Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

vastness suddenly – an artists’ book for pushpin & poetry

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

Vastness suddenly in all its glory. It’s an artists’ book I made for the Pushpin & Poetry publication series in a limited edition of 10 copies. It’s a monocular-like cylindrical object with text inside and out. It can be read by rotating the cylinder or by peering through it. You ask: how is this supposed to be a book? Artists’ books can take many shapes and formats, but if you’re stubborn and demand a book has to have pages in order to be a book, just think of the transparent sheets with words on them as the pages of this book.

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

Vastness suddenly – an artists’ book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25 – numbered edition of 10

3,5×4,5cm / 1.4″x1.8″

I have three numbered copies available at 80€+shipping each –

please contact me directly if you’re interested in purchasing one.

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

As I mentioned in Monday’s blog post this artists’ book is also my entry for the #AreYouBookEnough Instagram bookbinding challenge. The challenge has a changing monthly theme, and this month the theme is ‘peace’. After hearing the theme I instantly knew I wasn’t going to go with the more concrete, opposite-of-war kind of peace, but with the feeling of peace. I don’t remember a time without depression. I’m not exaggerating, I literally don’t remember a time without depression. It’s something that has been a part of my life from a time before I had even heard the word for it, ebbing and flowing as years pass. That being said, I do know peace. Lately there seems to be more and more of it. Life is mostly good. And suddenly: sudden vastness suddenly less vast / water less restless.

Vastness suddenly - an artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / Pushpin & Poetry volume 25, numbered edition of 10 - www.paperiaarre.com

I didn’t expect to experience the kind of joy creating Vastness suddenly gave me. I haven’t really known that feeling since making some crazy strangely shaped boxes over 12 years ago while still in school studying bookbinding. There’s just something so special about making a thing with no instructions whatsoever. A part of me truly enjoys all the problem solving and math that goes into engineering an idea into reality. Had I wrapped the cardstock core for the cylinders once more round the mold I used, the finished piece wouldn’t have come out of the container. It would’ve gone in, but getting it out intact would’ve required more dexterity and patience than I can expect from most people. I also could’ve used just clear plastic for the see-through part, but it would’ve been too bright, crisp, and clear. Adding in disks of mica made the experience of peering through the cylinder like looking into water – more deep, more organic, and ever so slightly muddy. All these little details add up, and from out of nowhere appears the perfect balance between artistic creativity and practical product design.

If you want to see some behind the scenes photos of the creative process of this piece, take a look at my previous blog post.

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

mixed media monday – artists’ book for pushpin & poetry

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but my plans for 2017 included making more blue things and creating an edition of artists’ books (and other stuff I’ve already crossed off the list!). In early February already, many things aligned, all at once, all of a sudden: I’m working on a blue mixed media artists’ book! I was invited to create a poetry piece for the publication series Pushpin & Poetry. Along with the invite I received ten tiny clear round acrylic pots to work with. You know how I like a tiny challenge! Another appropriately timed challenge came from the direction of Instagram – a monthly themed bookbinding challenge #AreYouBookEnough, set in motion by Sarah of Ink and Awl. This month’s theme is ‘peace’, January’s was ‘light’. And it was actually seeing some of the light-themed books that gave me the spark for creating this piece I’m just about to finish. Today I’m sharing photos of the work in progress, hoping to share the finished artists’ book on Thursday!

I definitely work better when given some constraints instead of complete freedom. Hell, I’m creating a poetry book using mainly cut up dictionary texts – and I mean cut up with scissors, not in the easy ctrl+c&v style – that’s pretty restrictive (check out Oulipo, if you think constraints in literature sounds interesting). I tend to get spooked by the limitless possibilities and end up paralyzed by them. So, having both a theme and an odd-shaped container given to me made work a breeze! And yes, I’m so taking part in the bookbinding challenge in the coming months; probably not every month, though, because my time management sucks and I have a book to write.

