Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Altered Books

In my studio, I have a shelf full of handmade books--all blank. I also have a box (already packed for a move) that contain the same thing. After five years of making books, I still don't do much with text. On occasion, I'll make a book that has specific, predetermined text. For example, annual planners, gift commissions, etc. I have not however ever added my own text with the exception of using a few as journals or an address book.

Often, the first two books of any specific binding I will keep for myself. I have an sentimental connection to them and often look through the piles and think, "Which can I give away?" "Which could I sell?" Giving away is so so much easier for me then selling. Whenever I consider pricing them, I see all the flaws of learning and can't imagine asking someone to pay me for any one of them.

Altered books are different. The text is in place, and altering it often means interacting with it in a unpredeteremined way.

My friend, Brooke, has organized an altered book collaboration. It is a project that will last a full year with twelve Pittsburgh women each passing a book on to the next person at the end of the month. October is the first month.

We met last week to meet the other woman, talk about the project and intentional avoidance of rules, and to share with everyone the book that we had chosen to use. I am using the Photographic Atlas of the Planets.

The first two days after our meeting, I worked on the book several times each day. At this point, it is the images that I seem to want to interact with instead of the text. I find that I like working this way. This project will certainly help me become more comfortable with text as well as letting go of the things I create. At the end of this month, I'll pass on my book to the next person. I won't see it again for another year and in that time it will be changed in many many more ways. Maybe the things that I have done will not even be recognizable. In many ways, it will be very freeing.

I am considering working on one by myself as well. A journal of sorts for the coming year. Instead of starting with blank white pages where I can make lists, plans, rants, dreams, etc, maybe I will start with a book and add color, line, words, making cuts, folds and tears in a very nonlinear form. It may be liberating. It may make me a stronger artist.

Here is a pictures of one alteration.

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