Playing: Music, Medieval Times and Shapes


I finished 2021 with finesse.  I created a book around a piece of music by Joni Mitchell.  She is one of Canada's greatest musical storytellers.  The song I chose is called, Both Sides Now.  


Both Sides Now is a song about life.  Joni Mitchell takes us through life as she experienced it.  I decided to create this book using the pochoir technique.  The front and back covers have two masks on them, which is a representation of Jean Lambert Rucki's, ' Double Mask' sculpture, and paste paper.  T

 Front Cover 

Back Cover 

I spent a lot of time creating and cutting out stencils for this book.  It was an incredibly satisfying creative process.  There are twenty-four pages of Fabriano watercolour paper.  The cover page is a combination of lettering and paper cutting.  

Cover Page 

Rows and rows of angel hair 

And ice cream castles in the air 

And feather canyons everywhere
I looked at clouds that way 

But now they only block the sun 

They rain and snow on everyone 
So many things I would have done 
But clouds got in my way 

I've looked at clouds from both sides now 

From up and down and still somehow 
It's cloud's illusions I recall 
I really don't know clouds at all 

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels 

The dizzy dancing way you feel 

I've looked at love that way 

But now it's just another show 

And you leave 'em laughing when you go 

And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away 

I've looked at love from both sides now 
From give and take and still somehow 
It's love's illusions I recall 
I really don't know love at all 

Tears and fears and feeling proud 

To say, "I love you" right out loud 

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way 

But now old friends are acting strange 
They shake their heads, they say I've changed 

Well something's lost, but something's gained 
In living every day 

I've looked at life from both sides now 

From win and lose and still somehow 
It's life's illusions I recall 
I really don't know life at all 

It's life's illusions I recall 

I really don't know life at all. 



I started 2022 by trying out a new binding I saw online, by Susana Dominguez Martin.  I don't think I added the outer cover correctly, but I do like the finished book.  This is a binding for a finished printed/artistic text block, rather than a book to write in.  It was an interesting process and when I have a finished artistic text block I want to bind, I'll try it again.  


I used book cloth and paste paper for the outer cover 

An aerial view of the structure.  


I found this next book on Squishy Notions with the tutorial.  I really had fun playing with this book.  The creator called it a flip open book, because if flips open,  and I call it a snap book  because when you open it the pages snap into place and make the most wonderful sound.  

This is the largest one I've made, it's 4 x 4 inches/10 x 10 cm

Fully opened book 

This one is 3 x 3 inches/8.5 x 8.5 cm 

Playing with shapes, a continuation from last year, I put circles on Japanese papers with gold mirror paper for the center squares.

This one is also 3 x 3 inches/8.5 x 8.5 cm 

This one is a combination of shapes and drawings


Once again I have created a book using human anatomy, which I find fascinating and beautiful.  I was inspired by a medieval medical girdle book that sold at auction for 95,000 GBP.  It has an unusual shape for a girdle book, and the pages are unique.  

My first run was a single page using photocopied anatomy parts, which I coloured with pencil and water colours.  

The paste paper envelope for this page of anatomy

The text was taken from "Grey's Anatomy" by Henry Grey. 
The vinyl lettering is spread out through the page to read anatomy.

Open page with images from Human Anatomy by Benjamin A. Rifkin, et al 

Opening up the page to reveal more text and images 

Bottom of the closed page with an image of the spinal discs 

back page 
After getting a feel for how the girdle book could be made, I moved on. 


I got a copy of Grey's Anatomy from the library and decided on what images and text I wanted in the girdle book.  Once decided, I chose the paper: Fabriano sketch, which was folded and cut.  I proceeded to draw the images over a week or so and then added the text.  To keep it as true as possible to the medieval girdle book, I scored the lines on which the text was written.  This process would have been done on the vellum before the scribe wrote the text. 

For the cover, I used a textured leather, which I lined with suede.  I did a braid stitch, with leather,  around the edge of the cover, similar to the original medieval girdle book.  

I did a little illumination on the first two page fronts H for human and A for anatomy 

The first page fully opened with the temporal bones on the left and the nervous tissues on the right 

The back side of the first page has a quote by B.A. Rifkin: 
"The body was never a free gift, it gives temporary shelter to our aspirations on a finite lease."
The illuminated letter A for anatomy 

The fully opened second page describes the lumbar vertebrae on the left and the skin on the right. 

