Friday, October 14, 2011

Him Null

I took a workshop with Lynne Larkin at a recent Milwaukee ATC Live Trade .  Lynne was an excellent teacher and taught a background making technique that for some reason was very freeing for me.  I struggle with collage and the idea of just attacking a blank canvas with images and paint without much of a plan really helped me get going.  It reminded me of a workshop I took with bookmaker Clarissa Sligh and evidently forgot because she also tried to free me up and it must not have stuck.

Well, you can't fool me twice.

I decided to combine Lynne and Clarissa's technique plus get back to coptic sewing which is the book making technique I love the most. 

I began be taking some hand made Indian paper called Jaipur that I bought in Madison, WI, and layering on top of that pages from an old Lutheran hymnal, other paper, paint and stamps.  While I was free with all the other elements, the hymnal pages pretty much were lined up to still give a book-like feel to the construction. 

Then I had some male images from an old book and I cut those up and added some painted enhancements to them to make them look--well--dead, yet angelic. 

Then I put wash after wash after wash onto the pages to give them a grungy moldy worn patina.

For the covers, I decided to use two pieces of light corrugated cardboard.  I applied the same collage techniques to them, then applied the wash as well.

Next up--coptic stitch.  I have no idea what is wrong with me but the first thing I realized is that I had completely forgotten how to start.  Cranking up the lap top, I found where I had saved some instructions and took to the needle.  The reality is that this book is not sewn all that well.  I think it is too loose and I believe somewhere in the sewing I drop a loop here and there.  You might think this would frustrate me but instead I consider it a lesson in the value of practice, practice, practice.  Now I really want to sew some more books.

Thinking the book was done, I took a look and decided that it was not.  Digging around in my collection of flea market religious objects, I added a plastic crucifix to the cover and painted that in.

Done.  After 26 hours of work.  Yikes!

What does it mean?  I am not a religious person but there is something about organized religion I like as theme in my art.  I think that if you read this book from cover to cover the titles of the old hymns begin to tell a story.  I especially like that the first one is titled "The Old Book and The Old Faith" while the last is "Go Ye Into All the World."

What do the men represent and why is it called Him Null?  The question of faith is confusing to me.  Do you believe in what you do here on earth or do you wait for the glorious kingdom to come to realize who you are?  Were the good things these men did a contribution to life on earth or is all meaningless? 

I have no clue.  All I know is that I have finally conquered another one of my own artistic shortfalls:  pretty books with no content.  I can say the workshop got me out of a box, allowed me to create content in a freer space, and finish a book that I actually like.  Thanks, Lynne and Clarissa. 


  1. Love the book, Gary. Congrats on actually finishing a book from cover to cover. I've many books that I've enjoyed putting together, but never got back to them to do anything inside. I've started some altered books but never really finished one, just used them to try different techniques. Thanks for sharing.......

  2. What a wonderful project. Congrats on finishing it. It is very nice.