Thursday, July 02, 2009

Living and breathing

My bookmaking/printmaking/papermaking class is a real hoot. I've already learned a few types of screenprinting, Western and Japanese papermaking (Japanese is outrageously difficult, but Western is a lot of fun), and a bit of basic bookbinding. Above is my first book, an accordion-style artist's book about -- your favorite subject and mine -- photosynthesis. Although accordion books are commonly regarded as the most useless type of books, they're relatively easy to make and they've got a really artsy vibe.

The covers are screenprinted on mulberry paper, and the interior* is a heavier Arches paper. As for the interior, I created a sequence (in yellows, blues, and greens) of images based on scientific diagrams and photographs of plant cells, hydrogen and oxygen molecules, and other relevant biological forms, like chlorophyll and the glucose created by green plants. I'm fascinated by how this narrative is composed of elements (characters?) that are simultaneously realistic (e.g. the golgi complex of a plant cell actually looks like the long, squiggy worms I screenprinted on page three!) and abstract -- that is, they become abstract if you (like me) know very little about science and do not recognize the forms. I discovered that many of the biological forms I worked with also lent themselves to patterning, so the forms are abstracted in that way, too.

Above, at the very tippy-top, is my finished book. Below are my screenprinted cover (before cutting and turning into book boards) and, below that, my original digital sketch. I kind of like the sketch as a stand-alone illustration; it has a softness and a transparency that's very different from the screenprinted book cover. In both versions, I was aiming for a cut-paper look, perhaps because of all of the mid-century Paul Rand stuff I've been looking at. (More blogging about Rand here.)

* 8 pages, not shown here.


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