Hand-made Books

I wanted to post a few pictures of some books I made.

Pictured above are the 20 chapbooks I made for a class I took at CalArts called Tiny Press Practices. In the class we made our own books. My chapbook, titled, Sand in the Machine: A Lyric Translation, is a collection of ten poems that I wrote using a pamphlet written in 1943, “How to Make a Man Love You,” by J. Howard Crum, M.D. I made “cut up” poems from this source text. I wanted the books themselves to reflect the cut up-ness of the project so I repurposed old book covers, photographs and metal scraps to create an aged feel. The books are hand-sewn together using a coptic-style stitch. Each book is unique and I really enjoy that about the project. I definitely wanted them to be both art objects and book objects. Each book was gifted to the students in the class, the professor and the CalArts library, as well as some family members.

Here is the copy I gave to the library and that was displayed at school for the gallery show we did. This one uses Ogden Nash’s book, Good Intentions, as its cover.

Here is a tiny little book I’ve made for my mother. It includes a few poems from my thesis. Uses Japanese stab stitch as its binding.

Here are two books I made at workshops put on by the awesome Ink & Spine Collective, a wonderful CalArts club started by two fellow MFA writers. Our Critical Studies librarian, Brena, is the sponsor/instructor of the group and she shows us how to make these amazing books! The red one is a pamphlet style binding, and the other is what is called “cased in.” For the cased in, although you can’t see in this picture, 8 sections of paper had to be first sewn together before they were attached to the book board. Lots of work but it turned out really nicely. These are blank books–great for journaling/doodling.

More hand-made books to come! I am hoping to work on a project with my dad this summer where we make little artist books that include his poetry and his drawings/paintings. Just a fun project to work on. Maybe we’ll even try to sell them at his art gallery. My dad, Jay Etkin, has a wonderful art gallery in Santa Fe, and one in Memphis. Check him out at Jay Etkin Gallery .


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