The first cut is the deepest…
This post is long overdue. Just some photos of the making of the rubber stamps for my book – Nest Building Perils & Pleasures. This book was made as part of Book Art Object and is the second project for this group. In case you don’t know Book Art Object was founded by Sara Bowen and is collaboration between 14 book artists. 9 in Australia, 1 in the US, 1 in Canada and 3 in the UK. This project was divided into 2 Groups this time – each working on a piece of text as inspiration. I chose to be part of the Art & Lies Group and we used an extract from Jeanette Winterson’s book. The paragraph below was the bit that grabbed me.
“300BC. The Ptolemies founded the great library at Alexandria. 400,000 volumes in vertiginous glory. The Alexandrians employed climbing boys much in the same way as the Victorians employed sweeps. Unnamed bipeds, light as dust, gripping with swollen fingers and toes, the nooks and juts of sheer-faced walls………Accordingly, the boys built themselves eyries in among the books, and were to be seen squatting and scowling at greater and greater heights around the library.”
Extract from – Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies (London: Jonathon Cape, 1994), pp. 4-6.
The part of extract that inspired me was the boys building themselves nests among the books. It made me think about nest building, and making yourself safe. The first line that came into my head was – Where do you build your nest? How do you keep it safe from life’s crows and magpies? This came to me in bed one night and I scribbled it down on the little notebook I have. Sometimes when I check this in the morning what I’ve written is partially illegible because I don’t bother to switch the light on.
I think I decided to use rubber stamps straight off and got going on this. It took me a while to come up with the title which I originally planned to stamp on the cover – but I wasn’t sure how I would do this. In the end I ended up doing something totally different.
All the text was typed on a my lovely Silver-Reed Silverette – scanned and then enlarged to twice it size. Which made the text about 5mm high. This text was then drawn over with a pencil and transferred to the rubber by just going over the back of the paper with a pencil [top picture and picture below]. Apart from the fact that I love typewriters I think one of the reasons that I use typewriter text so much in my artwork is that I have gradually become a bit of a font snob! When I use text in my work I just hated so many fonts that I ended up using typewriter text by default.
I don’t what it is about this book but I am really emotionally attached to it. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time hand cutting all the stamps and printing it all by hand…the fact that I absolutely love all the bird stamps and that I really love birds because they make me happy every day. They sing lovely songs when I walk through the park, magpies and naughty gulls amuse me with their antics, crows look so beautiful with their blue black feathers – and they all fly! Something I only do in my dreams.
It's so good to be able to follow the process of creating a book, not just the technical part but also the thoughts and associations of ideas behind it. I must say though that what stuns me more is your dexterity with rubber-stamp lettering! I wonder if I could ever get that precision!
That bird stamp is enchanting. And I share your love of them. My life is enriched by birds every day in so many ways.
Elephant's Child – you have some amazing bird photos on your blog – so exotic.
Ersi Marina – it is a little bit weird about the stamps, it seemed to come to me very quickly. I love the feather collage you have on your blog. I collect feathers all the time.
Hope is indeed the thing with feathers 🙂
just love this
thanks for the behind the scenes views
Thrilled to read all about the creation of the Nest Building Perils & Pleasures work I am so fortunate to own!
You are welcome Anna – so glad you like the book.
I've been meaning to do this post for ages Kelly.
I've also been enjoying the photos of how you make your gelatin prints in your shop.
It seems Blogger ate my comment…I was saying that I am a little in awe of your intricate cutting. Also, for one from the "other side" it's really good to see and read about your approach. Wish I'd had time to do both texts!
Thanks Di 🙂 I don't think I could have done both texts. Working full-time 1 edition of books (with all that work) was enough for me. Also not sure what it was, but I couldn't come up with one single idea for the Paper Wrestling theme. I obviously haven't done enough of it.
You did put a comment on another post before I put these photos up.
Hello Angela, I recently joined BAO, and 'discovered' your blog there. I love how you show your process as well as your finished work.
I had just seen this post, and then a few hours later I came across a poem that recalled a line from it: "Sometimes when I check this in the morning what I've written is partially illegible because I don't bother to switch the light on." I have had the same experience (and know it can be quite amusing to try to decipher in the morning). Denise Levertov captured her thoughts/advice on this in her poem 'Writing in the Dark', which I thought you might appreciate…
Writing in the Dark
It’s not difficult.
Anyway, it’s necessary.
Wait till morning, and you’ll forget.
And who knows if morning will come.
Fumble for the light, and you’ll be
stark awake, but the vision
will be fading, slipping
out of reach.
You must have paper at hand,
a felt-tip pen — ballpoints don’t always flow,
pencil points tend to break. There’s nothing
shameful in that much prudence: those are your tools.
Never mind about crossing your t’s, dotting your i’s —
but take care not to cover
one word with the next. Practice will reveal
how one hand instinctively comes to the aid of the other
to keep each line
clear of the next.
Keep writing in the dark:
a record of the night, or
words that pulled you from depths of unknowing,
words that flew through your mind, strange birds
crying their urgency with human voices,
as flowers of a tree that blooms
only once in a lifetime:
words that may have the power
to make the sun rise again.
Thank you Lisa and thanks for sharing this poem. It is spot on! I never considered using a felt tip but I am not sure it would work for my handwriting 🙂 Interesting to hear that there are others that practice this – and yes I do appreciate the poem very much 🙂
You are very lucky to live in Florence. I visited there years ago with my 2 sisters and we had a fantastic time. There a lots of things I remember but one I loved the most were the church bells ringing in the morning. I just loved that sound.
Great poem!Now all I need is a dream I can remember. 😉
If you wake up at the right time and write it down you will remember Di 😉
It is frustrating to lose the often-brilliant (!) thoughts we have in that half-conscious stage; nighttime scribbling does seem to be an important part of the creative process. May you continue to find valuable nuggets upon waking…
How great that you've had a chance to visit Florence…and I know what you mean about the church bells – they add so much to the quality of the day.
what is the name that uses the material to make the stamps?
where can I buy in europe?
Thank you Lisa 🙂 [aka Arzigogolare]
Anna this is what I use:
It is called Speedball Speedy-Carve. I buy it in the UK. Not sure if you can get this in Italy.
I will post this on your blog too in case you don't see this.