In July 2022, I bought three of the Tim Holtz die sets from the Chapter 3 Sizzix release. They are what Tim calls ‘foundational dies’ and what I call ‘oh my god, I need those!’
I’m always especially keen on dies that I can use for book-making or journal inserts because I’m rubbish at accurately measuring and cutting, so as soon as I saw these, I knew I’d be making books with them.
Although I’ve used all the dies, I've developed an obsessive love affair with the slide mount die from the Specimen set and I’ve been making a series of unique artist books using it. I challenged myself to make each book with a different theme and binding. I’ve made 14 so far… things may have gotten a little out of hand! But hey, as long as I still have ideas for them, then I’m going to keep making them.
Book 1: Sabotage
The first book in the series.
The pages were made from brown card sprayed and splattered with Seth Apter izink ink in Underwater, Tea and Goldmine, Lindy’s spray in Tibetan Poppy Teal, Dina Wakley gloss spray in Night, and Distress spray in Walnut Stain. I added texture with Distress Crypt grit paste, Distress Texture Paste through a Tim Holtz stencil and Distress Foundry Wax in Mined.
The centres are vintage digital photos from Pink Monarch Prints on Etsy. They were inkjet printed on copy paper and altered with water and wax, then cut with another die from the Specimen set before being slightly torn.
The text was typed with a vintage typewriter onto sepia toned inkjet printed paper and more water and wax. The text reads, ‘everything seemed so much harder than before’. It’s about how I was feeling about the pandemic at the time.
I made an extra hole along the centre of one edge and then the pages were bound with a ring binding made from copper wire coated with Distress Crypt grit paste and Distress Foundry Wax
You can see all the pages here.
Book 2: Cascade
Cascade was a direct response to Sabotage, although they look quite different. When I made that first book, I swithered over which way round to use the images. Because they’re printed on thin copy paper, the paper becomes translucent when you wax it so the images can be seen from both sides. I used the images in Sabotage the right way round, so I wanted to make a second book using similar images that were reversed.
The pages were made from brown card coloured with Seth Apter izink inks in Underwater, Tea and Morning Mist plus some Uncharted Mariner Distress ink and Distress Oxide sprays in Faded Jeans and Salty Ocean. I deliberately used the reverse of the card because I wanted to explore the way the ink seeped through the paper. I’d noticed the effect in my previous book and been very taken with it. The frames were lightly stamped with Vintage Photo archival ink and a Tim Holtz stamp before the centres were added.
The images were from Pink Monarch Prints on Etsy. They were printed on copy paper with my inkjet printer, splattered with water and then waxed. I used the reverse of the images because again, I wanted that more faded, ghostly look. However, I also tore them a lot so that the lovely blue from the Oxide inks was visible.
The text reads “we fell prey to ghosts and old magic. It was typed on a vintage typewriter loaded with brown ink, I used tissue paper for the pages and copy paper for the title. The text was all glued on and then circled with brown Pitt pen to make the words feel more grounded and intentional.
The cover and the binding tabs were made from a thicker Kraft cardstock for strength. I stippled them all with Gilded Distress Foundry Wax and then filled in any gaps with Walnut Stain Distress ink for a mottled, aged look.
The cover has two layers, an outer cover and a matching inner layer that the binding tabs were sewn into. After the tabs were bound in using a concealed three hole pamphlet stitch, I glued the slides in between the two sides of the tabs and then the inner and outer covers were glued together to completely hide the sewing. Finally the cover was finished with two eyelets and a brown ribbon to close the book.
Oh, and it's called Cascade because of the way the pages move.
Book 3: Silent
This one is about my fears around insect decline and climate change - if the pollinators go, so do we. It’s called Silent in a nod to the seminal 1970’s book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and I’ve added the text, ‘Anthropocene No 1’ on the back because I suspect I may need to make more works about climate change. It bloody terrifies me and I tend to deal with my fears by making work about them. My art is not therapy but it is often a way to have a dialogue with my inner self.
I knew I needed more strength for this book construction, so the pages were cut from thicker brown card. Instead of cutting the whole die, I only cut the fronts so that once two of them were glued together I would have a fully transparent slide. I added areas of Distress ink, Crackle Accents and Distress crayon to the slide mounts. Each slide has two pieces of sanded, heat-resistant acetate in them. I stamped the insects, words and numbers (all from a Tim Holtz set) with black Stazon ink, which works on non-porous surfaces like acetate. Both pieces of acetate are reversed so that the stamping is on the inside, partly to protect the stamping but mostly because I preferred the slightly more subtle look it gave. After I’d glued the slides together, I carefully burnt the edges, slightly melting the acetate as I did. I had an idea in my head of museums burning and this being the last damaged evidence of these insects remaining. Hey, no one said this was a cheerful book!
This one was bound by putting jump rings through the slide holes, glueing them shut and then sewing them to a fabric spine. I coloured the fabric cover and the spine with watered down brown acrylic paint. I glued the spine into the cover, then glued on the title, the text and the wool closure plait. The typed text on the front inner cover reads: “And after that, there was no going back.”
More images here.
So that's the first three books from this series, I'll add more soon.