On the first night spent staring at the acrylic pots I just brainstormed and listed different types of binding structures that could work with the container. The screw top pots measure just 3,5 cm in diameter and 4,5 cm in height, so the dimensions limit possible bindings a bit. Using the pots as containers instead of building something around them allowed for more fragile and sculptural ideas than the ones I usually get to play around with. I absolutely wanted to preserve the round shape, because where’s the fun in sticking a rectangular item into a round pot. The first idea was of course a scroll, but I wanted to push myself further. And besides, working on a scroll basically means creating something in 2D and then rolling it up, and I’m scared of two-dimensional things like drawing. Instead I build. And that’s why I decided to make very un-book-like cylindrical artists’ book objects instead.

Artists' book - a prototype, work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

A quick prototype, and a quick photo on the glue-stained desk…

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

…followed by a notebook spread with samples, experiments, plans, and important measurements.

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

24 little cylinders cut to measure and lined with paper I dyed greenish dark blue. These 24 halves make 12 cylinders. The edition size is 10, but I learnt early on to make a few extras, as you’re bound to ruin something sooner or later, and it’s a pain to start all from scratch. Making one or two more is a small price to pay for finishing an edition without crying. Okay, the extra copies are a nice insurance, but no guarantee against tears. Thankfully, this edition has seen no tears, so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

Paper I dyed with gesso sprinklings and light teal acrylic ink and 24 mica circles…

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

… a total of 48 transparency film circles…

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

…360 characters and 60 lines typed…

Artists' book - work in progress / Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

…and a whole lot of paper edges pared. Never heard of someone paring the edges of a piece of paper? Don’t worry, it’s a special task reserved for obsessive people. I only do it on fine binding projects and when I’m working on something so small that the thickness of a paper’s edge is a big deal. I leave it up to you to decide on Thursday whether it, or any of this, is worth the trouble. I’m pretty biased, but I’m going to say yes, this is absolutely worth it – I love how the edition is coming together!

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari / www.paperiaarre.com

vellum long stitch notebook

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

I’ve been in a suspiciously good mood lately and itching to make something quite different for a change. This beauty of a book is the result of it all. I often wish I could marry my love for bookbinding and mixed media better, but as a bookbinder I’m usually too obsessed with durability and functionality to make it happen. But since vellum as a material is very durable, I decided in this case I could be a bit frivolous with the rest of the book.

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

The spine is cut from a 19th century document with both printed text and handwriting. (These legal documents aren’t rare at all, so please don’t be terrified by my chopping up of history.) I’ve used some reindeer vellum (or more accurately parchment, as vellum is a word traditionally reserved for parchment made out of calf/goat skin) in the past, but I’ve never been quite satisfied with how greasy it can remain after all my attempts at degreasing it. The reindeer vellum isn’t made for bookbinding purposes, so properly degreasing it as it’s made is most likely not a priority for the manufacturer. So by repurposing these old great quality vellum documents I get to make something beautiful out of something now practically useless, and as this vellum has lasted for 150 years in great condition, it’s bound to last a good while longer if treated well.

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

The covers are made out of lovely greenish-brown waxed lokta paper I brought home from London. I can’t decide if it looks more like leather or stone, but in any case it has a lovely soft, almost velvety feel to it.

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

10,9×15,3×2,7cm / 4.3″x6″x1.1″

144 pages of 100% recycled paper

for sale here

long stitch notebook with antique vellum document spine, handmade by Kaija Rantakari, 2017 / www.paperiaarre.com

More about another bookish mixed media project on Monday already! I’m working on an editioned artists’ book in a very untraditional format.

 

PS. Don’t forget today’s the last day to apply for the one-on-one bookbinding feedback opportunity I’m offering to two lucky bookbinders on Instagram – check out this post for details! I have already received a dozen applications, but I’ve yet to check out anyone’s work with feedback in mind. Having early favourites would only make my decision harder come tomorrow!

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