This past Sunday we spent the day with Regula Russelle as part of our MCBA/Jerome programme. While the others worked with pressure prints, I experimented with monoprints on the Vandercook.
I wanted a cosmos-like, Milky Way-style effect, so using four inks I initially tried to apply all inks to the Plexiglass and print with just one pass of the press. This only resulted in a heavily-inked dark square, too dark even for me. So I tried building it up in successive layers which worked much better. A light layer of black was applied first, followed by white, brown and red. This method gave me more control over where the inks were placed and the ability to build it up gradually.
The images are only 3″ square, so very small, and were finally bound using drum leaf binding. As well as producing this small book, we also learnt 4-needle Japanese binding, which could be another possibility for my book, because this particular style lays perfectly flat.
Dead means that they are no longer interesting to the drive-by technorati. Dead means that the curiousity factor has been satisfied, that people have gotten the joke.
These people rarely do anything of much value, though.
Great music wasn’t created by the first people to grab an electric guitar or a synthesizer. Great snowboarding moves didn’t come from the guy who invented the snowboard… No one thinks Gutenberg was a great author, and some of the best books will be written long after books are truly dead.
Only when an innovation is dead can the real work begin. That’s when people who are seeking leverage get to work, when we can focus on what we’re saying, not how (or where) we’re saying it.
The drive-by technorati are well-informed, curious and always probing. They’re also hiding… hiding from the real work of creating work that matters, connections with impact and art that lasts. I love to hear about the next big thing, but I’m far more interested in what you’re doing with the old big thing.
I haven’t written too much lately about the MCBA project, but it’s not as if I’ve been slacking – far from it. All the while I’ve been busy with projects for other clients, my head’s been accumulating ideas for my book.
However, I’ve given up on the idea of running a separate weblog documenting the whole process for several reasons. Although it isn’t technically difficult to write, post and maintain two different weblogs, I found myself deliberating over what posts should be posted to which weblog. That resulted in much being written but never posted, or posted twice – once to each weblog. In the end it was a sort of “fuck it” attitude that won – just post everything to one of them and be done with it. So now I’ve merged the two weblogs.
We’ve taken several workshops over the past two months. I regret having missed Richard Stevens‘ some weeks back on reductive linocuts, but it couldn’t be avoided. The edition that the other mentees produced though was wonderful and I’m thrilled that they gave me a copy.
In February we had two workshops; one with Julie Baugnet using mixed media and one on silkscreen printing. The book I made in Julie’s class was a disaster and no-one’s fault but my own. I managed to completely screw up the sewing of the codex binding, but the important thing was it gave me a chance to loosen up and discover ways of working with different media and paints that I would have otherwise never used. So I learned a lot from the workshop. Silkscreen printing was fun too and gave me several ideas for the book cover.
One of the things I discussed with Julie was limited editions. She’s from a painting background where works are usually unique, and this is reflected in her books – most exist as a single copy. But my background in photography and printmaking is exactly the opposite, buyers, collectors and galleries want editions. Yet my original idea of producing an edition of 20 books plus proofs had started to become a little daunting, so I think I’m going to scale it back to a more manageable 12 copies plus proofs. It’s still a lot of work though, as each book will have approximately 20 images and will involve making clamshell cases.
I’m thrilled that my mentor throughout the rest of the year is to be Regula Russelle, this year’s recipient of the Minnesota Book Artist Award. But truthfully, all three of the mentors are such tremendous artists in their respective fields and I love what they each bring to the book arts, that I wish we could have access to all three.
Russelle began making one-of-a-kind books during graduate work at Hamline University in the mid-1990s and has been making books on her own and with others ever since. In 1999, she established Cedar Fence Press, a small independent press that publishes limited edition books and prints. She teaches books arts and papermaking for undergraduate and graduate students at Augsburg College and beginning through advanced letterpress printing at MCBA.
She was awarded the 2007 Minnesota Book Award for Fine Press, and had been named a finalist for the same award three times prior (2000, 2001 and 2006). In collaboration as Accordion Press, Russelle and fellow artist CB Sherlock were awarded a 2007-08 MCBA/Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship. Other honors include an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board Grant and recognition from the International Society of Bookbinders. Her work is shown and collected internationally.