Saturday, 22 December 2012
This week's image is of multiple copies of BEMBindery's 2012 Christmas card. The card features a photograph of Curtains, a work that gave me great pleasure in the making. Its components parts have been posted around the world to their new owners and the card is a satisfying reminder of the work's brief existence.
I'm now going to take a break for a few weeks to spend time with family, get in some bushwalking and sea kayaking and just lie on the beach for a bit. I hope to be back towards the end of January.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Saturday, 10 November 2012
Sunday, 4 November 2012
The exhibition runs until 14 December. Details can be found here.
Monday, 29 October 2012
Curtains, my second work for BookArtObject Edition 4, is done! It is a reflection on the nature of BookArtObject, shaped by four questions I set myself at the start of the project:
1. The logistics (and cost) of posting parcels around the world means that BAO works are mostly small in size. Is this inevitable or is it possible to produce a larger scaled work?
2. The splitting of a large number of BAO artists into sub-groups means that the work produced is mostly shared only with the others in the sub-group. Is it possible to produce a work that is equally accessible to all?
3. One of the defining features of Sarah Bodman's An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (the starting point for Edition 4) was its ephemeral nature - it ceased to exist almost as soon as it was created. Should (and if so how should) this be acknowledged?
4. Editioning can be tedious. Is there a way of making the end point seem more than the satisfactory execution of a multitude of repetitive tasks?
The result is an installation that existed for the time it took for a record to be made of its existence. Its component parts are now in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, the United Kingdom and the United States.
More photographs can be found here.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Friday, 19 October 2012
Friday, 12 October 2012
Sunday, 7 October 2012
I've written elsewhere about the first of these (41: It's beginning to hurt) and included a photo of the second (Cartographica) in an earlier post. The photo above is a detail of this latter work. Cartographica grew from a realisation that paper maps are fast disappearing, with the information they contain either being lost or made available only in digital form. The work is a concertina binding, consisting of 162 fragments of maps and charts, arranged in random sequence. At just over four metres in length, it is the 'longest' book I have produced to date. It was great fun to make and I've since fantasised about what it would be like to make a concertina binding with a length of, say, 20 metres or even 50 metres. Perhaps a project for a community workshop?
Friday, 28 September 2012
The first copy of the edition has been completed and delivered to Sydney for an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW that will open at the end of October. That's it on the left in its plain paper wrapper (I can't give too much away until after the exhibition opening).
The forwarding work on copies 2-7 is done and there's about one day's forwarding work remaining on copies 8-10. After this, another two or three days should see all ten copies finished, apart from slipcases and packaging. My aim now is to get the edition done and dusted a couple of weeks before the exhibition opens so I can begin tending to the ideas for new works that are backing up in my brain.
Friday, 21 September 2012
Monday, 10 September 2012
Thursday, 6 September 2012
I still get a lot of pleasure from teaching (which I guess is why I do it), particularly when most of the students are artists from different disciplines, who come to the classes with their own ways of thinking and working. This year's crop of box makers included an architect, a paper maker, a textile artist and a couple of painters. It was great to see the diversity of responses to common problems and to share the box makers' satisfaction with their finely crafted pieces at the end of each workshop.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
On the other hand, if you find during the construction of your fully resolved project that what you are producing doesn't please you, then it is highly likely it won't please others and there is probably not much point in continuing.
This is about where I am with Curtains right now. I finished the first of the edition and it didn't feel quite right. I had a bit of a rethink and made a prototype of a second version, which also had its shortcomings. All the bits and pieces that had been carefully prepared and assembled over the last couple of weeks are now in the waste paper basket. This is obviously frustrating but I'm now far enough into version three to feel confident that scrapping version one was the right decision.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
This edition of 10 will use a total of 180 paper covered and 180 cloth covered tiles. Two passes of the board cutter are needed to make each tile (720 passes); the paper and cloth covers are then cut with a craft knife or rotary cutter (360 cuts); the covers pasted on to the tiles (360 pastings); the corners of each cover trimmed for turning in (1440 trimmings); and each of the cover sides turned in (1440 turn-ins). If I allow a 5% overrun for the inevitable mistakes I make and the flaws I find, I will have performed in excess of 4500 separate operations before I get to assembly and finishing.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Together, she and I made her first book - a simple concertina structure in which she then 'wrote' her story before using the book for scissors practice. Paper and boxboard offcuts have been retrieved from the waste basket and put to good use with a roll of sticky tape and a glue stick. She's now aware that her cousins have been allowed to use the nipping press and board cutter since they turned three and is counting down to her next birthday.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
Much of what is written about studio lighting is directed at portrait photographers - books are mostly much smaller than groups of people and need a much smaller lit area.
