Whoa, what’s this? This doesn’t look like a bookbinding handout? What’s it doing in my studio? Wait a minute, is this. . . artwork? Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, in a shocking turn of events I have managed to find a few hours to string together to do my own work. What you see above is the very beginning of a book project called Shift, part of a collaborative effort with Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, Macy Chadwick and Tricia Treacy. The five of us are coming together as Shift lab. Here is some writing I did a few weeks ago for our new blog (where you can currently find a post from Katie Baldwin.)
A shift in position.
A shift in balance.
A shift in habit.
Shiftlab is Katie Baldwin, Sarah Bryant, Macy Chadwick, Denise Bookwalter and Tricia Treacy. We come together as a group in a shift from our individual practice and process. To inaugurate this new collective we are producing a book with common dimensions and a common theme.
The specifics of the project: Each of the five of us will design, print and bind a small edition of an 11×16 cm book with the theme or title of Shift. An accompanying print of larger size will reemphasize that theme by forcing a shift from three dimensions to two, from small to large, from sequential to static. We will house the five books together in an enclosure. This project physically marks the beginning of our collaboration and will ideally serve as a catalyst for future ambitions, new group projects, exhibitions, and a catalog.
I am returning to this book today after an absence of a few weeks. My time for my own work has been limited over the last few months, as it is for so many of us, and I am grateful for a project with group ownership and agency to give me solid footing back in the studio. As I think about this book I think about my own shift from the US to the UK and how it has served to cut me off, in part, from the creative community that I developed when I was living closer to home. But enough about me.
A shift in tone. A tectonic shift. A shift is a dress. It is a key on a keyboard. It is a slippery word that marks violent change and a subtle motion. I am trying to make a book about a shift in position, the movement of a body turning over in bed or reaching for something on a high shelf. I am trying to make the book physically capable of a shift by including a fold in the spine that will change the imagery with movement.
So today is a day for models and mockups, a frustrating and satisfying investigation of an idea that has cooled slightly after a month of neglect. Coming back with fresh eyes will answer some questions, I hope, about what is working and what needs to change. Working with other people is unusual for me, even in this remote and independent way. While I tease out my project I am enjoying the sensation that other people are working away on mockups and sketches that will yield a portion of one final product . We are separated by thousands of miles. This post is the first glimpse that Katie, Tricia, Denise and Macy will get of my fifth of our new endeavor.
A shift in intention. A shift in attention from the singular to the plural. Stay tuned for more.
Sarah Bryant, over and out.
* * *
Oh, hello, it’s me again. Since writing that post there has, unsurprisingly, been a shift in the nature this book. I’ve moved away from the spine entirely and am now constructing individual panels that can be rearranged and flipped over to view different sections of interplaying lines. Here is a new mockup in full swing:
These lines originate with photos of my body as I turned and readjusted my position:
you are welcome for that glamor shot, by the way.
This is still early days for the book, but I am refining my structural choices. These boards were too thick:
But these are working out.
It is unusual for me to be worried about the details of the structure before the content is finalized, but in this case there is a rush. Too soon I will have to send a blank mockup back to the states so that the rest of the shift lab crowd can get to work on enclosures for all five books. The project is set to be exhibited in March at the San Francisco Center for the Book, so things need to move forward.
Text is next for me. I want meaning to change with different arrangements of the panels. The book is about movement and shifting, but also sleeping and not sleeping, non-restful repetitive dreaming. It is impossible for everything to line up at once, and the movement of aligning and realigning the panels is reminiscent of the kind of restless non-sleep that I am occasionally troubled with.
So there it is! So little of this is finalized. The colors, the text will all change over the next few weeks. It feels good to be working.
IN THE MEANTIME! Next weekend is MADE Brighton at the Corn Exchange here in town. Jewelery! Textiles! Art! And, of course, books books books! In an uncharacteristic episode of forethought I puzzled out my display in advance. Here is a sneak preview of what things will look like next Thursday to Monday. Note the use of my favorite book case.
Can you make it? Two for one tickets can be found here until November 18th. What doesn’t sell will go online.
Over and out, for real this time.
Those beautiful, precise pages are mockups? Impressive, even at this stage.
Thanks, Tawn! I take my mockups seriously!
A very interesting concept, Sarah. This should be a wonderful project to exhibit – I thought of a shift in perspective, a shift of opinion, although that would be difficult to illustrate. I like thinking about the possibilities of words. Your mockups look like finished work by the way.
Beautiful and precise work. You are truly talented! I’m off to look at your sale…one of those jewellery boxes needs a home…and might need a friend in the shape of one of your beautiful journals!
Thank you! I hope you find something you like! Happy thanksgiving!
I like all of it, that’s my problem! Can I just ask if you do letterpress business cards at all?
Hi rose, I do occasionally print for others, best to contact me at my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beautiful. I really like how you incorporate movement in this.
Your lines are very elegant. Everything flows nicely. Water and dreams.
And it just occurred to me that books have a spine just like us – interesting symmetry.
Thank you so much! I have to find the momentum now to get back in the studio and continue with this design. Your comment is a boost.
Your comment reminds me of Spine by Joan Lyons and Phil Zimmermann. Full of fun bookbinding puns. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4PV-6kIR6E
I agree with everyone else- your mock-ups are beautiful. Where do you get your board from? I’ve noticed that a lot of what you use is white and doesn’t look like the brown Davey board I’m familiar with.
I need to make more mock-ups. At this point I’m so obsessed with not wasting materials that I can never bring myself to make anything but the final product out of actual board, cloth, or prints. I need to just rip off that Band-Aid and make an investment if I want to get quality work out of my ideas.
Hi Whitney, I have lately been getting my board from a local art supply store here in Hove, the white board is Everest Mount board. It is thinner than binders board, and I find this useful for certain projects.
Mockups are the best! I have boxloads of them. It is fun to go back in time and look at the slow progression from a first idea to the finished book by taking a chronological tour through my mockups. They are back in the states now and I miss them.
Thanks so much for your comment!