“Art ought to be a troublesome thing, and one of my reasons for painting representationally is that this makes for much more troublesome pictures.” David Park (posted on the wall above his paintings in the Oakland Museum of California.)
Carbon is a show at The Vestibule gallery in Seattle. I hung one of my burned tree paintings on the wall and installed a “fire pit” on the floor below it. The stone circle contains objects evoking the top carbon-emitting sectors: energy production, transportation, and agriculture, with a chunk of concrete for the built environment as one member of the ring of stones. There is an opening/performance 9/10 starting at 6 pm that I will attend.
I’m happy to be in Lynn Hanson Gallery’s annual ICON show again with both a burned tree painting and a bark beetle book. There is a Seattle reception there 2-4 pm, also on 9/10, that I plan to attend.
I had the pleasure of being a resident at the Mineral School in early August. I finished two new burned tree paintings and still managed to get out to nearby Mount Rainier for hikes and seven small landscape paintings.
In June I gave an in-person talk in Twisp, WA, as a 2022 Mary Kiesau Community Fellowship recipient. In September-October I will be heading back to the Methow Valley to begin my listening project: to community members, naturalists, and activists about the 2021 fires. I will also explore the burns themselves. I expect hearing from the people most involved and affected to influence my future artwork.
At the end of October, I’ll be installing the Magnitude of the Problem painting in the Shunpike Storefrontwindow at Mercer and TerryStreets in South Lake Union, Seattle, where it will be until the end of January 2023.
After that I’m looking forward to a quiet spell into early 2023 where I can focus creating on new work!
The Anacortes Arts Festival juried show has again chosen some of my burned trees, including the complex Deep Creek Triplet and the recent Montana Sandblasted. The Festival runs August 5-7 but the juried gallery opens July 30. However, I will be at a Mineral School residency then and not present for the reception. (Anacortes WA)
Also current, The Wildling Museum continues Fire and Ice until September 26. My co-collaborator Lorena Williams and I will be doing an online talk September 15. The registration link isn’t posted yet but check in mid-August. (Solvang CA and everywhere).
The State of the Forest grove of fabric trees, which has been touring with Environmental Impact II since 2019 just opened at Northwest Michigan College. It will go on to two more stops before finishing at the Detroit Zoo in 2023. (Traverse City MI)
In other news, I’m looking forward to a brief residency, postponed from 2020, that is a joint project of Parks Canada, the Alpine Club of Canada and the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in July — and likewise at the aforementioned Mineral School in early August. In September/October I am truly excited to begin my stay in the Methow Valley for the Mary Kiesau Community Fellowship.
In the back-and-forth process of ideas and versions, she suggested I paint a portrait of some Ponderosa bark in the absence of any available locally. I did so and the suggestion continues to bear fruit (cones?) …
First I used it printed on fabric for the cover of a book earlier this winter:
More recently I’ve been working with a young composer on the East Coast, Aldo Daniel Rivera Renteria; I was referred to him by the office manager of the laser cutters I usually work with, Laser Fremont in Seattle. I wanted to do something with these mysterious wooden clamps we found:
They turned out to be violin clamps. If you’re out in the country in Norway, you make your own folk violin, doesn’t everybody?!? I knew of book forms in India that use large wood screws to hold sheets of painted wood in boxes, so I felt totally legit using them as a binding.
I once again used the Ponderosa bark painting for a folio that contains the score, both a handwritten page (laser cut on the inside wood pages) and the “typeset” formal score:
It was a thrill to work with Aldo whose skills are so different than my own! Every collaboration, to date with with foresters, entomologists, poets, papermakers, letterpress printers and now a composer takes me down new creative paths – talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
Bark beetle books at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Cynthia Sears book art collection: Top: page detail, Scolytid Lifecycle Middle left: The Sky Cracks Open; middle right: Encyclopedia Beetletainia Bottom left: Survivorship, bottom right: Unwinding through Time
A majority of my burned tree works are in a solo private exhibit, The Magnitude of the Problem, at Aljoya Thornton Place January 31-May 15. I will be giving a talk there April 11 at 2pm. (Seattle, WA) The Magnitude of the Problem, panels 1-7 at Aljoya Thornton Place
The Great Old Broads for Wildernessauction goes live April 18-27, with two pieces I gave them. Last year I taught a watercolor workshop on a San Juan River trip as a fundraiser for them; what a great group! (Online)
Left: Wildcat Viewpoint, watercolor on paper, 11″ x 15″ (Zion National Park); right: Lick Wash, watercolor on paper, 15″ x 11″ (near Kanab UT)
I have two pieces in Central Washington University’s annual juried exhibit “Interstate 2022” which runs until April 23. (Ellensburg, WA)
Top: Telegraph Canyon (rotated) 52″H x 13″W varnished watercolor on torn paper Bottom: What the Beetles Wrote, 11″H x 9″W x 6″D closed. Wood, cast paper, mat board, iron-oxide-dyed non-woven viscose. UPDATE: I’m happy to report the book was awarded second place by the juror, Faith Brower, of the Tacoma Art Museum.
