An Artist's Quest

Creative Play Date


Sewn collage book

Last Thursday was my last day of teaching for the school year and I have a busy summer of Ranch work and camp, and projects I have waitlisted until summer to do, but on Monday I gave myself a break from the checklist. I had a creative play date with my friend Diane. Earlier in the year Diane had shown me a sewn paper collage book she had made that I fell in love with. The book is papers and ephemera sewn all together on the sewing machine then hand sewn in a traditional book binding way. So on Monday Diane invited me to bring my sewing machine over and set up on her kitchen table. We sat facing each other each at our machines with papers, books, magazines, playing cards, gift cards etc splayed out in the gap between us. I had brought some old art textbooks to cut up and use as my base and a bag of avant-garde art exhibits catalogs with strange intriguing and arresting images that someone had dropped of in the Ranch art center. So I decided to mostly stick with these art books and chose items less for content than color. We sat sewing and talking, talking a sewing making pages with pockets and tabs and flaps. Then Diane showed me how to put my pages into signatures (a book making term for a set of pages stacked together) I have three signatures of three folded sheets making 36 total pages. Using booking binding tape and waxed thread I hand sewed the book to its heavy canson paper cover. Everything in the book is from found object except the book tape and thread. What a joy to reinvigorate these books and cards that have lost there meaning, to scramble them up and reinvent. When I was making the book I was conscious that I didn’t want to try to add meaning to the pages I just wanted to stitch and tape based on color and image in pleasing and intriguing ways, and that’s what I did. But as a finished book some meaning is desired. Books, in our experience inform or educate – so there is a deep urge to ascribe meaning to this collage book – and so they meaningless book takes on great mystery. One thing I know for sure I will be making more books. I want to experiment with other book forms and bindings and perhaps share this powerful play with others….so thanks Diane for an invigorating day, a reminder that creative play dates are a crucial part of keeping my life exciting and stimulating, I plan to find more ways to do that I hope you will too!

a sampling of the 36 pages


4 responses

  1. Laura O'Connor

    would love to do this with some current and vintage photos that I have collected. Will need guidance. And a decade to complete. . . .

    June 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

    • I’d love to offer this as a workshop on down the line so I’ll keep you posted

      June 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

  2. Anne R. Blanton

    I love hand made books…You are encouraging me!!! Thanks for your posts,’ anne

    June 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  3. Judy Markoff

    I am curious about the binding stitch on the spine of one of the books…it almost looks like a loopy crochet stitch. How can I find out more about it?

    October 29, 2014 at 7:28 am

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