My final class of the semester at the University of the Arts involved two classes covering the construction and thematic possibilities involved in creating a carousel book. Students spent one session learning a traditional method of folding three accordion books. These were then tabbed together to create this three-dimensional book form which can be read lengthwise or pulled into a circle (hence the name). Students then began to compose text and imagery into their books during the second class. Most finished a couple pages plan to finish the entire book by their final critique with Frances Osugi.
I love teaching how to streamline the production of artist’s books, but rarely get to teach this class because many book artists don’t make multiples. However, the seven book artists who attended the my production class at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut, were primed for this workshop–most had a lot of bookmaking experience on which to draw.
We produced an accordion book involving twelve various additions and reproduction techniques, and at the same time made jigs and templates for making more copies. Sadly, we only were able to produce one copy within the class time, but I will reorganize future classes to allow more time for multiples. The class also involved discussions on why to produce multiples, how many to produce, how to price the resulting work, and how to organize one’s workspace to maximize your efforts. Everyone was pleased to walk away with a sample production and lots of information on how to proceed with their bookmaking editions.
Many people don’t realize that fiber arts involve paper, too. There is a long history of papers created from all types of plant fibers, from flax to cotton to Japanese gampi and kozo (mulberry). Thus, I was not surprised to get an email from the Potomac Fibers Group in Maryland inviting me to give a presentation and class on paper engineering. This past Saturday was a full day. I gave a lecture on the history of pop-ups in the morning, and a mini class session for 21 students in the afternoon. Participants are shown here, smiling at the end of the day with completed pop-ups in hand. Thanks to everyone who attended.
Spending two weeks in Venice, Italy, is my idea of a heavenly vacation. Plus, among the many museum and palace collections of fine art we found two intriguing contemporary shows on exhibit. One was the work of Russian artist Grisha Bruskin whose large-scale tapestry project combined multi-media interactive displays with the tapestry itself. His enigmatic work involves mysterious alphabets and strangely beautiful figures evoking saints and sinners. He equates text with texture and weaving in a fascinating view of the mysterious universe.
Another show we happened upon just off St. Marks Square was a retrospective of the Fluxus artist’s book movement. Works ranging from those of Dieter Roth, John Cage, Yoko Ono and many others graced five rooms in a small gallery space, while a show of contemporary book artists working in the Fluxus tradition was located across the canals close to where we were staying in L’Acadademia.
Along with the art, we had great weather and delicious food the whole time. It was a memorable break….
The Virginia Center for the Book is a vibrant space in Charlottesville, Virginia, with letterpress and binding equipment available for use by its membership. They host a variety of shows, workshops, and other activities involving the book arts. This past weekend I taught a two-day pop-up class there with especially creative results. I’m always delighted when teaching basic pop-ups forms to find new interpretations for them, and these students excelled in coming up with interesting designs. Plus, they were a boisterous group, which made the class especially fun!
I just spent two days working with the Lab School teachers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Lab School is an innovative new middle school program which incorporates lessons in science, technology, engineering and math concepts within hands-on projects. On Monday, all the teachers tried their hand at building an in-line motor with two handmade solenoids hooked up to a small 6-volt battery. On Tuesday I taught basic pop-up construction techniques, and we added electrical circuits and LED lights to the artwork. The most exciting event was when one of the teachers, Robert Munsey, completed a working 3-D printed rotary motor. To see a short video of the completed motor, click here. Also, a student project with Robbie’s motor lifting a washer.
Four full days of classes at Pittsburgh’s Studio at Contemporary Craft yielded lots of creative projects, from architectural pop-ups and spirals to carousel and tunnel books. Two days were devoted exclusively to pop-up constructions, and eight students worked their way through numerous structures, from simple cut-and-fold pop-ups to non-adhesive props and V-folds. The next class was a two-day workshop, one day devoted to carousel books and one to tunnel books. Everyone left with finished models of both structures. Aside from that, I had fun exploring Pittsburgh’s downtown strip full of ethnic food markets and specialty boutiques. Thanks to Leslie Wright for being such an enthusiastic and wonderful host!