The fabric version of The Magnitude of the Problem will be part of Fire and Ice at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature opening April 9 and running into September. Lorena Williams wrote a moving essay on the threatened Mariposa Grove in Yosemite that now graces the backs of the fabric panels. (Solvang CA)
“Large trees hold sway in our hearts…. We name them.” Panels 1-7 of The Magnitude of the Problem 49″H x 21.5 feet wide in its horizontal configuration
Another large, burned tree portrait is in the Northwest Watercolor Society’s Waterworks membership exhibit. The exhibition begins Thursday April 28th with an online reception from 5:00-7:00 pm Pacific time. Everyone is invited to attend the event by registering at www.nwws.org. (Online) Winter Rim (rotated), 52″H x 16″W, varnished watercolor on torn paper
Later: I was so happy to have The Magnitude of the Problem at the King County Library in Kirkland last year, because of the Kirkland Art Center. In partial thanks, Glen Canyon Light will be featured in Kirkland Art Center’s 60th anniversary gala’s live auction on May 14. (Kirkland WA)
Beetle Graph, 86″H x 18″W x 3″D (open) Douglas fir branches, laser-cut wood, laser print transfers, bronze rings.
I’m so very honored to receive one of this year’s Mary Kiesau Community Fellowships. I’ll be giving a presentation in Twisp over the June 24-26 weekend, to be followed by a lengthy visit in the fall for community research, exploratory hikes and further studio work. (Methow Valley WA)
Burned tree pieces, including some new in 2022, will be featured at Plasteel Frames & Gallery in the Design Center in July-August, with a reception date planned for 7/15 but check back. (Seattle WA)
Larger than Life, 52″H x 28″W, varnished watercolor on torn paper.
I hope to connect or reconnect with you at one of these events!
Last month our holiday cards read “Merry Chaos and Happy Uncertainty.” Superficially we all knew Life Was Uncertain, but many more of us have come to a deeper personal realization of it, if not yet acceptance!
On the left below is one of Jim Frazer’s large wall-mounted “glyphs,” at the rear, one of Tim Musso’s large woodcuts, and in the foreground, 5 of my small bark beetle books in one room of the exhibit.
CoCA’s membership exhibit,Art in Pandemia, has been extended to mid-February. It includes my 2020 burned tree portrait Seamed. Artists in the show have been giving short talks about their work. (Seattle WA)
Next moments: A majority of my burned tree work will be in a solo private exhibit, The Magnitude of the Problem, at Aljoya Thornton Place January 31-May 15. COVID restrictions mean no in-person reception or talk, but there may be some online activity, TBD (Seattle WA). Let me know if you want to be notified.
In August, I taught a second weekend workshop for Gage Academy at the Bloedel Reserve with a great group of people. I’m planning on teaching an in-person indoor class in the second half of October, exact date still TBD—as is the in-person part…
I remain incredibly excited about Below the Bark at the Missoula Art Museum opening Oct 1-Feb 26, 2022. Together with printmaker Tim Musso and painter/photographer/book artist Jim Frazer, our exhibit will open on art walk night and we will also deliver a public lecture Oct 4. I’m excited that, among other things, it will be part of a statewide STEM/STEAM program for fifth graders. I will also be a Visiting Artist at the University of Montana Missoula, where I will offer a workshop for art and forestry students and faculty. Entirely coincidentally, State of the Forest will be opening as part of “Environmental Impact II” Oct 8 at the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT).
The Confluence Gallery has an upcoming show, “Something in the Wind” Oct 2 – Nov 13. It will include two of my burned tree paintings. (Twisp WA)
Also ahead, CoCA’s membership exhibit will include my 2020 burned tree Seamed Nov 4 – Jan 15, 2022. (Seattle WA)
I feel so profoundly grateful to be reporting on some in-person experiences after 15 months of virtual ones. I hope you are finding reasons for optimism, too!
