Every book needs a Cover
One of the trickiest parts of making this 12 volume series of unique books has been the design of the covers.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted the covers to be created from wood. The inspiration for my designs were the beauty of antique violins and guitars. Wood, a material that comes from our soil and has a previous life, also offers symbolic connotations.
Each piece of wood is unique, even if it is cut from the same tree. I chose the woods that have lots of life and character. I wanted to tap into the temperament of their grain, luster, and imperfections.
Like the unique pieces of vintage and rare African textiles, the unique grain of each piece of wood has guided my creative process and inspired my linoleum block designs.
Each book is unique, with its own poem, set of images, and textile designs. However, the covers are the same, and have the same width, depth, and overall construction. Perhaps one day they will be exhibited together . . .
Behind the Seams
This week I want to give you a peek behind the seams.
Show you what the fabric looks like on the backside. It is important to have even seams, no more than a 1/4 inch. This allows for a smooth book page when I am binding.
Before printing on the textiles, I always do a lot of sewing. The more time I take at this stage, the better control I have of the printmaking process later on.
Research at The Textile Museum, DC
One aspect of creating original textile art is leaving the studio and visiting libraries and museums. The Textile Museum in Washington, DC is wonderful.
Their library is considered one of the most important resources for the study of textiles in North America. They have thousands of out of print and hard-to-find books on textiles from every continent.
Researching antique textile techniques, especially embroidery methods from around the world, has given me a broader perspective of the historical and social components of textile art:
How do we define textile art? How do we categorize it? How do we create it? How do we combine various techniques? Do these definitions and categories need to be updated and revised?
There were so many wonderful antique textile books. However, I really appreciated this one because it was
Nigerian Textiles, 1970's
It has been a busy two weeks and I've fallen behind in blogging. I've been meeting my mentor at the Smithsonian more often and we have been joined by senior art history fellows (more of this on future posts).
Having my handmade textile books reviewed by art historians has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had as an artist. They are able to make historical, cultural, and social connections, offering new insights to "reading" my works. They ask me questions about my process and we engage in discussions about printmaking, textiles, provenance, and conservation.