Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New from the studio! I Ching #64 ("Unfinished")

Over the weekend I put the finishing touches on the first 5 copies of a new edition.  Combine that with the tricks we recently learned in a workshop about photographing your work, and I have some photos to share!

If this guy looks familiar, that's because it has been in progress for a while and we've popped some photos of it into the last couple of posts.  It's the first in what will be a series of small accordion books inspired by entries in the Chinese wisdom book, the I Ching.

This one is based on the 64th and final entry in the I Ching, which is usually interpreted as "Unfinished," or "Not yet completed."  I created the original copy as a sumi-e ink painting.  The edition shown here is produced digitally from a scan of the original, inkjet-printed on an Epson R2200 photo printer.  I couldn't be more pleased with the printed results--in fact, in some ways I prefer the printed version over the painted one because the contrast of the blacks and greys is more pronounced.

Since the theme of this one is "Not yet completed," I guess it's appropriate that when I finished the printing and binding of the first 5 copies, I was unsatisfied.  The plain sumi-e look wasn't quite right for it.  I started to do some more reading about the symbolism of entry #64.  As soon as I re-read that it was composed of the two symbols for Fire over Water, the light bulb turned on.  There was already water in the sumi-e ink for the painting.  It was time to burn.

Like with my last book, stitching speechless, I decided to invite chance and fire into the studio.  With a combination of incense stick and matches--lots and lots of matches--I added smoke and burning effects to the paper.  The effects are surprisingly different from the burning we did on stitching speechless.  The paper we used for that project was a mulberry paper that burned very easily.  It was all I could do to make some marks on the page without completely destroying it.  In contrast, the paper for this book--a digital inkjet paper called Moab--reacted very slowly to fire or heat.  The result is smaller, subtler burn marks, as well as some smoke effects whose fluid-like look I love.


For now I'm considering this an open, unlimited edition since I am printing it digitally and producing it all myself.  It's available for sale directly (contact me through the Blue Bluer Books website), or will soon be on the road with Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

And keep an eye out for new books in the series soon!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Notes from the primate lab

Josh is off today with the Triangle Book Arts Group, in a workshop on how to photograph your work. I'm excited for him to tell me everything he learns, because every time I pick up a camera, I get this feeling of being watched through a closed-circuit TV camera by a bunch of unwashed grad students as they murmur notes into their recorders. "Chimp 447A has picked up the device. Subject is exploring the device with eyes, fingers, and mouth. Subject is moving the device from one place to another within her enclosure. Subject is becoming agitated. Subject has propelled the device with astonishing force and velocity. Subject is -- for God's sake, Jerry, where are the tranqs, the TRANQS--"

Chimp 447A is not very good at taking product photos, is what I'm saying.

But after one trip to Michael's and two trips to Lowe's, we put together this simple light box and have found it helps soothe the cranky photographer in me:

Lesson learned about light bulbs: "soft white" = "yellow." Nice for bedroom lamps, but not so great for photographing books. I wish I hadn't gotten rid of the super yellow photos, so I could show you how  much it looked like we were photographing from inside Scrooge McDuck's gold vault. Unfortunately, Chimp 447A deleted them with astonishing force and velocity.

We'll be making Lowe's trip #3 soon for some full spectrum bulbs. In the meantime, we've had pretty good results with the lights off, as long as we're shooting on a sunny morning:

Those are from a batch of books that are now at Vespertine. Stop by and take a look, if you're in the Carrboro area. Tell Ginna, the lovely proprietress, we said hi.

And for now we'll leave you with this:

What is dead can never die.*

*We tore through the second season of Game of Thrones last weekend. Oh, Theon -- baaad things are in store for you, my salty little friend.