The Schack in Everett has a fabulous show—Northwest Designer Craftsmen 2020 Symposium— full of the artwork of over 100 NWDC members that has been hanging on their walls since early March, 2020. The Covid-19 Self-Quarantine, Stay-At-Home orders have been in effect since just a couple weeks after the opening, so hardly anyone has actually seen the show, except for during the opening on March 5. For more information about this show, check this link.

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Before the quarantine, I planned to make a blog post about the art-book much earlier than now, but I didn’t because this isolation period allowed me time to get a literal ton of work done here at my place that I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ll make another post about that, since it is studio-space related, and exciting to me. This post will focus on my art-book currently on display at the Schack. You can see other Northwest Designer Craftsmen artworks on the NWDC website by clicking here.

The art-book is titled Story of a First Year Hive.

2019 was the first year I kept honeybees. They are fascinating, miraculous, and surprising creatures in more ways than I can say. The creation of this art-book was a way of honoring the bees who kept me company, and taught me many things while they were here. I regret to say that, though I did care for them, treated them for mites, and protected them from other hazards, the hive died in September. Varroa mites bring with them a variety of viruses to honeybees. In a way, they have been fighting viruses like our novel coronavirus for several years, and beekeepers are making some headway, but there is still no “cure.” Beekeepers currently protect their hives by testing and treating, in a similar way that we are doing for Covid-19. There is no vaccine for the virulent varroa mites or the infectious Covid-19, so it is seriously important that testings and treatments are effective and timely.

The book is hand-built using paper I made last year. The interior pages are made from retted iris and daylily leaves. These pages are divided into six signatures (or sections), each joined together with a strong sheet of paper I made from a tan cotton rug yarn, which can be seen along the spine.

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The cotton papers for the covers were embossed onto honeycomb foundation that was used inside a working hive. Some of the propolis the honeybees left behind is deposited onto the embossed papers, along with the honeycomb grid. The binding is made with a coptic stitch, and hand-sewn with waxed cotton thread. A coptic binding allows for the book to open up flat.

On each of the right-hand pages (recto side), I pasted a small paper made from cotton bed sheets. On each of these papers, I made a collage, that was created with a combination of all sorts of things, including sunflower and evergreen pollen; lichen; honeybee, hornet, and ladybug parts; birch and grass leaves; gold leaf, silk string and cloth electric tape, as well as ink diagrams. The ink drawings are detailed and minuscule, almost as though drawn by a bee. These collaged pages carry a story “as told” by honeybees and “translated” through the artist’s collages.

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As I continue to create assemblages and hand-bound books, I tend to experiment and stretch what I do as I go. In the near future, I’ll be making more books with collages and printmaking, often using items I find in the natural world, juxtaposed with those from our manmade ones. I love making paper because of the hands-on process, and the variety generated in the results. Through experimentation and curiosity, I’ve discovered that failure is not an error, but an education.