Secret Projects

I decided to give sewing a rest over the weekend and concentrate on some paper projects.

About this time of year a certain sign gets posted on my office door:

This means that preparations for Jack's birthday and Christmas are underway. Jack has promised not to peek at Mosehouse Studio for the next couple of months so that I can post my secret projects exclusively for your eyes only!

Every Christmas I come up with a couple of group presents as well as some special gifts for my nearest and dearest. For my group prezzie this year I'm putting together a small handmade recipe book with a selection of my all-time favourite cakes and puddings. I love baking and often get asked for recipes but for one reason or another I never get around to writing them down. So I chose 15 of the best including blueberry buttermilk cake, apple roll, cream puffs and cinnamon teacake, typed them up in a lovely font and laid out a 24 page A5 booklet, which will be off to the printers this week. Meantime, I started working on the cover design and envelope.

I really love Sarah Maxey's book designs for AUP and VUP. This cover for a collection of C.K. Stead's poems published in 2002 is one of my favourites. I like the roughness of the hand cut lettering and the graphic simplicity of text and image. For my recipe book I wanted to go for something similar so I'm using handmade rubber stamps on thick brown paper (so that it can be handled by floury fingers). Here's my prototype:

And here's my cupcake envelope prototype:

The liner card is the huntsman red you see on the table and the paper stock for the recipes is a cream Conqueror laid vellum so it should be a very pretty production. I'm printing 40 copies - some as gifts and some to sell.

I'll be putting up a special post of things you can buy in November but for now I'll just be getting everything underway.

I'm lucky enough to be related to a bunch of very talented writers - my beloved Jack of course, my sister Therese and her partner Lee - all three very gifted and very different kinds of poets. I've come to realise that all writers love to see their work in print and I like to show my appreciation for their art by making small gift editions of their work.

I've just finished making 20 notebook size books bound in red and cream striped ticking. I think I'll select a few of Therese's stunning recent poems and sew them into the covers for her present and I have an idea for a gift edition for Lee using a wonderful sestina that he wrote recently. The poem has a washing line as one of its central motifs so I can see some collage and printmaking potential there.

As for Jack, well his extreme poetic requires an extreme response so I've been labouring for some time to produce a concertina pop-up book to accompany his dark poem 'Minotaur', a translation of a poem by Jorge Luis Borges, 'laberinto' [Labyrinth] .

Here's the poem :

The Minotaur

There'll never be a door. You're stuck inside.
These sunken casemates are the universe,
all the universe of signs: forward, reverse,
no centre to the web, no world outside.
Don't think the insane precision of your game,
monotonously counting every turn,
monotonously counting every turn,
will save you. The result will be the same.
Stop looking forward to the bloody charge
of the beast who is a man, who is your double,
whose shadow punctuates this seamless puzzle
of rubber walls contracted to a cage.
He isn't there. You're screwed. You'd better learn
not to expect the dark thrust of his horn.

This was my first attempt at the pop-up 'Minotaur' dividing the poem into four spreads: the first is a series of sunken casemates. The second is a trio of floating stairs. The third takes the concept of the double and features a pair of contracting cage or mask forms. The fourth spread is a group of geometric shapes that on second glance form the face of the horned Minotaur.

The problem I encountered was that there were too many seams and if one pop-up spread is even a millimetre off, it affects the entire concertina. To get around the problem I realised that I needed to produce all four spreads on a single piece of card. Here's prototype 2:

It was a devil of a job with absolutely no margin for error but the result is exactly what I wanted. I still need to work out a way of incorporating the text into the design without disrupting the purity of the pop-ups and then I'll make a backing sheet with a hand-printed maze using some of my simple rubber stamps. So that's Jack's birthday present for next month - just gotta think up something for him for Christmas!!! I tell ya - the handmade mission never ends ....


Lies said…
Ma gawd!!! You such a clever cloggs. Yum the recipebook looks divine and what a coincidence the very first time I met your lovely J : I was reading Luis Borges!
The pop-up is genius Bron really.
Ok as I'm on a blog break I better get back to it.
Anonymous said…
Now please don't be mad...but it's really hard NOT to look at your blog when you tell me I'm not allowed to look at your blog!
Everything is looking sooooo gorgeous! Man Bonze, you really do make everything the most exquisite things.

(I promise I didn't read the bit about you putting some of my poems into a very beautiful little handmade book for a very ace Chrissy pressie)

Happy Craft Saturday!
Bronwyn Lloyd said…
Now, I wonder who that anonymous person could be - don't think I'm not one step ahead of you though Tazey - the book idea for your prezzie might just be a red herring - I've got something extra secret brewing for you and that WON'T be posted on the blog!! love Bonze

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