|Philosophy: Artist's Statement
Second Editions Project
I was raised with a near-religious relationship to
books. Never write in a book. Dont lose someone elses
place. How to protect its vitally-important spine. Rules pertaining to
the avoidance of moisture. And, like all observant families, we were taken
once a week to the library for worship.
Several years ago, for all the right reasons, I decided
to minimize the use of
new lumber in my woodworking. I found I could count on an inexhaustible
supply of wood, mainly from discarded futon frames. These became everything
from beds, and shelving to boxes and trophies.
Still, I envied rural craftspeople who could spend time
in the woods, gathering elegant natural materials for their work. I was
relegated to what I could find on the sidewalk and in Dumpsters, my head
swiveling as I passed each pile of discards.
In the back of my mind lurked Nicholson Bakers
essay, Lumber, about how the term once applied to more than
just wood. It also meant the ideas stored in your head. Eureka! Could
books somehow be made into lumber? And what would I make of them?
began to collect discarded hardbacks that caught my eye. I haunted recycling
centers and pawed through library discards. There, flocks of dealers hover
in wait, but leave behind outdated references and novels no one will read
or collect. At first I was drawn to the subjects and titles, then to the
color and texture of the covers.
I brought these to my workshop and began to experiment,
trying to link up their sizes, colors, textures, and wherever possible,
their meanings. Next, I carefully remove and recycle the pages, retaining
the jackets for use as an exotic, but demanding veneer.
This lumber carries its own rules, far stricter than
any wood Ive previously cut or planed. Traditionally, a woodworker
must work around the imperfections in each piece of wood, trying to find
the optimum use and orientation for each in a given project. Which is
the good side? With books, the answers are culturally fixed; there is
little choice. We read spine text in one direction. The cover is the cover.
Nor do I significantly change the dimensions of a book.
Rigid limits like these appeal to my creative process.
I do not respond well to open, fluid media where anything goes. I prefer
to be put in a tight box from which I must struggle to escape.
On Saving Books...
a friend about This Into That