By Noa Paden
Altered books is an art form that refers to the practice of taking an already existing book, rather than making one by hand, and in some way destroying or adding to it to create a new piece of art. There are many forms of this such as black out poetry, collages, sculptures, and other things. Sculptures in specific can be created by folding, cutting, gluing, sewing, or otherwise changing the physical structure and properties of the book.
It is unclear when book sculpture as an art form first appeared, but it seems to have only become a widely known art form within recent years and it continues to spread rapidly.
The above picture shows piece by Jodi Harvey-Brown is an illustration of a scene from the popular book Harry Potter, made from the book the scene takes place in. This is an example of turning literal pages into sculpture, based on the text it came from. It's a clear cut message with very little that needs to be interpreted or translated to understand what's going on.
In contrast, Emma Taylor makes pieces that are less relevant to the books she makes the pieces from, ignoring the original text completely and just using the book as a medium to get her art across. She says that the ending of a book is tragic, and appreciates them as objects as much as she appreciates the stories inside of them.
Her works are simple in concept, such as the trees depicted above, but have a very detailed and precise execution. Her pieces often showcase nature, turning back time on the paper the books were originally made from.
Another artist of note is an anonymous paper crafter who leaves sculptures around Edinburough for people to simply find at random. These sculptures often going undiscovered for quite a long time before they get noticed and taken somewhere safe. The artist says that some might never be found and others might get immediately thrown away due to the locations the art is left in—but has no problem with this fact and continues to make work and leaving it to be found in its own time.
This artist plays with the sculptures staying inside the book as well as making free-standing sculptures that have broken away from the structure of the book they were created from.
There are no rules to how these sculptures are made or designed, though some people adhere to their own code of how these works of art should be made. Ultimately, it's a fairly new art form that's still growing and being explored.
Listen to what these artists and art historian have to say about altered books and how they're rediscovering books as art:
Christine Antaya, an art historian based in London featured in this video, says that these alterations are not the death of books, but rather a transition. While some people still get angry at the idea of destroying existing books for to make new art, hopefully it will not be seen in such a negative light in the future.
By Samantha Vo
The digital revolution during the 1970’s provided a platform for the new artist. Practicing non traditional mediums, digitally versed artists gave new meaning to the computer and its advances in culture. Joan Truckenbrod was amongst these pioneers and has been highly influential in the development of not only the digital artist, but the inclusion of women in technology. In a time where the potential of the computer was envisioned to be more transformative than ever imagined, Ruth Leavitt proposed the following from her influential book Artist and Computer (1976): “Computer art challenges our traditional beliefs about art: how art is made, who makes it, and what is the role of the artist in society. The uninitiated artists asks: What can this machine do for me? Really, the question should be: What can I do with this machine? The artist has only to choose what role he/she wishes the computers to play. The computer helps the artist to perceive in a new way. Its features blend with those of its user to form a new type of art” (leavitt 1976, vii).
Joan Truckenbrod is an international exhibited artist based in Chicago, Illinois. Intrigued by the physical sensations of transparent yet palpable phenomena, Truckenbrod translates mathematical formulas from physics into code to create artwork that can materialize this data. Such phenomena includes but is not limited to, light wave reflections off of chaotic surfaces, wind patterns that reshape materials in their pathway or magnetic fields with undulating boundaries. Computer imaging was a vehicle to unify the synthesis of the analytical and physical perception of these experiences. Her work is influential largely because it did not remain in a digital form but often transformed into physical works such as drawings and textiles. Aside from coding, Truckenbrod experimented with unconventional printing methods to translate her code onto paper and other materials.
In 1975 Joan Truckenbrod created her series of line drawings using code she developed in FORTRAN, a computer programming language. The process she described, was long and unpredictable as much of the equipment was not available in the art department leaving her to depend on faculty in the science and geography labs to process her material. Her code was developed from mathematical equations that describe the phenomena of wind and light patterns. Line by line, she translated the formulas onto key punch cards for the computer to read and produce code. Using a pen plotter in the geography department, she was able to feed her code into the machine to draw the embedded coordinates.
Truckenbrod’s line drawings was an introduction of how she could utilize the computer in her art. However she was unsatisfied with the disconnection between such phenomena and the drawings and desired to create a more symbolic union with the natural world. She received a grant from Apple computers in 1978 to pursue her exploration in textiles. Using an apple IIe, Joan created a series of patterns representing the invisible phenomena in motion. She placed the monitor upside down on a 3M color-in-color copier to create individual pattern frames. Truckenbrod hand ironed the patterns frame by frame using heat transfer xerography onto fabric. By using textiles, Joan felt that it would connect with the natural world by responding radically to light patterns and wind currents in its environment. These electronic patchwork textiles were then exhibited in the IBM Gallery in New York City.
After receiving her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1979, Joan Truckenbrod became the first chair of its newly created art and technology program, a former nondigital school. She is responsible for developing one of the first courses in computer graphics called “creative computer imaging” and helped establish an international reputation for Chicago’s art community. She was a pioneer for women in the digital arts in a time where technology held little to no room for female artists. Joan Truckenbrod reinvented the possibilities of technology within the arts and paved the way for multi-faceted artists. She is a prime example of the way women bring a diverse perception into any field. As described by Dr. Lina Wainwright “Technology is a valuable handmaiden in the advances of culture but only when wielded with a spirit of empathy, collaboration, and care, skills in which women, in my opinion, excel.”
“An Awesome Page.” , Artist - Video Sculpture Artwork and Exhibit - Nanoscapes, joantruckenbrod.com/joan-truckenbrod.html.
Cox, Donna, et al. New Media Futures The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts. University of Illinois Press, 2018.
Truckenbrod, Joan. “Biography.” Teaching Texture Mapping Visually - Page 9, 2000, www.siggraph.org/artdesign/profile/Truckenbrod/biography.html.
Truckenbrod, Joan, director. Joan Truckenbrod. Vimeo, 13 Nov. 2018, vimeo.com/286992423.
Wenhart, Nina. “Prehysteries of New Media.” 06/25/08, 2008, prehysteries.blogspot.com/2008/07/ruth-leavitt-artist-and-computer-1976.html.
By Zelda Hurd
“I hope to raise questions about these changes, the ephemeral and fragile nature in which we now obtain knowledge, and the future of books.”-Cara Barer
Cara Barer is an American Artist from Texas born in 1956 who transforms old books into a form that is very beautiful. Barer uses books that have been abandoned and that no longer have a purpose. She has seen the shift of books and how technology is taking over the physicality of having a book. Cara hopes to make her viewers think about the fragile aspect of books. Another inspiration came from yellow pages that she saw soaked from rain on the ground outside and intrigued by the new form it created she documented the book using photography. Barer examines the books before starting her process and depending on the content she sometimes will leave the book the way it is. Barer explains that she sometimes arrives with her image by chance through experimentation, using clothing pins, curling irons, water and dye. Creating by chance and not as planned allows her to create her artworks with flow. She says that sometimes she catches herself reading the book, instead of creating art. She then captures her book sculptures with photography to document and symbolize how fragile the physicality of books are and that technology is taking over for every resource.
