The word “book” is as multi-purpose as is the word “good”. “Good” can mean anything from nice, pretty, beautiful, satisfactory, average, okay, alright, or even subpar. Just as “good” is an umbrella for a wide spectrum of things, so is the word “book”. This little booklet I’ve made is an example of just that. While I’ve attempted to hone my book arts skills for close to two years now, this is one of the simplest books I’ve made. There are no folios, no spine, no fly pages…this is a book in its purest form: cut paper held together by something to form it into pages. It even occurred to me as I was stitching my pages together that even just clipping papers together with a binder clip or paper clips would count as a “book”. If I went out to my yard right now and grabbed some maple leaves, stitched them together with thread, they would be a “book”. Borsuk said, on page 18, that our own codex book has been normalized to such a degree that we question the “bookness” of anything that challenges our expected reading experience. This is exactly what I mean when I say I could use leaves for my pages, literally anything can be a book, it just depends on what someone personally identifies or accepts as a “book”.
This book I made is quite “plain” in terms of creativity and expression, but I think I find even more creativity in the void left behind. This is plain, simple, and pure. Virgin pages of charcoal paper, waiting to be marked by a pen-wielding hand. Borsuk and I share the same view on the value of blank pages because on page 3, Borsuk says content does not simply necessitate a book’s form. Amen and hallelujah!! While I do know various forms of book binding, even down to how to make paper, I still think of this book as a clean slate for myself; a sort of training wheels before I get back into the vast world of book binding. The sheer blank-ness of the pages gives the impression it’s waiting to be filled with information. I imagine someone picking up this little book and saying, “Huh, I wonder what I could use this for?”.
I decided that I would keep the pages plain for this book, but once I did that I knew I wanted to further some other aspect of the book…and that would be the binding! I could have done a simple version of stab and bind but I decided to try and replicate one I’ve done in the past, a tri-hole punch. I’ve done it before, somewhere along the lines of a year ago, but I ended up running out of thread halfway through so I had to get a new piece of thread and tie them together and join them and of course the colors didn’t match one another and I just hated the look of it. It turned out fine, but personally, I still didn’t enjoy the final look of it. So this was my round 2 attempt! All in all this turned out fine, but I still prefer working with hardcover binding methods, because I always end up screwing up stab and bind methods. They look fine on the top, but the flipside doesn’t look near as good as the front/topside. I’d still like to get better at doing these, but for now, I don’t think this looks too shabby.
1 thought on ““Book” or other”
Your discussion of umbrella terms and “plainness” reminds me of some old writing reflections I read years ago (so, of course, I don’t remember who said them): “There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank page”. When looking at the blank page through the eyes of a writer or an artist, there’s a potential hidden within it, a potential so immense that it can be terrifying to engage with by any except the bravest artisans. Maybe your blank books are just being made for some future potential to be seen in them.