Last weekend I spent a pleasant day in the leafy suburbs of North London eating pizza, drinking tea and playing with sticky stuff and sharp objects. I was in the company of Eddie Ephraums and Joe Wright along with some other like minded photographers having oodles of fun turning our images into small, beautiful, simple fold out books.
We started the day with a relaxed round of introductions over a cuppa, before gathering around the screens sat atop the desk in Eddie’s magically transforming living room come studio. Between the desk and long workbench bedecked with rotatrim, cutting mats and paper creasers was a behemoth of an Epson printer. How the dickens that goes unnoticed as the space is transformed once again into a living room is beyond me, I can only assume Eddie has cleverly printed up some rolls of Fotospeed Smooth Cotton and then handcrafted a very clever slipcover in the guise of a grand piano.
As soon as I’d stopped postulating on all the potential disguises for the Epson monolith we began selecting and sequencing peoples images for their books. It’s always an interesting exercise watching total strangers look at your work and draw their own interpretations from it, making their own selections and drawing their own threads through a sequence, finding relationships where you didn’t necessarily see any and omitting images you would have included. I decided to go with groupthink and let them choose and sequence the eight images for my book…such a trusting soul.
Once they’d been printed and given 5 minutes to dry, we began with the creasing and the cutting. I had no idea Rotatrim technique was actually a thing and that being a ‘there and back’ kinda person was bad, whereas precision use of the index finger as a guide when gluing was definitely an advanced and highly praised technique. Much precision measurement was undertaken and at certain points, clamps and straight edges were deployed along with bits of cardboard and the occasional pencil mark.
Over the course of the day we made two different books using the same set of images for expediency, by using different folding and gluing techniques to create both a concertina and a drum leaf book. Whilst the techniques themselves were fairly simple, the possibilities they opened up were enormous, and along with the cavernous box of delightful artist’s proofs that Joe brought with him, showcasing many, many, many different ways of creating jewel-like books of tactile delight and wonder, lots of ideas were sown in our heads.
I’ve been considering how to tie up and present a few projects I’ve had on the go for a while and seeing the results that can be achieved with a modicum of patience, a few top tips from some experienced old hands, some careful precision and a liberal sprinkling of creativity, I have several pages of my notebook liberally dotted with emerging ideas. Not only that but take a look at Shepherds online store and tell me the vast array of obscure japanese handmade papers, bone folders and paper drills don’t have you wishing your office had enough workspace to accommodate them all….and therein lies the problem…I need more office space…so until I solve that problem my appetite for book making will be restricted to prototypes from copier paper…
Overall a superb day was had, great company, knowledgable hosts and an endless supply of tea and chocolate digestives ensured that a few hours returning with childlike enthusiasm to the act of making things from paper and glue with your own bare hands was time well spent and incredibly satisfying…