Sunday, April 27, 2014


Susan and I gave ourselves quite a long time to make these books, so it feels as if I have been hinting at this and that about the book for ages.  But here we are at last!

I started out thinking I would do a book of bird images or nest images and rambled around with a bunch of possibilities.  None felt quite right.  I thought I would try and do etchings of nests; or screenprints of birds, or maybe even draw eggs.

But in the end it just didn't feel right and so I returned to words.

I found some words that expressed how I feel about nests - the sense of protection, of nurture, of care.

I then selected key words from the poem to use in different ways.

The background pages are all a soft cream with gestural marks in white.  I chose the words, wrote them out, then exploded them…so the gestural marks are really words, but they can't be read. I like that the words are all the way throughout the book - and exploding letters is easier for me in a way than just making marks…odd I know.

This is a very blurry shot of me exploding some letters in ink as a sampler to work off.  To help you out the words are: thoughts; rest; wings.

I called it nurture because that is how I feel about nests…and safe places. That they nurture us. I wrapped it in soft, soft fabric - a gentle cocoon or swaddle. All about protection.

As Susan has mentioned, artists' books are notoriously hard to photograph, and this one in its whiteness and paleness is even harder than usual.  I hope you get a sense of it without actually getting brilliant shots of each page…

The words I chose to try and visually represent (without using the words themselves on the pages) from the poem were:

Thoughts - interconnected light lines.

Rest - gentle habu stitching, restful.

Wings - one of Susan's beautiful etchings used as embossing.

Hollow - a lino cut hollow embossed.

Silence. Soft paper, nothing.

Nest. Another of Susan's - embossing of lino with delicate graphite in the detail

Stillness - Lines of dots.

Hatch - Fine dappled paper.

Dreams - swirly dreams in soft paper.

The finished book is an accordion fold within a fixed cover, with detailed pages stitched into the valleys of the accordion fold.  It feels good in the hand as you hold it and gently turn the pages to reveal the images that represent the words.

I finished the book with the poem. A bit like Susan, I didn't want to reveal the whole story at the beginning, and then have folk go thru and go - oh that's this; and that's that; rather I wanted them to feel and experience the pages and what they meant to me as I tried to express that thought; and at the end have it all makes sense.

I hand-stamped the words into sheets of my handmade paper -love the texture.

The words:

Thoughts, rest your wings.
Here is a hollow of silence,
a nest of stillness.
in which to hatch your dreams.

by Joan Walsh Anglund.


  1. Would love to see and feel it in real life - it's just a lovely, thoughtful book.

    1. Thanks Anna - photos are one thing; holding in the hand is really special isn't it? If only we could teleport ourselves!

  2. 'exploded' words appeals to me. I like the idea that there is meaning in what, at first, might seem like random marks.

    1. That's exactly what I love too Jo - what appears to be random and abstract, holds meaning...

  3. I always enjoy low contrast works (even though they are impossible to photograph well - you've managed to get across the lovely qualities of this one - congrats!)

    1. Thanks Ronnie - it surprised me to see how well you could see some of the details and some of the elements…It's what I love about the book in person - you have to hold it close.

  4. Surprisingly I think the photographs have done a fine job in showing the softness of this gentle book. It draws you in out of necessity to see all the white on white detail, and keeps you there with the book nestled in your hand not really wanting the book to end, not wanting to let go of that secret from your hands.

    1. Thanks Susan - it is book for holding isn't it? It feels like a little private story as you move through it, made just for one! Thanks for all your lovely work into it, I just love it!

  5. I so wish I could see this in person; it is thoughtful, lovely, and elegant...

    1. Thanks so much Sharmon - it is a really personal and intimate little book. I'm glad you can find it so, even from afar.

  6. Perfect title - especially as you've nurtured and cajoled this book into being. It looks fragile yet full of strength. Very tactile and very covetable.

  7. these textures are exquisite Fiona, I can feel them through the ether!

  8. I've been having a delightful scroll through your blog today, and enjoying your latest art works. Nurture came out beautifully - a true journey through the sentiments expressed in the poem. And I love how you left the actual poem for the end. I think one thing that makes a book truly special is the personal layer of experience - allowing the reader to experience the pages however she/he is moved to do so lends even more meaning to the book. In fact, I love so many things about your book - the "secret" writing you developed, the way the individual papers' content assumes a form that is so well suited to the different papers you used (as in the cutting, the stitching, the embossing). Simply lovely!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.