Little Paper Planes

With holiday gifts on the mind, we visited several sites that sell affordable artists' books, perfect for stuffing the stocking! Be sure to check out the fun zine selection at Little Paper Planes. The problem with the site it that it doesn't tell us much about the content of these books. Readers must buy after viewing just a page or two from each selection.

Unfortunately, the last zine, the Bad Ass zine, the one we know most about, is sold out. We have one in our own collection and it never fails to bring a smile to our face. How could it not? Maybe it is the selection of stickers, perhaps it is the reference to childhood favorites like Darth Vader, Wonder Woman, and Skelator- whatever it is, we love this Bad Ass Pack.

The Complications zine by Zachary shows delicate images that document victims of a strange sprouting ailment. The book is bound in brown butcher paper with the simplest of stitches. The book also comes with two buttons. If you can't get enough of Zachary, he also sells t-shirts (available on the Little Paper Plane site) that display images from his zine work.

At Night, a zine by Marci Washington, is everything sweet and delightful. The book contains 24 pages of black and white images, including lovely but sad ladies and spooky owls.


Bookshelves and more

There are some wonderful things being presented on the design*sponge guest blog. With our recent posting on cut paper, we thought our readers might enjoy some of these lovely items:

One of the most difficult items to purchase for the home is a distinctive piece of furniture to house your books. Didier and Clotilde of Presse Citron have designed an intricately framed bookshelf that hangs on the wall. For those interested in the book as art, this seems like it would be the perfect gift. They come in three different versions and three colors: pink, black, and white. You can read more about Presse-Citron at the Three Layer Cake website.

Another fun gift idea are these two hanging chandeliers designed by Louise Henderstrom, for Belysningsbolaget. Like the work of Tord Boontje, these laser-cut lights are fanciful, functional, and well-designed. These particular examples present an interesting dialogue between the delicacy of constuction and the use of cut paper versus more precious materials, like silver and crystal.


Book Project

If you haven't been inspired in a while, check out Book, a collaborative sketchbook exchange between two artists in Brooklyn and two in Belfast. The book was sent among the participants for thirty-six weeks. An artist would receive the book on Wednesday and have five days to complete a page spread before sending it out the following Monday. The result is a collection of beautiful drawings and paintings. The artists did not communicate during the exchange, but came together after its completion to talk about the inspiration for each page. Excerpts from their conversion were recorded and played at exhibitions in New York and Belfast (and can be heard on the website). A hardcover reproduction of the book can be bought here.


Many Interpretations

There is a wonderful show at the Chicago Public Library from September 30th, 2006 to April 15th, 2007. The exhibition is part of the One Book, One Chicago program, which encourages Chicago readers to discuss literature city-wide, one book at a time. Ten works of literature were chosen by the Chicago Public Library and the City of Chicago. Bookbinders and book artists responded to the selections, each designing their own binding. Click here to see the pdf of the show's catalogue.


Beyond Words

For all you Southernerns out there, "Beyond Words", an international exhibition of artists' books, will be held at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. A roundtable discussion on form and content will be held on Thursday, November 30th, at 6 PM. The discussion will include guest curator Ruth Rogers and book artists Carolee Campbell, Jeffrey Morin, Jacques Fournier, and Julie Puttgen.

18 Rabbit

This silkscreened artist's book by Robin Weinert contains playful images that sweep throughout its pages. The cover is made of a wool blanket and stitched around its edges. There are 30 editioned copies available.


Paper Fantasy

We have long been fans of Peter Callesen, the Danish paper magician. It is worth checking out his site if only for the variety of his work. He is known for his performance pieces which investigate fairytale fantasies as well as issues of gender and society. Parallel to his performance work, Peter fabricates wonderful designs from cut paper. Some pieces require only a few cuts, while others reveal painstaking craftsmanship. We love Alive, But Dead (below), with its drooping flowers that emerge from the white ground to hang limply from the page. Petals gather at the bottom of the picture as they fall from their stems.

Broken Bird (below) is part of a larger suite of cut paper story vignettes. For all of the delicate workmanship, the result is surprisingly funny and clever. The work is mounted against a solid color backdrop, each composition more delightful than the last.

It is hard to mention Peter's work without also showing some of the fun design work that Tord Boontje has been doing. His Midsummer Light is one of many delightful light designs that has come from his workbench over the last couple of years. His exhibition at Milan's 2004 Design Week takes the work to another level and reminds us of Petah Coyne's evocative installation work. To see the Milan exhibition, go to the Midsummer Light link and scroll down the page.


Inspiration for the lunatic fringe

What better way to start our book arts blog than with some of our favorite things. The list is long, so we will mention just a few that get our minds thinking and our hands working.

THE CLASSIC. Leonard Baskin and Gehenna Press have long been an inspiration for the aspiring book artist. His presence in Western Massachusetts lay the foundation for the wonderful craftsmanship and art making that this area is known for today. His devotion to literature, his love of printmaking and sculpture, and his play between classic and unconventional proportion produced some of the finest American books designed and executed in the later half of the 20th century. Baskin's work was achieved with the help of many professional printers and binders, among them Harold McGrath, Herb Fox, Michael Kuch, Bruce Chandler, Peter Pettengill, Art Larsen, Dan Keleher, Arno Werner, Gray Parrot, Daniel Gehnrich, David Bourbeau, and Claudia Cohen.

THE WILD CHILD. Buzz Spector has been making artwork relating to the book since the 1970s. He has a particular interest in investigating text as art, and has explored this idea using string script (shown here), torn pages that begin to show the topography of the page, and photographs of personal libraries. His writings on language, reading, and the book have been essential to the field, bringing the book maker's practice to a higher conceptual and theoretical level. We suggest reading The Book Maker's Desire (1995, Umbrella Press).

USEFUL PRETTY THINGS. Shanna Leino makes beautiful books and exquisite tools. We love her pretty hand-carved elk bone folders and have a hard time deciding whether they should be used in the bindery or framed and hung on the wall. The center punch and steel micro chisel are also favorites, especially when making leather bindings with vellum strips woven though the cover. When we wish that our tools are always sharp, our eyes always keen, and our client always satisfied, the hope is that we begin the process with excellent tools. These will not let you down.

BACK TO THE STACKS. We end our list of inspirational goodies in the library. As the cataloging systems shift from card to computer, and as librarians are asked to sort through the microfiche, the videos, and the DVDs, information is getting lost in the shuffle. The Reanimation Library, "collects, catalogs, and makes available materials that are generally considered to be outdated, obsolete and lacking the privileged cultural status and/or market value that adheres to such artifacts as first editions or manuscripts." Their search for forgotten texts save these documents from being lost forever. In a digital age, where many claim that the computer will be the end of reading, this group uses technology to save the variety and vastness our our reading selection. This project is still in its infancy. We hope to keep you informed of their progress as we are sure to see great things from them in the future.

In the beginning, there was the word

KettleStitch is a website committed to cultivating a dialogue between artists, designers, craftspeople, librarians, educators, and curators. This site was launched specifically to better facilitate a common ground between the many traditions and perspectives relating to the book arts. Our hope is to bridge the gap between these professional fields and to show examples that inspire and challenge our understanding and definition of the book. The site will be updated throughout the week, with features that discuss everything from technique and material sources, to designer profiles and reviews of artwork relating to the book.

KettleStitch is designed and maintained by a group of artists, craftspeople, and designers, who come to the site from various aspects of this vast field. Our commitment is to cultivate a broad yet elevated discussion of work relating to the book and to keep our focus on strong content, careful execution, and successful design. In the future, we hope to invite guest bloggers to contribute to the site and to field questions from our readers.