Monday, 16 April 2012

Making 'That Unbearable Lightness'

These books were posted out three weeks ago, so it seems timely to post now about the making of my first book for BookArtObject.
The book structure and the cover are intended to represent the physical symptoms of vertigo and the illustrations address the ambiguous psychological vertigo described by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Once I'd decided upon the circular structure, representing something like a spinning top, I hoped for the best that I'd somehow be able to put it into book covers.  I envisaged that the two sides of the structure would show the ambiguity and oppositions of light/dark and lightness/heaviness of existence in Kundera's book.  It was obvious to make the upper side 'light' and the lower side 'dark'.  The upper pen and ink drawing represents the vertigo of looking skywards surrounded by tall buildings, and the lower 'dark' ink sgrafitto drawing, the vertigo of looking down from tall buildings to the street below.  The two were put together on an A4 page and copies were printed onto Fabriano 160 gsm paper on my inkjet printer.
The pages were folded into a concertina structure and the ends were guillotined and glued up in the manner of a perfect binding.
The next step was to glue a soft flexible leather spine (lined with paper) to the glued ends.

The covers were made with very thin board as they needed to close together when the book was displayed. The printing on the cover was designed to be 'falling over' (helped also by the closed book's structure).

The soft leather of the spine allowed it to become completely concave and turn tightly so the book could form a circular structure.


This allows the book sculpture to be displayed fallen to one side, as if it has spun and fallen like a spinning top.

A bespoke box was made to fit the unusual shape of the book with its slanted spine and wedge shape.

I enjoyed the experience so much that I'm looking forward to tackling a second book for BAO, #56 Unchartered Democracy, in Group 10.

9 comments:

Vicki said...

As a lucky recipient of 'That Unbearable Lightness' I have to say that this book is every bit or more beautiful in the flesh, thanks again Helen for the time and effort to make and share something so lovely.

dinahmow said...

Lucky recipients! But I am in group 10!
Helen, your explanation is very clear and professional and all of us in different groups can understand your approach. Well done!

Jack Oudyn said...

Looks beautiful Helen! Even though your explanations and images are great, I hope to hold it and have a good exploration one day. Thanks for sharing.

Helen M said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments, Vicki, Di and Jack. I really appreciate you taking the time to vist my blog.

Fiona Dempster said...

What a stunning book Helen - made all the more richer by your guidance thru the process and the beautiful images. There are so many wonderful elements in it - all pulled together with exquisite care and attention, and each contributing to the narrative and expression. It's a shame we can't be in everybody's groups! Enjoy your next one too...

Helen M said...

Thank you Fiona for those lovely words. I agree that it's a shame we can't be in everybody's groups.

jac said...

This looks beautiful Helen. I'm glad I'm in group 10 as well.I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do for your next book.

Helen M said...

Thanks Jac, it's great we'll be exchanging books in group 10 - I love your title.

ronnie said...

one of the hardest things in this BAO edition is that we won't ALL get each other's books..... so I can't tell you how thrilled I am to warp my little fingers around this beauty.... its just soooooo gorgeous!