A while ago I wrote a post equating iteration with inspiration, but I have an additional candidate.
My friend Ellie Mathews of The North Press recently wrote a post about the pleasures of collaboration, based on a project we worked on together– one of my bark beetle book series, with a poem by Canadian poet Murray Reiss.
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 asked around for music composition apps because it seemed necessary to reference the musical antecedents, but soon realized even if I could put notes on a stave, I was no composer or arranger. Aldo Daniel Rivera Renteria and I had a bunch of Zoom meetings. He wrote two pieces for me, a longer improvisation (Conversation, Improvisation No. 6 | Wood and Metal – YouTube) and a shorter composition (What the Beetles Sang | Bark Beetles Book Vol. 39 – YouTube).
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!