Something simple

book making

The hardest thing is to make a complicated idea into a simple visual statement. When you achieve this it a once seems obvious, but getting to that point is a challenge. Seeing things clearly through the possibilities and technical problems takes commitment and focus, which isn’t always easy.

Going with the flow can help. The materials themselves have limitations which narrow down the possibilities. You have to keep your vision very clear and not waiver when doubt creeps in.

I am on this journey with a ‘book’ idea I had a year ago and which is only just becoming a reality.  I did the etchings, linocuts and woodcuts of the treasure last spring, but was unsure   how to continue. The idea had to ferment.  The book is based on a hoard of Pictish silver found by a school boy in 1958 on St Ninian’s Isle off the main Shetland Island. It explores ideas of finding something bright in the dark – uncovering, discovering, hidden, precious, glittering………. It will fold into a larch wood box with a slate cover.

closed book

I’ve always liked advent calendars – the anticipation and discovery. Opening a door to discover the picture. Each page is 18cm square. There are 28 pages – there were 28 pieces of silver found. the pages are joined by ribbon and unfold to hang.

book ready to hang

I think I’m getting there, but there have been moments of despair when it hasn’t turned out how I imagined e.g. when the doors which I thought would stay closed without a latch came open. How could I possibly make a catch which wouldn’t prevent the folding of the pages into the box? Then the exhilaration when a solution slowly formed in my mind involving thin wire bent to form a small flat clasp .

clasp detail

Experimentation followed – trying out different thicknesses and colours of wire – ending with the satisfaction of having risen to the challenge. Now I am making a smaller version and I have a pile of very thin birch ply squares to make a wooden book. The possibilities suddenly seem endless.

detail book 2

This book is dedicated to Suzy Straw. I heard she had died while looking across to St Ninian’s Isle and spent the time of her funeral on this wild island where the treasure had been found.


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