Well, this is pretty early in the game, but since I'm enjoying Emily Kircher's before and after pictures of her crocheted rugs so I'm inspired to follow her lead. This isn't a store project, but an altered book for the book guild that I am a member of (The Bone Folders' Guild). We are planning an exhibit during the Wisconsin Book Festival. The title of our exhibit is "Unspoken Beliefs: Between the Lines," or something like that. After various failed efforts, I have finally settled on the altered book as my specialty. I have neither the patience nor the precision to start from scratch on sewn book structures. It just doesn't end well. There are challenges in working in an altered book (right now the most annoying challenge is that you can't paint all the pages at once and have to wait for paint to dry before you turn a page. It slows me down but perhaps that's just fine).
So, from the beginning, I knew I would be making an altered book. But about what? Hmm. I started an altered book in a Valley Ridge Art Workshop with Juliana Coles and there was one page in particular that I was quite proud of, which was a palm reading using found text; silver hand print on a black background (see my favorite page). So that was my rough starting point. Initially I was thinking about a book with a series of different collages with various beliefs - astrology, palmistry, tarot. In the end, it seemed like there were too many different things going on so I'm going to just do a series of palm readings. Kind of a rough autobiography. Of sorts. Each pair of hands will roughly depict a decade, or even a day, with one hand showing what is and the other showing what will be, or at least what I thought would be at that particular moment. I was going to use my own hands on every page but now I'm toying with the idea of different hands through the ages (just an excuse to get Lily's handprint...).
After deciding on the theme (or sometimes a little before or during), the next step is to pick out a book. I have several stacks of books awaiting delivery to Frugal Muse so I just dug through the stack - looking for a hardcover book that was relatively thin. I would be removing several pages but I also didn't feel like using a thick book. I came across a gift book that was square (a palm print will mostly fill each page). Then some of the pages need to be removed. Luckily this book was sewn so it was easy to remove a complete page (you know how you rip a page out of a catalog and another one falls out somewhere else? I needed both sides of the piece of paper to come out at once so pages won't fall out later). Then I glued the remaining pages together as pairs so they are more sturdy.
So that the book has a somewhat cohesive look, I'm starting out with the same approach to the background of all the pages: some tape and tissue and paper for texture and pattern, then an overlay of dark blue paint, with some green. I thought I'd have a timeline of sorts running through the whole book so I'm adding a thick stripe of gesso running through each page.
I was able to do all the texturizing in one sitting, but I've had to focus on painting just one pair of pages at a time. I'm sure that I'll be adding collage elements on top at the very end, probably using melted wax, so there will be some variety from one page to the next, and not just from the text. For now I'm just playing around a little bit with paint on the page, knowing that all I'm doing is creating background so not getting too worked up in the precise design of each page.
The next step is to do an overlay in black and then, while the paint is still wet, paint my hands with silver and make a palm print. The last time that I did that, some of the black paint came up and revealed the layers underneath. I believe that, perhaps only subconsciously, the eye recognizes the many layers that go into a painting - even when things are covered up or barely visible, they are still a part of the piece.
So that's phase one of the altered book. I will be at this phase of painting pages for a little while now but will check back in when I have more progress to report.