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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