This finished work took an uncomfortably long time to complete, because it was a commissioned piece with loose parameters and no deadline. I think part of me was scared of messing it up because I had a very special book provided by the client.
The book in question was an old chemistry textbook from her university days that had sentimental value. When she approached me to create an altered book she had no particular requirements other than a horizontal composition, the rest was up to me. So of course I was overwhelmed with possibilities and completely blocked on what to do, up until two weeks ago that is.
My concept for this book was to create a sculptural piece with a more abstract composition than my previous altered book work. I began with a flurry of paper folding in a five page pattern with a slightly different variation on the right and left sides. The video above was taken using the iTimelapse app on my iPhone during about an hour or so of work at the beginning stages of page folding.
I added a decorative red paper with a gold design as the end pages once the page folding was complete, and then tried to figure out my idea of sewing thread throughout the book.
This part was tricky because paper is not at forgiving about sewing mistakes the way fabric can be, so I experimented a bit with a secondary book before fully diving in. I stitched the thread back and forth across the book in an irregular pattern because I felt it worked better and looked more interesting than carrying the same stitch across the entire piece.
Once the completed altered book was framed I needed to go back and increase the tension in most of the threads. I’d been working with the book flat or on a slight angle and discovered everything shifted once the book was in a horizontal position. Imagine me pulling the threads tighter as it hung on the wall, and you get an idea of this part.
In choosing the title for this I wanted it to relate to chemistry in a subtle way. I did my usual playing around with different terms in google search to inspire ideas and came up with, “Thread of Transformation”. It relates quite literally to the metamorphosis of the book itself, but is also a play on chemical reaction as a form of changing one thing into another.
I was very pleased with the finished altered book, but was nervous about sharing it with my client friend. I needn’t have worried because when I presented it to her over the weekend, she absolutely loved it. Hooray!
Listen to the inspiring words of Neil Gaiman as he candidly shares the highs and lows of the freelance artist. There are so many quotable moments from his speech that I’ve listened to this three or four times the last few days.
It’s a great reminder to follow your own path, and to remember to enjoy the journey.