Monday, January 14, 2008

These Things Take Time

A little over a year ago, I started a project that was supposed to be a birthday present. I found a vintage French dictionary (I think?) that was the perfect size and texture to be altered. Now, altering a book is a very renegade undertaking for this daughter-of-a-librarian. I was always taught that books were sacred things. I enjoyed keeping mine in pristine condition. Well, as pristine as I possibly could. Until college. Then two things happened. I realized the usefulness of dog-earing pages and highlighting, and a painting teacher gave an assignment that intrigued me: Find a used book, react to it's content. Or don't react, but embellish. This process is very well suited for my cut and paste/pen and ink nature. The first book I transformed, a book of a Victorian Era Schoolgirl's Penny Philosophies full of "Pretty Is as Pretty Does" type murmurings, consisted mainly of me blotting out words and forming new phrases. The second, a limited edition book of poetry I found in a used book store in NYC, consisted mainly of adding illustrations. It would become my first anniversary present to my husband. The French vocabulary book has become my favorite. I think that is why it has taken me so long to complete it. The process of working on this book has gone hand in hand with the development of my collages. Working on it over such a long period of time has honed my sense of patience, as well as my level of craftsmanship (a few of the earlier pages are beautifully sloppy, I must admit).

There is a local artist here in Bend whose medium is used books as well, but he alters them in a sculptural way. Mark Bernahl was one of the first artists I met after moving here, we had work at Studio 550 back in 2003. His books are beautiful, intelligent, witty. He carves images into the books in a precise and delicate manner, reacting either to the title and subject, or one of the interior pages in such a sophisticated way.

Tomorrow, the birthday rolls around again, and the book is still on my desk, waiting to be mailed. Oops. Hopefully the recipient will understand. These things take time.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to read that you enjoy working on books--that means since Erin's is finished you must be working on the one for me--not to rush you--but maybe it will be ready for me to see, then send on to Eleanor whenever she returns from Hawaii!! Actually, take as much time as you need--just not years! Love MOM

MSO Rin said...

Don't worry, I understood. And I LOVE it! Make more and sell them for top dollar (except to me, so I can give them as gifts)!