Artists" Books, Paper and Glass

Spring is upon us.  The sun shines, the rain pours down and the trees and grass turn green.  It is a time of renewal and a time to share new works. 


What is an artists' book?  A question asked often and one with no definitive answer.  Here are a few interpretations: 

Smithsonian Libraries and Archives: 


An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of “book” as inspiration.  It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object. 


What truly makes an artist’s book is the artist’s intent, and artists have used the book as inspiration in a myriad of ways and techniques, from traditional to the experimental.  The book could be made through fine press printing or hand-crafted, the pages illustrated with computer-generated images or cheap photocopies; books become sculptures, tiny and gargantuan; books were sliced up and reconfigured made from all kinds of materials with unconventional objects incorporated in unique or limited editions, or produced in multiple copies.  With all sorts of ideas behind them, artists continue to challenge the idea, content and structure of the traditional book. 

ARTIST BOOK #1: Cupertino di libri di alta moda/Couvertures de livres de Haute Couture 

This artist book was inspired by Jhumpa Lahiri's book: 'The Clothing of Books."  When looking for a book to read, I came upon this little book and what first caught my eye was the title.  Since I make books, I found the title compelling and wanted to read more.  Then the beautiful blue colour enticed me further and I noticed the stitching on the cover.  This is the second book I have made, that has been inspired by Ms Lahiri's book.  I used a beautiful German made paper for this book and envelope. 

In this artist book I have combined pictures of Ms Lahiri's book, the dust jacket's I made for it, based on her words, and book covers that I have made over time for my journals and written books.  

The title, in Italian, is for Ms Lahiri, since she moved to Italy to learn the language and the culture, and in French because when I think about beautifully dressing a book I think of hand crafted Haute Couture.  I have used Google Translate for these titles, and if incorrect, they are like the brand names on knock offs, which are inspired by original works of art, whatever they may be.  


Jhumpa Lahiri's book cover 

Hand painted cover: oil paint and cold wax 

On the left: dust jacket created using Ms Lahiri's words and on the right: hand bound Frankenstein 

On the left: dust jacket created using drawn images from one of Ms Lahiri's favourite artists and on the right: paste paper and etching of leaves for hand printed book called: 'Wind' 

On the left: dust jacket created using hand drawn images of Ms Lahiri's favourite artist and on the right: a hand etched aluminum covered journal called: 'ginkgo'. 

On the left: the cover of a book I wrote called: 'Hordra and the Web Spinner' and on the right: the hand drawn fly leaf on suminagashi marbled paper. 

On the left: a stained glass cover for a book called: 'Water' and on the right: the fly leaf with the title.  In this book I hand set metal type and printed it on suminagashi marbled paper around laminated seaweed and photos of water. 

On the left: is the cover of a zine called: 'Biba: The Divine Diva' made with fur.  Biba was a friend's beautiful little cat with the most incredible yellow eyes.  On the right: the protective cover for a book called: 'Symbiosis' (bottom right hand) which incorporated hand embroidery and laminated milkweed seeds. 

On the left: a dust jacket based on Ms Lahiri's young life experiences with fashion decisions and desires and on the left: the cover of Mary's Bestiary Book covered with hand marbled paper, fur and feather and at the bottom right hand is a leather bound journal with leather on-lays and gilded letters. 

On the left: a dust jacket using Ms Lahiri's words and on the right the cover of my artist book called: 'Dr. Frankenstein's Collection of Spare Parts'. 

On the left and right: are hand bound journals: one  with alpaca and merino wool felt (sourced from an alpaca farmer) and the other with a commercial felt cover.

On the left: the cover of a hand bound journal and on the right an old photo of me with a couple of my creations. 

Otis College of Art and Design


Simply stated, artists’ books are works of art in book (or book like) form.  An artists’ book may be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece but it might also be produced in an edition.  It may be letterpress printed using handset metal or photopolymer plates but it might also be printed offset, mimeographed, photocopied, written by hand, or created using online self-publishing companies  It might incorporate unusual materials like soap, food, or LEGOs Sometimes it’s produced as a codex and will look like a book but it might be a scroll, set of computer punched cards or sculptural piece.  This wide variety of form makes a single definition hard to come by, but in almost every case, the appearance and production of the work is determined by the artist.”

ARTIST BOOK #2:  Macarons 

These little delights were inspired, not so much by the delicious macarons, but the empty containers, once the macarons had been eaten.  

These little sweets have been made from repurposed books that I read.  Once cut out, I made the covers with light weight book board and covered them with decorative papers and printed photographs.  I stitched each macaron together and hand painted the edge of each one similar to the macarons that were in the containers

A macaron for you? 

Using the title from a chapter in one of the books. 

