Friday, May 23, 2008


Levert/Casanova, 6.5 x 5 x 2 inches (closed), copper, brass, record found on the street, mechanical parts, broken mirror, acrylic paint, Prismacolor pencils, book covers, fabricated, wire edge binding. It may look like I'm being incredibly productive, but actually I'm finishing things that were abandoned in mid-stride. I'm also trying to think of going to the studio as work, so I don't make other appointments in that block of time. There is a web page with more views here. And for larger photos, check out my flickr artist's books set.

The cover is an old record I found on the street. It is badly scuffed and very appealing. The pages are old book covers. I started by attaching the objects to the cover, alternating between painting and attaching stuff with nuts and bolts and epoxy. I was mostly thinking about sound, music, and the feelings music can convey. The rest of the choices were made intuitively. I believe the mechanical thing on the cover came from the inside of an old walkman. I had drilled holes in the pages so I could bind the book with a spiral. When it was close to finished, I tried it with the spiral binding. The spiral had to be really big in diameter to accommodate the thickness of all the pages, and I hated it. So I set the project aside. Then I discovered Daniel Kelm's wire edged bindings. His are beautifully done and technically masterful.

It occurred to me that I could use a low-tech version of the wire edge binding for this book. I cut two notches in the edge of each page. (1) In the detail above they are hidden under the notched copper. I cut tooling copper into 1 inch strips, folded them in half the long way and oxidized them in liver of sulfur. The tooling copper has notches to match the ones in the record/cover. I cut brass wires (2) just shorter than the length of the strips of copper. To attach the strips of copper to the pages I laid the wire in the fold of the copper and riveted the strips onto the edge of the page matching up the notches. I couldn't get the rivets to form nice little round heads because the tooling copper is so thin and soft and the materials underneath are also soft, so I just hammered the posts over. (3) I'm using ear posts for these rivets, but you could also use wire, bending it on one end before inserting it into the hole, then cutting the other end off and tapping it down. Just make sure the wire is a snug fit in the hole. In the detail above you see the ear post head on the right. The jump rings (4) that hold the book together are copper wire. Several of the wires wanted to slide out of the tooling copper strip, so I hammered the ends of the strips a bit. (5)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Instruction Manual for the Moon III

Instruction Manual for the Moon III, 2.75 x 4 x 2 inches (open), Brass, copper, copper, clock parts, rulers, found objects, fabricated. This little book is the third of a series of three, probably the last I will make. It may be my favorite of the three. There is a web page here with more views.

Instruction Manual for the Moon III, pages 3 and 4. The gear at the upper left actually turns. Here are links to Instruction Manual for the Moon and Instruction Manual for the Moon II.

What's with my name and url on the bottom of the image? I get people hot-linking to my images without asking. You would think some of them, like online newspapers, would know better. And when they use an image of a book by one of my students, it feels particularly bad, because I feel responsible for where they go. In almost all cases there is no link to my website and no credit for the artist. I can only track down a few. So I decided I want at least my url as a part of each image. This seemed like the least intrusive way to do that.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sources of Inspiration 5/5: Death

7 Extinction Events ©2006, 7 x 7 x 3 inches.
This book is about the extinction of the dinosaurs, but also about my own personal extinction. It's the one that matters the most to me.

7 Extinction Events
I have always thought a lot about death. As I get older, it gets more real to me, and makes a bigger appearance in my art. I wonder where we came from before we were born, and where we go when we die. I sometimes envision a starry landscape. I see a vast world, with small houses, or temples, here and there on the hills. The stars wheel slowly overhead. From a distance this world would appear to be one tiny point of light. It is small enough to hold us all as the atoms of one being, yet large enough to hold our spirits, with great spaces between us.

Man Moon-Go ©1989, 4-3/4 x 3 x 3/4 inches. While reading "On Dreams & Death" by Marie-Louise von Franz, I found this quote: "Many people made a doll to serve as a substitute for the corpse. The Chinese made one from a loincloth and called them Moon-Go." A few pages later she quotes Origen: "the spiritual body (which it is believed we reincarnate into) will be of a divine nature - the whole of us will see (will be eyes) the whole hear, the whole will serve as hands, the whole as feet."

Fish Messages, © 1992. 2-1/4 x 5-1/2 x 1 inch.
Fish for me symbolize both birth and death. Sometimes I imagine a giant fish that gives birth to the universe from her mouth. Everything flows from her, and then everything returns to her.

The fish who swims in the sky, ©1993. 3.5 x 6 x 1.5 inches.
I also see fish as creatures who can go places we can't go. They could bring back secret messages or information that would help us, including information about the before-life and the after-life.

The fish who swims in the sky
Inside are guts. The last page is a silver outline of the body. I thought of it as the spirit of the fish.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sources of Inspiration 4/5: The wish to create tools to aid me in life

Dream Focusing Device, ©2007, 8 x 5.5 x 6 inches

I would love to have tools to solve the problems in life that are so vexing. How can I remember more dreams? How does the moon work anyway? Wouldn't it be nice if there was an instruction manual for all of life? Why are we here? You can look it up in the index.

Instruction Manual for the Moon II, ©2005, 2.75 x 3 x 2.5 inches.

Instruction Manual for the Moon II