In November of 2019 I joined a community on Instagram – Are You Book Enough. Every month they have a theme for book artists, and we share the ideation, creation and the progress of the book. At the end of the challenge we then share both our finished books and our favourite books created by the other artists that month.
When I made the cyanotype stones in October, I had some scraps of paper that I had put the stones on to dry and then expose in the sun. These papers had created some interesting shapes and colours, reminding me of something molecular or perhaps spores. Or bubbles. I thought I might work them into the theme for the month ‘Gather’. After all, I had gathered the stones from the river, gathered the scraps of paper…
I began by tearing around the stains on the paper, and made a simple A6 book. This is basically folded pages, stapled in the centre, but I decided to add an open-out page in the centre too.
As it progressed, I tried to deliberately NOT have a plan, rather to ‘gather’ my thoughts as they came, tapping in to the hushing and holding technique I had learned on the art retreat. And so I played around with it – accidental blobs of cyanotype and staining with coffee on the rough paper. There’s a time for planning and a time for absolutely not. I’d some vague ideas but nothing much, just enjoyed seeing what evolved. I began exploring cut-outs, embossing, making marks with white, copper and walnut inks.
I was pretty happy overall with how the book took shape and came to life. But there was one page that didn’t seem to fit, it felt too fussy and overworked. I went down to the river for a walk and while picking up stones and turning them over in my hands I came up with an idea how to fix it. Always a champion idea when you’re stuck, just step away. Get some fresh air and the answer will come!