Cara Barer has been showcasing her work in Canada and the United States since 1994 and her most recent exhibition is called Scrapbooks. It is the first exhibition of monograph of her sculptures. She has taken memories, such as pictures, and guest traveling books, and made a book out of them, and then starts her process of turning that book of memory into something new. Her thesis for this exhibition is “ that a book is never broken, and memory never lost, only made anew with time.” This exhibition is dedicated to the flood in Houston Texas. As she continues this journey of creating abstract art with books, she hopes to capture a lot of information.
Jacqueline Rush Lee an artist from Hawaii, has a very similar art concept as Cara Barer, she states that these books aren’t being ruined, they are given a new life. Lee creates her form using experimentation too, but she uses a kiln- firing approach. She fires each book in a different temperature and this depends on the book itself. Lee discovered that the books made in 1940s and 1950s had a better paper quality that holds up better in the heat of the kiln. One of her books called Absolute Depth changes form before the viewer by decaying and dissolving in water, as an example of transformation. Like Barer, Lee only uses old, books and volumes that she then buys a lot of.
Both artists use books that have content, in which they gain their inspiration. Barer looks at the book before she starts her experimentation in a way of remembering the book in it’s old form before its transformation and Lee uses the content of her book for inspiration and only uses the book if the contents resonate with her.
The same type of weaving would be seen in his later works called From Vietnam to Hollywood. In this series, Le integrated stills of Hollywood films of Western-Vietnam wars and the photographic images produced by photojournalists. This series was to address the way that war propaganda was perceived from the popular culture while living in the U.S. and what was happening in Vietnam.
"Dinh Q. Le (Vietnamese- American, b. 1968)." Gund Gallery, http://www.thegundgallery.org/2015/02/dinh-q-le/.
Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. “How Vietnamese Artist Dinh Q Lê Manages to Create Beauty with Tragedy.” Prestige Online - Society's Luxury Authority, Hubert Burda Media, 22 May 2018, prestigeonline.com/sg/art-culture/-/beauty-tragedy-artist-dinh-q-le-captures-cambodias-dark-past/.
“Dinh Q. Lê.” ArtAsiaPacific: Bharti Kher, artasiapacific.com/Magazine/85/DinhQLe.
Walter Hamady, born in Flint, Michigan, of a Lebanese father and an American mother in 1940, graduated from Wayne State University and Cranbrook Academy. Since 1964, he has run Perishable Press, where he published intricate, inventive small-edition books. He has often referred to books as “the Trojan Horse of art,” thinking of the way they sneak artistic ideas into a familiar format that can be handled with ease.
Hamady is a pivotal figure in book arts; he helped the art world to perceive the book in a new perspective. His books are humorous, inventive and interactive works of art. I will be delving into Walter’s poking entertainment and innovation – specifically in his fifth Gabberjabb; he challenges conventional ideas about the structure and function of books. For this purpose, I further investigated his satirical behavior and ingenious complexity.
Upon looking through Hamady’s Gabberjabb #5, I was immersed with its personality, this book was given life… he called attention to the art of the book itself having been printed, perforated, drawn, cut, stamped, collaged, taped, embossed, grommeted, signed, notarized, numbered, notched, torn, and bitten. Flipping through pages I noticed the endnotes at the end of words. Any scholar, I would presume, would automatically think, “a source?” Puzzled, I searched for these “sources” to finally stumble upon a manila book pocket with the silhouette of a man’s side profile collaged by a postcard. Inside this pocket, contained a small pamphlet titled,
I returned to the very beginning of the Gabberjabb while constantly referring to the footnotes at my side. Travelling through, I could not help but laugh or smile a bit. Truthfully, I was having a conversation with this book. These notes reflected his own voice, it was almost like speaking with Walter Hamady himself.
“the Druze call it THE FORCE114” followed with the footnote, “Preceeds Star Wars. See ftN Forty-SiX through Seventy.”
“Copyright 1981 by Walter Samuel Hätoum Hamady” had a finger pointing to his name with the number 103, the note reads as follows: “(SEE: 38, 42, 47 & 95) My father once told me that in the old country, Hamady is a common name and has 5 branches; this one is ours.” Hamady settled in Wisconsin in 1966, he is a midwestern artist with roots in the Levant; hence, Walter Semi-Hittite Hamady or (WshH), one of several phrases of his name – Walter Samuel Hätoum Hamady.
He adopted a narrative mode associated with scholarly essays; Hamady loved footnotes so, provided they are, in his view worthwhile. Numerous scholars would presume footnotes to be “offensive” as the notes can be “trivializing the text” and hence, a “waste of time.” Nonetheless, Hamady’s notes are pleasurable to read given that they are fundamentally, another story in themselves.
Along my journey of the Gabberjabb I noticed how he played with text. There were misspellings, fascinating punctuation, bolds, italics, capitalization, and so on and so forth. If one is willing to preserve, there are wonderful discoveries to be made. The mood of the book progresses. Reaching near the end of Gabberjabb #5, I took notice of a small alteration to the word “ibid”. It began with footnote *23, a personal reflection he stated. The play on words proceeded to various modifications: “*25 “ (you bite Maybe , “*28 “ It bit Need period after word me.”, “*29 “ tid Bit ColopHaperPun.”, “*30 “ tit bite.” Inside my head I would respond to each note thinking how much is that, what bit, is this a tid bit, and tit bite? The legibility and illegibility act on the pleasure and instruction of the book. There is an equal distribution between the printer and the writer.
There is a continuous disruption of extensive notes produced in the chronology of the text which generates a positive parallel in Hamady’s view – where the footnote is pushed as far as it can, or perhaps ought to, go, and yet he encourages his reader to follow his footsteps as the series moves forward.
May the dedicated reader, forewarned, wait with interest and some apprehension to see what will emerge from Walter Hamady’s Gabberjabbs.
“The book, is perhaps the most personal form an artist can deal with. It encompasses a multiple and sequential picture plane, it is tactile, and to be understood, it must be handled by the viewer, who then becomes a participant.” - Walter Hamady
Behrens, Roy. “The Gift of Gabberjabbs.” Print, vol. 51, no. 1, 1997, pp. 64–71
Derrida, Jacques. “Living on.” Deconstruction & Criticism. New York: Continuum, 1979, pp. 75
Hamady, Walter. For the Hundredth Time &Quot;Gaebboerjabb Number (5) Five&Quot; : 12
&Amp; 17 November 1980 : Journal Liftings. Perishable Press, 1981.
Lydon, Mary. "The Trojan Horse of Art: Walter Hamady, the Perishable Press Limited and "Gabberjabbs 1-6"." Visible Language, vol. 25, no. 2, 1991, pp. 151. ProQuest.
Fore-edge Paintings on Manuscripts
By Elizabeth Wheeler
A fore-edge painting can be described as a small but often heavily detailed piece of art that is drawn or painted on the edges of the pages of a book in a manner in which the full image can only be seen when the book is closed and the leaves of the book are fanned out. At first glance on a shelf the book could seem just as ordinary as any other book but by fanning out the leaves and exposing every edge of every page a never before seen image would then appear. There are a variety of forms of fore-edge paintings including, a single for-edge which the painting is on only one side of the book page edges as well as a double fore-edge painting which shows a different image when the book is fanned in either direction. There are also triple fore-edge paintings as well as split double paintings and even more amazing and complicated variations were the leaves would need to be pinched or bent in a particular manner for different scenes to appear!
