Author Archives: aoesch

One last post on books

There are a number of centers for book arts spread throughout the country, here’s a link to the NYC organization.

Keith Smith, the artist who made the String and Shadow book we looked at the first day has published a number of great books about binding, of particular note are his books about non-adhesive binding.

And here’s one last method for linking pages without glue or thread, this can be done with paper as well.


Marbleized Paper


While we did not created marbleized paper in class, this video is a delight, both in terms of the aged production values of faded film colors, narrator, and sound track, but also pay close attention to the dexterity and tools employed by the artisan making the marbleized paper.

Paste Paper

Paste paper and Marbleized papers emerged as an alternative to binding books in leather. Used as cover wraps. Check out this longer article about the history and practice on the Peabody Essex Museum Library website. And there is this simple PDF from the Cornell Library about how to as well.

Basic starch paste glue recipe:

1 part Starch{wheat flour, corn starch, rice starch}

6 parts water

Mix starch in 2 parts water

In a separate pot bring remaining water to a boil. Once boiling remove from heat, vigorously stir in initial starch and water mixture; Then cover and let cool, strain if left long enough that a solid forms on top.


The Book as Interactive Object



This is the first artist book I ever saw – Book 91, String Book by Keith Smith. One of my foundations faculty took my class to view artist books in the special collections at the Library. This book fundamentally changed my sense of what a book could be. As an avid comics reader I appreciated that a book could be more than just a vehicle for text, but upon seeing this book without text or image, I began to think of that book as an object, something which we interact with, something with dimension, and many ways  being “read.”


Books on Books on Books…


This post is the first of a couple of bits of inspiration for this weeks explorations of Book-Binding, Sketchbooks, & Artist Books.Here’s a couple of solid resources on artist books, ranging from rarified artist books to self published zines.

Printed Matter, Inc – A distributor & appreciator of Artist Books.

Booklyn – A similar enterprise to Printed Matter, but it is an artist run non-profit.

The Franklin Furnace – This organization emerged in parallel to Printed Matter, and is more so an archive of artist books, now housed at MoMA.

Here’s a whole other index of Artist books which you can view.

The Sketchbook Project

This is a participatory project which is amassing a library of sketchbooks from participants around the globe.



Working with Found Books

The Reanimation Library is a collection of de-accessioned and discarded books, primarily selected for their visual content. The library is a resource for artistic production, a source of material to be harvested and manipulated into new content. The library travels and hosts branches in other cities. Additionally there is a regular feature called Word Processor, which features written products from the library. Portions of the collection are available online.


Reversing Vandalism

From the San Francisco Public Library’s website.

In early 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began finding books hidden under shelving units throughout the Main Library. The books had been carved with a sharp instrument: covers and inner pages were slashed and odd almond-shaped pieces were cut out. As the mutilated books began accumulating, staff recognized that most of the volumes were related to issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals, HIV/AIDS and women’s health issues. Staff members united to help find and inventory the over 600 damaged books, as well as to observe the stacks waiting for someone to shove damaged books under a shelf.

Eventually the vandal was caught by a librarian, on her day off, who alerted Library Security. The perpetrator was arrested, charged and found guilty of a hate crime. When the reports of the crime hit the newspapers, an outpouring of support as well as offers to help replace the volumes came from sympathizers across the country.

After the damaged books were returned by the San Francisco Police Department, most of them were determined to be beyond repair and would be withdrawn from the collection. The volumes were digitally documented, but it was felt that discarding the books would only complete the vandal’s crime.

Jim Van Buskirk, Program Manager for the Hormel Center, in conversation with local visual artists and Library staff initiated the process leading to the Reversing Vandalism project. A public call for participation was circulated offering the destroyed books to artists, community members and interested individuals. Response to the project was immediate and intense. People quickly understood that this vandalism was not solely about gay and lesbian issues or even about books, but represented a social climate increasingly filled with fear and hate. Participants from more than twenty states, as well as Japan and France, contributed work in a wide range of media: works on paper, sculpture, assemblage, textiles, paintings, photography, even a working clock.

This pdf has images from the exhibition

Cutting with Intention.


Author Jonathan Safron Foer used an existing novel to literally carve out another story. {visit the link and check out the video showing clips of the book production}

Drawing as Erasure


Brian Chippendale’s Maggots is a comic drawn over a Japanese book catalog. The drawings are dense, and the residual finely printed Japanese characters come through as additional tone and noise.





Rare Books & the Book Arts


Pictorial Websters

This video of John Carrera’s project is a fine example of an artist book from start to finish; it documents the artist research and the labor entailed in the craft of book-binding.

What is also exciting is that this book exists in different editions, a mass produced unlimited edition was published as well.


William Morris was a Novelist, Poet, Textile artist, and Socialist, amongst other vocations; he was a critical figure in the british Arts and Crafts movement. In his various pursuits he created fine woodblock and illuminated editions of his fantasy novels and other writings. Here’s a link to a viewable archive of books from University of Iowa{which is an important center of the book arts in the US}.


In Los Angles there is the Huntington Estate, which has incredible gardens as well as an incredible library of rare books and manuscripts, here’s a link to the Huntington Digital Library, with some of their viewable manuscripts.