Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Lammas-first day of Celtic autumn

As the wheel of the year turns to autumn,
let us honor the earth and be thankful for her gifts.
Lammas is the first day of autumn on the Celtic calendar.

Lettering of the word LAMMAS was done with a 3.8 mm Parallel pen.
The word-image was created in photoshop and then screened with a photo of black-eyed Susans.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold-Part 14

Spirit Book #96: Harmonious Rebirth is another recombination. One of our favorite family vacations spots was Percé on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. The cradle was gathered at the beach at Au Coin Du Banc. It was originally used for Spirit Book #50 and held several small books nestled in its nooks and crannies. I aways had a feeling that one large book would be better but it wasn't until I finally decided to deal with the things that bothered me about the book for #70: Collected Solace that I put book and cradle together.

The book is made from darker Mashamba paper from Africa with lighter Resho paper from Bhutan. The edges of the pages have rolls of Mashamba encircled with gold wire and beads at the center. I loved the edges but did not like the inside of the pages. I had glued the Resho paper to the Mashamba and it looked and felt too stiff.
I thought that making separate sections and inserting them in between the existing pages would be the answer but hesitated to begin as there were 49 sections to make. I eventually braved it and was glad I did. Since I couldn't sew the sections in as the book was complete, I attached each already sewn together section with a little bit of glue, enough to hold it but not enough to make the pages stiff. The pages were patterned with small punched holes, pinpricked holes, and seed beads.




Spirit Book #96: Harmonious Rebirth is probably the most labor intensive of the Spirit Books. The making of the sections took over 50 hours. I named it rebirth for the rebirth and renewal of the initial parts and harmonious for the way the book and cradle came together.

Thanks for reading this series of posts. The last day for viewing the Spirit Books at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is Sunday, July 22. I'll be there to chat and answer questions from 1–4 PM.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold-Part 13

I thought there would be some special intention about Spirit Book #100 but it took me by surprise. Sometimes Spirit Books that I thought were finished are rethought or remade. I like that they evolve naturally and sometimes it takes a while for them to find their true forms.

Spirit Book #100 has a cradle made from wood gathered at the beach at Plum Island this past winter. The book was originally made for Spirit Book #92 in 2016. As I was thinking about the book for 100, I took the one from 92 and set it on top of the cradle just to see how I felt about making a book of that size. It turned out that I liked more than the size—I liked the book itself. I didn't realize what number it was in the series until I made the base and started to think about a name.
I have a little book where I record information about each Spirit Book and give it a name. I write out words connected with the materials and patterns. I look in my books about symbolism and the dictionary and free associate to come up with words for the name. In this case, I made notes about spirals (the patterns on the pages) and thought about where I found the wood—at the beach at the edge of the water. The name is Returning Embrace.
The Spirit Books are on view at the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University until July 22. Gallery hours are 10 AM-5 PM everyday but Wednesday. I'll be there on the last day, Sunday, July 22, from 1-4 PM. Stop by and say hello!

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold-Part 12

The Spirit Books began after a massive pruning in our yard in 1988. I felt such an attraction to the pieces of rose bush, grape vine, lilacs, blackberry, and honeysuckle that I brought piles of them inside. Some of the pieces were sculptural but many were just sticks. I spent four years experimenting before I made the first Spirit Book. The rose thorns on the corners of the pages of Spirit Book #31: Illuminating Grace came from that first collection.
The Lokta paper from Nepal is covered with spirals stitched with gold metallic thread. I think part of the inspiration for covering pages with spirals comes from all the pictures of medieval manuscripts I looked at when I began the serious study of calligraphy.  I was more interested in the body of the lettering than in the illuminated initials and loved the borders which seemed to contain both busyness and calm at the same time.
The rose thorns in Spirit Book #31: Illuminating Grace came from the wild Rosa multiflora which means grace in the language of flowers. Illuminating comes from the gold spirals which light the pages in a way similar to the small bits of gold in the medieval manuscript.

The Spirit Books are on view at the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University until July 22. Gallery hours are 10 AM-5 PM everyday but Wednesday. I'll be there on the last day, Sunday, July 22, from 1-4 PM. Stop by and say hello!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold-Part 11

Spirit Book #91: Rising Certainty has a cradle of several pieces of birch bark that have been joined together with wire. The pieces were gathered at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, MA. I particularly like the combination of gray and rust in the rolled pieces of bark. The book is made with amate paper from Mexico for the pages with persimmon paper from Japan interlaced to balance the two colors of the bark. The cover is Mashamba paper from Africa. There are French knots and stitches with embroidery floss and copper metallic thread.
The lifting forms of the birch bark led me to begin the name with rising. The birch is a symbol of protection offering certainty in an uncertain world.

The Spirit Books are on view at the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University until July 22. Gallery hours are 10 AM-5 PM everyday but Wednesday.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold: Part 10

 Spirit Book #41: Ceremonial Sympathy is another Spirit Book that has been created from prior ones. The stories of the various iterations can get complicated. The cradle is made from weeping mulberry branches that were gathered at Atkinson Common in Newburyport many years ago after a winter storm. It was previously the cradle for Spirit Book #40: Patient Protection whose book became part of #96: Harmonious Rebirth which is in the exhibition. The book of #41 was originally on a cradle of a fragment of a Christmas tree discarded along High Street in Newburyport. The decision to not continue using that cradle was a practical one. The tips of the branches were too thin and were easily broken off. I had chosen the color of the paper to match the warm golden tones of the original cradle.
There is a circular bead made of horn at the center of each page and pinpricked holes and glass seed beads creating patterns around the center bead. Rectangular horn beads are sewn along the edges of the pages.

The word "ceremonial" in the title comes from the original cradle and its use in the celebration of Christmas and the solstice. The warm colors of the pages suggest sympathy.

The Spirit Books are on view at the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University until July 22. Gallery hours are 10 AM-5 PM everyday but Wednesday.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Spirit Books at the Arnold-Part 9

At one point last year I had used most of the gathered pieces of wood in the studio and was looking for some new material. I took a trip to the Yard Waste Facility in Newburyport (the tree dump to us) where I have an open invitation from Mike to poke around. Among other things, I found two pieces of intertwined vines and attached them to each other. Well, my husband did the attaching.

My first thought for the pattern on the pages was to echo the vines with stitching. I made a test page.
I decided against it partly because I felt it was too imitative of the pattern of the vines and partly because it didn't feel like it quite fit with the rest of the Spirit Books. The stitching was more like drawing with thread. The drawing aspect brought the book closer to the traditional books we are used to with drawings and words and some kind of a story. The Spirit Books are about books as contemplative objects, books taken out of time with nowhere to go but the present. As I prepared my June 2 talk at the Arnold, I found this quote from John Greenleaf Whittier. I think it explains what the patterns on the pages mean to me.
I find that if I am patient, things will resolve themselves. The idea of a grid with dots came the next day. I didn't want it too look too formal so I stitched French knots which are more irregular than beads. On each page, I replaced one knot with a bead.
The book is made with amate paper from Mexico for the cover and Resho paper from Bhutan for the pages. There are small differences on the pages. The lines of gold thread alternate between vertical and horizontal, the bead is in a different place on each page, and the two colors of thread vary in placement. Spirit Book #94: Timeless Union was given its name for the union of the intertwined vines and the circle as a symbol of timelessness.

The Spirit Books are on view at the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University until July 22. Gallery hours are 10 AM-5 PM everyday but Wednesday.
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