Saturday, March 29, 2008

Silk Road, an altered book

The Silk Road, another book in the Journey RR, seems to be traveling with bad karma... It was sent to me from the UK but the book did not arrive - only to turn up back in the UK (luckily)!
At least, the second time that it was sent, it did arrive safely here in Holland.
It is a beautiful book about the Silk Road, the historical journey of the silk that came from China into Europe. The members of the group were asked to choose one of the cities on that journey and make a spread about it.

I choosed Xi'an as a spread and found images of the terracotta army that were found in Xi'an. My plan was to turn them into gel decals. This involves putting several layers of gel medium on top of the printed picture and wait for every layer to dry. So that took 2 days at least. Then you have to wet the paper at the back and start rolling with your finger, removing the paper from the back carefully.

For some reason, the black ink came also off - too bad, but it was not such a problem, because it makes the image even more translucent which can give beautiful effects. But after wetting and rubbing of the paper, the layers of gel medium turned milky! Never seen that before - especially as the gel had been transparant when all the layers had been added.
I waited for the images to completely dry, but the gel medium just did not change to transparant anymore....! Why???

So time to change plans. I printed the images again, this time on a paper with a slight canvas texture and cut out the figures as good as possible. The pages were painted red in the mean time (very Chinese...), chinese papers were collaged and the pictures were added .

The plan was to make some silk paper - but even that went wrong! I had been doing this previously, and had good results with it, but just not this time...
I could only used a small part of the silk paper, and glued that at the bottom of the spread. You cannot see it well on the picture - but in real life it adds texture and shine to the pages - very, very soft to touch!

Luckily the book is now on its way to Pascale in France. Just hope that the bad karma will get lost while traveling (instead of the book itself).
Funny, if you know that the Chinese tried to keep the secret of silk in their own country - but monks were able to smuggle some silk worms in a hollow walking stick back to Europe. Maybe that is were the bad karma came from? :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Round Robin 'Journey' Altered Books group Europe

This is the first Round Robin that does not go so smoothly as we are used to! Books are even send back by the Dutch mail services in spite of the correct address (and all the other times that it did went well)!
So this is the third book I was supposed to work in - but is in fact the second book of the RR.
This book was made by Julie from the UK: In these hurrying times, take time to travel.
Just being back from Barcelona made the choice for the spreads very easy!
Printed a few of my pictures on a linen canvas kind of paper and wrote some of my impressions about Barcelona on painted paper. Some tags with detailed prints of the mosaics of Gaudi and little drawings of the shapes from the mosaic and the strange chimneys on the roof of La Pedrera. (The yellow clamp was used just temporarily so that the page would lie flatter to photograph.)
The book should be now in France for Pascale to work in!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Altering books or creating books?

Altering books is one of my favorite activities. Take an old book, take out the pages and start altering it according to my own theme or style. It is fun to do and I have notices that lately I like to work on this small scale.

But, making books which are adjusted to your own needs (size, thickness, paper etc) is very fulfilling too. Some years ago I did a bookmaking course and so now and then I like to make my own sketchbook or book to be collaged.
See these entries in my blog for some pictures from books that I have made:

These were the first books that I made:

This book was made with watercolour paper for the signatures, very stiff paper to fold. But I could work in it with watercolour without the paper wrinkling:
I designed all kind of symbols and painted these in this little book.

Of course I wanted to make some little books as well. All were made with a sewn binding and hard covers. The paper that I use for the signatures was pastepaper:

Another book that I made especially for a Round Robin was also made with pastepaper as signatures:

These are all books with sewn binding, but on YouTube I found at last a video that explains how to make a book with a coptic binding. Most instructions that I found on the internet were not always easy to understand. I think this is going to be one of my new projects!

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Little creative pieces

Seems that this year I still get buried into paperwork.... To prevent boredom and compensate for the paperworks and appointments, I joined the Yahoo group Mixed Media ATC Europe.
So now and then I join a swap which forces me to get creative again, away from the computer screen and start playing with paint, ink, fabric and glue.
Working on a small scale is wonderful (no need to clean up an entire workspace, just a tiny empty space is needed for these little cards :-) ). The deadline helps to finish the cards, instead of becoming UFO's.
The card here was made for the Spring Swap.

If you are living in Europe, you can join the group and start trading too. Here is the link:

The group is limited to Europeans because of postagecosts and time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Barcelona, city of Gaudi (part 1)

Winter is definetly not my season! Spring and autumn, early summermornings are the best times of the year for me. Back in September I already foresaw the long grey and dreary winter months of Holland and decided that we needed to break this winter up with a little trip to the south of Europe. It did not matter which country it was, as long as it was south!
I found a cheap flight on the internet - 2 tickets to Girona (near Barcelona) in Spain, two ways for 76 euroos. Just what I needed!

We did some research on the web about the city and bought a city guide and decided that we first wanted to see the works of Antoni Gaudi. Well, although I have seen images of his work before - seeing them in real life was quite another experience.

Spain did live up to its expectations: warm and sunny in February! What a difference with home.
On our first day we went to Park Güel, which is famous for the long winding benches filled with mosaics. We enjoyed the palms, sun and parrots up there. But the part I liked most was the space underneath the court.
Dozens of tall columns supporting the large space (including the benches) above it. With on the outer side, the columns placed a bit out of line, which fooled the eyes and created a strange illusion.
The ceiling was covered in mosaics and so here and there were large discs attached to it with swirly motives - big splashes of colour against the white broken tiles.

The sun was shining and the warm light created a beautiful atmosphere between the columns. Then add some guitar music, the sounds of little colourful parrots to it and the idyl is just perfect. I just wandered around these columns, and lost my sense of direction because I also kept looking up, admiring the ceiling.

The houses that stand next to the gate of the park look almost like houses from a fairy tale. Nothing on it is conventional - when you walk around them you are in for a surprise every time you turn a corner or look up.
Gaudi has been fascinated by the geometry of nature form an early age, and it definitly shows in his work. Also he was one of the first designers that saw architecture as a complete art form, and extended his creativity to all the elements of his work. Not just the walls and roofs, but the windows, doors, chimneys, up to the doorknobs got his attention.

Gaudi worked from 1878 till 1926, but his work is so modern, different, organic and most of all inspiring. It seems like he was years ahead in his approach to not just buildings, but also environments like Park Güel.
And instead of building impressive buildings, he designed them to invite you to come closer and discover the strange and funny details.
So after being in the Park, I could not wait to see 'La Pedrera'...