The back of the second page, with a quote by Sir Walter Raleigh:
"Go Soul, the body's guest, upon a thankless errand, 
Fear not but touch the best, the truth shall be thy warrant." 
The Dorsal vertebrae on the front of the third page. 

The opened sections of the third page is full text describing the first, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth dorsal vertebrae. 

The front of the fourth page are the bones of the hand, described on the last, outside section of the  third page. 

The fourth page, the center of the book, starts with a description of the sternum.

The right, inside section of page four is a drawing of the sternum and a description, on the right of the arm, with the drawing of the humerus below it. 

When fully opened the center section of the page is a drawing of the prevertebral muscles and a description, on the right side of the anterior vertebrae region. 

 Page five, when fully opened, reveals text about the membranes of the brain, a drawing representing this, and a description of the aorta on the right side. 

On the back of the fifth page is a drawing of the arch of the aorta and its branches, followed by a description of the lungs on page six.

Page six, when fully opened, describes the lungs, with a front view of the heart and lungs drawing, followed by more text on the right.  The closed back of the right side page describes the femur.  

The femur on pages six and seven.  

Page seven, fully opened describes the pelvis with a drawing in the center of the page and a continuation of the text on the right side.  The right side page, when closed, describes the bones of the foot. 

The bones of the foot on pages seven and eight. 

Page eight describes the hind brain, and an illuminated image on the closed right side of the page. 

Fully opened page eight has text, illuminated images and a drawing of the hind brain.  


I created a smaller version of the girdle book, as a companion to this book.  It was also practice to renew my leather braiding skill around the edge of the leather.  This book is the index and holds information on books written about human anatomy over the centuries, including the names of authors, artists and printers.  

I used the same leather and style for the companion as I did for the girdle book.  

Illuminated front page of the index, the letter I for index.

Inside pages one and two

Fully opened page one 

I really enjoyed making this style of book and took it in another direction for a blank book. 

This is a soft cover, blank book 

Using the same paper fold as the girdle book, I added a small version (four pages), on the outside (black section), of this blank book.  


Last year, when I learned about pochoir, I made some stencils with different shapes and created some books.  I continue to carry on the practice and created this accordion book, which I decorated on both sides.  I also decorated inside the pages so they could be viewed through the cut out sections.  

The folded book 

The book is quite long, 32 inches/40.5 centimetres, so I photographed it in sections 

section two 

section three 

section four 

section one of the reverse side 

section two of the reverse side 

section three of the reverse side 

back of closed book 

Front view of full book 

Back view of full book 

aerial view of book 


When purchasing leather, it usually means buying a large piece - half a hide.  The leather I purchased for the medieval medical girdle book is cowhide, so that means a fairly large piece of leather.  So, I continued to make some blank leather covered books.  

This is a larger journal which I topstitched with red thread 

stitched spine - I used this stitch for all the leather covered books 

I lined it with red textured suede and embossed a piece of paste paper, with flowers, for the fly leaf 

I decorated the edges of the fly leaves and embossed the first page with a tree 

I used small magnets for the closing of this notebook and decorated the flap with a piece of carved horn 

Back of the notebook 

small notebook with red thread top stitching 

back of the small notebook 

another small notebook with red top stitching 

back of small notebook 


When making books, I often have small pieces left over, which are too big to throw away, so I either make cards, if large enough, or miniature books. I played with acrylic paints an made some Rorschach images and then put covers on this little treasures. 

These are three bundles of miniature books.  There are three books in the left bundle measuring4.5 x 3.5 x .7 cm/1 7/8 x 1 1/2 x 3/8 inches.  The bundle in the middle has two larger books and there is one book on the right.  

A book from the center bundle. 

The other book from the center bundle. 

A book from the left-hand bundle. 

I used a photocopy of one of my orchid photos for the cover of this book. 

These are the other two books from the left-hand bundle. 

Right-hand book.  

The cover from one of the center bundled books, another photocopied photo of flowers.  

a little triangle book 

sitting with the covers flat 

Fully open 


The Delires de livres 2022 exhibit at Ecu de France in Viroflay will take place from March 12 to April 10, 2022.  The vernissage will be on March 12th at 11:30.  I will have a piece called, 'The Human Condition' in it.  If you are in the neighbourhood, please stop in and visit.  I would love to be there to see it.  Some of the pieces are now being introduced on facebook by Chantal Liebenguth. 

That''s all for now.  I have a good start into the new year with new creations and a list of books to be made throughout the year.  

Stay healthy and keep creating.  

Copyright Mary Kritz (2012 - 2022) 





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