Erased – Copy 2 made by me. Making of a parchment folder

How To Make Coptic Headbands by H. Kurzke
You might remember that I was going to post a making of the copy of erased that I bound (and maybe you are surprised by the first image you see here). Please accept my apologies for letting you wait for so long. – And yes, this is that post, it just starts with a side note. My excuse for being slow is the usual: Things have been crazy here in the last week. One of the craziest things is a new EU law that will come into effect on 1st of January 2015. It has passed parliament already a couple of years ago, but I only got aware of it in the past week. And it is absolutely crazy. I will spare you the details, in short it will make selling ebooks to EU member countries that are not my resident country (UK) so unpleasant and inefficient that at this moment I see no other way than disrupting service to these countries from next year on. So if you are somewhere in the EU but outside the UK, and you always wanted to purchase one of my ebooks, now is the time. Here is a link to my Etsy-Shop, where you can now still conveniently grap a copy. And now follows the post you have been waiting for:

Einige von euch haben vielleicht auf diesen Artikel gewartet (und sind jetzt vielleicht überrascht von dem ersten Bild, das hier auftaucht). Meine Entschuldigung dafür, dass ich mal wieder so langsam bin, ist wieder die übliche: Die Dinge haben sich in der letzten Woche mal wieder überschlagen und ich bin einfach zu nichts gekommen. Und ja, das hier ist der Artikel, auf den du gewartet hast, es gibt nur eine aktuelle Ankündigung als Vorlauf. Eines der verrücktesten Dinge der letzten Woche ist ein neues EU-Gesetz, das eigentlich schon vor Jahren beschlossen wurde, aber ich habe erst letzte Woche davon Wind bekommen. Es tritt am 1. Januar 2015 in Kraft und ist einfach total verrückt. Ich möchte dir die Details ersparen. In Kürze: Es macht den Verkauf von Ebooks in EU Mitgliedsstaten außerhalb des Landes in dem ich meinen Geschäftssitz habe (UK) so unattractive, dass ich ab 1. Januar Ebooks nur noch in UK und außerhalb der EU vertreiben werde. Wenn du also in der EU und außerhalb der UK bist, und schon länger mit dem Gedanken gespielt hast, ein ebook von mir zu kaufen ist jetzt der richtige Zeitpunkt gekommen! Hier ist ein Link zu meinen Shop, in dem du zur Zeit noch problemfrei ein Exemplar erwerben kannst. Und nun zum eigentlichen Inhalt dieses Artikels:

Erased - View of the cover
Erased by H. Kurzke

In my last post I already talked a little about the poem itself. For this copy the text was written by hand with rubbing ink on waterford watercolour paper which I gave a thin coating with gesso. (The gesso, by the way, was a bad idea: It looks nice but writing on it with a pen is awful.) The poem was then erased by painting over with gold coloured acrylic paint. The backsides of the pages are covered with an acrylic wash with it deliberately staining the front page, and here and there are golden fingerprints or waterdrops.

It has this atmosphere between precious (the gold) and discarted rubbish (good paper, but looking like rough cut-offs). And I wanted the cover to reflect this by choosing a precious material (well, semi precious) but I wanted it to be not quite there. So I decided to stitch parchment pieces together to use for the cover.

After having decided on a parchment cover, I consulted Monica Lange Berg’s Limp Binding from the Vatican library, remembering that one of the descriped bindings featured a collection of unbound pages. And indeed, accoring to the book, S. Maria in Cosmedin XIII 2 consists of two volumes of loose leaves, each held together with a ribbon, and then both of them held inside a parchment cover with another ribbon. The historic binding has turn-ins with yapp edges and a lining from thick paper or cardboard. I was going for a completely non-adhesive version.

