I named my latest mixed media piece Either Or. For those moments when things seem so black and white, when we feel the world will collapse if we don’t get what our heart desires, when the world either has colour or it hasn’t.
Either Or was built inside an old cigarette box, with the bottom half of it an unfurling cluster of different kinds of blacknesses. Surely that’s one way to describe it. Watch the video to see the piece fully opened, and view more detailed photos below.
Finishing Vastness suddenly must have burst some creative dams – on Friday I finished the first full draft of my poetry book as if everything just tumbled in place. It had been in the making ever since my first book came out two years ago, and these past two years I worked at a snail’s pace until a week or two ago. Of course after this first draft there will be rounds and rounds of revisions and lots of time spent waiting for comments from my editor(s), but it’s still a big accomplishment to reach a massive goal quite unexpectedly.
Working intensely with my text and suddenly being done with it (for a while) left me a bit overwhelmed by all this creative emotion and energy. So, I try to bury myself into mixed media art while it lasts – god knows it won’t last for long… Today I don’t have anything finished to show you, just snippets of things I’m currently working on. The above photo is of a personal magnetism course book I’m planning to chop to pieces – it’s fantastic stuff, really! Straight out manipulation combined with physical exercise instructions at the back of the booklet. You know the type of exercise fit for women: neck rolls and arm raises. But if you do all that hard work, in the end you’ll become a master of men… Actually I have no idea what to do with any of it anymore. There was an idea, but it flew away. Now the book is on my desk waiting for the idea to return. The eye is a test image transfer onto antique linen. It, too, will become something, eventually.
There’s a reason why I share all these not sure what’s going to happen bits with you today. The personal magnetism book raving on and on about how we can control pretty much the whole world with sheer will power reminded me of something I’ve thought all through the process of writing my own book: the control we have over ourselves and, more particularly, over our memories. Ideas come and go, that’s perfectly natural and unremarkable. What’s remarkable how we hold on to some memories no matter how seemingly unimportant, yet we can eventually fail to remember the people who are closest to us. How you forget you are forgetting. How you have forgotten you should even remember. Also, how difficult it can be to forget if you’re trying to do it on purpose – how you forget you should be forgetting instead of remembering.
At first I thought this memory piece was going to be just a one off piece made with silk and mica, but the more I thought about it the wider it began to grow. I guess it’s going to be a series, then.
This is what my desk looks like when I have too many ideas at once. The clay pipe stem project and the cube thing have to wait, but I have yet to find a moment to clear off everything extra. Now it’s all just about pulling out potential materials, putting together prototypes, jotting down ideas and notes, doing a tiny bit of yoga twice a day, and listening to great songs. One would think creating a piece about forgetting would be somehow quiet and gentle – so far it’s been loud and energetic (that’s why I need that twice-a-day yoga). I even have a 17th C. articulate trumpet on my desk… (no, I have no idea what articulate trumpets are, and the illustrations on that book-plate aren’t helping me understand – I just found the idea quite charming!)
Now I’m off to the library before my editor comes to pick off my draft. It’s a beautiful day here, so I’m going to soak in the sun, and get to work with forgetting things. I hope you all have a lovely week!
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!