In the Rear View Mirror: In May I had the honor of teaching a workshop on a river trip for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, with a terrific group of guests and guides. What an experience! (San Juan River, UT)
Right in front of us: My most recent burned tree painting—and arguably the most complex one yet—is currently part of The Schack Center’s 22nd biennial juried exhibit, June 17-July 24. There will be an in-person closing awards ceremony 7/15 5-8 pm PDT. Judging by what I saw at drop off, I am in excellent company! (Everett, WA).
I was pleased to be accepted in Manifest Gallery’s “Pattern” competition, especially once I heard the acceptance rate was less than 3%! There will be a limited in-person opening July 8 and a virtual artist talk August 5, 6-8pm EDT (Cincinnati, OH)
In August my 30-set fabric-tree grove installation, “State of the Forest,” will be on exhibit at the Bateman Centre. My fingers are crossed that our countries’ pandemic situations improve enough that I can cross the Canadian border to see it! (August-September, then as part of Environmental Impact Sequel in Victoria, B.C. Canada)
From October 1, 2021 to February 26, 2022, together with printmaker Tim Musso and painter/photographer/book artist Jim Frazer, our exhibit “Below the Bark: Artworks of Disturbance Ecology” will open at the Missoula Art Museum. I’m excited that, among other things, it will be part of a statewide STEM/STEAM program for fifth graders.
Climacteric Confluence, at Columbia City Gallery, Seattle March 26-May 9. Together with Melissa Koch, Anna McKee and Juliette Ripley-Dunkelberger, this exhibit addresses aspects of our climate crisis. The first word means, “a critical period or event” or “having extreme and far-reaching implications or results; critical.” It will include five of my burned tree paintings and six artist books from the bark beetle series.
Bugs Aplenty, at The Elisabeth Jones Art Center, Portland OR April 1 – May 23. They had so great a response to their call for insect-related art that they divided the show into two sections. Two of my bark beetle books will be in the second; the first is here.
I’ll also be in the Northwest Watercolor Society’s membership exhibit with the burned tree portrait below; it will be online at www.nwws.org, beginning with a virtual opening at 7 pm on April 22, and up through June 30.
This is the first painting in this long series that involved substantial mechanical engineering for its physical display: I had to figure out a way to include the free-standing fragile branches. A matching stiff backing for each bundle of branches was laser-cut from acrylic and attached to a backing plate that rests above the hanging cradle on back of the trunk’s mounting board.
I’m so pleased with how the branches look that my next tree painting, still in progress, will have hundreds of them!
For June through early September, the San Francisco Center for the Book and the San Francisco Public Library are hosting an exhibit called “Reclamation.” Two of my beetle books, Survivorship and Beetle Graph, will be in it.
In October 2021 through January 2022, Tim Musso’s giant woodcuts about bark beetles and forests, Jim Frazier’s bas-relief glyphs based on their galleries, and my bark beetle books will be shown together in “Below the Bark,” at the Missoula Art Museum in Missoula, MT. Artist talks and student STEAM activities are being planned around the exhibit. I’ll have more to report more in my next mailing.
If the creek and the COVID don’t rise, I’m excited to be teaching a floating workshop to benefit Great Old Broads for Wilderness on a San Juan River rafting trip May 15-19. If you are interested there might be one or two spots left.
And last but not least, I will once again be teaching a 2-day watercolor landscape class through Seattle’s Gage Academy June 12-13. It will likely be a few weeks before it is posted on their workshop calendar.
I’ve had some inspiring conversations with people who have reached out to me about the bark beetle books—artist and entomology professor Barrett Klein at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, poet and novelist-to-be Sean Petrie, and I’ve been reading Jody Gladding’s poetry in Translations from Bark Beetle. You never know where your artwork will take you!
In the past several months, I’ve given several virtual talks, one for Puget Sound Book Artists which covered my bark beetle books in last summer’s long empty and silent exhibit, “Gathered from the Field,” at Kittredge Gallery · University of Puget Sound. Another was for Seattle Co-Arts which covered a range of my art projects and what motivates me. I was deeply gratified by compliments such as “…[your work] would expand [students’] ideas of what a book is,” “Your exposition of the effect of eco-disruption is so creative and compelling,” and “[you are] a link for both scientists and artists to collaborate.”