First I made a paper model (can be seen lying to the left in the image below), to get a clear picture of how large a continuous piece of parchment would need to be. Then I sifted through my stashes, arranging this and that on top of the dummy and finally decided on two pieces with a diagonal stitching line across both front and back cover. I chose a black linen thread for the stitching to emphasize the seam. And this is how the result looked like:
Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

In meinem letzten Artikel habe ich ein schon über das Gedicht Erased gesprochen, und spare mir das deshalb hier. Nur soviel: Der Text ist von Hand in Reibetinte geschrieben und dann mit goldenen Acrylfarben übermalt, hier habe ich damals Bilder von den fertigen Seiten gezeigt. Sie haben für mich diese Atmosphäre irgendwo zwischen wertvoll (repräsentiert durch das Gold) und Abfall (der ausgestrichtene Text, Fingerabdrücke auf den Seiten und Büttenränder, die mal abgeschnitten sind und mal nicht,…). Ich wollte dass auch der Einband irgendwo so dazwischen rangiert. Daher der Gedanke, Pergamentstücke zusammenzunähen und daraus dann einen Pergamenteinband zu machen.

Nachdem ich einmal auf diesen Gedanken gekommen war, habe ich mir Monica Langwe Berg’s Limp Bindings of the Vatican library zur Hand genommen und durchgeschaut. Ich meinte mich zu erinnern, dass darin eine Bindung beschreiben wurde, bei der das Buch aus einer Loseblättersammlung bestand. Und tatsächlich: S. Maria in Cosmedin XIII 2 besteht aus zwei Stapeln aus losen Blättern, die jeweils mit einem Band zusammengehalten werden. Beide werden dann mit einem weiteren Band in ihrem Pergamenteinband gehalten. Bei dem historischen Einband  wurde die Innenseite des Pergaments mit dickem Papier oder dünner Pappe hinterklebt. – Ich dagegen wollte gerne komplett auf Klebstoff verzichten. Auch um den ephemeralen Charakter zu unterstreichen: Es sollte glaubwürdig bleiben, dass sich in dem Umschlag etwas befindet, das verworfen wurde.

Nachdem aber die Grundstruktur klar war, habe ich erstmal ein Papiermodell gemacht (im Bild oben und auch unten gerade so am Bildrand zu sehen), um mir einen Eindruck zu verschaffen, wie groß mein Stück Pergament denn werden soll. Dann habe ich meinen Vorrat durchforstet und Stücke auf dem Modell hin- und hergeschoben. Letztendlich habe ich mich für zwei Stücke entschieden und eine durchgehende Naht, die quer über Vorder- und Rückdeckel laufen würde. Im Bild oben sieht man die zusammengenähten Stücke. Dann wurde beschnitten:
Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Above you see the cut version. After deciding where to cut, I first un-did the seam and made a new knot and then cut the parchment. Then the folding started, and the interior ribbon that will hold the package in place is attached with parchment tackets. You can see Monica’s book opened for reference on my working table.

Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Oben sieht man wie ich die Kanten schon gefaltet habe. Einige Änderungen habe ich vorgenommen: Zuerst habe ich über die ganze Länge eingeschlagen, aber das ergab ein zu steifes Gelenk am Rücken, und ich habe mich entschieden das Material dort zu entfernen. An den Ecken dagegen habe ich weniger Material als vorgesehen entfernt und mit Tackets aus Leinenzwirn zusammengenäht. Am Rücken ist das Band mit Pergament-Tackets befestigt, das dann die Seiten im Inneren festhält.

So sehen die Tackets am Rücken aus: Ich hoffe, dass das in der Tat “richtige” Pergament-Tackets sind. Ich habe intensiv die Bilder angestarrt, das Material manipuliert, und das hier ist das einzige, was ich dachte, dass es sein könnte. – Hält verblüffend gut!

Ich habe dann länger darüber nachgedacht, ob und wie ich einen Titel auf dem Einband unterbringen soll – und mich dann komplett dagegen entschieden, ganz im Sinne des Titels “erased”.

