About the Art
by Angie Cook
Bookmaking Processes

     Bookmaking can be considered both craft and fine art. Mine is in the exploratory stages of learning while playing. I love the creative problem solving that comes from making a new book. This holiday season (Christmas of 2003) I made a special book for each of our eight grandchildren. It was important to make each fit the personality and interest of the child, and offer an interactive and artsy outlet for them that goes beyond reading. Three of these books can be viewed in the Book Arts section (two are folded books). This page shares details and information about the grandkid's Christmas collection.
     Angelia is our oldest granddaughter. At fourteen, she is into writing poetry and stories. Her book was one to provide her with inspiration and variety of writing spaces. Hers was the thickest of the handmade gift books and thus the cover had to be stronger than ordinary mat board. Since I use materials I have on hand, I layered foam core board with mat board and fabric coverings to create a hardback book. The 'initial' pin was mine as a teenager. 

     I asked Angelia to emboss some papers that I would include in her book and wanted her input about the style and character of the book, but the book would be made without her seeing the stages. I wanted the outcome to be a surprise. 
     She chose a traditional format (rather than the folded book), and a Victorian environment for her romantic style of writing. I found rich fabrics, fibers, and papers in creams and mauves, a little blue and some golden tints. 
     In order to give Angelia sources of inspiration I used a variety of approaches. Some of the pages included small images as 'thought starters'. Examples of the double page layouts are below.

     The image pages are sandwiched between layers of solid pages of both card stock (thick card weight paper) and bond paper (regular copy paper) in the soft colors listed above. A few of the card stock pages have fold out wings to extend Angelia's creative writing spaces, and I included one double sided pocket page to use for her loose pages of notes or photos. I also include several 'pages' of fancy fabric swatches for tactile inspiration. Angelia has designer talents and the fabric is as important as the writing surfaces.
     The outside front cover is a textured upholstery fabric, and the inside of both covers is olive velvet mat board. The outside back cover is gold mat board with red specks. 
     I used multiple strands of varied textured and weights of fibers for sewing the binding (along with a double strand of waxed linen thread for strength) and for the bookmark which is attached inside the spine with beads woven into a streamer at the lower end.   

     Of course, this was an ARTing-with-love experience which I enjoyed from beginning to end. It wasn't without its difficult moments as I am limited in some of the bookmaking tools and materials needed for this particular model, (as well as the skills and knowledge). I learned many lessons and have a few items added to my list of goodies I hope to gather before making another book like this one. 

     To see two of the other grandkids Christmas books go to the Folded Book section to see Lee's book, and Takeshia's book. I love the folded books if the story or writing could be done in mix-matched stages for various outcomes. Just an extension of creative possibilities.

  • Lee is ten and loves mysteries and creative writing. He recently wrote his first song which is a combination comedy act and exhibition of his talent. His book is a story starter book with just enough pictures and perks to get his imagination going. The main part of his book is the fold out treasure map that has the mystery his story will unfold. I am especially proud of the clasp. It was my own invention. 
  • Takeshia's book is a sentimental memory book about our times together and my feelings for her. Takeshia loves to spend time with me, doing art and just hanging out. We have lots in common and therefore share lots of our inspirations. Hers is a journal-sketchbook with many of the pages left blank for her own thoughts and memories. At age eleven, she still loves to draw and likes to record those special times. I already included my own memories of her birthday tea party we shared with her cousins and aunt. She said the book was her favorite gift from us.
  • Cassandra's book (not shown) has one of my own stories (unpublished, as yet). I used colorful card stock with stitched binding (done so that the book opens up flat). The story was printed onto white bond paper with colorful boundary bars at the bottom of each page and space for her own illustrations above the text. I mounted these onto the card stock, leaving a colorful frame around each with text-illustration page. The weight of the card stock helped make the book thick and stiff enough for easy sketching. Halfway through the book I incorporated a double page spread of watercolor paper for a full illustration for an especially descriptive passage. I included watercolor pencils with the book. Eight year old Cassandra is another of my little artists grand darlings and she started right to work on the illustrations. 
  • Travis is her six year old little brother. He also got a book with one of my own stories. His was the hardest book to make because it included a secret compartment at the back. I made and incorporated a box to hold his colored pencils, a mechanical pencil, and the tiny toy Hippo of which the story is all about. His book contains something much more special however... two photos of him at the sweet age of around two... holding the little Hippo with tender loving care. He was thrilled to find himself in his book. His is also a book of words and spaces for his own illustrations. He too loves to draw. In fact, it is his favorite thing to do. 
  • Jonathan's book is titled My Dad and Me, with lots of pictures of their fun times together. Since fishing is his favorite thing in all the world, fishing is the theme of his book. I included three tiny fishing floats and a small rubbery minnow (without the hook, of course. The clasp is the ring and a section of the string from a stringer. I also used some burlap for the tactile 'feel' of netting. His is a fold out book with pages for drawing. At seven, he hasn't began book writing yet. 
  • Six year old Austin's book was a simple how-to-draw book sketch book. Austin is another little artist. He had a special request book that I will do later.... a super hero alphabet-hunt book!
  • Jesse's book was a folding sticker book with pockets in the front and back for the stickers. At eighteen months of age, she LOVES stickers. Needless to say, the stickers didn't stay in the pockets long.
     I might make this a yearly tradition, but next year I won't wait until a week before Christmas to begin, I hope.