Synchronous multiple flash photography is fine for the professional but it doesn't allow you to see effect of the lighting until after you have taken the photograph - continuous lighting is probably easier to manage for less experienced photographers.
The development of compact fluorescent bulbs means that lamp heat output is no longer a serious problem with continuous lighting.
An 85watt compact fluorescent gives a similar light output to a 500watt incandescent bulb.
Bulbs with a colour temperature of 5500K give a colour rendition that most closely matches natural light.
Umbrella lights and soft boxes are bulky and can be awkward to work with in the small space that is all many of us have for photographing our books. Simpler lamps on smaller stands that can sit on a table should be more than adequate for most book photography.
Three or four lights of these lights would be needed to eliminate all shadows but the same effect should be possible with two lights and camera flash.
Unprimed off-white canvas and black felt work well as backcloths (and can be recycled for as art canvases and box linings when no longer needed for photography).
Details of the studio lights I bought can be found here.
Monday, 23 July 2012
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Tinted Undercoat Required, which I finished last week, is nothing more than an excuse (if one were needed) to pick up and play with some ninety of these swatches. The result is a huge (for me) concertina book that stands over half a metre tall and stretches out to over two metres in length. The book has been made using covered box board panels and strips of gros grain ribbon for the hinges - a method of construction that frees the binder from the scale and accuracy constraints inherent in more traditional forms of the concertina binding.
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
I decided that the ampersand deserved a book of its own and that I would make it. After much playing around with options, I've settled on a binding in the French Simplified style that will hopefully be heading for an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW later in the year. I've now printed images of 223 ampersands onto sheets; folded and cut the sheets; assembled the sections; and (this afternoon) sewn the block onto tapes. It's a great feeling to have a new work underway.
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Friday, 22 June 2012
Details of Sandra's book can be found here.
Leaves of Irony resulted from a light-hearted challenge to produce a book from the contents of a fellow binder's rubbish bin. It is a non-adhesive visible structure binding made from weathered galvanised iron (from the base of an abandoned garden wheelbarrow), telephone wiring and beaten lead fishing sinkers. While it has featured in three exhibitions to date (winning awards at two of these exhibitions), I will always remember it fondly as the work that led to my first ever piece of fan mail. Enough said!
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
After working through the usual design anxieties about form, proportions and dimensions and frustrations over prototypes and prototype details that don't work as intended, I plunged in yesterday. Lots of activity cutting sheets of box board; becoming familiar with the properties of a new (for me) Spanish bookcloth; and working out how best to use the hundred or so paint swatches from my local hardware store that will be at the core of the work. So far, so good (I think)!
Saturday, 2 June 2012
41: It's beginning to hurt takes as its starting point the possibility that one of Sarah Bodman's stories has been recovered from its place of interment in a Danish forest and subsequently offered for sale by a London bookseller.
The work is housed in a simple drop side box and consists of a colophon, ephemera associated with the sale of the book and the book itself - much distressed with significant staining and water damage and evidence of insect attack.
For those who might be interested, more photographs and details can be found here.
The work is intended as a reflection on the hurt experienced by artists when their work is appropriated by others and used, often for profit, without consent and in a manner contrary to the artists' intentions.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Delighted to find two BAO books waiting for me on my return - A Subversive Stitch and Snow Falling in Daylight - both by Queensland calligraphic and book artist Fiona Dempster. Some wonderful photographs of these (and other examples of Fiona's work) can be found here.
Monday, 7 May 2012
Eight copies of 41: It's beginning to hurt were packed into padded bags and posted to New South Wales, Queensland, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Very satisfying and I am now looking forward to enjoying the books from the other artists in my group. The first of these arrived a couple of days before my own mail-out, a magnificent tunnel book by the American collage artist paperworker. You can read more about this book here.