The history of fore-edge paintings isn't exactly clear, with examples of the style being seen dating as far back at the 10th century. These very early versions were mostly simple images done in gold ink. The first example of the ever popular disappearing fore-edge painting was seen in 1649 and then the easiest one that was signed as dated was a family coat of arms done in 1653 on a 1651 family bible. It was because most fore-edge painter and book binders did not sign their work that we have so much trouble dating the times that these pieces were done. The painting is often an extra that is added on many years after the original binding of the book
The fore-edge painting was often seen on copies of books from personal libraries, done during a time in which having a personal collection of books was a sign of great wealth and people were as you would assume, very protective of their books. It was likely because of this fact that a bit of a legend grew to surround the idea of how the first fore edge painting came to be. It was said that Charles the II who was the King of England, lent a book to a Duchess after having commissioned the court painter to make it so he would always be able to identify his books if needed. After some time, while visiting the Duchess the King noticed his book on herself and pulled it down, preparing to take the book back home with him. The Duchess tried to say that, that particular book was, in fact, hers. The King slyly smiled and spread the leaves of the book to display his coat of arms, painted on the fore edge of the book but completely hidden to the naked eye by the books gilded edges.
Bromer, Anne C. "Fore Edge Painting - An Introduction". On the Edge: The Hidden Art of Fore-Edge Book Painting. Boston Public Library.
Dutter, Vera, E. "The Ancient Art of Fore-Edge Painting" American Artist, January 1969.
Weber, Carl J. Fore-Edge Painting, A Historical Survey of a Curious Art in Book Decoration. 1966.
An example of inclusive bookstores are Quimby’s, and Women and Children First, both located in Chicago, Illinois. Quimby’s specializes in alternative comics, graphic novels, obscure small-press books and, “...in particular, photocopied, self-published zines”. Women & Children First is known for its’ diverse and queer-friendly selection of literature, and is women-owned and operated.
Within these spaces, one can see just by the covers of these books that this is no ordinary bookstore. Looking at the shelves, there are professionally published indie books, hand-bound artist books, and stapled-together zines that all tell and illustrate stories with both vulnerability and freedom. In addition to the difference in the tactile quality of these books, the stories they share are also different. There is a deep honesty about experiences- mundane and intense alike.
Within Quimby’s bookstore, a patch-work approach in the form of artist books and zines has been taken, but an inclusive store for all voices has been created, nonetheless. Stories like “Butch nor Femme”, a zine about the complicated feelings that come with being queer and not fitting quite into either box; "First Aide to Face Adversity”, a book written by Kuwa Jasiri, explaining safety precautions one should take when preparing to participate in a protest; "SPEAK", Lawrence Burney's collection of reflections that provide an unfiltered voice to the underrepresented musicians of color from Baltimore, come right to the forefront. There are hundreds of stapled-together zines, comics and handmade artists books for one to dig through. They cover incredibly specific and vulnerable topics to the author, allowing the reader to peek into, and even feel their personal experiences and lives.
In the mid 1700s, books became both more economical and more popular. This caused the movement of books from tables to shelves, upright, and with spines out (Maser 8). In the years between 1750 and 1760, a transition was made between books being a part of small libraries, often with few books stacked on tables, chests or shelves with their fore-edges (pages) visible, to large libraries, whose number of books necessitated the quick identification of a number of books (Maser 8). The trend was reflected in the bindings.
As is the case with many traditions, popularity, industrialization, and mass production reaches a wider audience but at the cost of personalized craftsmanship.
Burdett, Eric. The Craft of Bookbinding: A Practical Handbook. Vancouver: David and Charles Limited, 1975. Print.
Crane, W.I.E. Bookbinding for Amateurs: Being Descriptions of the Various Tools and Appliances Required. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903. Print.
E Walker et. AL, The Art of Book-Binding, Its Rise and Progress;A Descriptive Account of the New York Book-Bindery. New York: E. Walker and Sons, 1850. Print.
“Eliot Indian Bible.” Digital Collections at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, UIUC Rare Book & Special Collections Library, 18 Feb. 2002, digital.library.illinois.edu/items/d9031410-0d93-0135-23f6-0050569601ca-6#?cv=0&r=0&xywh=-473%2C1968%2C2393%2C1355.
How Its Made: Traditional Bookbinding. Narrator: Lynn Herzeg. Discovery Channel, 2013. Website Upload.
Marten, John: Director. Traditional Bookbinding Techniques of “A Reformed Druid Anthology.”Independently Filmed, 2013. Website Upload.
Maser, Frederick E. Book Binding in America: 1680-1910. Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawn College Library, 1983. Print..
Alisa Banks is a full time visual artist whose work confronts memory, tradition, and notions of home, place and self. Growing up as a black woman in the 60’s and 70’s, Banks work often incorporates fibers materials and found objects that reflect on personal experiences, and cross-cultural tones of intolerance during that time period. Banks received her BS from Oklahoma State University and later her MFA from Texas Woman’s University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in several private and public collections. Currently Banks resides in Dallas, Texas.
Cotton, doilies, wood, silk and synthetic hair are all materials Alisa Banks interlaces within and throughout books, transforming them into meticulously crafted, intimate sculptural objects. Underlying themes of identity and cultural memories are commonly explored through Banks’ repurposed books. In a series of work titled “Edges”, the artist elaborately crochets synthetic hair to the edges of each page of the book. Presented open faced the transformed book resembles a half circle, embodying a gravity defying, frizz prone, African hairstyle. The series of four books presents four different hairstyles of traditional African braiding techniques. The hair fibers create textures against the pages while simultaneously embellishing the edges of the pages symbolizing “ the marginal, the end, the between, and duality.” Banks states, “the hair treatment symbolizes how much activity, creativity, and life happens at the ‘edges’ of mainstream society, regardless of whether or not it is recognized…” Growing up during a time period of racial integration, Banks edge series captures the tones of intolerance faced during the 60’s and 70’s and even today when regarding immigration status.
“A Bee Press- Alisa Banks.” Primrose Press, www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/b/A-Bee-Press.html.
“VCU News.” VCU Forensic Toxicologist's Work in Helping Solve Bizarre Death to Be Featured on National Forensics Television Show, news.vcu.edu/article/More_than_words.
“About Alisa Banks.” Alisa Banks, www.alisabanks.com/about-the-artist/.
"Alisa Banks- The Edge Series." Abecedarian Gallery, abecedariangallery.com/store/reviews/2012/12/14/alisa-banks-the-edge-series/.
ManagedArtwork.com. “Alisa Banks.” Http://Www.seagergray.com/ - Richard Shaw - Artists Detail, www.seagergray.com/Artist-Info.cfm?ArtistsID=521.
Some of the first examples of interactive art can be dated back to the 1920s. This is an art form that needs the spectator in order to achieve its purpose or fullest potential. Interactive art continues to grow and evolve rapidly, gaining attention from numerous museums, venues, and urban installations as they integrate the genre into their collections in greater numbers. On the other hand, art books date back to the Medieval Period. Although practiced for generations, art books found the ancestor of their true form in the works of William Blake, who set the tone for later artists’ books by merging handwritten text and images. Nowadays, an art book could be anything- a traditional book of poems, a braid of hair, different types of sand, or even microscopic experimentations and their findings. If we merge interactive art with an art book, the result elevates its component parts to a new, higher form. Such an example lies in the book “My 9 Migraine Cures” by Ann Kalmbach and Tatana Kellner, which I came across while experiencing the Special Collections at Arizona State University’s Hayden Library.
