On a fine day the garden makes the best studio. Thursday and Friday were spent painting and printing fabric outdoors, with the knowledge that Saturday was going to be very wet; this proved to be more accurate than most of us would wish.
I’m photographing these procedures as I go along as I am preparing an online course about making artists’ books. These are also frequently called bookworks or bookart, but I think the latter two terms include altered books and such, and I won’t be dealing with those, interesting as they are.
My aim is to introduce the possibilities of making a range of artists’ books to people who love textiles, stitching, and the use of a wide range of fabrics, papers, paints, inks and dyes, and good old mixed media of course, just as I do. Some of my books are in Gallery Two, and more will be added soon.
So basically it is about planning, designing and making pages for your own book or books. But it isn’t just about the book as we recognise it, it’s also about unusual bindings, boxed books and other book structures, themes and interpretation, producing gorgeous pages and objects, and enjoying yourself as you do it.
I have taught my course about making artists’ books on several occasions, and the quality and quantity of work produced, and the fact that people immediately began to think in terms of multiple pages, impressed me enormously. I think it was a new idea for most of the students too, and as I have also had requests to write an online course, well, I thought I would.
Chapter One will be available by December, sooner if possible, I’m working away at it, in the form of pdfs, which will be great displayed on tablets as well as laptops and other computers of course. Other Chapters will follow at close regular intervals.
I’ll be posting a synopsis soon; the course is suitable for all levels, you don’t need astonishing drawing skills either, but if you have them you can use them; if not, you can trace. It is a huge and generous subject, and there is something in it for everyone.
In Chapter One of the course I will be showing how to prepare your own palette of materials using acrylic paints and inks, including painting, block printing, thermofax printing, stencils and mono printing. We will then relate the materials produced to two book projects, a simply [my method] bound book mounted on paper, and a small fabric book.
You will learn how to decide on a theme, design, and make the books by seeing step by step how I make one myself. My binding methods are not very conventional, so don’t worry, no book binding skills are needed.
My books in Chapter One will be based upon the summer garden; title as yet undecided, possibly The Summer Gardens. I decided on plural gardens as it’s possible that some of the images I use to base my work on may not all be of my own garden, which although lovely and indeed jungle like is very green, and I may want to include some hefty shots of colour that my patch doesn’t possess.
A few images showing work in progress and some of the fabrics I produced.
I am making some pieces for a series of work entitled Vivid. Two have been machine stitched now, and await finishing with hand stitch.
The threads here are quite old. I bought them before my daughter was born, and she is 23 and a half now, from the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Worcestershire. At the time I made my living from making and teaching ceramics, but loved textiles. When I bought them the assistant asked what I was going to do with them, and I replied that I was going to make a piece of work featuring bright beetles. Well that was my intention, and when I spotted them a few days ago, I thought it was time to actually use them as intended!
Some years after that another ceramist and I had our shop and workshop at the Jinney Ring, for 5 years. When I left there I stopped making ceramics and textiles appeared on the scene; I think they had been waiting in the wings for 20 years.
And below, the second Vivid piece. This features some older unfinished work, and some new thermofax screen printed fabric too, with machine stitching and ink flinging.
Off to make some thermofax prints and mono prints.