Are you looking for a new book arts project that challenges the boundaries of the traditional book form? Do you want to find unique ways to reuse old books? If so, I’d recommend that you take a look at this week’s Reference Collection highlight, Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book (REF.BB.1007).
|card created from old book collage|
Here, author Jason Thompson explores a variety of techniques to re-imagine the book form, creating both artistic and usable artwork. As he explains, “Books are more than pages, board, glue, and thread — they are artifacts of the human spirit and hand… The following pages feature work from artists who turn the book form on its head by using bookbinding, woodworking, paper crafting, origami, textile, and decorative arts techniques…We cannot hope to save all the books from the landfill — this is a Sisyphean task. But we can be inspired by the creativity of these artists, who reinterpret both lowly and lofty books into something more.
The title begins with an exploration of how to get started, detailing the adhesives, cutting materials and other bookbinding tools you might need for such projects. Readers will also learn the basic anatomy that composes a book.
|vase from cut-out book pages|
In chapter 2, Thompson explores several ‘projects to play with’, including the design of unique cards from discarded illustrated books, custom envelopes, book jacket billfolds, business card holders, beading from book pages, hardcover book clocks, punched paper ornaments, and rolled book page frames, among others. One project highlight involves the use of power tools to shape books into usable objects such as a floral vase.
|Wild Flowers, 2006|
Chapter 3 explores artist profiles that highlight methods to reimagine the book into alternate forms. Here, the reader will view projects such as an altered set of encyclopedias cut in the form of the human head, a title with a hidden ring inside the book’s pages, a book with wildflowers cut into a pop-up shape, and even a volume cut to represent a burning fire. Other examples are used to explore topographical changes, view building structures, and even to create music boxes. Each project is meant to excite the imagination of the reader, providing inspiration on the many variations and meanings that can be accomplished when artists reach beyond the traditional structure of a book.
More than 35 book artists are represented in this title, including Nicci Cobb, Jacqueline Rush Lee, Guy Laramee, Mike Stilkey, Thomas Allen, Doug Beube, and Nicola Dale. Whether you are seeking inspiration for a unique project, or whether you simply want to explore the boundaries of the book form, this title would be a great place to start.
|Braque, 2006 – altered book negative, scorpion|
The Reference Collection is one of three collections at The Center for Book Arts. The other two include the Fine Arts Collection (composed of artists’ books and prints) and the Archives (containing Exhibition Catalogs and the Center’s ephemera). All three collections can be viewed on-line via the Center’s website or in person by appointment. Note that the Reference Library is currently being cataloged, with roughly 80% completed.
-Sarah McCarthy, Librarian