Mehr Bilder vom fertigen Buch und dem making of gibt es in meinem Photostream bei ipernity. Und für die Zukunft, wenn die Bilder nicht mehr ganz oben im Stream zu sehen sind, gibt es hier einen Link zu dem ersten Bild vom fertigen Buch. Von da aus sollte man sich ganz gut durch alle Bilder durchklicken können.

Danke für dein Interesse!

Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Above you see what the spine looks like. I pondered adding a title and my name to the spine or cover but then decided against it. It didn’t seem to fit in the illusion of something that wasn’t meant for keeping.

More photos of the finished book (as well as one more making of) can be found in my photostream on ipernity (and for the future, when they are no longer up on the top of the stream, here is a link to the first photo of the finished book, from there you should be able to navigate through the stream).

Thanks for your interest!

 

Erased – first copy finished by Zoran

Erased
Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

A while ago, in June, I showed you pages that I made for a collaboration with Zoran Vidakovic. Erased is a short text that was erased by painting over in golden acrylics – the ascenders and descenders still peep out, though, making it possible to guess the text. It still can be read completely with some patience and hard staring. The text is self-conscious, “I am a poem, and I am erased”. A declaration of love towards whoever takes the effort of reading follows this entry statement, and it closes with the expression of hope of not being useless, although deleted, with a wish that maybe it is the start of something new and better. – “That would be worth it.” it ends.
It is, with sparse words, an homage to the creative process and a thank-you to all that have the time and set-of-mind to appreciate the not-quite-perfect, not-quite there-yet.

Erased
Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

Two of the copies were sent to Zoran who was going to bind them. One copy for his travelling exhibition, another copy will be send back to me. The first book (that will remain with him) is now finished. He send me some pictures of his binding, and I wanted to share them with you.

The way he suspended the parchment pages in cardboard frames reminds me of the frames on which parchment is made originally, and I like how the book gains substance throught this process. The letter E for a title is perfect, very similar to my handwriting on the pages, especially on the first of which the title “Erased” is written in such curvy letter.

Erased
Book bound by Zoran Vidakovic, Rucni uvez Zoranoske; Photo by Zoran, used with permission

Each book bound is a solution found to a problem, and my solution for this problem would have been very different. That is why I am very happy with this collaboration, because I could not have made this book on my own.

The book will soon join the travelling exhibition organized by Zoran himself. The name of for the show is Multilines, multivoices, shapes and photos (Friendly synergy – artist’s book). Each book is a collaboration of Zoran with a fellow (book) artist. For most he bound the book which features content from someone else, but for some he provided handmade paper or a similar component, and the book was finished by the other artist.
It started in October 2013 in Đurđevac, and is traveling from library to library in Croatia. Today 14/11/2014 is the opening of the 8th exhibition in Petrinja – so if you should be close, visit the library and take a look (and a photo, and show it off!). Click here to go to a gallery of images of the books finished so far.

 

It just so happens that in the past week(s) I, too, had to solve the same problem: Pretty much from the start, Zoran and I thought, it would be fitting to enter a copy of Erased to the 7th Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2015 with the topic Error {mistake}. But then Zoran had a lot of work thrown at him, and it became clear that Zoran wouldn’t have the books finished in time. – I hardly made it either, with the book finished just in time last Thursday. Initially I wanted to write the text once more, but then (due to lack of time) decided to just rewrite the informational first page and use one of the three copies that remained with me when I first made them.

Erased II
Erased, a second copy made by me

The pages are supposed to look a little rough, not quite there, and I wanted the binding to fit in with that look. This mixture of precious and yet not the best you could get. Another post will follow, with a making off, too, I don’t want to draw all the attention from Zoran’s work.

