Working on this storyteller's book has been an absolute delight and a fitful struggle, so good will come of it.
Warning!! Grit is now about to wax filosofical and akademik. Like when she has a funny turn poetic in the apple orchard, come autumn. There she is moved to give fulsome praise to the glorious apple, measuring out her years in brown pips and apple bellies.
(Now you can see how there may be a bloody mangled crime scene ahead.)
The brief for this book contained a reference not only to thinking, but to physicality. This in turn sent me thinking about the physicality of the book. This is one of the absolute design inspirations for Grit's hand-made juicy delights.
Normal bookbinding requires that the physical presence of the book does not change over time. Acid free glues, waxed linens, strong woven papers all help to keep the book secure as a physical object. But I want a book to change - sometimes I stitch degrading organic material into a book (a big conventional bookbinding No No); but specifically I want your book to change, physically, under your hand, so that it becomes a shape and a memory of you - the way you hold the spine, turn the page, lay the book on a desk, throw it in a bag or a drawer. I want the book to take on the thought of you, the smell of you, in the way of an old coat or a favourite scarf. I want the book to become you.*
When I deliver the book to you, I want it to come already to you with layers - literal layers of papers and textures - but I want those layers of material physicality to hint too at story layers of intent, purpose, whimsy; stories which are potential or fragmented, and which you may see, or not see.
This seems to me the way we all interact with any place and location, wherever we are - shop, street, kitchen - we are surrounded by layers, some of which we have made and given meanings, and some of which are made by others. As we move through that physical and material environment, we add our own layers and our own meanings. There are of course many blank pages in the books - they are note books after all - but inside, as you add your own thoughts and ideas into this physical space, the book will layer your experience further on and on; I want to create the book that invites you to do so, then the book becomes more complex, more rich and telling - your sound of sympathy, empathy, contradiction, powerlessness, pain, frivolity, power. Your book becomes a personal telling within a story within a work of art within a physical place. **
Finally (thank someone's God for that), I want the book not to be new. (This clearly puts me on tricky ground if I'd like to sell a few.) We have been trained by a consumer world to reject objects old, battered, torn, stained, and buy fresh, clean, new. I don't want that. I use hide off-cuts, cast-offs, rejected items, thrown away pieces. If they are old, worn and aged, so much the better. The stain is a memory, the scar tells a history, the battered edge speaks of another time, and the chime of a charm is an echo to a different place. When you receive your book, storyteller, it won't be new.
The holes are intentional.
* I should say at this point I'm not in love with you or anything creepy. I haven't been stalking you. It's just that the language I use for thinking through the making of the book and the language of love seem to be the same.
** I'm off to a different place now, maybe exploring the work of schizocartography by Tina Richardson to see how I can express those intriguing ideas within the physicality of a book.