Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Seeking Solitude

As I began this book, I knew I wanted to challenge myself and push myself. I wanted to go places I might not normally go. Working with Susan gave me the confidence to get out there a bit more; she has such a beautiful eye and sense of design that I knew she would bring wonderful things to the collaboration to support my adventures (and rescue me if needed).

I also decided early I wanted to work with the hermit-wanderer words I had discovered a few weeks ago. This little truth about myself has become important to me and my understanding of self and I expect that I will work my way thru quite a few pieces that use it.

I also just wanted to use up some of the stacks that were lying around the studio - and these long, Hannemuhle Bamboo (265gsm) pages were offcuts from another project that I kept thinking I should do something with. This seemed the perfect opportunity to go for it!  I don't usually work this large...

Susan worked on four of the nine pages I had prepared.  I had worked out I needed six pages to do the writing - by breaking up the text so that it flowed naturally over the pages.  At the end of day one, that meant I needed to work out how to use her four pages and add in at least two more of mine.  I ended up adding in four more of mine and a single sheet of tracing paper in the middle.

I think that is one of the many differences between calligraphy and art.  In a way, a book of art images doesn't have a pre-ordained number of pages; yet when I think calligraphy, I immediately work out how the text will flow and how many pages I need. There is much more planning with calligraphy that in other forms of art I find.

It was part of the process that I didn't tell her I had planned for six pages - we each wanted the other to respond as they felt they could to what we had presented. Like I initially felt I couldn't work into her etching pages. But in the end I did!

The first and last pages are mine - with ink lines, and then other ink swirls added. Each page is totally encased in tracing paper and I ran several lines of machine stitching through them. They are quiet and subdued.

I then sequenced the pages the best I could to link Susan's pages to the words - to have the sense of rest and movement linked to the pages she had created.  I also included two of my own pages in the sequence, and the single tracing paper page to mark the middle.

I decided to pretty much stitch down the tracing paper Susan included on her pages - each of her pieces is fully held; whereas the tracing paper on my pages is able to be lifted and moved around. A subtle differentiation between the two of us. It was interesting how I tried  to bring my own voice back into the book and make these little decisions that in my head at least, meant that this bit was mine; this bit was hers.

After chatting about a pebble - the one Susan saw had a "p" written on it, I wondered about which letter I would use, or would I use a blank white pebble or would I use a white pebble with a line across it, and would my pebble still fit when I had stitched the book together or would it be lost and would I need to find another pebble?  Would I grade the cut outs so that it looked like an excavation to get to the final pebble or would I cut all the holes the same size? So many questions and design decisions. About a pebble. I do love how the threads wrap over it and around it a times. Sigh.

The book finishes with the line "at rest" and the pebble is a lovely little reminder of a quiet resting place, just as you finish the book.

 And we each embossed our marks into each book, but signed our books just ourselves.

It's almost an impossible book to photograph so I will stick mostly with the details - but here are two pages - the entry page and another.

And a final detail.

I promise you I'll get over my infatuation and onto some new work very soon!


  1. F-it has been good to watch you and S collaborating on these books; and what great outcomes both are. Love the detail photos of the stone and loose threads. Beautiful work. B

  2. Don't hurry through your infatuation on our [your friends' and readers' account]. Speaking for myself, my infatuation has grown into a full fledged love affair with the books and the only thing I'd ask is...well...more please!

  3. Don't think about getting over your infatuation!! This is no mere passing passion. Every image and word about on your two blogs has been a real joy to read and behold and I so want to see where you might go next....

  4. Please don't get over anything! Your book is zen beautiful and I could quite easily "watch" you creating a whole series of books.

  5. These photos are causing me to LONG to see and hold the book - to experience both the lightness of the transparencies and color and the solid grounding of the pebble. And that quote is truly something, its going on my studio wall. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  6. love the threads, the transparency, the pebble! a harmonious collaboration.