Erased, a collaboration of Büchertiger Studio & Press and Rucni uvez Zoranoske

Version 1: Parchment with gesso ground on one side and acrylic wash on the other side, acrylics and ink

I mentioned before that I am working on a piece that is supposed to end up as a book collaboration between Zoran an me. The text is “erased” a poem that I wrote earlier this year. Since I started to work on it, I made countless trial versions, and now have 5 versions I dare count as actual outcome. Two of them – those that I like best, of course – are now on their way to Zoran, who will make a cover and binding for them. Not an easy task: How do you bind 7, 5 or 3 single pages?
Three versions are still here, and I wonder whether I should have a go at a binding, too.

Version 2: parchment, ink and acrylics, – no gesso or acrylic wash

Ich habe schon in einem vorherigen Blogpost meine Zusammenarbeit mit Zoran erwähnt. Seit ich zuerst daran gearbeitet habe, habe ich jetzt einen Haufen Probe-Exemplare und auch 5 fertige Exemplare von Erased fertig. Das ist ein Gedicht, das ich Anfang des Jahres geschrieben habe. Zwei von den fünfen – natürlich die, die mir selbst am besten gefallen – sind nun auf dem Weg zu Zoran. Er macht dann einen Einband und die Bindung. Das ist keine so leichte Aufgabe: Wie bindet man drei, fünf oder sieben Einzelblätter? – Drei Versionen habe ich noch hier, und ich überlege, ob ich selbst mich auch mal an Ihnen versuchen sollte.

Version 3: Parchment, gesso ground on one side, acrylics wash on the other, ink and metal leaf
Version 4: paper, ink, acrylics, – no gesso or acrylic wash
paper, gesso ground on one side, acrylic wash on the other, ink and acrylics

Illegible, Inaccessible and Fake Script + Literature List

For the maps that I am currently drawing as part of my “daily” practise I use writing in fake or obscured script here and there. When I looked more closely the other day, it turned out that in fact very few of the maps in Landscapes II do not have some illegible writing here or there.
If this sounds to you like I myself am surprised by this, then this is true.

For my maps I don’t plan. Drawing them is almost like a form of meditation: I look at a page, and just see where this leads me. My hand and wrist automatically made these marks. And while I do not look for a deeper interpretation of these maps, it still made me think about how I use marks and writing in my books.

I have been using illegible or hard to read text from early on. I think “Unborn Thoughts I+II“, two books that I made in 2008 was the first project where I consciously and deliberately used a coding system. It vaguely resembles devanagari writing just because I think that this horizontal bar with the curls and curves above and below have a very interesting visual quality that combines feelings of constrain and freedom.

I decided to write in code because I didn’t want to see in writing what I wrote down there. Not to keep it secret – I didn’t want to read it myself. That’s where the title came from, too: It was a tentative way of thinking, of chewing on possibilities that I wanted to try before really thinking them. Putting them into writing would have felt too much like giving them substance.

Shortly after these works I made two books in an attempt to learn how to bind the earlierst Copic bindings, and wrote both those books in code. For one of them I reused the writing system of Unborn Thoughts:

And for the other one I developed a new one that could be stamped using a wood chip:

In this case I was open about what text it contained: Both have an excerpt of the gospel of Thomas in them. I even exhibited the code together with the second book. So why use code in the first place? – I thought about the history of finding the codices near Nag Hammadi. And from there I thought about finding archaeological books as such. How exciting to find a book maybe even in a language you didn’t know before! I wanted to recreate some of this excitement for my readers.

I have used this first writing code every now and then in my books, either for the first, or the second reason. For example in these works that I called “frozen” which were also rather personal in nature.

 

I have also used ASCII and morse code in books, most recently in the dot dash alphabet book

And for the various versions of Erased I wrote in normal English but then made it illegible by crossing the text out.

In addition to using code, I also use fake-writing in various places, mostly it just appears in my sketchbooks but also in some of my messages in bottles, for example these here:

flaschenpost 30-32
These here are some pages from my sketchbook:

For these I find it much harder to say why I am doing it. These wordless writings spring from a wordless part of me, I suppose. I want to say something that I can’t. They are meditation. Sometimes I fill several pages with this free writing. Some inner urge keeps my hand in motion while I feel unable to formulate what exactly it is I want to say.

