The basis for exploration began with the Twined Binding structure that I designed for the 2007 GBW conference.

 

The key element in the binding is strong, flexible paper. Tim Barrett’s UICB Flax papercase papers and Bridget O’Malley’s flax sheets are natural choices. Other handmade and commercial papers can be laminated to achieve the right properties.

 

Twining is a slow process – at my fastest I can twine a 5 inch tall book at a rate of ½ inch per hour. Busy hands seem to engage the subconscious, and the possibilities of the paper warp strips bubbled up constantly as I worked, spawning new ideas for the broader range of work.

 

 

In the end, paper was folded, stitched, laced, woven, twined, run through a label maker and displayed in various ways.

 

It is this sculptural, structural, tactile, and surprising quality of books and paper that keeps me endlessly engaged.

Paperworks:

A group exhibit at the

Carnegie Art Center, Walla Walla

Sept. 2 - 26, 2008

 

The cross pollination between books and textiles in contemporary art and in traditional book arts is hard to avoid. In “My Private Constellations” thread connects letterpress printed stars on handmade paper.  $120

The springboard for all the other pieces was “Diamondback”. I’d wanted to distort the traditional proportions to allow the book to be displayed in a basket posture.

 

I purposely try to avoid “tribal” patterns and recognizable cultural designs. When a book is started, an organic design emerges in the first few centimeters as I respond to each successive row of stitches. I create variations on that theme, working with scale, repetition and color to flesh out the idea. Invariably, the finished design ends up with some sort of unintended connotation, speaking to the universality of design and the technological limits of specific materials.

 

The enclosure has inverted holes in the back so it can wall-mounted for display.

The paper warps that were constantly flinging around as I twined “Diamondback” were a natural to pair with a simple loom in “Backstrap”. I’d created the loom when I was 23 years old – exactly half my age now - from instructions in a library book. I carved the pieces, took them up to a lovely spot in the Siskiyou mountains, tied one end to a tree and wove the gray back strap that hangs on it now. True to my nature, the strap was the only thing I ever wove with it, but I never parted with it either.

 

Strung with color laser printed walnut dyed flax paper the wall piece features a work in progress, with rows of waxed linen thread and letterpress printed handmade papers. Weaving each morning while sitting on the studio porch overlooking freshly harvested wheat fields seemed almost too idyllic.

The flax paper strips are the perfect weight for printing with handheld label printers. I’ve come to love the DYMO company - especially after they happily sent an internal schematic via email of a vintage label printer that I was trying to repair. “The Noiseless, Patient Spider” features a favorite Walt Whitman poem embossed onto paper paired with handmade abaca/cotton sheets in a box that can be wall-mounted.

 

The other structural variation I’d been wanted to try since the Guild presentation was trading the loose warps that needed to be woven into the front cover to complete the binding for slits that were cut right into the spine. For this piece, Aphonopelma (Mexican Diamondback)” I used western-style paper made from bast fiber used in San Pablito, Mexico to make amate. The finished paper has a unique, rough texture, hence the title, which comes from a species of tarantula. The long cover strip is overlapped at the inner spine and the twining on this was slow going, with each stitch being threaded with a needle.

“Husk” (2008) $200 began as a friendly homage to Mare Blocker, one of the other artists in the exhibit whose link stitched works have been a favorite of mine. Spurred along by the cache of lovely silk embroidery thread that I found at a yard sale, the finished work references Blocker, Late Mediaval Coptic embellishment, European fine binding, Victorian embroidered bindings and the covers we made for our books in grade school as well as the corn that grows in our region, from which all the pages are crafted.

Other handmade sheets that found a new home were “Prayer” (below), which can also be wall-mounted, and “Tide” (bottom), which went through several alterations, from pigmented sheets that were sewn on raised linen cords that were laced into covers, to having the pages plowed off the text block, leaving only a short stub, to having the spine pieces further chopped into sections, to its current incarnation as a miniature sculptural book work.  

Photo Credit: Nayland Wilkins