Saturday, May 20, 2006


Down to the wire

It's currently 11pm. I have Iron Chef America going in the background and a toddler in my lap as I bounce back and forth between email and Etsy checking for a message with the Cover photos attached. My pulse is racing and if I had fingernails I'd have bitten them off. I'll be updating this message with progress reports and the URL for the actual listing once it's up.

11:09 pm ETA: Just spoke to Judith... Photos are in the ether somewhere between her box and mine...

11:44 pm ETA: The composite image of the cover has been edited and emailed to Judith. She did an absolutely beautiful job incorporating Elena's beautiful embellishment onto the front cover. I love the way that her quotes tie into the "Words of Wisdom" that Elena used in her spreads. The book has come full circle both geographically and philosophically.

12:04 am ETA: Fantastic Emblage: An Altered Book is now listed on Etsy. More information about the book and the artists will be posted here in the days to come.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Here are some pictures of my pages. I mostly did pages about societal perceptions of the ideal woman and femininity in the past and present. I covered themes like body image and how women were told men perceived them historically.

The first page that I did displays an ad for dish soap from the late 30s. The ad talks about how having soft hands from using Palmolive will improve your marriage. The ad makes a statement about the role of women in relationships and society in the 1930s.

This page has an advertisement for a Lysol douche. The ad talks about how not douching with Lysol ruined this woman's marriage. I also included some info on the bottom right of the page explaining that today most health care professionals advise against douching because of the health complications it can cause. The irony is that in the ad which ran in the early 40s said that doctors recommend douching with Lysol! The ad makes mention of Lysol's germicidic qualities -- which reflects the long held historic perception that women's bodies are filthy and need to be 'cleansed' like a dirty tub or sink in order to be appealing to a man.

This spread came from various clippings from a teen girls book about beauty and an ad for a girdle. The clippings talk about pressing issues like how to put on make up, the importance of having a full length mirror, and suggest that it is ideal that if you put your hands on your waist that yout fingers touch in the front and back. The book that the clippings came from is all about how to be the ideal young woman -- the book mainly focuses on acheiving this by being slim and attractive and properly dressed and made up. I love that the girdle company advertisement is for a company called "Realform" as if a woman squishing into a girdle will achieve her "real" form.

This spread is about the old standard of beauty (plump women). One one half is a cover from an old girlie mag with a glamorous looking woman who is heavy by today's standards. On the right (hard to see because there's vellum there but it flips open) is a clip of an advertisement for weight gain tablets. The ad shows the heavier girl getting the guy and the skinny girl left in the dust.

This spread is about the riot grrl movement. There are pics from Bikini Kill and Bratmoble albums and a pic of Sleater Kinney. There's a description on the right of what the movement is about and some feminist/queercore Sleater Kinney lyrics on the left above their pic.

This spread is about our modern day fixation with very skinny women. There are some skeleton models on the right and a quote about the ideal Hollywood woman. On the right is a collage of diet drugs and a super skinny bikini clad model emerging from it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Witch Trials

My second spread in the book focuses on witch trials. I didn't focus on a specific era of the witchcraze, instead creating a general spread which would allow one of my fellow artists to build upon what I'd done by creating their own spreads (if they wished) before or after mine. For the background of the page on the left I used a facsimile of a petition written by women (and 3 or 4 men) who were being held pending trial for witchcraft in the Massachusetts Colony. They outlined the conditions in the jail and requested that, after being held for months without trial, they be granted bail so that they would not die from exposure during the cold winter. Superimposed over the petition is a woodblock carving from the same era showing the hanging of condemned witches. In the upper left corner of the spread is a copy of an engraving by Albrecht Dürer of a witch riding backward on a goat.

On the right side of the spread is an1800s illustration of a witch on a broomstick which is really what we think of in the modern era when someone uses the word "witch." The spread didn't photograph very well as the pages were coated with gloss medium after I finished the collage and it reflected quite a bit more than I would have liked.

I was trying, in the spread, to contrast the reality of the witchcraze, the imprisonment and harsh conditions of the trials, with the ridiculous beliefs about witches of the era and the long-reaching stereotypes that have persisted into the modern era, when most people claim not to believe in witches.

The witchcraze seemed like an important thing to include in a book about women because the majority of those accused of witchcraft were women. In most cases, they were older women of moderate means with no living husband/protector. Their property was taken to pay for the trial and the costs of imprisoning them. In many cases, the neighbor who accused them benefited by acquiring their land.

Even today, more than 300 years since the end of the Witchcraze in the United States, the word "witch" is an insult hurled at women.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Goddess Concept

I'm going to post the images from my 3 spreads in separate posts with some thoughts about what the spread means to me and what inspired it.

Since the very first time that I saw her image, in an art history text book when I was in 8th grade, I have believed that the Winged Victory of Samothrace is the ultimate image of feminine grace and beauty. It seemed only natural to do a page spread incorporating her in a book that focused on women throughout time.

I've created a pop-up using english vocabulary cards with the words ethereal, seraphic, allegory, essence, amazon, personification, emancipation, invocation and trancend. I've attempted to explore not only the feelings that I have for this specific sculpture but to, I hope, address the core concept of goddess.

This sculpture is one of the masterpieces of Helenic Greece and in honor of it's ancient origins, I've placed the spread very early in the book.


The Stand

Unless there has been a lot of careful planning and coordination, by the time that the artist(s) have finished the process of altering a book, there is no force in the known universe that would get the book to close normally. Part of the preparation process, before you ever break out the art supplies to begin the creative part of altering, is cutting or tearing pages from the book to relieve the stress on the spine. Even with this preparation, the altered book can never simply be closed and hidden away in a bookshelf.

