Seventeen Years of Making Books

A Beautiful Mother_process

While going through my studio and bookshelves, collecting the books I will share on my exhibitor’s table at the Book Arts Jam next weekend, I’ve dug out some of my earliest book work, the first one going back to 1992. I remember thinking at the time, if I follow this path, this is all I will ever want to do, make books. But at the time we had just closed down our moving company and I felt that I needed to maximize my income from my calligraphy business, so that is the direction I followed. Prose and Letters has been relatively successful for me, considering I have been selling the service and product of hand lettering all these years, which most people consider a fading art. But several years ago, the book voice started acting up in me and the books started commanding more and more of my attention, until, just as I always knew, they took over my creative life, bringing together my love of words, calligraphy, painting, stitching: making things with my hands, often using my own texts.

17 years Book Spread

So it is a bittersweet realization that I have been actually been making books, off and on, for seventeen years, putting my creative energy into the making of these objects that I hope will have some influence in the world, or open someone’s eyes to a new way of thinking about something. It wasn’t always easy, and there were years when the books languished while we raised our children and I was busy building a greeting card business.

But my first love was always the books. And so it is, even now. The discovery of what’s on the next page, the infusion of the artist’s vision in the pages, the entire object created out of an idea in my head, all this has been hugely gratifying for me.

Paste Paper Over Painting

Above and at top are some book pages in progress. I will be bringing some of this kind of work to the Book Arts Jam on October 17, to show some of the process that goes into the making of a book. My recent work has been with the poem by Alice Walker called “We Have a Beautiful Mother.” It’s been lovely to work with these words for the past months, and really let them seep into my bones and my heart.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the Book Arts Jam next Saturday, and if you can’t come by, it would still be nice to hear from you!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Suzi Smith 10/11/2009, 12:18 pm

    oh cari… it would be lovely to see… for real… how time flies… that would be about the time i was first picking up a nib… what a wonderful journey its been… and to see some of your journeys through your pages. I for one, am glad you can’t resist! Here’s to the next 17!

  • Alesia Zorn Calligraphy 10/11/2009, 6:41 pm

    What a wonderful collection, I wish I could be there! I’m taking a break from making books for an exchange and you’ve inspired me to get back to work!

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