As this kind of writing surfaced in my maps, I started to think about its role as part of my practise more systematically. In a way, I always knew of course, and in my current artist statement it is mentioned in first position. But my perspective shifted a little, and I realised what a central part of my practise this is; but I am still pondering it, I have not yet fully grasped what it is that I am doing there:

In a way, I think, the maps do the same thing as the fake writing: These are not really landscapes I am drawing, not even inner or imagined landscapes – although sometimes these maps come with a fragment of a story, or an intended message. In their core, these are not imaginary but fake maps, made to resemble maps without mapping anything that exists. Just like the fake writing mimmicks real writing. Both convey more feeling and atmosphere than formulated thoughts and researched, intellecutally accessible meaning.

I do want to generate a certain feeling when I feature fake writing in art pieces. But more than that I want to investigate the mystery of what writing and skript is, without this autmatic “seeing = knowing” relationship. I cannot look at the letters “c-a-r” without an inner image of a car popping up immediately. This imagined car seems to almost block my perception of the marks on the paper. But in not being able to decipher the letters maybe the wonder and magic of when we are able to becomes visible; – an automatism disturbed and thus made obvious.

Maps are such powerful tools to convey knowledge and provide orientation. In their own way they are at least as powerful as writing, if not more so. This, at its core, is why I love them: Because they are able to communicate so much with just a few lines on paper. If you think about it, this really is like magic!

While I was pondering all this, I thought I should look for some critical context and read up on what others do and why they might use obscured writing.
M. mocked me, saying: “You don’t know why you do it, so you try to steal your reasons from someone else.”
But that’s not it. I feel I need some dialogue about the matter. So if you have used similar forms of writing, or simply enjoy it, I would appreciate if you could comment and let me know what you think of the matter.

Asemic Writing

In the meantime I looked for the silent form of dialogue that you can have with a distant author: literature. First trials lead to nowhere. I ended up finding coded art or treastises about font development.

Where I am at. Book 4 by Cheryl Penn (detail)

After days of fruitless searches I stumbled across the keyword “asemic writing”. I heard this word used first in 2017 when Cheryl Penn send me the book on the left in exchange for my absences, but then I forgot. And now it’s like I dug a hole at an unspecific point in the ground and forth came a fountain. Surprisingly, the wikipedia article to which I linked above was one of the last places I went to (because I only googled that keyword relatively late), and I have not even found the time to follow all the links there.

The discovery that I am not alone in this reminds me a lot to when I found out about book art: On the one hand I am so happy that there are more like me out there. I feel like I found this new world that is waiting for me to discover it. In the last couple of days I have already seen so many inspiring examples of asemic calligraphy and writing that I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. And I am also a little bit disappointed that I was so ignorant about this communitiy, while feeling innovative in what I was doing.

Instead of talking on about asemic writing and about what I found out so far, I’ll leave you with the above link to Wikipedia which seems like a really good place to start if you want to know more. I am just dipping my toes into that ocean, and fear that whatever I would say now would seem stupid to me in a week. If this will accompany for a while – and it looks like this for now – then you’ll hear about this again soon enough. Instead I’ll finish this blogpost with my literature list for Febuary (some of the books new on my book shelf; I usually leave out belletristic unless I think it’s relevant to my art practise). I list the books as they come to my mind and hands, i.e. in no particular order.

