February’s Literature List

Febuary’s list is a little late because I wanted to actually look at the books I bought this last month before writing about them. When I wrote last month’s list I couldn’t say anything yet about “print workshop” by Christine Schmidt which, it turns out, is now one my favorite books about printing and stamping, so I will say a little bit about that book below.  So here’s the list:

  • Paper Engineering by Natalie Avella. Other than I expected this is not an instructional book but a showcase for interesting examples of paper engineering. Most of them are intriguing for their combination of interesting graphic design with a fitting, clever paper engineering ideas. It reminds me of the box and envelope design books that I bough a couple of months ago.
  • New Directions in Bookbinding by Phillip Smith. I bought it after I read the review Elina wrote for our bookbinding team blog. Unfortunately I have not yet had time to look into it to add any comment of my own here.
  • Trail: Paper Poetry by David Pelham. Stunningly beautiful, intricate and interesting. This book has a bit of poetry in the classic sense that there are words. But most of it lies in the elaborate pop-ups, mostly completely white on white, and so full of details that even looking at it for the third time I discovered new things. I won’t say more as to not spoil the fun of looking through it yourself. A clear and full-hearted recommendation.
  • Magritte: Das Pop-up Handbuch: Das Pop-up-Buch
    René Magritte. This is not what I hoped it would be. It contains a selection of Magritte paintings brought to life as pop-ups. They are not bad as such, but also not breathtaking. And I like the paintings more than the pop-ups. I had hoped for some kind of derivative work, adding a new perspective.
  • Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps
    Geninne D. Zlatkis. This book published by Lark Crafts has a comparably large format (25,4 x 21,1 x 1,5 cm) and 136 pages filled with beautiful photos arranged in a pleasant page design. There are two major parts: Stamping Basics which talks about materials and tools and how to use them, and Projects And Ideas which contains 20 projects, complete with templates to cut your stamps from. There are some additional templates to swap for those designed for the projects should you like others better. There are three categories of projects arranged in the sections: stamping on paper, stamping on fabric, and stamping on other surfaces. What I found interesting was the idea to add embroidery to the finished pieces to give the prints additional texture and looks. Also the idea to stamp on stones and stoneware was interesting to me, and I really like some of the results. What I don’t like so much about the book is that it is limited to rubber stamps (though this shouldn’t come as a surprise given the title). And also that the author seems a little caught in her own thoughts: When she encourages her readers to create their own stamps, she tells us that she finds inspiration in nature, and is lucky to live in a place which has a lot of beautiful examples of fauna and flora. Se adds that, however, you can also get inspired if you happen to live in a city, you just have to keep your eyes peeled. – Up until here no complaint – but then she adds: for example you could go to your library and get a botanical book and draw inspiration form these images. Well sure you can do that. But it sounds like she can’t imagine people drawing inspiration from other things than nature, like architecture, the look of trash in the gutter, of whatever. Her own perspective comes through in many similar ways throughout the book. This isn’t too bad, though. I actually find this kind of cute because the author really brings in a lot of her personality this way. All in all I found it an inspiring book (more so than a resource of knowledge), and I very much like that it encourages a playful approach and creating own designs.

As promised, I also want to write a little bit about the book from last month’s list: Print Workshop. Hand-Printing Techniques + Truely Original Projects by Christine Schmidt. This books covers a lot of different printmaking techniques, rubber stamps are of course included, other stamps, some monoprinting techniques, screenprinting, stencelling, cyanotypes, and many more. Often there is just one project per technique. Many but not all of these are simple. I have only looked at a handful of examples so for but all of those that I have seen are introductory to the used technique. So if you find something you like, you probably will want to get another book about it that goes into that technique with more detail. I bought it because I was excited to see that it has a chapter about cyanotypes, which I wanted to do again after my sunprinting experiments a couple of summers ago. Since then I bought some sunprinting solution that is supposed to work with fabrics but that didn’t work well and gave me too few contrast and fuzzy images (or rather, no image at all). I am not sure that this book is helping with the concrete question of what other product to get or how to modify my technique, because I am not doing what people ordinarily do with sunprinting. (Lay flowers or other flat objects on the printing surface.) But it has helped me with other questions already.
It has a clearly structured theory chapter, which I find entertaining to read. And it has a handy chart with printing method, colorant, optimal designs (like “lines” opposed to “areas”, “details” opposed to “shapes”), and substrate listed together.
This book has a lot of interesting projects that to me would be interesting to actually do like described. (This is rare, I feel almost an aversion against anyone telling me how to do these things. I always want to cry “let me try alone!” Not here). I guess that is mostly because they are presented more like examples of what could be done with a technique rather than the technique as a by-product of the project. Well, you can tell I am really happy about my purchase! Clearly one of my favorite book about printing.

2 replies on “February’s Literature List”

    1. Hi Dinah, thank you for the recommendation. I ordered a copy and I am looking forward to taking a look. I realize now that I am reading it that “alternative photography” probably is the right keyword to search for. Looking for “sunprinting” gave me no promising results so far.

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