The Bends Between Adventure

In reading more of Amaranth Borsuk’s The Book, I connected some of the ideas she discussed regarding the composition of the accordion book with those posed in my studio arts lab and designed a few unique ideas for creating my own accordion book. Borsuk provides a detailed account of the origins of the accordion book, which began in China during the eighth century, and describes how paper’s strength and malleability at the time led to the development of sutra-folded books (p. 36). This technique was then applied to scrolls which were folded back and forth in even widths to create an accordion. 

The instructor for my studio arts lab presented a demo that explored the different ways in which form and content can uniquely coincide and make a beautiful piece of artwork in the form of an accordion book. The composition of an accordion book is a compelling piece of art that enables the artist to design a truly unique piece of work that closely connects to the form and content of the book. In doing further research into the significance of the accordion book, I found a new respect for how this form contributed to the evolution and creation of what we now consider to be the book. One of the most intriguing features I discovered about the accordion book is that it can be constructed out of virtually anything, which provides an endless realm of creative opportunity for the artist. The most captivating accordion project I came across was a completely handcrafted fabric accordion book that was inscribed with beautiful stitching and creative embellishments. 

[ Image Description: A handcrafted fabric accordion book that is inscribed with beautiful stitching and creative embellishments. Credit: (Art by Laura Cater-Woods and photos by Larry Stein) ]

Upon completing some diverse research into the composition and formulation of an accordion book–I found my options were quite limitless. However, after considering many different options, I was able to construct a unique design for my accordion book that highlights my personality–adventure. I decided to create an accordion book that flows with a sense of adventure. I want to design an accordion book that features many different stories that are all connected by all the bends in between them, which bring the piece together, much like the adventure of life. The picture below inspired me to pursue a travel-themed accordion project.

[ Image Description: A travel journal that opens to reveal accordion-folded pages with pockets and envelopes. Credit: (Glenn Scott / Quarry Books) ]

Works Cited

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

4 thoughts on “The Bends Between Adventure”

  1. It’s interesting that you mention that an accordion book can be constructed from an endless number of materials. With the book’s form and content so intertwined, the material is almost simultaneously spotlighted and understated. The importance of any one material is diminished due to the variety of choice, but the importance of the material choice itself is heightened due to the importance the form plays in our understanding of the content (and vice versa). I also like your idea of an accordion book with adventure. The accordion book is an ambitious and unconventional form, yet we often think of books as “safe spaces” where we can get lost in the pages. So, the very accordion-ness itself of your book connects form and content in a way that a traditional book might not be able to do.

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    1. Echoing Elizabeth’s comment, I love how you’ve found the accordion as an adventurous form, characterized by bends (twists and turns) and surprises. I can see a connection between the examples you share and your own ‘adventure’ book–in the purposeful use of fabric, ‘scrap,’ collage…


  2. Yes, YES, Y E S !! I love this mindset you’ve taken on. This idea of an accordion book can be SO much more than just plain paper, and these pictures helped us to see that too. This is such a great way to show us the book as object and as content. If you stop and think about it, this book of yours cannot have on without the other! Now< I know I'm a little biased because we've talked one-on-one a about your project already, but I think your reflection about it it extremely well-put. My favorite part about this style of accordion book is that it's very much like a scrapbook, it has a very lived-in feel to it. There can be ticket stubs from here, a boarding pass from there, a pressed flower from over there, and a polaroid from here…..the list goes on and on, I really think you can further this idea and even do accompanying journal entries to explain or commemorate the event or trip! This is a beautiful idea to blend all our discussed concepts together so far, I really think you could have some fun with it!!

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  3. I love your inspiration picture for your accordion book. I agree that “adventure” themes seem perfectly fit for an accordion book form. I, personally, am trying to make one that is also a map at the moment.

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