Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Books are intimate...

Books are intimate; they welcome personal encounters.
Books are humble; they fulfill their potential closed as well as open.
Books have depth; they are rich with the possibilities of endless variation.
Books have spirit; they are dwelling places for our thoughts and dreams.

I wrote a version of this in my early years of making books and for a long time it was on the entry page to my art website. Over the years I have seen it pop up here and there as an anonymous poem.

There is a link to a pdf version on my in good spirit blog.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Photographing Your Family

Photographing Your Family: And All the Kids and Friends and Animals Who Wander Through Too (NG Photography Field Guides) by Joel Sartore with John Healey has a couple of paragraphs about and my belief in the value of making books with children in the chapter on Printing, Displaying, and Storing Your Photographs. Joel Sartore is an acclaimed National Geographic photographer. Although he has traveled the world, his favorite subjects are his family at home. He has definite ideas about what makes a good photograph with a particular feeling for crying babies (But it's the pictures of kids crying that remind us what is was like to be a parent with young children. They're entertaining and they're emotional. And that's what a good photograph is: It is a picture with good light, a clean background, and some emotion). I particularly like that he puts emphasis on photographing daily life as well as trips and special events.

Joel Sartore is someone for whom photography is a way of the life and the camera seems like an extension of his body. The book is illustrated with his photographs of his family accompanied by his comments which include why he likes or doesn't like a particular photo, what he was thinking at the time he took it, and comments about composition and light. He uses digital cameras and gives lots of clearly presented technical information. While I think those with a certain level of comfort in using their cameras will get more from the book, there is much to offer at all levels. Because it is amply illustrated and well-designed, it is a pleasure to repeatedly leaf through the pages. I have found that I have been able to absorb something more with each viewing.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pop-Up Books

Carol Barton has published her second volume of The Pocket Engineer. These ingenious books provide both clear directions and do-it-yourself models that can be detached from the book, made, and then stored in pockets in the book. Additional sets of the models may also be purchased.

Carol publishes these wonderful books through her own Popular Kinetics Press. If you purchase a copy, give her your full support by purchasing directly from her website.

Carol also has a great blog, The Popular Edge, Pop-Up and Book Arts News.

I had my first exposure to pop-ups with Joan Irvine's How to Make Pop-ups. My kids and I spent many enjoyable hours with the books and they both have made pop-up cards the mainstay of their correspondence. Out of print for a while, it is again in print with the title, Easy-to-Make Pop-Ups.

You can find an excerpt from the book at Joan Irvine's website.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Living Library/Human Books

"What is a book?" is a question often debated by book artists. The Living Library in east London adds a whole new dimension. The project, created by Ronni Abergel to break down prejudice and foster dialog, allows people to borrowed.

"A new kind of Library has opened, where instead of books you can borrow a Muslim - or a single father, or a transvestite, for a chat. Alex Forsyth volunteers to be lent as a 'book', and asks whether this concept can really help break down stereotypes.

A Muslim, a Catholic and a transsexual are sitting in a library. An opener to a joke this is not: It is the Living Library - where, instead of books, you borrow people. You pick a person for a 30-minute dialogue in which you can ask questions, engage in meaningful discourse or simply bounce ideas. I wait with the other 'books' to be borrowed."

The complete article about the Living Library by Alex Forsyth may be found here.

Here's one from the Christian Science Monitor.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spirit Book Workshop in the Berkshires

I will be giving a Spirit Book workshop at the Berkshire Botanical Garden on August 6. It is for adults but I thought I would mention it here.

Book Making Workshop: Build a Spirit Book
Wednesday, August 6, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Berkshire Botanical Garden
Intersection Routes 102 & 183
Stockbridge, MA 01262

Members $35; Non-members $40
All levels, Bring bagged lunch
Material fee $5

Connect with your creativity and the spirit of nature in this hands-on book making workshop based on the Spirit Book Series by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord. After an introduction to Susan's Spirit Books and a walk in the woodland, make a simple handmade book using Bhutanese paper, and add texture, imagery, and pattern. Susan's twenty years of teaching bookmaking have made her a clear and patient instructor. No art experience or creative confidence is needed; this workshop is truly for everyone.

I'll also be doing a shorter workshop at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, MA in conjunction with the exhibit, Artists and Books, on October 26, 1:30-3:30 pm.

You can find out more about the Spirit Books here.

Memento Hot Dog Booklet

Video Tutorial

Summer is travel time for many, whether a long trip or visiting places close to home. Here's a Hot Dog Booklet made from a gathered map or menu. I made my first one when my daughter and I and friends went to the Office (the TV show) Convention in Scranton, PA last fall. They were giving away one sheet maps with festival venues and parking areas. Being the bookmaking-obsessed person that I am, I immediately saw the map folded into a Hot Dog Booklet. I made mementos for all of us with photographs. You can use restaurant place mats, commercial maps that a lot of towns have advertising local restaurants and shops, a poster or flyer from a show.

I didn't want to carry around large pieces of paper so on the spot I folded the map the long way like a hot dog, then the hot dog in half and then in half again. The folds were in the right place for the Hot Dog Booklet which I made when I got home. I put the map on the outside (by having it on the outside when I made the first fold like a hot dog) to serve as a background and glued photos to the pages. If you put it on the inside, you'll have the map to refer to if you open up the paper. I glued photographs to the pages but you can also glue pages of drawings or writing.

Taking Back Childhood/Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Nancy Carlsson-Paige has written an informative and instructive book called Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World. It is very readable and filled with anecdotes and even better specific suggestions for handling the many situations that arise as children are raised in an increasingly consumer-driven and media-saturated society. An early chapter, "Through Their Eyes" gives a concise summary of child development from birth to ten. With my concentration on making books with children, I was pleased to see that she suggested making books in several chapters. One was in regard to limiting a seven year old's TV time:

I suggested they encourage Nina to make a books of shows she wants to watch and use the book to talk together about the content of the shows she sees. In addition I suggested that if they asked Nina open-ended questions about her favorite shows (Why do you like that show? What do you think about how the characters act on this show?) it could help her, over time, to become more critical about television and more media literate.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige suggested stapling pages together but of course I'd suggest something else: a Stick and Elastic Book or a Hot Dog Booklet.