An altered book is a very involved work of art. It is, in many ways, like a Cornell box. It should be investigated, explored, and experienced. As I worked on the page spreads that I contributed to the whole, I enjoyed the fullness and feeling of promise that comes with an altered book whose pages now push at the restraints of their covers. There is a promise of beauty and discovery.

So, what do you do with an altered book once it's finished? You can't return it to the shelf where once it dwelled. It has taken on a new life. It has transcended it's previous limits and definitions.

Do we alter books out of an inherent disrespect? I cannot speak for all altered book artists. For myself, however, the book is a sacred object. It is a piece of the soul of a human being in a form that can be shared and accessed again and again over time by one or many future human beings. Some books, however sacred the abstract concept of "book" may be, will never be more than objects.

Law books, encyclopedias, reference books, etc all start their lives as utilitarian objects. Whether the original book was one of these, or a mass market novel, the books most often chosen by altered book artists are books which have lived their useful lives and are when we choose them, unwanted and unloved. We give them a new context. And in this case, we're also giving the book a stand so that it can live its new life displayed in a prominent place in its new home.

Friday, March 31, 2006


RedandGreenButterfly: Diana's contributions to the book

The book is now on its way to Ohio. It should arrive by the middle of next week.

These are the images that Diana emailed me for posting on the blog.

Maybe she could tell us a bit more about the individual collage spreads in the comments.


Elena's Inspiration

Elena sent the following information about her contributions (in the previous post) to the book. I must say that the Women Beyond Borders project sounds really great. (Sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted.)
I describe an amazing project I have been involved with for over 10 years called Women/ beyond borders you can go to our website if you are interested <> before seeing the colab book...I am co-founder of the project and wanted to share it in this book.

Also have been collecting quotes from famous women and my other pages deal with this text on playing and lotteria cards which feature images of women...also my stamp collection yielded a great many women.... thus a page of them...I hope the others will send images to you so we can all share before the book is completed...Thanks for all your efforts!! Elena

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Elena's Pages

As our book wends its way eastward from Elena to Diana, it is so exciting to be able to get a glimpse of its development. In many round robins, Images of the work in progress are not shared because each player has a book in the race and everyone wants the owner of the book to be surprised by the finished book. In this case, the finished book will belong to the Etsy buyer who purchases it and the funds will go to the New Orleans Public Libraries. We want people to see each phase of the work, and to learn about the processes and the artists involved.

Elena's pages touch on some absolutely beautiful themes. Hopefully, she'll be able to comment some on this entry to talk about her process and inspiration.

For those of you who might be interested in supporting the New Orleans Public Libraries, they have several fundraising efforts going at the moment. There is a donations FAQ available at their website.

I also thought that I would post some information for those visitors to the blog who are interested in learning more about Altered Books. There are several Yahoo!Groups for altered books including AlteredBooks@YahooGroups which is one of the best altered books resources available. The knowledgebase of the list is amazing and the files area of the list is a treasure trove of techniques, resources and inspiration.

Another resource is the International Society of Altered Book Artists. ISABA is a guild with a newsletter, a traveling collection and a fabulous member's gallery. A look through the list of ISABA members is like browsing through a who's who of contemporary collage artists.

I'm looking forward to seeing more pages as they're completed and to sharing them here as they come in. I'd love to hear feedback, not only from the participants in the project but from visitors to the blog as well.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Fwd: Etsy Message: Blog address

Ok, this was sent by Judith and I wanted to make sure that the information was available to everyone.


Sent by NoDuplicates on 10-03-2006 08:30 pm:

Hi Andi, I know you won't get this for a week or more, but thought I'd keep you in the I see it now....
[personal note about login problems cut]
There are 505 pages in the book
Glueing 5 pages together for strength results in 101 pages
If we use the following 8 eras, there will be 12 pages available for each era.
Egyptian.......Renaissance.......Victorian.......Roaring Twenties
Depression/WWII.........50's VS 60's........Present........Future
Now everyone probably will not want to add something to each, so therefore if you skip around in the book you'll have to take that into consideration. I think the general concensus is to be able to contribute to more than one section, and that is fine by me. I think I might like to work in atleast 2...Egyptian and Victorian, and probably the 50's, since that was my HS era.
The progression of the passage of the book from one to another is as follows:
Elena to Dianna (redandgreenbutterfly)
Dianna to Andi (MysticSpiral)
Andi to Meredith (exboyfriend)
Meredith to Jillian (allyouneedislove)
Jillian to me (NoDuplicates) by April 15th the latest
Keeping in mind the time in the mail, I figure you'll each have about 3 days to work, and then 3 days between people using Priority Mail. That's not a lot of time, so if you can start working on things to apply to your pages (that's what I plan to do) it will give you a head start on things.
I need all your real names, addresses, emails, and phone #'s, so that I can keep in touch. I pay for free long distance calls, so I might as well put it to good use. I will probably not be adding anything to the blog, cause Blogger never sent me an email with my "correct" password. However I can read what you write, and view pics (I think) without logging on. Any communication from me will be either by email or in this arena...conversations....and you can contact me the same way.
I think that's it for now. If you have any questions, comments, etc. please email me or convo me (NoDuplicates)
Hope this clarifies some of the stuff for you all. Judith or jed


Just checking in

I just checked email from a small library in coastal North Carolina. I've now invited everyone from the Etsy discussion to the be team members here on the blog. I'll probably not have internet access again until a week from tomorrow. I'm going to post a second message in about a minute to forward some information from my email just to make sure that it is centrally available.

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