William Mark Sommer
Ed as a creative in book arts has been challenging the way photography is shown in the book form. Ed has a created over 44 books and zines ranging from simple zerox folio, accordion books, to classic perfect bound books that showcase his works in these diverse monographs. More than just the structure of the book, Ed brings a different life to his work by utilizing many different layouts from photos in a collage form, sometimes applying pull out pages, to full layouts of exhibitions with drawings and his hand written type giving a new narrative to the work than the simplicity of single photos. These different methods of structures and layouts help to give his work an even more personal touch and diverge his photographs from the traditional way of showing photos in the book form.
Information found on:
Thrill of it all podcast:
Gracious Living by Lucas Chemotti,
Roma Publications is a small photo book publisher based in the Netherlands. They describe themselves on their website by saying,” Roma Publications is an Amsterdam based art publisher, founded in 1998 by graphic designer Roger Willems, and artists Mark Manders and Marc Nagtzaam. It is used as a platform to produce and distribute autonomous publications made in close collaboration with a growing number of artists, institutions, writers and designers. Related to the content, every issue has its own rule of appearance and distribution, varying from house to house papers to exclusive books. The publications so far are in editions between 2 and 150,000 copies. Occasionally, Roma also curates exhibitions.” I initially learned of Roma Publications through their working with Belgian photographer Geert Goiris. His work and subsequent book Proliferation from 2014 is described by the publisher as,” Published to coincide with the exhibition of a series of photographs by Geert Goiris at the Mauvoisin Dam (Valais, Switzerland), this sublime series of 30 images suggests a timelessness and contained restlessness through its potential narratives of place and collective memory. Labyrinthine trees, strange rock formations, contemplative figures, man-made objects and wide mountain landscapes work together to instill a sense of serenity on the observer, yet one that evokes a certain tension, a primal longing generated by the environments Goiris portrays.” The book helps to convey narrative through its attention to such ideas as sequencing, image layout, variety of treatment, conceptual consideration, and its beauty as a book-object. As opposed to exhibitions of the work, the book form helps to accentuate the feeling of being lead on a journey through what could be seen as incoherent places and subject matter, but by being constrained to seeing only one to two images at a time and in a very specific sequence, the images are unified, offering a sort of juxtaposition of fact and fiction. Something I really appreciate about this book is that it initially offers only images, allowing the viewer space to formulate their own interpretations of the work, but at the end is an essay as well as an index of all included images with titles and Goiris’ own descriptions of various lengths. Published in a small edition of three hundred and including a signed Lambda print, Proliferation has been out of print since I first learned of it a few years ago. Initially valued at around sixty-two US dollars, the few remaining new copies being sold on the Internet now fetch upwards of four hundred. Below are selected spreads from within the book, the included Lambda print, and a view of Goiris' exhibition of Proliferation at the Mauvoisin Dam in Valais, Switzerland.
The project I wanted dot research was low relief sculpting. The first time I saw a sculpture from it was from some image’s heather showed up in class and I physically saw one of the here samples/test she did at a workshop. That was a about 2 years ago. The topic came back around this semester in her advance book art class. That’s when I knew I was interested in low relief sculpture after she gave us a in class demo.
So, I decided to try it out myself. I got a chance to interviewed Tom Balbo a Cleveland native papermaking, ceramics artist and he answered some of my questions to help me get a full understanding on how to sculpt in low relief. Here the conversation:
Interview with Tom Balbo:
Jonathan Wright: What are they best materials to use for low relief sculpting?
Tom Balbo: Cast Ceramics bisque wear, recycled materials, plastics materials, plaster made sculptures, build up sculptures with the laser cutter
TB: Avoid glass, raw metals, anything that can oxidizes, raw wood unless it’s really well sealed.
JW: What are the best fibers to use for low relief?
TB: Cotton with a light beating (1hour), flaxseed, Kozo if you want to go the sculpture route.
JW: What are some of the challenges when making low relief sculptures?
TB: Make sure it doesn’t have a lot of underbite, don’t over beat fibers it will shrink more. Dry the back of the couched paper. Watch as it slightly damping. weigh it down but not too much weight. Wait a couple of days after you taken off, because paper tend to move or expand if its slightly dampened. Vacuum table I normally empty tank after 1 or 2 casting. Basically, trail and era
JW: Who taught you have to make low relief sculptures?
TB: I taught myself with low relief, ceramics major casting in plasters mould, and experimenting. Light beating for sculpting compared to the beating for sheets.
I failed on my 1st attempt at the low relief sculptures, but with the help of Tom Balbo and Heather Green I can make a better sculpture.
image(s) courtsey of:
other images by
Interview with Tom Balbo 11/12/18
Tom Balbo website: http://www.balbogalleries.com/
“My interest is interlinearity, this ‘in-between’, the portion of knowledge and the world that we ignore or omit, or consider negative space — the pause in a sentence, the gesture before the act, the twilight between two portions of the day.” Robbin Ami Silverberg
Robbin Amy Silverberg is an artist working in Papermaking, Book Arts, and Installation art. Silverberg is the founding director of Dobbin Mill and Dobbin Books, a hand-made papermaking studio and a collaborative studio working in artists books, respectively. Silverberg has been an instructor for papermaking/artist books at the Center for Book Arts, NYC since 1986, and is Associate Professor for “Art of the Book” at Pratt Art Institute, NYC since 2002.[i]She has published extensively and her work has been exhibited in numerous countries around the world. Dobbin Books publishes 5-10 editions of small artist books yearly. They are either collaborations with artists and/or writers from other countries, as well as from the US and/or solo works by Silverberg.
Conceptually her work focuses on thought and analysis of words and the function of inserted text in lines already written and or printed. This use of text is one of the most visually astonishing things in Silverberg’s work. There is a formality created by the constantly repeating words. An incessant voice telling the viewer a story. The narrative is captivating as it is elusive. The text can either be multiplied over and over, wrapped around objects, and or simply be a single word crafted out of hair and embedded in an object.
However, this is not the only absorbing part of her work. She places equal attention to the entire process of her craft, beginning with the paper she uses and thinks of its function not only as substrate but as an active part of the work.[ii]This is true whether it is her own book or any other work published at Dobbin Books. They are books which explore a wide scope of themes ranging from issues of identity, memory, loss, life, and death. They are also about women’s issues, their voices, and value. Historical themes dealing with war and the Holocaust, literature, and reflections on the self are also present in her work. These themes are approached in an almost obsessive way, with Silverberg deciding with strict detail on every part of the process, from its design, structure, the materials that will be used in the making of the handmade paper, to the final crafting of the book form.
