Well, I’m back. After a long hiatus of many days (let’s not talk numbers) through the frigid winter months, I am emerging from my den. This might make me a little like the groundhog who has been living under my house all winter, chewing on the floor joists at certain moments during his hibernation. He was all kinds of surly, and perhaps I was, too. There were small bursts of creativity since my last posting, but I’ll admit they were few and far between. It’s been a long cold winter, people, and I’ll admit that the ol’ writer’s block/artist’s block/winter doldrums got their nasty claws into me–big time. I could go on about the perils of such things, but you already know the drill. This is nothing new to us creative types. Some of us push through it, and others of us catch up on all seasons of Breaking Bad and work less in the studio because it doesn’t have heat and takes the space heater a whole day to get the temperature above subarctic, and who can work in a fur hat and insulated gloves, anyway? I applaud those of you who soldier on and have not kept up with Walter White’s shenanigans. I envy you.
So, I thought it apropos to kick off a new (more dedicated, more consistent!) blog season with a follow-up to my last book project, Specimens. I challenged myself to do a miniature–and yes, “miniature” has some rules. In the book world, to be classified as truly mini, you must be smaller than three inches in every direction. Tiny is difficult for me, but I’d registered for a Miniature Book Conclave and wanted to take something to show and sell. Ergo, miniature insect books.
The premise is simple: Imagine a narrator, in love with an entomologist. She finds herself compared to insects, generally of a poisonous or carnivorous nature. Such as a mantis, a monarch, a grasshopper nymph, and a lightning bug (oh yes, that flashing is not just to attract a mate). Still feeling confined by the 3-inch rule, I used a single-sheet folding structure that allowed for a 6″ x 12″ image to be cut and folded down to a book just a hair under 3″ square. Text from the below image reads:
Fig. 1: The entomologist fears predation. At first, I wasn’t bothered when you compared me to a mantis. After all, males are only devoured 5-31% of the time. Females are choosy that way. And I say there are worse fates than being eaten.
I cut a linoleum block for the monarchs and the mantis, carved some polymer plate material for the nymph and firefly, re-used some line drawings of foliage from another book project, and set some metal type. The standard edition of 35 is printed on 4 colors of Ingres paper, but I was a little in love with Sakamoto at the time, and felt like upping the ante. So a deluxe edition of 15 is printed on Sakamoto and comes in a cloth-covered box with a surprise inside–an origami moth pinned into place. I just could’t help myself…I was one of those kids who stared all googly-eyed at specimens of butterflies and moths in the Natural History museum, and still does on occasion.
So the end product went with me to Asheville, NC for the annual Miniature Book Society conclave. And let me tell you, there is something to be said for making miniature books…they are incredibly easy to pack and tote around hotel lobbies. The MBS soon became one of my favorite groups of book people, too. They are a small and friendly group of bibliophiles, and when my friend Kerri and I arrived, they swarmed around us and said, “The Makers are here!” Apparently the MBS is comprised of more collectors and aficionados that book artists and “makers,” and so they were very interested in hearing how Kerri and I made our editions. These were lovely people–I don’t think I’ve ever felt so welcomed at a conference before–and the array of books that people were making and collecting were a delight to see. (And they were serious about that 3-inch rule–I had buyers break out a pocket ruler to check my math.) This year they’re meeting in Vancouver, and believe me, I’m saving my spare change in the piggy bank…and thinking of my next tiny edition.
As always, beautiful work. I especially love that specimen box.