Outside the Box

“A ‘book’ is an idea as much as an object…shaped by the materials at hand and the need of writers and readers.” (Borsuk 111).

How perfectly this sums up my creative “book object” project for our class! My piece is both a book and a non-book, playing on aspects from traditional forms of bookmaking as well as teasing them and moving beyond their limits. Books have text, or usually do, and I included five original poems throughout my work. At home for a few days, I brought out ALL the art bins and boxes of fabric, scrapbook paper, beads, ribbon…anything I had at hand that I could remotely envision using on an art-book project. I found a cigar box that seems to be the average size and thickness of a typical codex, and moved from there to incorporate other forms of record-keeping that I enjoyed discovering in the pages of The Book

The box hinges like a hardback novel, but is plain on the outside. No one would guess at the bursts of color and hidden words within! It reflects the artist’s world. Not everyone realizes just how much potential and beauty are within the often plain and weathered features of the artistically talented. Inside, I lined the “cover” and the “back” with marble endpaper, actually marbled fabric to touch on the traditional side. Yet on the lefthand side, I used paper, fabric, and a sewing machine to make an accordion-style—or dos-à-dos—book. On the front is a paper pocket, with a “heart-shaped”(Borsuk 61)—or cordiform—book carrying the title of the project, “Inside the Box,” the date, and my name. I included a scroll…or is it? When unrolled, it has pages! And as a final touch, I decorated a matchbox, created a drawer, and folded up another poem which can be stretched from the drawer and read in a radical way. 

My object is geared for the creative mind that relishes the tangible: opening tiny drawers, untying ribbons, peeking in pockets, feeling wooden beads, feathers, twine, and fabric while enjoying homemade poetry. I wanted to appeal to a reader’s mind not just through the words, but also through both visual and touchable art. Anyone with dexterity could enjoy this project, whether a child who loves the little matchbox or the wooden block letters, or an adult who finds the medium an entertaining and enriching backdrop for the words themselves. I used a variety of my better poems, some more for children, and some more for a college student or adult. The object portion of my book incorporates bright colors and exploratory features seen on children’s works, but the paper is more sophisticated, especially considering the cigar box. What kid’s board book would advertise that? The “artist’s book,” as stated by Borsuk, is a “‘zone of activity’ by artists and writers,” and I intended to make mine just that (115). 

Works Cited

The Book, Amaranth Borsuk. The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2018.

5 thoughts on “Outside the Box”

  1. Your book is beautiful, it looks like you really put time and thought into it! It feels very scrapbook-like; putting your book inside a cigar box is really creative and I think it works perfectly. The words, colors, and placement of all your elements work harmoniously!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haleigh, I think the scrapbook idea is a great way to understand this book! Scrapbooks are very material-oriented and do not read the way we typically expect books to read–just like Clair’s project.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This book is amazing! So much creativity and thought put into it! I can’t help but think of a movie when I look at it; like when a character finds some kind of ancient relic that is far beyond our comprehension. Objects from “National Treasure” or :Jumanji” come to mind – I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Magnificent! The “zone of activity” is a highly engaged, playful one that invites us to participate in many different metaphors for/likenesses of the book. The box hinge is indeed like the spine of a codex, influencing the structure and action of the book as an experience of “opening” and “closing.” ALSO, you riff off of the box as a “container,” allowing you to explore the idea of “content” in a physical sense. From there, so many other ways to delve and divulge present themselves in this structure! There are books-within-books – reminding me so much of Borges idea of the infinite library. Just wow. I am going to insist that we find a space to exhibit these books before the semester is done.

    Liked by 1 person

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