a human forest - an artists' book

After a rough and busy week it's nice to focus on something beautiful. The June theme for the #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge was "boxed in". Being boxed in, either physically or mentally, has much to do with factors that restrict or limit your actions. I enjoy restrictions when it comes to creativity; I enjoy this themed challenge that gives me both a starting point for a new artists' book as well as a deadline. What I don't enjoy are the inner restrictions that sometimes come from the conflict of having an actual self that always differs from the ideal self. Life is messy. We're not always as strong or perceptive as we'd like to be. Being more than just okay with who I am is something I work on every day, and a big part of that process is accepting all sides of myself, all emotions, all quirks, and all my neuroses. This artists' book is about all that, and it's called "A Human Forest". I'm not just birches, I'm pines and willows and aspens and all - and it's a fact that some of those make me weep.

human-forest-artists-book-1.jpg
human-forest-artists-book-2.jpg

The vintage tin measures 8,2x4,2x2,5cm / 3.2"x1.7"x1" and each page measures 7,9x3,5cm / 3.1"x1.4". I've once again used glass microscope slides and transparency prints of digitally edited cut up poetry. When viewed as a stack, the variable order of the pages creates a peculiar sense of depth to the piece.

human-forest-artists-book-6.jpg
human-forest-artists-book-7.jpg

A human forest:
All pleasures and all pains,
the excitements of silence
whatever it is, it's mine

human-forest-artists-book-8.jpg
human-forest-artists-book-9.jpg
human-forest-artists-book-10.jpg

As promised, I randomly picked a winner for the book giveaway, and now the amazing Collage Ideas Book is on its way to @kreativesdurcheinander who recommended @lovewalkinginsnow as a collage artist worth getting to know. There were altogether 50 entries with more than 50 recommended artists listed, so if you're looking for inspiration and new-to-you collage artists, check out the comments on my previous post, and more importantly, the long long list of artists tagged and mentioned on my Instagram post. Thank you all for your participation - I'll probably spend weeks going through the list of recommendations to make it last as long as possible!

fingerprints - an artists' book

The May theme for the #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge is 'secret', and I decided I wouldn't take it too literally and pour my heart out, at least not too much. My artists' book Fingerprints was born after I went through a mental list of structures that hide and reveal in one way or another. I haven't made one of these magic boxes in almost 15 years, so it took me a moment to remember how it's constructed. I don't think I've ever known a particular name for this box structure, but it's basically a variation of Jacob's ladder.

fingerprints-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-2018-6.jpg

I haven't given fingerprints much of a thought apart from when I find dirty fingerprints on my supposedly pristine papers, and, of course, when they're mentioned as forensic evidence. This means, in general, it's not exactly good for you if you leave behind any fingerprints. Some research into the matter revealed a more pleasant side of those little loopy, whorly ridges on our fingertips - they provide us with tons of information crucial to our fine texture perception. The friction ridges are like little amplifiers for the sense of texture. As someone whose work is massively reliant on what I feel with the tips of my fingers, my view of the world is much more texture-oriented than the one of someone who maybe works with their brain alone. And it seems my texture-orientedness also affects how I get to know someone, how I trace their face with the tips of my fingers, over and over again...

fingerprints-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-2018-1.jpg
fingerprints-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-2018-3.jpg
fingerprints-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-2018-7.jpg

Fingerprints - a unique artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2018

(paper, board, glass microscope slides, ink)

the box measures 14,9x9,5x1,9cm / 5.9"x3.7"x0.7"

Check out my Instagram for a view of the box in action!

bullet journals and #areyoubookenough gems

My artists' book didn't end up being the only book I bound in April. Yay me! I had started a trio of bullet journals for myself way back in March, but it took me over a month to put the covers together and sew the lot. For all of April I was dependent on notes and to-do lists scribbled on random post-its and backs of envelopes. Normally I rely on my bullet journal routine and get tons of stuff done, so maybe that's why I didn't manage to fit all that much bookbinding into my schedule...

long-stitch-bullet-journal-4.jpg
long-stitch-bullet-journal-5.jpg
long-stitch-bullet-journal-7.jpg

All that will change now, thanks to these long stitch bindings, with a custom printed dark purple 4 mm dotted grid on recycled kraft paper for pages (a smaller than usual grid as I have a smaller than usual handwriting). The yellow one is the first in line for me - already filled with a few months' worth of calendar markings and plans for new books. Larger kimono books are underway as well as some tiny sketchbooks with watercolour paper covers, which have been sadly out of stock for a long time.

Now that the first days of May have flown by, it's time to share my favourites books of the April #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge. Visit the instagram post below to click through to each book artist's profile and see more of their work!

The May theme for the challenge is 'Secret'. I look forward to seeing what people come up with - will there be writing in code, hidden compartments, or personal secrets revealed? I have a list of possible ideas, but I'm still miles away from actually deciding what to create.

at last - artists' book

Quite fittingly the #areyoubookenough artists' book challenge had the same theme as my entire month of April. The theme was "poem" and I happened to make a book titled At last. This is the only physical book I've finished in April so far (I hope I can still fit a couple more into my schedule!), but I did finish writing my own poetry book due out in August. From now on it's just tiny edits, if any. I had hoped to finish the poetry book last summer, but I'm glad the project took its time, as I'm very pleased with how everything turned out.

This artists' book is the first one where I use my own photography as well as collaged cut-up poetry. The images are printed on 21 gsm Japanese paper, which I also used for hinges. The structure is basically a concertina, but as the pages are hinged with thin paper, the book can be manipulated into a variety of positions instead of it sticking to the rigid zig zag of a concertina. The pages were inspired by old slides, but I chose to print my imagery slightly translucent paper to keep the text more legible than it would be if I had chosen 12 gsm paper for example.

At last is an artists' book with a signed and numbered edition of six. The pages measure 6x6 cm / 2.4"x2.4", and the book measures 69,5 cm / 27.4" fully opened. The book will be available through the Paperiaarre shop. To see video and more photos of the book, please visit my instagram.

artists-book-at-last-kaija-rantakari-7.jpg
artists-book-at-last-kaija-rantakari-9.jpg
artists-book-at-last-kaija-rantakari-12.jpg
artists-book-at-last-kaija-rantakari-13.jpg
artists-book-at-last-kaija-rantakari-4.jpg

soft cover bullet journals

I have made books. Still miles away from feeling 100%, but I have made books. Sewn boards binding paired with dotted grid pages makes for some elegant and totally one of a kind bullet journals. If you're interested in giving one of these a home, or just like to see all the details, check them out in the Paperiaarre shop.

large-softcover-bullet-journal-1.jpg
large-softcover-bullet-journal-11.jpg

I like to make the dotted grid pattern pretty light compared to any of the commercially made dotted grid notebooks I've seen - just like the lines on a lined paper the dotted grid is supposed to act as a guide for whatever you put on the page, not take the center stage. This light gray dot grid lets your work stand out and doesn't distract you visually.

My very own bullet journal is still a work in progress. Lying in bed for almost a week doesn't help when you've got tons of ideas and things to do. I'm still hopeful I can finish my artists' book of the month in time, even though I'm very quickly running out of days - it only needs a case and then it's ready for photos. But as usual, I'm not going for the simplest solution...