  7. Something tells me infatuation is the perfect spot when it comes to art - all that energy has to be a good thing,. I think it means you are on target. I am enjoying all the lovely details of this book.

  8. so so lovely
    every page
    every glimpse
    the vellum
    creating a mist
    the pebble
    breaks my heart
    the white threads
    make it a stripey
    resting there...

    xox - eb.

  9. An extraordinary collaboration Fiona. I'm in awe of this process and the organisation it required.

  10. I'd like to chime in with the other voices here - it's been wonderful to share so intimately in your process. There's a lot of intriguing work on view online, but it's rare to be able to grasp the true essence behind a piece because, so often, very few details are shared. I very much believe in the power & impact of the visual, and the effect it can have on the imagination, but I consider it a real gift to hear the words of the artist as well.
    Thank you for sharing with us!

  11. This looks very very beautiful. I hope that I get to see it one day as I am sure you are right about the difficulty photographing such a work.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed journeying with you and the resulting book has re-affirmed my belief that tracing paper improves *everything*!!

  12. Like you Fiona, I keep popping on line to visit the books. Seems as if the process has brought joy to more than us! Looking forward to our next books soon x

  13. Dear B - thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed observing; I know I appreciated your input!

    Oh Jennifer - that is too kind! They are lovely books, individually and together and I'm so glad you have enjoyed them.

    Thank you so much Lesley - It's interesting to have the two voices (blogs) going isn't it? and to see and hear how we both felt about it. We are planning a coffee catch up soon to talk about where next?

    Thanks for your words of support Robyn. I'm really pleased you enjoyed watching them in the making - when we get into our next ones we'll share again. We really need to think bout what to do with the all the ones we have in our heads!

    So pleased there's a heap of things to love and inspire intense books Valerianna. The quote is a perfect one for me...it really resonates and helps me understand my wanderings and my need to be home and be still.

    Thank you anca - lots of lovely bits came together well I think - our approaches are similar but we do different things; yet the books are still harmonious as you say. Thanks!

    Wise words indeed Leslie - feeling a little bit in love with your work must mean you're in the right spot! So true about the energy as well - it just kept rippling out in waves and I trusted it would work for me; rather than fearing all the time I'd muck things up.

    Ah yes eb - a little stripy resting; and one which change its stripes like a magical one! There is so much gentleness in this book; align with Susan's counterpoints of strength and support.

    Thanks Jo! It has been a great piece of work and yes, as you dip into my ramblings, you can see the sort of thinking and planning that happened along the way, yet so much of it was also unexpected... a lovely combo for me.

    I'm pleased that the extra stories alongside the visuals were enjoyable for you Lisa. I agree that the visuals need to speak but I am also a lover of the story - so some of the thinking and story-telling is truly part of me. I'm glad they have brought you pleasure...

    Thanks Amanda, yes, totally crazy light up here the past few days - sun, clouds, rain, storms and the whole thing is very large when opened, so photographing has not been easy. Perhaps we could start a tracing paper fan club!?!? I agree totally.

    Indeed Susan - I think I'm a bit tragic but I do enjoy them still! Looking forward to wherever the next ones take us, F

  14. just came over to take another peek at my sister book ...... I must be tragic too! x

  15. i do want to see this in person.

  16. Ah Susan - we're sisters in tragic but that's OK!

    Here's hoping V!

    Thank you Penny - for stopping by and for liking this book. It has been a great journey. Go well.

  17. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading back through this fiona... the books are gorgeous.... such an illusion of simplicity! I love the paleness, the whispers of colour & texture & layers... the words & your lettering, seeing the process... a wonderful infatuation x

  18. This really is an amazing piece of work. I am happy that photos can't convey its true complexity and depth - that just proves how much of it is there beyond a mere camera's ability to capture!

  19. Thank you Suzi - twas indeed a wonderful infatuation, and the books do whisper...go well.

    Hi G/TT - it's true, the camera can't capture it fully; so it's beauty is revealed in parts...


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