A few titles of books which stood out to me are;Detritus, Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, Testament Patriarch, Dusters, Safer-Code, andJust 30 Words. It was difficult to make selections but I’ve selected these works because I found each moving in a unique way. Detritusis a work about 9/11. The artist states that two weeks after 9/11 she entered “Ground Zero to check if the Ampersand Foundation’s apartment still existed. I walked amongst the abandoned buildings covered in thick layers of dust, with trees covered in paper detritus as if they had genetically altered leaves.I grabbed some of these papers and some handfuls of the powder; much later I made paper with pulp filled with these remains, along with ripped up maps of New York City.” Detritusis a series of five different books in which the artist is trying to understand life in her hometown after the horrific event. Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, and Testament Patriarch are all books that deal with women, how they are viewed, valued, and their perceived roles in society. About Home Sweet Homeshe says that she "'designed' an architectural album of an imaginary middle-class suburban house, filling its plans and layout with the many proverbs I've found about woman in the home.”[iii]Dustersis part of a series of books that was born from the artist’s discovery in Kyoto, Japan of a duster made from a block-printed book. This inspired her to create works in which she is thinking of common objects and how to create text that speaks of the transformation of the object to a book form and the duality which it presents. She has created several works in the form of dusters, dust pans, brushes, hand mirrors, etc. since 1998.[iv]In Safer-Codethe artist cut into a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codesillustrating her interest in the “interlinearity” of text, the pause and act of words, the empty space. Just 30 Words is a book with the following description:
Postcards have been found that were written by deported Hungarian Jews to their relatives from Auschwitz, dictated by SS officers. Rules for responding correspondence can be found on the front: “Answer only on a postcard, (maximum 30 words), in German via the Hungarian Jewish Association. 12 Sip Street, Budapest, VII.”[v]
Silverberg was originally trained as a sculptor in the late 1970’s[vi]and learned bookbinding in Vienna in the early 1980‘s which is when she started making artists books. The way each project is produced and executed vary from one to the other. However, the one thing constant to each work produced by Dobbin Books is the use of the paper made at Dobbin Mill, giving each a unique quality and definitive look to the creation of works by Dobbin Books.
[i]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/biocv/
[ii]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/dobbin-books-dobbin-mill/
[iii]World Catalogue. 12 November, 2018. Web. http://www.worldcat.org/title/home-sweet-home/oclc/122777513
[iv]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 12 November, 2018. Artist Statement.
[v]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 01 November, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/artwork/editions/just-30-words-interlineary/
[vi]Andrew, Jason. Walt Street Journal. 11 November, 2018. Web. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704644404575481781993126388
Walter Hamady, born in 1940, attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan as an undergraduate and founded his own press - The Perishable Press Limited - in 1964. Two years later he established the Shadwell Papermill and began exploring the creation and usage of handmade paper. Since its inauguration, The Perishable Press name is credited with designing and publishing over 131 titles by numerous authors and visual artists(1). I will be discussing one of Hamady’s personal works, the Interminable Gabberjabbs series.
I had the opportunity this past week to visit ASU’s Special Collections and take notes on Hamady’s fifth book in the series, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five. (Due to the signing of an honor agreement, I cannot post the pictures I took. These images were found online.) Hamady is an accomplished poet, creating a sense of flow and unusual softness through his use of syntax and embellishment to even the simple prose that follows along the actual poems in the book. What struck me the most about the Gabberjabb series is how Hamady ignores the traditional rules we as readers have come to expect from codex-form books, particularly in his use of structure and language. Hamady’s Gabberjabbs have been described as a game of “Hunt the Footnote”(2), and upon viewing Gabberjabb Number Five(3) I found this to be more true than I could have anticipated. Housed in the second to last page of the book is a library card folder with a small pamphlet-stitched booklet boasting the title “👣NOTES”(4) that serves as an accompanying reading guide.
(1) “Walter Hamady.” Wikipedia, 30 July 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Hamady. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
(2) Lyndon, Mary. “The Trojan Horse of Art: Walter Hamady, The Perishable Press Limited and ‘Gabberjabbs 1-6’.” Visible Language, vol. 25, iss. 2, 1991, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/docview/1297966346?accountid=4485&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.
(3) A shortened form of the full title previously stated, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five, for purposes of readability and, to be quite honest, as an excuse from the author to continue to use the word “Gabberjab” in an academic report.
(4) Approximated; in the real book, the ftNode(5) booklet is inscribed with a letterpressed symbol of Hermes’ winged sandal, followed by the word NOTES.
(6) Apologies; another shortened title. For intents of this report, For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb Number Five will hereafter be referred to by varying versions of its title, including but not limited to Gabberjab Number Five; Gabberjab Five; Walter Hamady’s fifth Gabberjab; Gabberblab Five the Fifth One, etc. At the reader’s discretion, to what I am referring should be instinctive.
(7) Lyndon, Mary.
Traditional stone lithography is a process of etching and pulling prints off of limestone slabs. The nature of this technique requires many chemicals and special equipment. As a result, this process is expensive and difficult to gain access to.
In June 2011, french artist and teacher Émilie Aizier, pseudonym Emilion, invented a non toxic, home alternative to traditional stone lithography and coined the term Kitchen Lithography. The process sticks to the same general science of lithography however it substitutes vegetable oil for lithotine and cola for nitric acid.
Through combining Emilie Aizer's research and kitchen lithography demonstrations from different parts of the world I was able to combine steps from each artist's techniques to further develop this non-toxic and accessible lithography process.
* Images used in this tutorial are combined from several print attempts, as a result the key image may change form one photo to the next but that is not part of the process.
Mono Printing Plate (plexi glass)
A container larger than your plate with no holes
Sponge/ Bowl of water
Litho Crayons or Sharpie
Oil Based Ink
Paper (for print)
Wrap your mono printing plate in aluminum foil (matte side up) and carefully tape it down to the back of the plate
* You must be careful not to leave finger prints on the plate as the grease from your hands may print.
* For a smooth surface you can lightly dampen the plate with your sponge before putting down your foil. The water will help the foil cling to the plate and help prevent wrinkles. (However, if wrinkles do not bother you they can also be used aesthetically.)
With a litho crayon or a traditional sharpie draw your image on the MATTE side of the aluminum plate.
*If drawing in sharpie you must draw over your lines at least three times or they will not print.
*Try to maintain a light hand as the foil rips easily
* If a rip occurs you can seal it with tape however the edge of the tape will print (DO NOT LEAVE THE HOLE OPEN)
Drop a small amount of pancake syrup onto your plate and buff it in with paper towels or cheese cloth.
* Make sure there is enough syrup so that it fully and evenly covers the plate
Get your container and put your plate at the bottom. A this point you should start to pour cola into the container being sure that it hits every inch of your plate. Lift the container and move the liquid left to right for at least three minutes to ensure a complete etch.
* If your image is drawn with sharpie you will need to do this process twice.
* You cannot reuse this cola and the cola must be carbonated.
This is the last step before printing.
With cheese cloth or paper towels rub vegetable oil all over the plate. When you do this your image will disappear but thats okay, the grease etch remains.
Wet your plate with the sponge. It is important that you sponge your plate between each application of ink. You want water to be on your plate but you don't want it to be very wet.
After sponging roll your oil based ink out onto the plate and watch your image re-appear.
Once you've got your pressure set at the press run your plate through with a sheet of paper and pull your print!
Researchers say that these plates can be used for up to editions of 50 if using a gentle hand however I have not tested this personally.
A Pulled Print
Learning Experiences "Flops"
As time goes on, around the 15th century, other styles of marbling started to develop in Turkey and Persia. Here they used a bit of a different technique to create wavy images they called “Ebru”, which means cloud, or wind-like. In central Asia they used oil inks which are much heavier. These oil inks required a medium to be added to the water called size so that the oil inks would stay at the top, which is essential for the marbling process to happen. This also allowed for more control over the way the inks moved, creating more patterns. Ebru used more colors than Suminagashi.
