Artist’s Book Making: “Nature in Prints” – MY FINISHED ARTISTS BOOK

After undertaking a 5 week artist’s book making project, I have finally completed my first Artist’s book. I have been making pages using different print techniques with a view to binding them into a book but I didn’t really know how it would be bound or what to expect so I just worked hard on creating lots of different pages to fill it with. I chose the pages I wanted to include before starting the binding process and discounted quite a few that had ink stains on them or were similar to other prints etc.

I folded the chosen pages and put them into signatures before stitching all the signatures together so all the pages turned as one body like a book. I then glued the spin and placed skrim over it and weighted all the pages down, just to help keep the book together. I was already so pleased with my book and it didn’t even have a cover, I couldn’t believe that my 5 weeks had amounted to this and it was all coming together so well. I cut a front and back cover and a spine and covered them with book cloth before gluing my book in place in the cover and leaving it to dry.

I am so pleased with my Artist’s book, it links to my subject work and has a connection to nature. It incorporates different ways of printing with nature as well as hand-made paper with nature embedded in it. Turning through the pages of the book It definitely makes me feel connected to the natural world. I have employed so many print processes and without undertaking this project I would never have explored the possibilities of creating a connection between art and nature through print. It is so satisfying to know you made the book down to the paper and hand printed the title etc. I am very proud of my artist’s book and will treasure it. I have learnt a valuable new skill and I would like to make more books in the future.


WOODCUT: A Traditional Method still Connecting with Nature

Having not been focussing on my subject module for a matter of months, I found I needed to experiment with different techniques and make work slowly easing me back into my nature inspired project. I was thinking about the fact that so many of our art materials actually derive from nature and how to some extent, without nature, art may not be so extensive. Obviously paper comes from trees and pigments and oils and shellacs etc derive from the natural world, but also I paint on board which led me to think about making some woodcuts.

Carving into wood goes far back in history and I feel that eventhough I am not using the raw materials I have found outside like I have been doing within my project, I am still to some extent calling upon nature for the material to allow me to make my prints.

I started by simply cutting out simple imagery of the Brecon Beacons Mountains using line and mark making, then painted shellac (another material originating from nature) over the carvings to seal them and printed them to see the kind of marks that I was achieving from the woodcut.

I was suprised by the prints and after seeing how just some simple marks could create such an interesting outcome I decided I would experiment with layering woodcuts on top of each other and cutting more out of the carving eachtime to create different layers of colour peering through each other.

I have never experimented with this technique before but you learn by experimenting and I am pleased with the results. It was quite difficult to get my head around at first because everything that you carve out will be the colour that you printed out before but I got it in time. This was a very time consuming process and even though I am very happy with the outcomes I don’t think it will be something I will be revisiting this year as I do have a time limit.

In Producing an art project where art has a connection to nature, I think it is important to be experimenting with materials that come from “art” (board, paper, paint, brushes etc) and materials that come from nature (leaves,twigs, moss) in order to find a relationship between the two. I have done a lot of experimentation with both areas within this project and I now feel that I am more equipped to decided what I want to produce towards and as my final outcomes of the project. 

Artist’s Book Making: Week 1: MonoPrinting

I have chosen to undertake a 5 week artist’s book making course. The idea is that every week and in my own time, I will be working on creating pages to bind into an artists book incorporating a variety of print techniques, papers etc. I want my book to have a connection to my subject work so that they work with each other and further my ideas etc. I have decided to make a nature themed artist book, using a variety of techniques to portray and document nature through art. In this beginning session, we were given a lecture highlighting examples of artists books and the versatility in the visual, the format, size and techniques etc. We were then introduced to different ways of mono-printing and started making pages for our artist’s books using this technique.

Artist’s Books: Lecture and Examples

The Manual Manipulation of Book Making is becoming increasingly popular due to the tactile nature of a physical object and the hands-on approach. A book is a recording device and there is a wide range of existing artists books with versatility in their formats.

