I made a small edition of this book in graduate school. There were three little books like this. The other two were just a bit bigger. All had black cloth hard covers. I was dealing with intimate thoughts and wanted all three books small to be held in two hands to be opened slowly with a close eye to the way I chose to illustrate those thoughts and words.
It was the words of Thomas Wolfe that spoke to me. This one sentence while I was working out ideas of how to present the men on the corner and our relationship to one another, spoke volumes. I was firmly planted on what I referred to throughout my time in graduate school as “the threshold of the familiar.” Just what is it that makes us feel so “right” in this spot? What do we see beyond the threshold that makes us know we belong there? It is the familiar…the comfortable….the “I know this place….these people.”
Anyway Thomas Wolfe was asked questions about “creativity”…and that was back when the word meant more than gluing pleasing bits of things together. The author was asking his subjects what it was that sparked their creative minds.
Wolfe talked about being in Paris, I believe it was Paris, and when coming out of the door of where he was staying, he saw the chipped paint on the hand railing, a hand railing he grabbed every day.
But this day when he saw the railing, he did not see that one, but the one from home….and he saw that one in great detail.
And he said this:
“And this utterly familiar common thing would suddenly be revealed to me with all the wonder with which we discover a thing we have seen all our lives and yet have never known before.”
I know, reading it over it is a bit wordy….but he was a writer don’t forget. And I loved this sentence, this way of seeing and I still do.
It was the perfect length for a small book with illustrations of the familiar things between the men and myself….clothes hung on a line.
Here is the entire book, page by page, that is 4.25 x 5 inches by .25 thick.
I thought I would sell these books but never liked the idea of selling someone else’s words so I ended up giving most of them away. But only to those who I thought would really get what he was saying. That “discovery” of the familiar. It can take your breath away when you experience what he was talking about.
And you know what else I love about this book besides the simple illustrations of tiny cut blocks of stamping material (something so low tech)? It is that I stitched the illustrations before tipping them into place. That homeyness and universal familiarity of the stitch.
I also have to tell you that the font printed with my computer was called “Betty’s Hand”. My mother’s name. Over the years and different computers, this particular font did not make the transition and was lost along the way. I have a similar one called “Bradley Hand”. I used to spend so much time researching free fonts to download. Fonts that had a certain “look”.
Anyway I am trying to work myself back into the studio to design another book as soon as I get the Bush Book and the Stoat Book finished. Thank you to those who have asked me to hold them a copy of those books.
Now I am heading back in there to cook up some paste to put all those birds and animals and insects together….very carefully.
By this next week I should have them finished.