Some words from the book used to name this half dozen of macarons. 

A colourful half dozen of macarons covered in colourful photocopied photos.

photocopied photo covers 

Yale University Library


“Books which have been produced by artists are distinct from other kinds of art publishing in that they’re not tied to the conventions of literature of criticism or illustration.  The principle theory of artists’ books is that instead of being about art they’re rather books which are intended as artworks themselves. 


Taking the structure of the book beyond everyday expectations is often a goal of the artists’ book.  Other important aspects of artists’ books are: the use of cross-disciplinary media, the production of the work through an accessible (usually inexpensive) means, and the reaction against the established art world/art market. 


In fact this confluence of art forms had affected artists’ books to such a degree that they have become characteristically and foremost multidisciplinary…this tendency towards cross disciplines also allows an artist to belong to no explicit discipline while referring to many.”  

ARTIST BOOK #3: Dining With Madam LaFlam 

Many years ago I was playing with a stuffed toy and a clown I had made, wondering what I could do with them.  Inspiration hit and I took some photos of the little story that unfolded.  

I did not connect the sections, but left them to be displayed as little vignettes; each one with two photos; each section telling a part of the story.  I did decorative paper cutting on the borders of each section. 

The envelope front for the sections. 

The back of the envelope. 

Vignette #1: choosing the bowl and selecting the ingredients. 

Vignette #2: opening the corn and cutting the peppers. 

Vignette #3: dicing the ingredients and adding the oil. 

Vignette #4: adding the vinegar and Dining with Madam LaFlam.

Johanna Drucker: The Century of Artists’ Books


“A folded fan, a set of blocks, words embedded in Lucite: artists’ books are a singular form of imaginative expression.” 


“…what distinguishes an artist’s book from any other publication is its ability to destroy any preconceived ideas regarding a books’ essence, form or function.”

BOOK #4: Seeing The Tree in The Forest 

This book involves hand cut papers and photographs of trees.  I used a combination of papers: Chiyogami for the outer covers, India silk paper for the paste downs, sketch paper for the paper cut trees, mi-teintes for the border of the paper cuttings and India hemp paper for the photographs. 

I discovered the best way to appreciate this book is by slowly turning the pages.  As they are turned the view through the paper cuts change until the photo behind it or the one it is moving toward is revealed and/or concealed.  

I like the the rough edges of the hemp paper, like the bark of a tree.  The mix and combination of papers and colours are complementary to the photos rather than overpowering them: light and shade, white and colour.  The green silk paste downs add a gentle texture to the tactile nature of the book.  


PAPER: Decorated and Hand Made 

Paste Paper:  Over the years I have experimented with different combinations of materials: paper and starch, to create paste paper.  This time around I tried wheat starch with sketch paper and found it was a fabulous combination.  I used green for spring and had a great deal of fun playing with patterns. 

Handmade Papers 

I have found the past year to be very lonely and isolating, so I turned my hand to journaling; something I disliked doing.  Once the book was full I was wondering what I should do with it, as I wanted to continue using the same covers.  I decided to try my hand at making some paper at home.  I always felt it was such a messy process for a small space. 

I tore the pages into small pieces and soaked them overnight.  The next day I put them into the blender and gave it a whirl.  Low and behold I had a fine slurry.  

Not having a proper deckle to work with, I looked around for something I could use instead.  I found the tool I use for soaking rice paper for spring roles to be sufficient for the job: 

my new found tool 

A couple of pieces of handmade paper.  I left some of the ripped pieces whole and pressed them into the paper showing partial letters and words.  I have a project planned for them and am looking forward to working with the different pieces.  

It was still a messy process, since taking the excess water out of the paper by hand was challenging, yet rewarding when I saw the dried papers.  


Stained Glass 

I had a couple of pieces of stained glass, from an old dismantled book, I made at the beginning of my book making days.  I used a different technique, from those I previously used, to add the glass to the text block.  It worked out well and I would use it again.  

Front cover 

Back cover 

Paste down (Chiyogami)  and fly leaf (India silk paper) 

Little Black Book 

I made the covers of this book for a Turkish Map Fold book, which explains the cut off corner.  It didn't work and I saved the covers to use when inspiration hit. I decided to turn it into a blank book covering it with a black sketch paper, and the paste down with a decorative paper.  The fly leafs are photocopies of an art installation which I photographed.  It would make a great sketch book or journal for those who like to work at an angle. 

Competition and Exhibit Submissions

I have submitted a box to the Box Your Book Competition in the Netherlands and an artist book to Unseen in New Mexico.  Results are still to be announced.  

That's all for now.  Wishing you all a fabulous spring filled with sunshine, colourful flowers and good health.  

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Weathered wood 

Weathered Wood 



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