Book of Hours (7″ x 7″ x 2″) began in summer of 1997 as four beaded and embroidered images meant for a wall tapestry: midnight, dusk, noon, and dawn. Midnight was a lonely road under the Milky Way, Dusk a tree against a twilight vista of blue-purple skies and sunset cliffs, Noon a small green oasis in a searing yellow desert, and Dawn a fountain in rocks under a rising sun. (I revisited the concept much later in the Jewel Vista paintings, and plan to do so again in a book of illustrated text meditations.)
By November I was nearly done with the 4″ x 6″ panels, and trying to design a flat piece around them. The thought of making them into a book instead was so natural and compelling I didn’t look back.
I made a pieced and glued basswood box spine, then tooled and painted leather covers. (The spine dangles seen here were added later.) The covers joined to the spine with dozens of braided and beaded waxed polyester cords, forming a dense fringe along the join. Four fabric pages were sewn to thin leather supports, which in turn tied to two anchor points inside the spine.
A few weeks after finishing the book, I noticed a call-for-entries for a national fabric art conference: Embellishment, whose art exhibit “Gleaming Treasures” sounded perfect. I got a few decent pictures of the book, scrounged the entry fee, and sent off my entry forms. The book got in. I sent it to the show. Then it won a ‘Best of Show’ award, and was photographed for Beadwork Magazine.
By this time I realized that other, far more talented people were also making books out of anything but paper. They shared my new obsession with ‘sequential art arranged in strata’. They had their own journals and university-recognized fields of study. And collectors liked them…
When it came back from its travels, I also realized, slowly and reluctantly, that the book was far from perfect. All new artists reach this point. It’s what they do afterward that determines their future path. I decided to rebuild the thing sometime, when I had more skills to match the images in my head.
(I did, in 2004. Here is Book of Hours, with a new whitewashed oak cover, box spine, leather hinges, and bone closure pin/page turner. I used the same leather pages, but added more. It was one of the first large sales arranged by Vamp & Tramp, and it went into the private holdings of a noted Boston-area book collector.)
Pocket Garden (2″ x 3″ x 1″) was the result of another call-for-entries, this one from Interweave Press (publishing Beadwork Magazine.) The show would be called ‘Up Close’ and would feature new artwork no more than 4″ x 4″ x 4″. I made a beaded sculptural cactus. I was allowed two entries, and as the deadline drew near, I opted to make a second book. It took a week and a half. Both pieces were juried into the show, and ended up traveling across the US from 1998 – 1999.
The covers were carved and painted basswood. Pages were gourd-stitched beadwork anchored by painted leather strips and accented with larger seed beads and pressed glass beads. To elaborate on the show concept, I designed four views of a southern Colorado valley: a view from orbit, the valley itself, a cellular diagram of one leaf, and a single carbon atom in its cloud of electrons.
In private collection.
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