Febuary Literature List

  • Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koyen. Great book. Read it if you are at all interested in this Japanese aesthetic principle. (BP = birthday present)
  • Men without Women by Murakami. I haven’t read it yet, but am very much looking forward to; Murakami is a great author! (BP)
  • Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. A graphic novel filled with ideas about how graphic novels are great. One of the books I bought while looking for a critical context for my own work that didn’t quite hit the mark; it’s more about developing a visual language that doesn’t look like writing. But it is a very interesting book with many good pictures and equally many interesting thoughts. (AGB = accidental good buy)
  • Graphesis. Visual Forms of Knowledge Production by Johanna Drucker. This is another book I bought, hoping for insight into the use of coded writing system in contemporary art. It is, however, about using graphics in place of words. I have only leafed through the book and skimmed some pages. Other than it is not what I was directly looking for, it looks very interesting. (Many of the images are maps!) I shall come back to this. (AGB)
  • Echolalia in Script: A Collection of Asemic Writing by Sam Roxas-Chu. Simply amazing! I absolutely love this book with can be had for just a couple of quid for a paperback. It is an original work of asemic writing, along with a semic introduction and explanation. Brilliant! I will look out for more work of this artist. (This is what made me realise that “asemic” is the keyword I need to look for. AGB)
  • The Alphabetic Labyrinth: Letters in History and Imagination by Johanna Drucker. Arrived only yesterday and I have not had time to unwrap it. Another trial with the works of Johanna Drucker. – She’s bound to have written something relevant about this!
  • Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Mokuhanga by April Vollmer. Looks great, I wish I had had the time to delve in it deeper. Soon. (BP)
  • An Anthology of Asemic Handwriting. Edited by Tim Gaze and Michael Jacobson. Spot on for me. A short but very interesting introduction followed by many different examples. Will have to study them more closely, look up names and so on.
  • Tell Them I said No by Martin Herbert.I have not had a chance to read any of this. From the blurb on the book: “This collection of essays by Martin Herbert considers various artists who have withdrawn from the art world or adopted an antagonistic position toward its mechanisms.” (BP)

Look, I made a Book!

Working in the Evening
Working by night. – From my desk I have a view into the house and into the kitchen

The last three weeks have been exhausting: My plan had been to finish with 346 before I start my writing course, but of course that didn’t happen. Actually I am still not finished, which means I fail the deadline for the Exhibition in Venice where I wanted to enter it. Then there was half-term, and I had to work with the children around, or rather it meant working a lot at night.

Currently I am waiting for a delivery of board, which is really frustrating, because I was told they would ship via courier in 2-3 days (not cheap, but no choice regarding the courier service), and I have been waiting for  a whole week now. I am still finishing rather important bits and bops for the models (like the bed), and I am undecided about such things like the cover art. – So that I can not really put all the blame on them for me not finishing.

The writing course itself is good, but very time intensive, and my idea of walking a lot, writing in cafes and maybe making some prints in between did not come true. Instead I am writing a bit in the morning, remember that I still have to ship things or fix things in my etsy shop, then try to add a detail to the model and -how did that happen?! – it is already time to pick up the kids from school again.

During the week I got a commission for making a slim leather journal for my customer to fill it with poetry. Not that I have a lot of time on my hands, but I decided to take it on just to make something else for a change.
commission journal 01 kleiner

commission journal 03 kleiner

It is a 2-quire binding, each signature is attached with two pamphlet stitches on top and bottom individually. The soft leather is lined with an Italian paper, and for a closure I added a buckle upon request of my customer. Although it looks cute, I myself prefer wrap-around closures. And anyway, while I was at it, I made another journal with the same materials:
slot leather journal 03 kleiner

slot leather journal 06 kleiner

This one is a 5-section binding, a slot binding by Keith Smith. I had never tried this specific technique, and it was great fun to make some books again, – and try something new!

This piece of leather had a hole in it, and I used it to show off some of the lining paper: I placed the hole over the paper and arranged it such that it is showing what I want to show through. I marked with a pencil the rim of the hole, and then cut out the piece of paper close to the line (which I erased again). Then I put a tiny bit of paste on the leather around the hole and put the paper piece down in it. Then the whole sheet of lining paper was glued up and put down onto it.