Soon after, marbling became known in Europe. It still remained a special technique because not very many people knew how to do it, and the artists were keeping it a secret. The business of book binding was taking off and the bookbinders really wanted to learn how to marble the book cloth. It wasn’t until the 19th century when an Englishman, Charles Woolnough, published The Art of Marbling (1853) where he describes different methods of marbling, how to make certain kinds of patterns.
No two marbles are exactly the same, making it a “monoprint” type of process. It relates to printmaking because it involves transferring designs and patterns onto paper and fabrics. Marbling is still used very often today, not only onto paper but onto surfaces of all kinds. I have once actually marbled my arm by dipping it into a tub of inks and slowly pulling it out.
Dafi Kühne is a Swiss designer and letterpress artist who combines contemporary graphic design approaches with the art of letterpress printing. Based in Glarus, Switzerland, Kühne has been working full-time as a letterpress printmaker for over a decade, producing a wide range of artifacts including posters, brochures, and invitations for the world of music, art, theater, and film.
Kühne prides himself on his ability to combine contemporary graphic design with printmaking techniques no longer practiced by the vast majority of designers. As a “no-digital-only” designer, Kühne cites his favorite tools as letterpress printing presses from the 1960s, traditional metal and wood type, pantograph cut wood blocks, laser cut blocks, polymer plates and handcuff lino and chip board. In addition to his computer, which is also an integral part of his process. In his Swiss studio, Kühne has collected over twenty tons of equipment. Kükne’s studio set-up includes three FAG Control 405 machines and a massive German Frontex loaded with seemingly endless dials and knobs. How the floor resists caving in remains a globally disputed mystery.
To many designers, working exclusively in letterpress may seem tedious, unsustainable, crazy, or all of the above. For Kühne, the draw of letterpress comes from his ability to assert total control over the design and production process. Kühne states, “I am not a luddite or a romantic retro fanatic…it’s just about finding the right tool for producing my design.” For Kühne the printing presses are an important tool in the process of design, not just the final step. When you send a digital file to print, there’s no telling what will come back in the form of paper and ink. The designer relinquishes control after they send or upload a digital file. Kühne remedies this by being hands on from the start. “When it comes to printing I want to have full control over the whole process and the power to make all the decisions, such as choosing the colors and the paper, mixing the ink, setting the about of pressure and ink, according to my design concept.”
Before taking on a client’s project, Kühne must make sure the concept and messaging are strong. Typography plays the leading role in the formation of the communication but color and texture are equally important. Kühne’s over 600 cases of type include favorites such as Caslon and Helvetica, along with more obscure typefaces such as Normal Grotesk.
Perhaps Kühne’s biggest contribution to the world of contemporary letterpress, other than his work, are his informative and engaging videos, which explore alternative printing techniques. His video on casting plastic resin type explains how he made additional letterforms from a pre-existing metal typeface because he didn’t have enough type specimens to print a text-heavy poster. Other topics that Kühne covers include working with magnetic wood type, indirect printing, vinyl sticker type, and torn structures.
Kühne’s work is appealing because it balances graphic design traditions with contemporary approaches. The hand-made quality can be felt not only in the aesthetics but also in the concept. As each step takes much longer on letterpress than it doesn’t on a computer, decisions are carefully calculated, leading to better choices, and better design. In a n era when designers can create hundreds of sketches on a computer in an hour or two, having an awareness of the image making roots of the letterpress are more important than ever. Setting type by hand allows for a sort of embodied cognition to take place, as a designer learns the classical components of typography. Hopefully more designers in the future will have an opportunity to discover the letterpress and incorporate traditional techniques in their own contemporary designs.
Owen Pritchard, December 9 2016
True Print: the work of Swiss designer Dafi Kühne catalogued in fantastic new monograph
Luc Benyon, April 2018
A Look Inside Dafi Kühne’s Swiss Alps-based, Mindblowingly Vast Letterpress Studio
Dafi Kuhne’s Vimeo Channel
Living in two worlds is often a theme in Indigenous art and is used when confronting the preconceptions of the Eurocentric gaze. This gaze is associate with lack of knowledge on Indigenous people and their culture but only familiar with them through western films, old photos, and stereotypes. They are unaware that there are 562 federally recognized tribes. Today’s Contemporary Indigenous artists are challenging the ways conventional museums depict Indigenous peoples, culture and art. We will be taking a closer look at these artists and how they are able to bring these topics into discussion with performance and photography.
James Luna, is an internationally renowned performance and installation artists who is Puyukitchum, Ipai, and Mexican American Indian (James Luna). His art consists of aspects of Indigenous identity, isolation and misinterpretations of his culture. In his historical The Artifact Piece, he changed Contemporary Native American Art forever. The Artifact Piece performance was created in 1987, when Luna was attending the San Diego State University and at the time, his focus was in art education. The performance allowed the viewer to participate in the reality of the current state of the American Indian in a contemporary setting. Luna displayed his belongings such as; his divorce papers, music he enjoyed, photographs and himself in a display case. Luna has been such an influential artist to Contemporary Native artist.
Erica Lord. Other Peoples Pixels. 2018. www.ericalord.com . Accessed 20 January 2018.
James Luna: Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. James Lune 2017. www.jamesluna.red/artwork . Accessed 2 February 2018.
Selz, Peter. The Art of Engagement, Visual Politics in California and Beyond. Pg 165
Terrance Houle. www.terrancehoule.com . Accessed 18 January 2018
Thompson, Chuck. Cowboys and Indians: Voice. www.cowboysindians.com/2018/01/wendy-red-star-and-the-indigenous-voice . Accessed 6 February 2018
In the spring of 1912, Pablo Picasso created the first collage. This work, Still Life with Chair Caning, is considered the first because it is the earliest known artwork to have taken familiar materials, such as random papers, and deliberately arrange them in a fine art context (Shields). This new direction in modern art was coined papier collé, a French phrase for “glued paper,” by Picasso and Georges Braque, an artist who worked closely with Picasso during the creation of Cubism. Collage was a groundbreaking movement because it was a drastic change from the traditional domain of painting, as the “procedures for laying out, pinning, and gluing papier collés resemble commercial design strategies more than they do the protocol of the fine arts” (Bois, Buchloh, Foster, Joselit, and Krauss, 114). Not only did the collage movement completely shift the entire vocabulary of Cubism, it has inspired art of all different styles and forms throughout the twentieth century and even today.
Papier collé was a revolutionary movement in modern art as it seemed to attain several meanings; “the original identity of the fragment or object and all of the history it brings with it; the new meaning it gains in association with other objects or elements; and the meaning it acquires as the result of its metamorphosis into a new entity” (Shields). Due to the innovative nature of collage, it has served as source of inspiration throughout art history.
Art, Philadelphia Museum of. “Bowl with Fruit, Violin, and Wineglass.” Philadelphia Museum of Art, www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/53855.html.
Foster, Hal, et al. Art Since 1900. Thames and Hudson.
Shields, Jennifer1. "Collage and Architecture." International Journal of the Image, vol. 2, no. 3, Oct. 2012, pp. 85.
Still-Life with Chair Caning, 1912 by Pablo Picasso, www.pablopicasso.org/still-life-with-chair- caning.jsp#prettyPhoto.
