Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Book of Love

Can a book change your destiny?

A few years ago I had a friend. He was going through a bit of a rough patch, "the dark times" as they've come to be called.

I had recently gone to a conference of the Ohio Art Education Association, as I am a teacher of art to little people, in my other life. One of my choices was a book making session, delivered by the good people of European Papers in Columbus, Ohio. There I learned to make three basic styles of books: accordion, stick bound and pamphlet stitch. I had never delved into book making before. But I was so taken with the art form. Papers became my new passion.

So I gave my friend a book. It was the accordion book of "fortunes" I had made at my conference. I selected the fortunes carefully, so that they would address the sources of his troubles.

What impressed me so much was how HAPPY he was to receive my little offering. No one, especially a man, had ever seemed so pleased and grateful for a handmade gift. You may look at the basic book, but the fortunes have to stay secret!

Many troubles and struggles were to follow for the next year or so to come. But eventually the dark times lifted. My "friend," Richard as he will be known hereafter, became more than a friend and is now my fiancé. Many of the books that I have created have been for him. He has allowed me to share them because, in his words, he "doesn't mind people knowing how much he is loved."

At the same conference, but a later year, I attended a workshop on altered books. My first altered book utilized a copy of Love Story, which I had already read and wasn't sure why I kept toting it around. This is true of many things I gather and keep around; they always seem to find their purpose. I decided to make a book for Richard using this very sad story. We, of course, are hoping for a much happier ending! Through the process of making this book, and the others, papers and objects just kept falling into my hands at just the right time. I can't explain it, but sometimes it's best not to try.

At another conference, you guessed it, yet another book arts workshop. Can you tell I'm on a mission here? One of the great things about this conference is that I can usually find some good book or paper arts sessions. We were actually handed a book to alter. Mine was called Mighty Movers - Cars. Richard builds hotrods, cars, and trucks. Seriously. This was a really fun one. He had returned from a quest for a 1933 Ford Truck/Hotrod, traveling from Ohio to Oklahoma, and back again, hotrod in tow. I drive a VW bug, so even our dog Tracie and I were able to make a little appearance! Hatchback drivers, please don't take offense- I don't really think they are ALL crappy, it just sounded funny...

I am an avid recycler, which you can tell by my work in altering books. The last book I'll share came straight from the junk mail pile. Junk mail is ever so useful. I've gotten words and images for collages, those faux credit cards for book covers, and faux passports as another credit card gimmick. I just thought the stamps inside were kind of interesting, so I held onto it to cut up later. It became a book instead.

So can a book change your destiny? Perhaps. At the very least, it can bring two creative people together. Both artists, we seem to have bottomless well of support for each other and the various projects we embark upon. He helped me to start my company Cathartic Slant, LLC. I drove at 4am to Western Indiana when his excursion to Oklahoma took an unfortunate turn. We share a studio on Front Street in downtown Dayton, Ohio.

Some of my "happy" places:

Where I made my first books: www.europeanpapers.com

A great place for supplies in Dayton, Ohio. But you need to get there fast; unfortunately they are going out of business soon. Everything is on sale: www.mccallisters.com

I just discovered this place last winter when my mom moved to Ann Arbor. Michiganders will be familiar with: www.hollanders.com

Tons of envelopes, stock, stamps and other crazy cool stuff at: marcopaper.com

by Wendy, of Cathartic Slant, LLC


lapaperie&cozy said...

That was very touching, Wendy...thanks so much for sharing it.


Anonymous said...

What a lovely account....art from the heart!

catharticslant said...

Thank you for posting my piece!