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‘Recognition’ Artist book

4 Dec

I recently made an artist’s book called ‘Recognition’. It deals with themes of self-recognition and how one’s sense of self has changed rapidly since the advent of photography, in particular digital photography.

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This binding is called a drum leaf binding. It is a contemporary binding which allows the book to lie completely flat, allowing images to be read as a whole across two pages. It is ideal for artist’s books and also works well as a portfolio.

It was recently exhibited at the Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin as part of their annual Artist Book Fair. 

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Headbands for books

15 Oct

I have been polishing up on my headband making skills – and no, these are not the type that keep hair off your face – they are a traditional part of a book. Headbands are decorative bands of silk or cotton which can be found fastened inside the top and bottom of a book’s spine.

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Using an old book as a practice model, I have been working on single and double core headbands. These can be built up using cord or strips of leather as the base. Traditionally headbands were intrinsically a part of the sewing of the book, and were used in lieu of kettle stitches in linking the sections together. In later years, they acted as a block between the textblock’s spine and the shelf, relieving the strain placed on the spine cover.

Nowadays headbands come as cloth pieces which are just glued on the book – they are seen as purely decorative. A lot of the time, they can look like a cheap afterthought. I hope to develop a range of handsewn headbands – culminating perhaps with this multicoloured Armenian headband.

Marbling magic

7 Aug

This summer I did a paper marbling course in West Dean College in Chichester. This college was set up by poet and artist Edward James as a centre for conservation and crafts such as bookbinding and clock making.  The house (or castle in my mind!) is set in 6,000 acres of beautiful countryside with an orchard and walled garden beside the house.

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Marbling was originally used as an anti-fraud measure: if you had a written contract with somebody, it would have been written on marbled paper. Each party would receive one half of the contract which was torn down the middle. As each marbled paper is completely unique, it would be impossible to forge or make an imitation of the marbled sheet.

I learnt a great deal on the course – from traditional patterns and modern takes on them, to different paper and bookcloth possibilities, to text block edge marbling.  My favourite pattern was the Fern with a modern twist. For the last section of the course, I focused on reproducing this pattern using different coloured papers. It was amazing how just changing one variable resulted in a whole range of contrasting papers.

These papers can be used as coverpapers or as endpages (i.e. the first and last pages of a book) and I hope to develop my marbling skills so that I can offer made-to-order marbled papers for my wedding albums.

I would like to thank the Crafts Council of Ireland for giving me funding to do this training.

NIVAL Collection

27 Jan

I recently found out that two of my artist’s books are part of the NIVAL collection in NCAD, Dublin. The National Irish Visual Arts Library was set up in the 1990s with the aim of documenting all aspects of 20th century and contemporary Irish art and design and providing public access to the collection.

The library has a large collection of artist’s books and often exhibit them at fairs. It was at this year’s Dublin Art Book Fair that I came across one of my artist’s books on their stand!

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There are many definitions of what an artist’s book is but simply put, it is a work of art realised in the form of a book. They are usually published in small editions and sometimes are one-of-a-kind books.

Above are photos of ‘Roll call’, an artist’s book containing an alphabetical list of Ghost Estates in Ireland and ‘Invisible Lines’, an artist’s book based on a participatory art project I organised.

Lovely new paper supplies

28 Aug

I have just come back from London laden down with a stack of beautiful papers. Unlike Ireland, there are numerous paper suppliers – each one with an enormous amount of speciality papers. I was in heaven!

Here is a selection of some of the paper but please check out my Cover Papers page for the full stock.

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Pop-up book workshop

13 Aug

This summer I took part in a 3-day workshop on Pop-up books in Oxford. The course was facilitated by Heather Hunter who is a whizz at the art of pop-ups. The first day of the course was dedicated to single slit pop-ups. These are pop-ups that use only one cut to produce a 3D effect. We learnt about shaped, symmetrical, asymmetrical and cut away pop-ups, experimenting with the different effects each one created.

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On the second day, we moved on to double slit pop-ups. As the name suggests, this style uses two cuts to make a pop-up. Building on the previous day’s knowledge, we developed our designs creating more complex structures. We used the last day to develop the array of pop-up techniques we were introduced to. I particularly enjoyed this day and used it to develop multiple combinations of pop-ups within one page.

For the last hour, we made our books into a simple book using double-sided tape to stick the pages together. The spine of my book was made out of an old Tyvek envelope. This is an amazing material which I hadn’t come across before. It is a lightweight synthetic material that is impossible to rip or tear. I’ll definitely try to use Tyvek for future book projects. The completed book is lovely to have as a how-to guide for pop-ups.

President Michael D. Higgins presented with one of my books

16 Dec

President Michael D. Higgins visited the F2 Centre in Fatima, Dublin 8 to launch ‘A Local Imagine Nation – An Arts Plan for Rialto’ on 8th of December 2011. During his visit, he was presented with one of the series of books I made for the F2 centre – I was really delighted!

This book is a twisted accordion book made with 300 gsm white paper. The butterfly on the cover is Fatima’s symbol for its regeneration.

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It was suggested that, as he is a poet, he could use this blank book to write his poetry in. I hope he gets good use out of it!

If you would like to see a video of this visit, check out this website.

Red Fox Press

22 Sep

Last week, I visited Francis Van Maele from the Red Fox Studios on Achill Island. It was a typical day weatherwise for the west of Ireland – damp, misty and windy – the perfect weather for going to Achill!  After a two-hour drive dodging sheep, I reached the cottage studio which is situated on the northern tip of the island, looking out onto the Altantic.

Here Francis and his friend Anticham have a bookshop selling the many artist books that they produce together. Themes of these books range from photos of salt & pepper mills to homages to Fluxus artists, from found childhood photos of car registation plates to visual poetry books.

Most of the books are screenprinted using oil-based inks which results in beautifully rich colours and others are digitally printed. All of the books are skilfully bound, experimenting with unusual bindings and materials.

I could have spent a week there looking through all the amazing books on display! Their bookshop is also online but if you happen to be passing through Achill Island, I’d definitely recommend calling in.