Some folks add cement to this mixture for additional tinsel strength. As an artist concerned with the environmental repercussions of my studio-practice, I will promote this report to exclude the use of cement due to its contributions in greenhouse-gas buildup.
That being said, papercrete has incredible potential to create great work without causing planetary destruction! This oatmeal-like mixture can be cast in molds to make bricks or structures, applied to surfaces, and pulled as sheets. The mix gains its strength as it dries out in the sun.
Papercrete first appeared in US patents during the 1920’s. There is archival debate about the specific date, but its been nearly a century since the beginning of its uses in the US. At that point in history, paper was expensive to build with. Today it is seen as an opportunity for effective recycling and is reinforced with rebar in some instances for load-bearing.
Little research has been quantified to represent papercrete’s structural integrity in relation to building code. That, however, did not stop it’s resurgence in the Southwest during the 1980’s. As Ian Dille wrote for the Texas Observer in 2014, “ […] various individuals in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona independently rediscovered the process and began experimenting with papercrete.” Dille continues to summarize that, “[…] in a sense the papercreters were unified by location. they tended to live on the fringes of the grid or off it entirely. Most resided in jurisdictions with lax building codes, or no building codes at all, where they could build without restriction.”
The second generation of “papercreters” may have been geographically unified in their aversion to building codes, but were conceptually unified on a global scale with a vast historical lineage. Alex Wright, a team member of Watershed Materials, discusses parallel evidence of Ancient Egypt’s earthen construction tactics in his article Geopolymer Concrete, Egyptian Pryamids, and a New Way Forward for Sustainable Masonry. Data sediments to reveal that the massive pyramid blocks were cast in place. The durable substance was made of locally-sourced earthen materials and poured into wooden molds, where they would sit as they baked in the sun.
Wright states, “[…] the Egyptians appear to have pioneered a geoploymer concrete that lasted throughout the history of modern humanity made from abundant common earthen materials found nearly everywhere on the planet. Compare that to the concrete we make that lasts half a century and comes with a disastrous carbon footprint.” Wright extends this notion of refection as he continues to re-imagine the potential for the future of building.
By revisiting humankind’s universal heritage of composite-construction methods with naturally occurring materials, we begin to unfold the limitless potential for cleaner making. I believe that papercrete may be an ideal vehicle for environmentally-concerned investigations.
Papercrete is lightweight and strong. Which makes it easy to move, store, and ship from studio to gallery. Artists have utilized this material in conceptual conversation about the human relationships to the building upon earth. Oscar Tuazon describes this “outlaw architecture” as a “physical […] experience of balance,” in his artist bio for the Luhring Augustine gallery.
Tuazon utilizes papercrete with his “I Can’t See” series, in which the medium exists as it is contained within its wooden flask. The works feature inclusions of larger recycled paper scraps. Tuazon may be discussing the blinding clutter of consumption yet simultaneously re-invisions its potential condensing via its repurposing.
Highlighting the possible potential for the future of our artistic and environmental interrelation is critical for sustainable studio practice. In light of the earth’s suffered damages, it feels unkind to turn a blind eye in the anthropocene. So let us take notice, make changes, and adapt our modes of creation.
Let’s look to the world of paper-art and re-iamgine how it can stand to aid in that. Paper-making and book arts overflow into the realm of sculpture, but papercrete could break the levee. Dissolving boundaries between artistic disciplines and building bridges from practice to concept, papercrete holds weight in the potential for our future from our past.
Along with the assumed collections of products, toys, and superhero memorabilia, are the more peculiar accumulations. Most of these have related records pertaining to size, time, age, which at times seem even more mysterious than the associated collection. Examples of the less surprising collections include: Biggest coke cans collection, largest Barbie collection, and largest Superman memorabilia collection, most stickers, biggest record collection, and on.
Sir Hugh Beaver, Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, attended a shooting party where guests argued about the fastest game bird in Europe without any reference to conclude it. Several years later in 1954, he decided to start a “Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling pub arguments and invited the twins Norris and Ross McWhirter who were fact-finding researchers from Fleet Street to compile a book of facts and figures.” In the about us section on the Guinness World Records website, inspiring people is the purpose to keeping these records. Even their mission is to be the best at keeping records. Company values include integrity, respect, inclusiveness, and passion. Originally the Guinness Book of Records, Guinness World Records, has over 50,000 records in the database. It receives about 47,000 record applications from 178 countries annually, and approves around 6,000 of them.
“We don’t define or recognize success in a conventional or limited way and so draw upon the entire range of superlatives to help people realize their potential and to re-examine the world.”
The vision is “to make the amazing official.”
This is a selection of unusual collections honored for being the biggest of their kind.
Somewhere in between, and an appropriate starting place is Martyn Tovey’s 1,700 collectible Guinness World Records items, including approximately 1,200 books
Irene Sparks has the largest collection of ties counting at 21, 321. From New Zealand, she started her collection in 2000, because she wanted to make quilts from this collected accessory. It took her 2 years to make 3 quilts.
Manfred S. Rothstein has been collecting back scratchers since the 1970’s. He has 675 from 71 countries, and stores them in his dermatology clinic in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“It was on the 17th of January 1984 that I found myself under-occupied in a youth hostel in Brisbane. The night was steamy and stormy - too wet outside and too hot inside to do very much, and my attention drifted to my belly button. There it was ... fluff! I must have seen it before that night, but this occasion was the first time I ever picked it out and wondered about it. I became curious about how much navel fluff one person could generate (enough to stuff a cushion, maybe?), and the only way to find for sure was to collect it and see. My first piece of navel fluff was stored in an empty film canister, and the collection had begun.
I've read that if you do something every day for three weeks it becomes an ingrained habit, and that’s what happened with collecting navel fluff. The ritual of removing fluff from my navel and putting it in a jar prior to my daily shower soon became a habit, and now that I've been doing it so long it would take some effort to stop. As the photo shows, the volume collected is disappointingly small for such a long time, and I doubt I'll ever have enough to stuff a cushion, but it may be handy for something one day.”
The Australian goes on to describe the color of the fluff relating to clothing and type of washing machine used, as well as the reasons the body naturally collects it. He created a survey generating data about the physical properties and manufacturers of belly button fluff with 5,000 responses.
An article in CBC news quotes Project director Dr. Louise Parker by explaining, "toenail clippings are really important because they tell us about environmental exposures over about the previous nine months — before the toenails were clipped and during that time they're exposed to all the things that you're exposed to in your diet, in the water that you drink, in the general environment.” The collection and study is ongoing. They are studying blood simultaneously.
“I thought that collecting toothpaste was a nice hobby for a dental professional. It allows you to learn more about your profession, I had friends all over the world, so I asked them to mail me toothpaste from the countries where they lived.” An English antique Georgian 1801 silver tooth powder box he considers the most rare and valuable because toothpaste was not invented at that point, so tooth powders were used. He paid over $1500 for it.
“I have several toothpaste tubes that were dug out of World War II trenches, including Doramad toothpaste that had an active radioactive compound. During those times, some people believed that radiation [could] revive dead tissues and that radioactive toothpaste [could] revive your gums.”
Nancy Hoffman owns the largest collection of umbrella covers with 730. From Peaks Island, Maine her house became the site of the Umbrella Cover Museum in 1996. The collection includes covers from 50 different countries and was established as a celebration of the mundane. The museum even has an official song.
