Making, reading, writing

Newly minted clamshell box for first in a series of atlas fold books

Newly minted clamshell box for first in a series of atlas fold books

Brass cast made during lost wax process of alligator toe from Louisiana

Brass cast made during lost wax process of alligator toe from Louisiana

After a week-long box making class with Barbara Mauriello at The Center for Book Arts, two brass casting sessions and a bookbinding class last week I found myself immersed in making things, which uses a different zone in the brain than writing. Reading supplements ideas, thinking expands them and making can become the result.

I am in the middle of researching a new atlas fold book that will be the second in a very long series of artists books that include maps, writing via letterpress, and other forms of bookish expression. When these things are evolving I find it not the time for long narratives on WordPress. Twitter, with its flits and snippets of ideas serves me better.

I did take a jaunt over to the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan on Tuesday to unwind and look at frames. Prints will be the subject of investigation on Sunday when they have a talk on Durer’s Melencolia I:

A tiny ivory book from the Met's collection

A tiny ivory book from the Met’s collection


Paper, Paper Everywhere

Rag paper making at Jim Croft's Old Ways workshop.

Rag paper making at Jim Croft’s Old Ways workshop.

It’s generally at your fingertips even in this electronic world often under your nose but is as invisible as a tree in a forest. In fact, it can be made from one. The answer to the implied riddle is Paper. In the hands of Nicholas Basbanes, the wonderfully ubiquitous item has a diverse history that is compelling when connecting points of common and not so common knowledge. Within the pages of On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History is many surprises of information making this long and well-documented tale a pleasure to read. Basbanes has the ability to spin a yarn with recorded facts of time and place, along with impressive access–even the CIA at one point. It is an adventure worth pursuing. The volume is for the general reader as well as the scholar. The bibliography is filled with tributaries large and small. Within the text there are also references of people, places and other books to be explored.

Some have found the inclusion of so many aspects of paper jump parts of the story in an unnecessary way. If you’re a person who is also fascinated with everything, you won’t be disappointed. You will learn the names and narratives of the important to the pedestrian, forgers to sensitive document purveyors, ending with a 9/11 postscript. This was not a distraction for me but an extraordinary case in point about the incredible journey a piece of paper can have in its ability to charge or change history.

Check out his website at To hear him speak at length follow this link (50 minute interview on NPR)
Find a library near you to get a copy on loan: