Wednesday, February 08, 2006

From a past life

When I was cleaning out my office this past weekend, I came across a disk of photos of some of the artist books I've made.

Artist books occupy that same area in the world of bookbinding that art quilts occupy in the quilt world. For those engaged in that arena, it's vast and interesting and valuable because each piece is a work of art. The pieces are exhibited in galleries and sold as art. But there's the traditional view, too, where folks who haven't been exposed to this art form are puzzled. "THAT'S a book?!" I heard that again and again. I came around to saying I made sculptural book art, or paper art sculptures... trying different phrases to help people understand what I did.

Anyway. I used to make artist books and exhibit them and sell them and teach book-making workshops. And I thought I'd share a few pictures of books I made back then:

"City" is a pop-out sort of structure, so that as you open the book, the city unfolds toward you. The cover is made from pages of a telphone books.

I love cityscapes and silhouettes. Here's a 3-layer accordion book, called "Sunrise."

I also used to teach tunnel book workshops. A tunnel book is one where the book accordions toward you to show an inner world...sort of like a collapsible panorama Easter egg!

Here's one called "To the Bridge" which shows the Golden Gate Bridge and SF skyline.

I wish I had a picture of this book's a mailbox, with a red flag that says "The Mailbox is a Museum"... here's a shot of the inside tunnel.

I used to teach classes in various sewn bindings, too. Here are some sample books with a sewn tape binding. These make great journals.

And, with all my paper scraps, I started making paper quilts that folded up into little boxes.
You can probably guess that it wasn't long after this that I got back into quilting!

If you're interested in learning more about making books, I can highly recommend a book called Cover to Cover, by my dear friend and mentor Shereen LaPlantz. It's beautiful to look at, has clear instructions, and will give you tons and tons if ideas.


  1. diane, your books are interesting...i particularly like City and the Mailbox one. Why did you stop making them?

  2. Thanks for the nice comments! I worked really hard to get to the point where I was teaching and got invited to teach at a big book arts conference...then found that making it "work" took all the fun out of it! I just lost the desire to make books for fun and creativity, and found that I was doing it only to make class samples, etc. And then Shereen, with whom I'd been taking annual intensive workshops, died, and that was such a sad thing. I found that I just didn't want to make books any more. About that time, I discovered that quilting seemed like much more fun, and once I started fiddling with fabric, paper seemed dry and boring. It's funny to me now that Quilting Arts is showing quilts that, to my eye, are heading in the direction of paper arts and collage, which for me feels like a big backwards step. But I guess using all sorts of techniques and tools just broadens the creative opportunities.

  3. I have Shereen's book. I really like your city scapes and the mailbox books.

  4. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Diane, gorgeous books! My major study in my Visual Arts Diploma is Artists Books - I'm taking 2 book subjects this semester I hope. I agree, Cover to Cover is a GREAT book! I'm also a huge fan of Keith Smith's non-adhesive bindings books.

    Your work is LOVELY, very imaginative, and (this is important to me, I can't tell you how much) - it looks VERY WELL CRAFTED. Not craft in the "icky" way, well-crafted as in technically wonderful, no shoddy bits - don't you just hate seeing messy "that's good enough" workmanship? I do.
    Anyway, yummy books!

  5. Anonymous8:16 AM

    I am spewing coffee on my keyboard after reading Mary's comment. If she only knew!! Diane - why have I not seen these? they are wonderful and as someone said, they are perfectly crafted. I am enchanted by them.

  6. Gerrie said it perfectly...enchanting!

  7. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Oh my GOSH, the books are fantastic! You should write a "how to" book for these -- I'd order it immediately! Thanks for sharing the photos.