative Gift Packaging by Yoko Kondo, Ondorisha Publishers, Japan, 1986. I always use Canson Card which is 300 gsm and quite heavy.

These slipcases are great for a neat presentation - but they won't withstand heavy duty knocking around, and for that you're always going to need to make a proper sturdy heavy bookbinding board slipcase or clamshell box. But they are very simple to make, light to post, and if a book comes back from an exhibition and the box has been crushed or mishandled, it is quick and easy to make a replacement for it.

In my basic pattern: A = width of spine, B = width of book, C = height of book. I add about 2-3mm. to the measurement of height and width of my book to allow for ease of entry and removal. Dotted lines indicate the lines you cut and solid lines you fold, after scoring with a bone folder.

You can make a wider based open box by substituting the width of the book you want to lie flat for the spine area measurement, but in this case the other sections marked A would be the same height as the sides of your box (which is now the spine measurement). You can then make a second box as a lid to your first box, adding 2-3mm. to the length and width of the lower box so that the lid will slip over smoothly.

After you have scored and folded all the solid lines and cut the swivel tabs, it will be obvious which pieces you glue, with acid-free pva of course.

My next posts will be about variations to this basic pattern and how I made the boxes for That Unbearable Lightness.

Friday, 9 March 2012

If you happen to be in Canberra......

......... and happen to be at the Australian War Memorial, please have a look at my book The Battle Within which is on display there. I was thrilled to receive this news. The book is about the effects of war and of post traumatic stress on returned servicemen. The inward folding pages reflect an inward post-traumatic state and are intended to make viewing the book difficult without interacting with it personally. Similarly, in keeping with the difficult subject matter, the text is dense and without punctuation.

The AWM have displayed the copy from their collection in a commemorative/reflective space in the corridor on your way out of the Memorial. It will be on display for about six months.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Paper and Light

The Ice Book presents a different application of the book arts of pop-up and cutouts in a theatrical show of light and shadow. Combined with performance and animation, it is an inventive wonderful piece of theatre building on the tradition of pop-up books. Wish I could make 'books' like this!

You can see the short film at

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

That Unbearable Lightness

I chose this title for my book for Book Art Object as I enjoy trying to interpret feelings and intangible things. The sculptural structure I revealed in an earlier post refers to the physical symptoms of vertigo, suggesting the spinning sensations, loss of equilibrium and falling over. I then started working with the physcological aspects of vertigo expressed in Milan Kundera's book The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I wanted to exploit one of the dualities in the book, lightness/weight, which could be seen as light/darkness or positive/negative, and used this as a design guide for the illustrations.

The upper side of the structure (the light side = someone seeking something higher) forms a circular perspective of someone looking up and suffering feelings of vertigo. The lower side (the dark side and emptiness below) shows the perspective of someone looking down from the height of tall buildings to the street and central dark void, a traditional vertiginous experience.

All the characters in Kundera's book have feelings of vertigo at some point, which is seen as a moment of weakness, but the dualities of lightness/weight, bearable/unbearable, being/non-being, weakness/strength, freedom and lack of commitment/weight of responsibility, are ambiguous.

By juxtaposing the vertigo of lightness/weight from both sides, my intention is to pose the same philosophical question as Kundera's book - Is vertigo the lightness or heaviness of existence?

There is a glimpse of the book above and the edition of 15 is finished and ready to go. I have really enjoyed working on this edition and with a streamlined production process in place, making 15 wasn't tedious at all!