Archive for May 9, 2007

Ten Books

classroom edition

Well, I finished my classroom edition. Ten copies of Chains, each weighing over half a pound, each 5.5″x4.25″, each painstakingly hand-bound. (The “painstaking” part of that sentence is completely literal – my triceps and forearms still haven’t forgiven me.)

title page

Chains is a book about emotional abuse. Over a third of all women who have had serious relationships have been the victim of emotional abuse (obviously men are victims as well, but most available statistics deal with women in heterosexual relationships).


It’s a nasty thing. Because there are no outward physical signs, it can be very easy to ignore or dismiss emotional abuse – to believe that it’s all in your head, or your own fault, or “not so bad.” The problem is, it is so bad. It does seriously bad things to your mental health, is a major predictor of future physical abuse, and is a major warning sign for murder and murder-suicide.


This book is about the chains of abuse that bind us, and the chains we bind around ourselves under the mistaken assumption that we are in a loving relationship. It’s also about the chains we lock around that part of our lives so that we don’t have to think about it or talk about it.  


Chains is difficult to open, reflecting on how hard it can be to open up about abuse, and once you’ve got it undone, the chains make it hard to handle – just as we can find it difficult to get a grip on our feelings as we try to process them in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. Finally, once you’ve got Chains open, it is difficult to close back up – a reminder that we shouldn’t try to lock up these things inside us but should expose them to the light so that they can heal and help others.


I’ve decided that multiple editions are the devil. It took me so long to do all of these. On the other hand, there’s something deeply satisfying about having an entire little stack of the same book – being your own publishing house. I am so impressed with “real” book artists who do editions in excess of a hundred books… how do they do it? I guess maybe once you’re good at this it becomes like knitting, and you can do it more automatically. That, or they use slave labor.


Chains is a multiple-signature book with medium-weight hard boards covered in heavy textured paper (I’d categorize the paper as handmade, but that would be deceptive as I purchased it… somebody had to make this stuff by hand, though) and tied shut with metal chain. The pages are printed on Astrobrite paper using Pharmacy typeface and graphics adapted from a Photoshop brush by Obsidian Dawn. The text block’s design is inspired by the zine aesthetic. And yes, I used tacky glue – I experimented with a lot of different kinds of glue, and Aileen’s worked best with this paper.

May 9, 2007 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

Anderson’s Grimoire – in 3D!

My Defense Against the Book Arts professor is in the process of building what may be the first 3D website in teh intrawebs. Yes, that’s 3D as in blue-and-red goggles and nasty headaches. He rigged up a 3D camera and took our pictures with our Donkey Man books so that they could be the first content on the site.

Yesterday I received the following press release:


Boise State University professor Tom Trusky is inviting the public to learn a little bit more about Pacific Northwest history and enjoy the works created by his book arts class – all in 3-D.

Visitors to Trusky*s Web site ( will be able to see the class project with the help of 3-D glasses, which can be obtained by calling (208) 426-4210 or by e-mailing Trusky. The students were asked to create a book that dealt with the story of the “Donkey Man,” J.
Fred Anderson, a photographer who worked in northern Idaho and eastern Washington at the turn of the 20th century.

Anderson found a suffering, abandoned donkey in Lewiston and nursed it back to health, later enlisting the donkey to carry his chemicals and other photography equipment. Anderson would travel from town to town,
often taking photos taking photos of children riding the donkey and wearing costumes, as well as portraits of American Indians in the region. He married a young woman that his family later referred to as
“The Child Bride,” according to Anderson*s son, Howard. The Child Bride ran off, and Anderson eventually married again and fathered Howard Anderson and a daughter. After being mistreated by his father, 17-year-old Howard ran away from his parents and Idaho, never to return.

The book arts class was tasked with using some part of the story in a creative way. Some of the creations deal with Anderson’s camera, or are told from the point of view of The Child Bride.

3-D enthusiasts have another opportunity to use their special glasses by visiting the Idaho Center for the Book*s Web site at Trusky worked with Kathy Robinson at Boise State Printing and Graphics Services to turn his photos into 3-D creations.

“I only regret that the glasses are red and blue instead of blue and orange,” he said.


Contact: Tom Trusky, English, (208) 426-1999,
Media Contact: Julie Hahn, University Communications, (208) 426-5540,

In addition to 3D images of book artists in all their artisty splendor, the website includes the following description of Anderson’s Grimoire:

6 x 5 1/2″ (irregular; spine “wand” 12″)
“Corset-stitch” sewn
Numerous artifacts (photographs, feathers, broken spectacles, lavender, a key, a nail…)
24 pp.

From information about J. Frederick Anderson Kate Baker has created a “Grimoire,” a witty, twisted homage to fairytales by not only imagined-distant-relative Hans Christian Anderson but also those German brothers Grimm. Baker was told this tale, she tells us, by Howard Anderson, son of J. Frederick Anderson. She cleverly includes faux facts, artifacts and photographs with real Anderson facts and photos in a bursting, suede paper-covered book held almost-closed by a band of beaded jute. In Baker’s biblio witches brew, Anderson senior is a malevolent magician given to fits of pique. In one of them, he turns Howard’s mother into a pooch. Proof’s not in the pudding, but in the photo Baker inserts at this point in the narrative she’s typed (on an antique machine known as electric typewriter): we see JFA’s Victorian-style photograph of son Howard, his drowsy, unsuspecting Little Lord Fauntleroy head resting on the family dog. But Baker’s told us who that woof once was….

May 9, 2007 at 11:02 am Leave a comment

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May 2007