I am not necessarily craft-oriented, I hyperventilate in large craft or fabric stores, but after viewing tables covered by books as art at the January Codex Foundation exhibit, I thought that I’d like to create a book as art myself. But I was not up for making my own pulp for paper, sewing the book bindings or investing in an interesting letterpress.
I focused on the more crafty solution: an altered book. I bought a couple used board books (at Goodwill or Hospice stores). And brought the books to my sister in law’s house in Seattle. She is creative, she makes her own greeting cards, and she knows glue and glitter. I asked her if she had pretty, decorative paper and she gestured to a commercial size rack stuffed with thousands of pages of paper and invited me to help myself.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process of creating the books by doing; I understood better the effort and talent folded into each page of the crafted books at the Codex. Of course the art is about the process as much as the product, but until you do it, you don’t understand as well.
I created four books that weekend. I now owned pristine pages of greens and yellows and purple, patterns and solids all chosen with care, all balanced so nicely into the book format, I wanted to fill them with the perfect words and images. I didn’t want to waste my efforts. Any poem glued onto these pages better be good, the dream images better interesting. It puts a different consciousness and consideration about writing when I cut and paste a poem into art book, as opposed to sending out a work electronically to be read on an e-reader. There is a different impulse and a different contract made with a solid art object.
My new adventure in self-expressive art came through serendipity. I followed my husband to Berkeley because he wanted to follow art, and I discovered something new and fabulous that will enhance my own work. Sometimes we accidentally find art and inspiration. And sometimes we have to plan for it. What kinds of art shows are close to you? Have you taken advantage of an Art Trails weekend? Have you swung by an art show at the farmer’s market? You never know. I think it’s the writer’s job to always explore, to always be willing to be inspired.
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