I’m repeating myself a bit here – binding another copy of Ontto harmaa by Olli-Pekka Tennilä, again with no time to spare. I hadn’t intended to leave for Helsinki until June, but when the perfect summer home popped up, I couldn’t let it slip away. And so my month reserved for binding this book turned into two weeks of scrambling together every unfinished thing AND binding this book from scratch. I’m doing a variation of a more traditional looking fine binding than my first Ontto harmaa was (it was an adapted version of a sewn boards binding). I find my skills rusty and my nerves all over the place, but I try to focus on the thought that done is better than perfect. Mind you, I don’t advice you guys to do fine binding in a rush. It makes no sense, but here I am, with life skills 5/5.
Also going to do that thing with almost 800 2mm diameter leather onlays again. Madness is what I excel at.
Today is all about finishing – i.e. adding those dots and other finishing touches that are still missing. The title was put on yesterday already. Once the covers are done, tomorrow it’s time to glue down the leather joints, fill in the inside covers, and put on the binary code doublures. If I finish all this by Friday evening, I should be good. I’m coming back home in under two weeks which means I’ll even have time to take photos of the book before I need to send it on its way. Note to self: never again. Except I think I said that last time, too.
I rarely write posts about things I didn’t make. But when I do, it’s about things that are just too meaningful not to write about. #ALONETOGETHER by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner is definitely one of those things.
Sounds like a crazy chatroom, right? Yeah, it’s a bit of a crazy chatroom, too, at times. But #ALONETOGETHER is also weaving a web of genuine and meaningful connections. There’s a squad of regulars visiting the Kiasma cabin daily, there have been at least a couple of first dates in the cabin, there’s been lots of contact info exchanged – there have been brief hellos, intense arguments, long talks about politics, deeply personal conversations, general silliness, choosing the perfect boxer entrance songs (I chose mine without thinking too much – it’s Phenomena by Yeah Yeah Yeahs), reading aloud poetry (mine, too), relaxing group hypnosis, and lots of four-minute life stories and eye-to-eye staring.
So, yeah, I spent a quite a lot of time (10+ hours of my life extremely well spent) in that tiny hot cabin rebreathing the breath of others during my brief visits to Helsinki these past few weeks. I’m generally not one to easily connect with people and I always worry about misreading situations. The line between brief small talk and revealing yourself in all your damaged glory is a tough one to navigate. #ALONETOGETHER is about connecting. There’s no ambiguity about whether or not it’s appropriate to be present and vulnerable if you so choose.
The atmosphere and the dynamics inside the cabin change as the visitors inside come and go. Not once was there even a hint of hate speech when I was there, and the cabin was nothing but welcoming to me. Most of the squad of regulars is formed by teenage girls – some probably there because of Shia LaBeouf’s acting career, others for other reasons. But their reasons to be there are irrelevant. Their presence and what they bring to the room is relevant. I haven’t spent this much time with teenage girls since I was one, and it was a pretty cool experience at the age of 33. The girls were both adorable and super smart, and I have no doubt they will turn into amazing grown-ups. I have a feeling during the days they spend in the cabin they overhear so many life stories and learn about important life lessons this might be a huge deal for them. Their minds like sponges. And mine too. I know this experience was something pretty significant one to me now (and it was heaps of fun, too). I can only imagine how earth-shattering it would’ve been to me to be welcomed as a part of something like this at the age of 15.
Shia, Nastja, and Luke are three very different personas. It made the #ALONETOGETHER experience all the more interesting. At one point Luke named the cabin the Finding Yourself Cabin. To me that feels pretty accurate: lots of finding oneself seemed to be taking place there. Many people came in to reflect on major (and minor) life events – past, present, or future – and often ended up gaining a new perspective or two by the end of their cabin visit. Having three artists with three distinct approaches and a changing crew of museum visitors in the Kiasma cabin means someone is bound to bring up an aspect you hadn’t considered before. Don’t get me wrong, the cabin isn’t a therapy cabin – it’s whatever you make it. But you’ll get the most out of it if you let yourself be open to having whatever conversation that may arise.
I admire how the artist trio manages to continuously challenge new people to be present, to take part, to maybe share something quite personal, to see themselves and the world in a slightly new light. There’s a certain magic in feeling connected. And this piece wouldn’t be as powerful as it is if it weren’t for the visitors willing to take that leap and say hello to the camera.
Until Friday the 12th of May you too can visit the cabin in Kiasma or follow the live web stream. I highly recommend both. It can even change your life, at least a bit. If you do go to the cabin, please say a huge hello from Kaija and play the song Just Dancing by Sylvan Esso on your phone. I’m sure Shia at least will appreciate it.
The images in this post are from screenshots of the live stream. See how skillfully I’ve blurred people’s faces? I didn’t take a single selfie inside the cabin. I know I was there and that’s enough. And the other photos I have of the things that went on in the cabin are just for me. But if you want a peek of the cabin and myself, take a look at this story. I was visiting the cabin with V and got ambushed by a journalist.
I’ve played with the idea of creating some softcover Coptic bindings this spring, and I wanted to put that idea into action before my summer bookbinding hiatus. And here it is! I made some softcover Coptics while still at school over a decade ago, but they had covers made out of either leather or paper. This here with gold linen covers is a mix between the sewn boards binding variation I do and the Coptic binding. The sewn boards bindings do have more rigid covers than this book, but I adapted some structural aspects of the binding to suit my purposes here.
I love the lightness that comes with soft covers. And using luxurious linen results in a softcover book that doesn’t look cheap at all. It looks simply lovely.
Yet another friendly reminder: This here is the last new book in the shop before September (there’ll be more blog posts before I go, though), and I’m going to gradually close down the shop for the summer by the end of May. Items about to expire will expire, and the couple new mixed media things (watch case necklaces and a small collage tin) will be offered for sale on Instagram only. So if you have a wedding coming up and you’re in need of a guest book or a gift, or if your bullet journal is nearing its final pages, or if you have a feeling you or someone you know might need a new notebook some time during the summer, or if you have an empty spot on your wall in need of art, now would be a great time to act. Thanks so much for all of your support!