Last weekend I needed to create something entirely different, something made just for fun. So, I set out to make a kaleidocycle artists’ book! As a person intrigued by math, and geometry especially, I found this project a real treat. And here it is: my very first kaleidocycle, made for my own amusement to celebrate the end of a long writing project and the seeming endlessness of a kaleidocycle.
And just for insanity’s sake I decided to create the lettering using 6mm tall reverse stencil letters I cut out individually. (Mind you, I’ve done much smaller crazy letter cutting projects before, with less haphazard results.) While working at the letters I half-purposefully created myself a distraction free zone by placing the letters on my tablet, keeping me from writing anything stupid online until I was all done with the letters and the urge to comment had subsided…
I’m still taking it easy with bookbinding: lots of fun projects, loads of new ideas, and a new journal for myself in the making. For those in need of a fun paper project: artist Paula Beardell Krieg shared a template for a kaleidocycle on her fantastic blog not too long ago, so if you’re itching to make one yourself, her blog is a great place to start! She frequently features brilliant projects, often with templates/instructions, so, off you go to explore!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A quick prototype, and a quick photo on the glue-stained desk…
…followed by a notebook spread with samples, experiments, plans, and important measurements.
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.
Paper I dyed with gesso sprinklings and light teal acrylic ink and 24 mica circles…
… a total of 48 transparency film circles…
…360 characters and 60 lines typed…
…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!