Over the weekend, I put together another book. This one is titled “Journal of Bone Grit.” It has a coptic binding using an orange-colored thin-gauge electric wire. It’s the first one that I made using this wire, and it turned out pretty good. The binding allows the book to open flat (which makes it easy to write in), and shows the roughness of the handmade paper’s deckle edges on all sides. Along the spine are the vertical folds of the seven signatures of five sheets of paper each. That’s a total of 140 pages: 7 sigs. x 5 sheets x 4 pages. That’s the sort of math a book-maker does. I certainly hope I right.
All of the pages are empty except for where I’ve inked in the title on the second page, so it’s ready for a writer willing to write on the handmade papers of a handmade book. Making a book like this begins with making the natural dye for the paper. The interior papers were dyed with lichen, which turns an orange-ish color. You can see small bits of lichen and the bark it grew on in the paper. There is just enough to make it look interesting without drawing too much attention from whatever the writer will write. Instead, it may help to punctuate the writing. The end result will be a handwritten book, which makes the journal even more of an artwork than it already was. The finished journal would become a collaborative artwork between artist and author.The cover papers include the grit left behind on a windowsill under a deer skull, hence the name “Journal of Bone Grit.” The deep brown dye used for the cover papers is not a natural dye, but an “upcycled” dye. I had a box of Ritz dye sitting around for over 25 years, no, probably more like over 35 years. The box was corroded and puffy, and in such bad condition that I had to use it or toss it. Over the years, I kept looking at the box, thinking I would use it for something. So I finally did! I left the paper pulp soaking in the dye long enough that the color came out surprisingly dark and rich.
The photo above shows the skull, the bone dust on the cover, and the wire used to bind it together. I am a poet, an artist, a designer and a publisher. This book is made in my “artist mode,” and is a work of art that can be used by whoever becomes its owner. Let’s change “can be used” to “should be used” or “needs to be used.” I have discovered that most writers would love to write in a book like this, but making that first mark is so difficult, even frightening, that many writers keep this sort of journal blank forever. If you accept the challenge of owning a art-book journal like this, you can consider yourself courageous writer and my hero.