Tag Archives: books

Mushroom Book Installations by Melissa Jay Craig

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Cast and hand-shaped abaca, embellished with cotton rag; each copy 14-18″H x 15″W x 16-18″D. Edition of 99.

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(S)Edition is an installation of 99 books made to look like common Amanita Muscaria mushrooms by Chicago artist Melissa Jay Craig. The installation has been shown in a various configurations the last few years, and only once in its entirety at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio back in 2010. From her statement about the installation:

Fungus is an agent of change. I’m fascinated with its myriad forms, and I love to go in search of it. I can become more excited by discovering a beautiful fungal growth than by perusing artwork ‘discovered’ for us by curators in contemporary museums. When I was a child, the first time I had the intriguing feeling that the planet carried messages (texts, if you will) for those who were curious enough to look, was when I came upon a group of Amanita Muscaria, huddled together in a dark, secret space under tall pines.

You can see more views of these fungal books on her website. (via Green Chair Press)

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Patience: The ‘Inception’ of Artists’ Books by Randi Parkhurst

Watch as book artist and paper maker Randi Parkhurst slowly unveils her 2007 creation Patience, a meticulously organized collection of some 20+ self-contained handmade paper books. It really pays off to not skip ahead and watch as each inconceivably smaller box is revealed. This must have taken months and months to make. (via Colossal Submissions).

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Twilights: New Ink Paintings on Vintage Books by Ekaterina Panikanova

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Celestial phenomena, 2014, books, wood, nails, ink, acrylic, cm210x260.

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Impersonal verbs, 2014, books, wood, nails, ink, acrylic, cm 130×110; In my garden flowered a rose, 2014, books, nails, wood, inks, acrylic, cm 210×150.

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Box n°86, 2014. Books, inks, wood panel, nails, ink, acrylic, cm 76,5×55.

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Untitled, 2014. Old and vintage books, inks, nails on wood panel, cm 200×143.

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Pars particularis, 2014, books, wood, nails, ink, acrylic, cm 140×120; Aux sages-femmes, 2014, books, wood, nails, ink, acrylic, cm 130×110.

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Errata Corrige #2234, 2013. Vintage book, inks, nails on wood panel; cm 130×110. Private Collection.

Artist Ekaterina Panikanova (previously) recently opened her third solo show at Sara Zarin Gallery in Rome featurning a number of ink and acrylic paintings on grids of vintage books. Reflecting the age of the books, Panikanova creates imagery suggesting aspects of memory or old snapshots commingled with illustrations of birds, antlers, baked goods, and lace. To compliment the installations she also created a number of glass and lead pieces you can see here. The exhibition, titled Crepuscoli (Twilights), runs through February 7th.

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New 360° Laser-Cut Paper Story Books by Yusuke Oono

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Japanese graphic designer and architect Yusuke Oono (previously) released a trio of new laser-cut storybooks including depictions of ‘Jack in the Beanstalk’ and Mount Fuji. The books are comprised 40 images bound into a book that can be fanned out at 360° creating a narrative that can be explored from multiple angles. While these pieces seen here are one-off creations, Oono has several other folding books and lights available through Artechnica.

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Amazing Little Flip Books Use Negative Space and Secret Compartments

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These fun little flip books made in Japan feature a number of unexpected designs that make use of negative space and secret “compartments” that are gradually revealed as you flip through the books. There are several books in the series published by Mou Hitotsu no Kenkyujo and you can pick them up on Amazon. Here’s the bug one. (via Travelry)

Update: Flipbooks are now available in the Colossal Shop.

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The Ingenuity and Beauty of Creative Parchment Repair in Medieval Books

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Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc.Nat.1 (9th century)

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Books repaired with silk thread. Uppsala, University Library, Shelfmark unknown (14th century)

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Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc.Patr.41, fol. 69r.

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Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc.Patr.41, fol. 69r. Detail.

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Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 16, 12th century

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Freiburg, Kantons- und Universitätsbibliothek, MS L 34, 14th century

Another day, another collection of fascinating discoveries from medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who previously introduced the internet to his observations on the history of doodles, color theory, and rare forms of bookbinding. Kwakkel has also been investigating how bookmakers found creative solutions around damaged parchment—thin membranes of cow and sheepskin used for printing books between the fifth and thirteenth centuries before the rise of paper. Parchment was extremely delicate and costly to manufacture well, so imperfections from animal hair follicles to small tears and texture anomalies were left for the poor scribes to contend with.

After witnessing their doodling artistry, it should come as no surprise that medieval scribes had a host of ideas to work around bad parchment, from webs of silk embroidery to cheeky illustrations, the blemishes were incorporated right into the physical texts. Although a different medium, the process is uncannily similar to the ancient Japanese process of repairing broken ceramics, Kintsugi, where fractures in pots or bowls are mended with precious metal, acknowledging the history of the imperfect object instead of discarding it.

You can learn much more about Kwakkel’s parchment discoveries in his article “The Skinny on Bad Parchment,” and in these two posts on Tumblr.

Medieval Book Historian Erik Kwakkel Discovers and Catalogs 800-Year-Old Doodles in Some of the World’s Oldest Books

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Doodle by bored medieval school boy. A 15th-century doodle in the lower margin of a manuscript containing Juvenal’s Satires, a popular classical text used to teach young children about morals. Photo: Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 368.

For the past few years, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel has been poring over some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts at Leiden University, The Netherlands, as part of his ongoing research on pen trials. Pen trials are small sketches, doodles, and practice strokes a medieval scribe would make while testing the ink flow of a pen or quill. They usually involve funny faces, letter strokes, random lines, or geometric shapes and generally appear in the back of the book where a few blank pages could be found. Kwakkel shares via email:

From a book historical perspective pen trials are interesting because a scribe tends to write them in his native hand. Sometimes, when they moved to a different writing culture (another country or religious house) they adapted their writing style accordingly when copying real text—books. The trials, however, are done in the style of the region they were trained in, meaning the individuals give some information about themselves away.

In some sense, these sketches are like fingerprints or signatures, little clues that reveal a bit about these long forgotten scribes who copied texts but who had no real opportunity to express themselves while working. Including additional sketches or even initials in these books was often forbidden.

While many of Kwakkel’s discoveries are standard pen trials, other doodles he finds relate to a human concept as universal as topics discussed in these 13th and 14th century books such as love, morals, or religion. Specifically: boredom. It seems the tedium of reading through a philosophy textbook or law manuscript dates back to the very invention of books. Some of these scribbles were even made hundreds of years after a book’s publication, suggesting no margin is sacred when monotony is concerned.

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Medieval smiley face. Conches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 7 (main text 13th century, doodle 14th or 15th century).

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Doodle discovered in a 13th-century law manuscript (Amiens BM 347).

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Students with pointy noses. Leiden, University Library, MS BPL 6 C (13th century).

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Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL MS 111 I, 14th-century doodle.

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Leiden UB VLQ 92

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Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century).

Lucky for us, Kwakkel has left a trail of ancient doodle discoveries all across the web on his Twitter account, his Tumblr, and on his recently established blog medievalbooks. His obsession with margin minutiae has lead to two scholarly publications and also caught the interest of NPR’s ‘How to Do Everything‘ who interviewed him last week. All images courtesy Erik Kwakkel, respective of noted libraries.

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