stone piles 1
stone piles, photo by H. Kurzke, July

I have had a little studio time in the past four days or so, and I thought, I’d just show you what I did.

My book absences was selected to be exhibited for the Sheffield Book Arts Prize. What is interesting about this prize in Sheffield is that it is open to all. There are a variety of prices and awards to win, among them also a publicly voted prize, and all visitors were allowed a vote. I very much appreciate this approach, allowing for the unexpected and entrys from less established and less academic backgrounds. Until last time, 2013, all entries were exhibitied. The response 2013 was overwhelming, though, both for the space, the organizers and the visitors who had to decide which of almost 500 entries was their favorite. So this year they decided to reduce the number of books in the show to 200. While I understand that the number has to be that small for this to work, I am also sad that this means that there are gatekeepers now, people who decide which books will be shown and which won’t.
Well, all that being said, I am very happy that absences will be on display and available for votes from 7th October – 31st October, in Sheffield at Bank Street Art.

Absences is made completely by hand, stencilled, handwritten, and is an open varying edition. Books are essentially made to order. I am saying “essentially” because I like to have a small amount (like 1 or 2) ready made. And I have more prepared in various stages. And so I had one to send to Sheffield for the exhibition, but also made two more for my stock here.

First Day (Sunday)

stage 1 gesso
First step: applying the gesso

The first thing to do is of course to apply the gesso, onto which I then write the story. You see here the various stencils placed onto ready cut and folded paper, ready to take the white ground. And then it needs to dry.

Some of you might remember my beach sketches.  I made them essentially while the blog was on hiatus, so it is quite likely that you missed it. – I brought shells and stones from the Lincolshire coast last summer. I had them sitting in my studio, and while I was waiting for the muse to kiss me, I started to build piles of them (like the one seen above). A little later I made sketches from them, first for my messages in bottles, and then for a little folded book. The idea was initially to make it a daily sketch to start off work in the studio. It felt great every time I practised the habit. It calms down my mind, and helps me focus on my work, and forget about the noisy children on the floor below. But well, things slowed down fast, and this is by no means a daily thing. Well, I did one last Sunday:

beach sketch kleiner
Beach Sketch

I then got out some already prepared and dry accordions and wrote the story:

stage 2 text
Step 2: Adding the text

I also added some minor decorative bits to already cut to size Kraft paper covers. – The protective layer of craft paper that you see in the pictures above will become covers for future copies, too.

Second Studio Day (Monday)

stage 3 pressing
stage 3: pressing in the covers and books

I make the book mostly from scraps, and the boards I had lying about in the studio were extra thick. So after cutting them to size, I then first sanded down the edges to make them a little less chunky and bulky.
Then cover and put in the acordion. To be as gentle as possible to the writing, I put the covers under pressure seperately rather than the folded book.

Third Studio Day (Tuesday)

stage 4 title
Step 4: Adding the title. The one on the left is done, on the right one I am positioning the stencils.

Next the books need a title which I also stencil on with white gesso. And now this needs to dry.

 Fourth Studio Day (Wednesday)

stage 5 number and sign
stage 5: all that is left now is my signature

Now all that was left to do this morning was to add the impressum, number and signature. And now on to the next project which is once more print related:


3 replies on “Studio Time: Making new copies of Absences”

  1. Sad that the Sheffield show can’t be completely open anymore, but congratulations on having your book accepted. Best wishes for the public voting!

  2. I’m so happy to see you’ve been able to work a bit. And good work too! I love the look of this book/edition. I wish I could come to Sheffield to see it in the show!

    Completely non-juried shows, I think, can be problematic sometimes. I was in one once and, once it opened, I regretted it. It’s nice to encourage new-comers, but on the other hand, I think if you’re a more established artist, like you are, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the show is a bit more curated.

    At any rate, congrats on being in it!

    I also love the look of your accordion sketchbook with the beach sketch. It’s evocative, and so textural.

  3. Hello Cathryn, hello Ellen,
    thanks to both of you for stopping by and leaving a comment! – And of course for good wishes and compliments 🙂
    Sorry to hear you made bad experiences with a unjuried show, Ellen. I can very well imagine how that can happen. What I like about the idea (of not having jurors decide what is being shown) that it would also be up to an artist to definde whether his or her work is book art to start with, of maybe show techniques that might just not be accepted currently, or the like. I wouldn’t advocate to make all exhibitions open to all, far from it. But I fear that all too often, the same old ends up in shows, and hope that open shows can be a forum for new ideas. Well, I guess the show in Sheffield will still be big enough. And it is near enough so that I can travel there myself and see the other exhibits as well. – I am looking forward to this!

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