(Above) West Point Lighthouse at Low Tide, watercolor on paper, 11”x15”
A June-October activity that was surprisingly meaningful was coordinating plein air outings for our local Northwest Watercolor Society NWWS, together with Stephanie Twigg’s longtime group of summer painters. We visited 21 different locations; in such stressful times, the chance to paint together outside, even masked and socially distanced, was revitalizing. We had participants tell us it was the highlight of their weeks and downright life-saving.
The Magnitude of the Problem, panel 2. Varnished watercolor on torn paper, 39” x 47”
There are some advantages to this pandemic for exhibiting artists — NWWS’s International Open was virtual this year, which meant no packing, shipping, or delivery as well as no size limits. I was happy to have one panel of my huge, burned tree painting, The Magnitude of the Problem, in it. The total piece is 21.5 feet long or high, a format which doesn’t translate well to a small horizontal screen. Part of reacting to a work of art is a visceral response, feeling its scale in relation to your own body in space. (See Art in the Time of Coronavirus, or, “The Big Tree” ) for a longer essay about it.)
(Top) Ars datum est (Volume XIV). Fir-engraver-inscribed log; laser-cut mat board; paint; linen thread. 16.5″H x 5″ diameter, closed. Each page is essentially a bar from a bar chart representing the areas affected in British Columbia and Alberta from 1999-2007.
(Bottom) Beetle Graph (Volume XXXI). Douglas fir branches, laser-cut wood, laserprint transfers, bronze rings. 86″H x 18″W x 3″D The top three species contributing totree mortality in Washington State from 2009-2018: Dendroctonus ponderosae (~69%); Scolytus ventralis (~20%); Dendroctonus pseudotsugae (11%). Data from Aerial Detection Surveys summarized in WA DNR annual Forest Health reports
Party Platforms. Mixed media, ~15”W x 18”H x 10”D.
Somewhat frivolously, my longtime friend Cath Carine and I created a mixed media piece called Party Platforms – when will they learn to dance? As the election got closer it was harder to find any aspect as amusing as it seemed last February, when the original task was to develop shoe-based artwork for the Anacortes Art Festival’s fundraiser gallery. That event was postponed and then cancelled, but it was shown in Las Lagunas Gallery’s “Political Discord” virtual exhibit. Watch an animation here: Party Platforms animation 2 on Vimeo
What’s Yet to Come (or, as this past year has taught us, at least what I have planned that might change…)
At the invitation of the Woodinville Arts Alliance, in October I installed 17 burned tree paintings and 4 burned-over landscape paintings at Patterson Cellars‘ tasting room at their Seattle location. They look great in this big space, but of course with our current pandemic closures, they’re again all by themselves. They are supposed to be up until sometime in March – I hope they can be seen before then!
Tentatively titled Zion Branches, varnished watercolor on torn paper, 52”H x 22”
In March-May I will be part of an environmentally-themed exhibit at Columbia City Art Gallery in Seattle. I will have some new material there, such as this just-finished Zion National Park tree. I am experimenting with new ways to mount separate additional branches alongside the trunk of the tree. I found the branches so visually exciting it’s tempting to start a new series of just branches!
(Left) Forest Decomposition (Volume XIII) Beetle-inscribed bark embedded in epoxy resin covers; laser-cut mat board pages with tea-dyed rice paper and pyrography; viscose endpapers, linen thread 9″H x 8″W x 4″D closed
(Center and Right) Outbreak (Volume XXV) Log with beetle galleries, handmade Japanese paper, iron-oxide-dyed non-woven viscose 12″H x 6″ diam. Some of the sheets are chiri (“leftover”) kozo fiber which has many small bits of bark embedded in them. The frontispiece has leaf skeletons embedded in it. The increasing circular areas covered by rubbings taken from the same represent the proportion of tree mortality in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area of central British Columbia 1999 – 2016.
North American Handmade Papermakers’ “Materiality” exhibit will be online this year. It goes live on December 21 at https://www.northamericanhandpapermakers.org. I’m honored to have two of the bark beetle books that include handmade papers in the exhibit, where they are surrounded by amazing pieces. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mary Ashton, who taught me about making Japanese papermaking as well as Western, and to Bonnie Thompson Norman who helped offset-print some of those papers.
Just over Knapsack Pass, watercolor on paper, 11” x 15”
From January 6 to February 20 I will have small Northwest landscapes at Shore-Lake Art Gallery in Lake Forest Park, mostly from the many hikes I took this summer.
I’m happy to have a 2021 Shunpike Storefront exhibit exact date and location TBD, during which I will finally have a space large enough to be able to show “The Magnitude of the Problem” (see above). Likewise I will have an October storefront for the City of Auburn’s Art on Main program.