I'll post something similar about my own piece once others in the group have received their copy. Right now, I'm going to take a break for a few weeks before starting on my next project. Back in June!
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
I'm taking a break for some bushwalking in the Australian Alps, one of my favourite places and somewhere I try and visit at least a couple of times a year.
15 Mountain Houses is about the Alps. It contains drawings from an architectural competition that aimed to promote new approaches to designing buildings for the Australian high country. The book dates from my very early days as a bookbinder and was, in fact, the first 'unsupervised' book that I produced. It is a concertina binding with paste paper covered boards trimmed with black goatskin. It has never been exhibited.
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
This week's book is a rebinding of Thoreau's Backwoods and Along the Seashore, a selection of extracts from The Maine Woods and Cape Cod. The design comes from an imagining of the author dressed in a cotton shirt, striped woollen trousers and braces. The binding style is French Simplified with capeskin spine and cloth covered boards with wool and nylon webbing onlays. The book has been included in exhibitions at Sydney's Gallery Red (2009) and Canberra's Civic Library (2011).
Monday, 2 April 2012
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
On the negative side, doing something fifteen times over can be unspeakably tedious.
All this I'd more or less anticipated. What I hadn't appreciated was the demands editioning would make on my equipment. I simply do not have fifteen of anything in my tool kit and insufficient bench weights, pressing boards and closed cell foam, for example, have been real constraints on the speed at which I've been able to work. Mostly I've gotten around this by batching the work in lots of three or five but I came badly unstuck last week with the end in sight. I made the mistake of pasting out the final panels of fifteen drop side boxes all at once without thinking through how I would effectively weight these overnight while they dried properly. I did the best I could with what I had on hand and then headed off for three days to celebrate the end of the edition - all a bit prematurely as it turned out. I came back home to find that each of the fifteen boxes had warped along its foreedge. I know why this happened and am kicking myself for not taking more care and for being in such a rush to finish. The next couple of weeks will be spent sorting out this mess - one box at a time!
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Little bit long way is how Australia's Wunambal people describe the vastness of Ngauwudu, their traditional country. In mid-2010, I had the good fortune to spend three weeks in Wunambul country visiting rock art sites not known to have been previously seen by non-Aboriginal people.
As a way of celebrating the richness of what I had seen, I put together a small photograph album at the end of the trip. Despite its apparent simplicity, the resulting concertina binding is one of the more complicated of my books. Each of its twenty leaves consists of a nine separate layers, laminated in a way that allows the leaves to remain flat and flush, even if displayed under less than ideal environmental conditions. Gros grain ribbon was used to hinge the leaves.
Little Bit Long Way: the Ngauwudu Photographs was exhibited in Sydney in 2010 and in Canberra in 2011.
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
The inspiration for Edition Four is Kurt Johannessen's Exercises (1994), a handbook of gently subversive tasks that prompt readers to reflect upon their world. One of Kurt's exercises, "write 100 stories and bury them in the forest", inspired British book artist Sarah Bodman to do just that. Her 100 stories, collected as An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010), have been buried and are quietly decomposing in a forest in northern Denmark. The Edition Four artists have, with Sarah's permission, taken the titles of her stories as the starting point for their work. My title is #41 It's beginning to hurt.
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
About this time last year, I came across some vintage Japanese cottons that triggered memories of the babushka apron patterns found on the painted figures of traditional Russian matryoshka nested dolls that had fascinated me as a child. I subsequently wrote a short meditation on the delights of nested objects, bound the work with a simple case binding and then made a series of seven nested boxes to house the book. The finished work, Babushka Boxes, was part of a group exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW in late 2011.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
I am an Australian book artist and bookbinder with a passion for the 'complete' book. My studio, BEMBindery, produces unique and small editions of artists' books and contemporary design bindings. I exhibit regularly with Artbound, the Canberra Craft Bookbinders' Guild and Australian Bookbinders’ Exhibitions and teach traditional bookbinding skills to artists and others through a local community organisation. I am also a member of the artists' collective BookArtObject. This blog is my way of sharing my work with other BAO artists and with you.