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Putting It Together
Handmade book part 4
by Les Picker
It's finally time to put together the various parts of "Mountains in the Mist" to create the whole. For the past several months I've worked on the concept, focused it, expanded it, self-edited the images (a painful process!), selected the poetry and brought on a noted calligrapher.
This week I started putting together all the components. I'd like to share with you what's going on.
I'm about 2/3 of the way through the paste-up of the experimental edition, a one-of-a-kind creation of multi-form artwork. Here is what the first few pages look like.
For background, the book itself is actually a hand-made 100% recycled rag sketchbook. The paper has a rough feel and serves as the base for the book.
I used Unryu paper from Awagami as the photographic paper throughout the book. Unryu is an indescribably gorgeous and thin paper laced with visible, swirling embedded mulberry fibers and coated for use in an inkjet printer. They add a deep organic look to the right images. I adhered the Unryu to the Khadi, using a template for positioning.
Choosing which of my images, taken in China's mountains, to include was difficult. I teach self-editing in our Portfolio workshops, yet that's only partially helpful when making selections of my own images!
I've written previously in this series about the Chinese calligraphy in the book. It was fun figuring out the equivalence or, in many cases the non-equivalence, between the English and Chinese languages. But when it was all done I sat for many minutes contemplating the beauty of the characters, every brushstroke nuanced to perfection. It truly helped tell the story I envisioned.
Finally, I printed the cover plate on Awagami's Bizan paper, a thick inkjet receptive paper that has a sculpted, toothy feel that results in spectacular images, especially in black & white.
There have been some frustrations and failures in this process, which I'll cover in future episodes, along with tips to avoid them.
My goal is to take this trial book edition to the next level, by creating my own book entirely from scratch. Stay tuned!
Note: In North America, Unryu is sold by Moab Paper.