Bark Beetle Book Vol. 34: Resource Competition. Branch with beetle galleries; blue-stained dimensional lumber, laser-cut Baltic birch plywood, with laser-print transfers, Kevlar thread. 5″H x 12.75″W x 4″D. I interpolated a branch to dimensional lumber in both form and graphics, because both beetles and humans like to make their homes from trees; hence we are competing for the same resource.
I have been continuing to work on bark beetle books with my chief scientific mentor, Dr. Diana Six of the University of Montana. While we were already in this collaboration, together we will be part of an exhibit entitled “Science Stories” which matched book artists and scientists at the University of Puget Sound. It will be virtual from March – September 2021, with the hope that it will be installed and viewable in person in September.
For the same effort I have been acting as book artist/designer to a collaboration between Professor Daniel Burgard, a chemist working on environmental monitoring through wastewater sampling, and photographer James Oker.
Larches at Lake Ann, watercolor on paper, 11” x 15”
(“They” being my series of artist books made from bark-beetle-damaged wood and bark. Warning, this post is almost as long as the process!)
I had the idea maybe as long as 4 or 5 months ago. I saw these paragraphs in the introduction to a textbook about bark beetles:
“Bark beetles play key roles in the structure of natural plant communities and large-scale biomes. They contribute to nutrient cycling, canopy thinning, gap dynamics, biodiversity, soil structure, hydrology, disturbance regimes, and successional pathways. Several species in particular can genuinely be designated as ‘landscape engineers,’ in that they exert stand-replacing cross-scale interactions.
In addition to their ecological roles, some bark beetles compete with humans for valued plants and plant products and so are significant forest and agricultural pests. These species cause substantial socioeconomic losses, and at times necessitate management responses. Bark beetles and humans are both in the business of converting trees into homes, so our overlapping economies make some conflict of interest inevitable.”
Kenneth F. Raffa, Jean-Claude Gregoire and B. Staffan Lindgren, Natural History and Ecology of Bark Beetles, Introduction to Chapter 1 Bark Beetles, Elsevier, 2015.
I started thinking about how I could invoke this competition for resources metaphorically. I’d collected some particularly handsome beetle galleries on medium-size branches in the Wenatchee National Forest. And I’d been reading one of Diana Six’s papers on the obligate mutualism of certain fungi to bark beetles – the beetles carry the fungi from one tree to another and the fungi convert some of the elements the beetles need to digest tree wood. Certain species leave a calling card—a greyish tone from the sapwood toward the heartwood, called “blue stain.”
I asked a Montana friend who used to manage a timber mill if he could get me any of this wood as dimensional lumber. That took a while, as not every supplier bothers to carry it, since it is not popular in appearance and may have the holes of other kinds of beetles. I didn’t need very much, so it wasn’t hard to ship it to me in Seattle.
I received the dimensional lumber about 10 weeks ago.
Laying Out the Cut
I decided to interpolate the branch shape to the 12-inch length of 1×4 over 16 spreads, or 34 pages, counting the inside front and inside back. I did the drawing in Inkscape and had it laser-cut with 36 binding holes, 9 groups of 4, and included those 1 mm holes in the drawing. Over time, I’ve developed a method for making these interpolations successfully.
I had some leftover 1/8” Baltic birch plywood from a previous project, so I laid out the cuts to fit it. It probably took me 2 days to make the drawing and its imposition onto the wood sheet. Then it turned out my usual local supplier, Fremont Laser & Design, had changed ownership and moved and was just getting started up again. So that took a little time, too. It was cut about 4 weeks ago.
Prepping the Materials
Oh yeah, there’s also soaking both the branch and the plank in Minwax wood hardener. I do that for several reasons: I once heard a story from a curator about an artist’s “organic” work on display from which emerged an army of live insects. So I want to be sure anything still in there is quite dead. Plus it helps stabilize the wood and prevent any further checking or cracking. And there’s the time I sit in the driveway cleaning the frass out of the galleries with an old toothbrush… So a couple of hours there.
I faced the problem of what I wanted to show on those pages. They looked good by themselves, but I felt I needed to underline the meaning more strongly. I decided to morph an image of the branch into an image of the dimensional lumber, with each gradually taking over from the other over half the book’s pages. That is, in the first half of the book the bark beetle galleries take up more and more of the page—the beetles are winning; then the lumber becomes an increasing proportion of the page—the humans are competing.
