project: art book

i’m going to make an art book.  i’m going to make a book.  i’m going to go to all sorts of trouble to decorate and hand-make as many pieces of a handmade book that will be as much art as information.

and why is this?  well, it’s really just an excuse to learn something new, which is really just an excuse to avoid the work i’m supposed to be firmly entrenched in (writing a novel).  here’s how the excuse goes.

i’m writing a novel about antarctica with no ice, antarctica as a place people settle and fight over.  an epic tale, really, almost an edda.  obviously this is a fantasy.  but it’s also science fiction, and it’s almost historical or at least allegorical.

so i’ve got antarctica without ice.  what does that look like?  it looks like tierra del fuego.  it looks like greenland.  it looks like iceland.  all that glacially-scoured landscape, with volcanos and enormous carved mountains and surrounded by the wild ocean.  with auroras and midnight sun.  so iceland for sure.


so i’m going to go iceland to do research for my novel, to see what it would be like to live there, to walk there and breathe in tundra smells.  and i need to see what the landscape looks like, because this is a graphic novel, with illustrations galore, and they’ve got to have a setting.  so, to snip out a lot of details, i’ll be spending a month in northern iceland next year, writing and painting.

and working on an art book.  i want to make my own paper out of the mosses and grasses that are there, i want to record observations in it like a journal / research diary / first draft notebook.  i want it to represent what i’m doing there, what i’m learning, how i’m going to translate it into fiction when i get back home.  and then, i can produce it as an art book in limited edition, and use it to raise the money to publish and distribute the graphic novel.

so i need to learn how to make a nice book.  and how to make nice paper.

i immediately rushed out to my local library and got out all the books on bookbinding and papermaking.

and looked around the web and found a free papermaking class at a local art supply store.

so i’m going to be making a book here on these blog pages, and i’m going to be learning about papermaking here, and i’ll pass on whatever newbie knowledge i can pick up.

which means i’m going to make a couple of books before i go off on residency.  the first one will be a scrapbook for my daughter, because she likes stealing my old photos and pasting them up nicely for herself.  and the next one will be what i always do when i’m going on residency.

i spend months, a whole year, gathering information about the place i’m going.  old maps, histories, satellite pictures, webcams, mentions in old books online.  in this case i’ve struck up a healthy correspondence with the manager of the residency, to ask silly questions of, and haven’t hesitated to contact bus companies and post forum questions.

i gathered a whole mess of information the last time i went on residency, and this time i’m going to bind it.  simple enough, but let’s see how nice i can make it.

i’m going to the papermaking class tomorrow, so i’ll start in with pictures the.


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