Artist Proof-of-Concept Complete!
Handmade book part 5
by Les Picker
I've just completed my proof-of-concept, self-made photography book, "Mountains in the Mist". I'd like to share with you some of the finer points of the book.
For those of you who have not followed this series Number One starts here, Basically I am passionate about photography and seeing photographic art printed on fine art papers. I've also became entranced with bookbinding as a complementary art to photography. A lengthy trip to China and its ethereal, misty mountains helped me put all these passions together in "Mountains In The Mist".
The process of creating the book was lengthy and full of potholes and detours, some of which I've shared in previous newsletters. The upshot was that I was finally able to weave together my art, poetry and calligraphy into the story I wanted to tell.
So, here it is then, a peek at the components of the book. First, the cover, printed on an Awagami heavy paper, which I hand deckled, sprayed with Moab Desert Varnish and adhered to the cloth cover.
The interior pages alternate between one that includes a segment of a poem by Hsieh, along with Chinese calligraphy that takes one or two words from the poem that coveys its meaning.
That poetry-calligraphy page is followed by one of the misty images I captured in China.
In the middle of the book I have the only double-page spread, which is what I feel is an essential statement about the mountains that Hsieh felt (before he was executed in 433 CE).
At the end of the 40-page book I included a brief explanation of how the book developed, followed by very brief bios for me, Yuming Sun, and Hsieh. Finally, tucked inside the back cover is a card that shows each calligraphed Chinese character with its English translation. It is removable, so readers can go back and study the intricacies and movement of the characters.
As Usual, All Of My Initial Decisions Were Spot On
Of course, this never happens. The fact is that this was a constant experiment; try, fail, try again. I'll get into more detail of the failures that led to success in future newsletters.
Only The Beginning
My next steps will entail creating an entire book from uncut papers to final product. There will be lots of experimentation and a short 'apprenticeship' I intend to serve with a master bookmaker in Europe. My guess is that this will take the better part of a year, but I'm already encouraged by "Mountains In The Mist" and eager to take it to the next level. As always, you'll be able to follow my progress in this newsletter.
I'll eventually publish a detailed e-Manual of how you can create your own book similar to "Mountains In The Mist" and how to avoid the mistakes I made. If you are interested, please stay tuned for an announcement of its availability.
... and Gratitudes
There is no way this book could have been completed without the support of my wife and the hard work of my long-time Associate, Bob Boyer, a Master Printer, designer, and honest (spelled b-r-u-t-a-l) critic.
I am also grateful to the wonderful folks at Moab Paper, Awagami Paper, Yuming Sun, Ruiqing Yang and the sensitive translation of Hsieh's poetry by David Hinton.