Ed Ruscha – Every Building on the sunset strip 1966 – The Mapping of an enviroment, an analogue journey recording movement through space.

Richard Long – A walk Past Standing Stones 1978 and River Avon Book 1979 – soaked pages in muddy water from the river, left it to dry on and bound the pages. Natural Process is dictating the book format here. Direct connection from outside to inside. Slightly deconstructing the traditional book format.

Cai-Guo-Qiang – Danger Book 2006. Destruction. Set the book on fire, stitched fireworks into the book to create an explosion. Kept the remainance of the book and bound it into another book recording the event.

Tony Wilson – The Return of the Diruti Column 1979. Record in a sandpaper cover. Book cover made of something destructive will destroy other things with it. Juxtaposition between protection and destruction.

Rachel Whiteread – Sequence III 2002 – taking a book sturcture out – non book.

Noriko Ambe – Flat File, Globe 3B 2006 – This piece is still a protective case with information inside and so arguably still a book format. Through the cabinet, there is a journey of erosion, thousands of hand cut pages.

Anselm Kiefer’s constellation book 2004 – Making a book more sculptural, Leadsheets hinting a galaxy formation.

Victor Vasarely – from plastic arts of the 20th century 1969 – Full of transparent pages, cut out parts, experimentals, opticals, dimensional imagery. Op art. Suggestion of space and form through line and colour.

Anthony Caro, Leaf Pool 1996 – Pop up Books, designed as a wall hanging sculpture as well as a book. Books can be interactive/played with, changed and rebuilt, reformed to create new dialogues between imagery.

Karen Bleitz and Richard Price – The mechanical world/wrecking ball 2005 – Mechanical Book/moving structures

Ron King – Circus Turn 1993 – Wire rods pressed into the paper – Embossing

Experimenting with Mono-print – My First Book Pages

I experimented with two types of mono-printing in this workshop, drawing onto paper on top of rolled out ink and placing stencils onto an inked plastic sheet and pressing. The drawn mono-prints I produced are very simple leaf and nature imagery but I think they are quite bold and striking. However, I think if I was to do this again, I would roll out less ink and use a thinner nibbed pen to create a more delicate line.

I have never used mono-print where you place stencils or objects onto the ink before. I was completely blown away by the results of such a simple process. Instead of making stencils I used organic matter and natural foliage, the stark difference between the coloured background and the white means the shapes of the materials are really picked out but also what I love about these prints are that the veins of the leaves and the bark from the twigs has actually embossed into the paper so the white areas are textural rather than just flat.

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I took two prints on after the other without re-inking, I like the contrast between them in that one print is very bold and the other very subtle. These two methods of mono-print created highly different outcomes and from the results, I am already excited to continue working with new techniques and see the final artist’s book that I produce.

Collagraphs: Natural Elements

After attending a collagraph workshop and thinking about different ways that I can incorporate nature into art, I decided to collagraph some elements that I have collected on walks through natural environments and see what kind of detail would come out in the prints. I simply glued the elements to square pieces of card, painted shellac over the top of them, allowed them to dry and inked them up to print. Some of the plates came out better than others. It is interesting taking prints directly from nature itself. The marks in my opinion, have a greater connection to nature than if you were to draw it from observation. As well as the Prints, I think the plates are very beautiful objects and definitely artistically depict nature.

Some of the leaves and foliage I picked up wasn’t that textured or raised from the card and so didn’t print as well. But overall the prints I produced are quite successful. They show all the veins of the leaves and document some of the textures of nature that you may not see with the naked eye. This was a worthwhile experiment and has allowed me to document nature in a new way.

I think I am going to print these collagraphs again onto paper to go in my nature themed artists book that I am working on in and outside the artists book making workshops I am attending on Thursdays. I want to include a variety of different printing techniques into the book, depicting natural elements so these collagraphs will be a great addition.