Malin Fritzell of Torekov, Sweden has been collecting paper dolls since the 1960s and has a collection of 4,720.
Barbara Hartsfield of Ellenwood, Georgia has a collection of 3,000 miniature chairs, which she has been collecting over 10 years.
Chris Ried owns the largest collection of super soakers, with 340 of them. His first water gun is autographed by Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the super soaker.
Harry Sperl, aka Hamburger Harry, from Germany has a collection of 3,724 hamburger related items.
David Morgan of the UK has a collection of 137 different traffic cones. He owns a cone from about two thirds of all types ever made. As a traffic cone inventor and manufacturer, Morgan explains in a short documentary, King Cone, more about his collection. “I see them as little soldiers that are out protecting the public, and the public don’t notice it. I think it’s very sad when you see a cone that’s being discarded, that has done its work, and no one cares, and no one looks after it. So when I find them I actually bring them in and bathe them in hot water, keep them in a darkened room so the sun doesn’t fade them, then catalogue them.”
Niek Vermeulen of the Netherlands has 6,290 airline sickness bags consisting of 1,191 different airlines and almost 200 countries, which he has gathered since the 1970s.
Rainer Weichert has collected 'Do Not Disturb' signs. He lives in Germany and the collection consists of 11,570 signs from 188 countries. Since 1990, he has been collecting them from hotels, cruise ships and airplanes. His favorite item is a wooden statue he collected from the Matahari Beach Resort in Bali. His most rare and valuable item is from the Olympic Village, in Berlin, from 1936. His oldest item is from the General Brock Hotel, in Canada, and dates back to 8 September 1910.
Ralf Schroder of Germany owns the largest collection of sugar packets containing 14,502 different sugar packets. He started his collection in 1987. The oldest sugar packet dates back to the 1950's.
Martina Schellenberg of Germany has the largest collection of napkins with 125,866 different ones. The collection is catalogued by theme and arranged in separate boxes.
Carol Vaughan of the UK has the largest collection of soaps. She has collected 1,331 individual bars of soap since 1991. Miss Vaughn said she loves finding a new soap she hasn't seen before and likes to find ones that might seem unusual. "I was given one by a friend that is shaped liked cheesecake, you don't know whether to eat it or use it to have a wash," she said.
Portrait of Cai Lun
Cai Lun’s invention proved popular and useful, and found great favor within the royal house. The different regions of China eventually generated paper made with ingredients from that specific area, and were prized for their unique qualities. Wenzhou Juan paper, made from pickled bamboo, was used to print money and official documents. “Juan” in the name of the paper apparently signifies that the papermakers did not have to pay taxes on their business.
The following is an old recipe for making Wenzhou Juan Paper, using the pickled bamboo method:
“First step. To take off the bamboo’s leaves and cut the bamboo into approximately one meter. Then, split the bamboo into strips & tie up into the bundles. The workers called this ‘Sha.’
Second step. To put these bamboo bundles under the blazing sun in order to make them dry.
Third step. To put these bamboo bundles into a stone pond full of quicklime and press them with big stones. This stone pond can hold the capacity of 1,500 kg. of the bamboo bundles.
Fourth step. After 3-5 months, take the bamboo bundles out and put them under the sun for drying and then put them into clean water to wash the lime away and be ready for use. We call this process ‘pickling bamboo’.
Fifth step. To put the pickled bamboo into the pit of the water power trip hammer, which is a simple hydraulic tool with a big water wheel driven by water and rotating as a turbine. It can propel a four-meter long wooden hammer slightly to crush the pickled bamboo into golden, fluff pulp. We call this process ‘smashing the bamboo bundle’, which is the only step in which the workers can use external force in the entire traditional method of papermaking.
Sixth step. To put the fluff pulp into the stone pond with clean water and stir it completely and drain the water. It becomes the pulp. We call this process ‘stirring the fluff pulp’.
Seventh step. To put the pulp into clean water and stir up thoroughly and use the sieve, which was made of small bamboo strips and scoop out the paper membrane. Then, to pile up these paper membranes and use a wooden board to squeeze out the water. We call this process ‘scooping out paper’.
Eighth step. To depart and dry the paper. The piled paper membranes are very easily broken. Usually, this work should be done by female workers who are clever and deft and careful. After taking the membrane from the piles, the women workers had to put it on the absolute level ground or on the wall for drying.”
This is apparently the same paper making method first utilized by Cai Lun, 1,897 years ago. The Chinese exported their paper making methods to Korea in 384, and in 610 a Korean monk brought his paper making knowledge to Japan. During a war between the Arab Empire and the Tang Dynasty, (the battle of Tallas – 751 AD), paper making workers and Tang soldiers were captured by the Arabs, who used the paper workers to set up a paper making factory in Bagdad. The Muslim paper makers substituted linen for mulberry bark, whereby linen rags were shredded, soaked in water, and fermented. The rags were then boiled, and beaten into pulp by using a trip hammer, which was an improvement initiated by the Arab papermakers. Baghdad became a center of paper making in the Muslim world, and paper mills in Damascus became a major source of paper for European countries. The increase in supply contributed to paper’s affordability, which allowed bookmaking to flourish.
The tools and technique of making paper leaf depicted in a volume illustrating crafts and trades, Kashmir (Source)
British Library: Making Islamic-style paper
From the Middle East, paper production moved west incrementally, with the first African paper mill founded in Egypt around 850 A.D., which is slightly less than a thousand years ago. From Egypt, papermaking spread to Morocco, and then reached Spain by 950. After landing in Spain, paper continued its world tour, landing in Sicily, where it was put to great use by the Christians in their quest to spread the teachings of the Bible. By 1293, Bologna had their first paper mill, and sixteen years later, England joined the paper brigade. Germany finally joined the ranks of paper producing countries by 1322 in Dordrecht, spreading to Nuremberg by 1390. From there, Poland was making paper by 1491, and Russian papermakers were in Moscow by 1578.
With the spread of easy, efficient, and inexpensive methods for producing paper, information and a wealth of knowledge was disseminated throughout much of the world, leading to the Renaissance in Europe, from which many cultural and industrial advances spread. The mapmakers of Europe added to the age of discovery, mapping the vast oceans of the world as well as newly ‘discovered’ continents. Paper changed the world.
A 1475 woodcut world map, published in Rudimentum novitiorum. PUBLIC DOMAIN
A 13th-century depiction of the world as a circle divided by into three continents, Asia, Europe, and Africa. BRITISH LIBRARY/ PUBLIC DOMAIN
Barrett, T. (1992). Japanese papermaking: Traditions, tools, and techniques (2nd ed.). New York: Weatherhill. (Original work published 1983)
Barrett, T. (2012). Paper through time: Nondestructive analysis of 14th- through 19th-century papers. Retrieved from the University of Iowa, Institute of Museum and Library Services: http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu/index.php
· Bloom J.M. (2017) Papermaking: The Historical Diffusion of an Ancient Technique. In: Jöns H., Meusburger P., Heffernan M. (eds) Mobilities of Knowledge. Knowledge and Space, vol 10. Springer, Cham Open Access Chapter First Online: 17 January 2017
THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT PAPER MAKING AT WENZHOU AREA, ZHEJIANG, CHINA Pan Mengbu, Senior Research Librarian, Wenzhou City Library, China, and Zhang Yongsu, Associate Research Librarian, Wenzhou City Library,China
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