This turned out to be a lot harder than I would have guessed. It was no big deal to photograph the dimensional lumber. But it took me several tries to figure out how to create an image of the branch (which is only ~2 inches wide) that I could use across all the different page widths. I knew I needed to “unwrap” the texture of the branch onto a 4”-wide rectangle. The method that finally worked was to stand the branch up on a lazy susan where 180-degrees were marked off in 22.5-degree segments. I set a camera on a tripod in front of the lazy susan, took photos at each 22.5-degree rotation, then used Microsoft Research’s Image Composite Editor to stitch them together. There went another few days….
I tried several different apps for morphing one image into the other but wasn’t satisfied with the image quality of any of the video morphing ones. I finally used the animation plug in for GIMP. But I had to figure out the proportions in pixels to have the correct transitions from one texture to the other, as well as how to fade one image into the other, since I didn’t want a harsh line between them.
And of course, with 20 layers, the file was huge and gave me all sorts of computer fits and starts. I finally got it to work, painfully exporting the image graphic for each page, front and back–66 in all.
Then I remembered the spreads needed to face each other, i.e. the image on the left-facing page would be flipped horizontally with respect to the right-facing page. However I could do this in page layout software… There goes a week.
I sent a PDF file to my partner’s 11 x17 office laser printer, with two of my book pages on an 11 x 17 sheet, but the prints weren’t as vivid and sharp as I had hoped. It turned out my own printer with high quality paper was better. So I re-laid it out on legal size paper, which is the largest I can print in my studio. Then I realized if I was going to use a laser print transfer method, I’d have to flip all the pages back the other way, since the print needed to go toner-side down onto the wood pages.
I also decided I wanted to include the text quoted at the beginning, so that meant going back into each image file of all the pages to add the text. And that the text would have to be reversed. There goes another week…
OK, then the process becomes even more laborious. I coated both sides of each wooden page with acrylic gloss medium—two coats, a dry thicker one and a half-water, thinner coat to even out any rugosities. That’s 80 coats in all. Then I do the same thing with all the prints, 80 more. Then I use the same gloss medium to glue them together. I only made one sequence mistake, but it’s not very obvious, so I can live with it.
And speaking of tedious, after the prints-glued-to-wooden-pages dry for 24 hours under weights, the next step is to dissolve the paper off the back of the print. In my experience this usually takes at least three passes. In the first pass I run a sponge over the back of the paper and let it sit for a moment. Then with rough-fingered gardening gloves on, I begin rubbing the paper off. (I have learned to wear gloves, because I have previously rubbed the fingerprints off my fingers, making it difficult to log into my phone!). Once it dries, it’s easy to see how much paper is left to dissolve, and the second pass gets most of it off. But there is always still another bit of white fog after they dry, meaning there is still more paper to dissolve. And you have to be careful – if you rub too hard, you will tear or pull off the thin film of toner embedded in acrylic medium.
Trimming any excess film off is also nerve-wracking, because you don’t want to nick the wood and have light spots interfere with the handsome laser-cut edges. This proved to be quite difficult to do on my interior interpolated holes.
Then I coated each page with wax medium and let it dry. This acts as a sealing varnish that, unlike most other varnishes, won’t stick to itself since the book is usually stored closed. All in all, the coating, transfer, and varnishing phase takes another week.
Finally, it’s time to bind the pages. I had included those 1 mm holes in the laser-cutting. Why did I include so many?!? Why did I make them so small!?!? In the binding method I used, modified Coptic, each station or hole requires its own needle. I didn’t have 36 needles that would fit into the holes with an eye large enough to accommodate my hand-dyed, 3-ply Kevlar thread. I had about 20 needles the right size and tried dipping the ends of the rest of the threads into glue to stiffen them, so they could act like shoelace aglets, but it was too slow and frustrating to get through the holes and wrap back around the stitches without needles. So several trips two different stores to acquire the right size needles.
At last I began binding, back to front. But not only did it take a long time to go over/in/out/wrap-around-the-stich and pull-through each of 36 stations, but when I coated each page with multiple layers of gloss medium, all the little sewing holes had become stopped up with acrylic. I had to take a nail and pound out each hole before I could sew the page.
Worse, by the time I got to the middle of the book and measured my remaining thread, I knew I hadn’t calculated the length of thread required correctly. My fall-back strategy was to begin binding front to back with new thread to meet and interlace in the middle. And of course I had to dye, dry and separate more thread. Two more weeks. And then…