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52 Weeks of Printmaking on Textile: Week 21

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High and Not Too High

This year I talked more about my art than I've talked in sixteen years.  What a journey!  I am thankful to all the scientists and researchers who allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with new ideas!

I am especially thankful to Dr. Laura Sinnott who first commissioned me, when she was a PhD candidate, to do the visual component of her interactive music work on Franz Schubert's 1827 Winterreise song cycle.  Today, Laura informed me that one of the artworks, pictured in these two photographs, was missing after a move.  Yes, this was a year of highs and "not too highs."

Wishing all a very happy and blessed 2019!

Why I Make Books

I love books!  I love reading them.  I love touching them.  I love the sound of turning pages.  I love the smell of cotton fiber pages.

For thousands of years, prior to Guttenberg's invention of moveable type in Germany during the mid 1400's, each and every book was made by hand.  Books were expensive, highly coveted  possessions of the wealthy, royalty, aristocracy, and monasteries.   If you were somebody, you owned a beautiful, well crafted book.

Maintaining the high quality traditions of handmade books of the past is important to me.  In recent years, I 've replaced handmade paper with handwoven and luxury textiles.  These textiles are innately tactile and relatable: Fabric pages are not flat and completely blank.
Each stitch adds texture, memory and dimension.  The fabric moves and molds itself in the hands of the reader.  Even people who never or rarely work with textile will recognize the textures of fabric from their own experiences.

Is BOOK ARTS an art form?

For years I've been asked, "Is Book Arts art?" or "I've never heard of Book Arts, what is it?"  Recently, I've been asked to define Book Arts and classify it among other art forms.  Researching the history of artists' books, I found a wide range of definitions.  None sufficiently described what I've been doing.
Therefore, to better explain the types of books I create, I needed to delve deeper into the concept, idea, structure, and language of Book Arts. The next few blog posts will be dedicated to how I define Book Arts as a book artist.
Well, first of all, I am using Book Arts as a singular "uncountable noun."  

Uncountable (also non-count) nouns are used to describe a quality, concept, action, or substance that cannot be divided into separate elements.   Non-Count nouns also refer to a whole category made up of different varieties or a whole group of things that is made of many individual parts.

I have always thought of Book Arts as…

Let There be Light!

I haven't been posting because I've been hard at work trying to find a way to light up my fabric pages.
I've always envisioned my books with lights.  When I received the wedding dresses, I became obsessed with finding a way to insert and sew the connections that would blend with my designs.

It has taken me more time and lots of re-sewing, re-printing and re-imagining -- but I finally got it! My lighting designs are specific to my books, and I look forward to showing you more in 2019 when I begin working with the wedding dresses.

Vintage Wedding Gowns

1870 - 1940 This summer we visited several museums in the NYC and Baltimore area to view wedding gowns.  We were fascinated by the intricate tailoring and construction of vintage wedding gowns, especially those created before 1940.  (Yes, the wedding gown below is decorated with lace and feathers!) One of best textile collections we visited was at Towson University Historic Clothing Collection.
They allowed us to examine the textiles and wedding gowns not only with our eyes, but with our hands.  It was truly an amazing experience to touch and feel handmade silk and lace dresses from 1870 - 1940.

Wedding Gown Book Project

For the past few months, I've been working with wedding gowns from my local thrift store.  Most of these gowns were made with modern synthetic materials and created within the last 15 years.  When I began deconstructing them to make fabric books it was great to get a first hand look at the complex and layered construction of wedding gowns: layers of tulle, cotton, rayon, polyester, acetate, and lace.  These thrifted wedding gowns were great for practicing new techniques and mastering the art of constructing and deconstructing formal wedding gowns.

Last week I was given a unique opportunity to create fabric books using the most beautiful vintage wedding gowns I've ever seen.   I feel blessed and very honored to turn these dresses into new narratives, while maintaining their cultural charm and historical significance.  
And, I am thankful for all the practice I've had over the months to get an in-depth understanding of the numerous textiles, styles, patterns, tailoring, and…

Triangle Quilts

Storied Histories I want to show you this lovely vintage quilt before I carefully take it apart and transform it into a book.  It is made from scraps of 70s dresses and women's house coats, using mainly polyester materials of the time.  There are a few pieces of handwoven antique silks from Korea and linen from Europe.