Occasionally I am moved to create books that are as much an object of art as they are a functional book to be read or written in. While I consider all of my books to be functional, these few deserve a special place.
This first book was commissioned by a woman as a gift for her mother and in celebration of the life of her great-grandmother who had immigrated to the Midwest from eastern Europe in the 1800s. The cover is cut from a beam of American chestnut that was handhewn in New Hampshire in the late 1700s and became part of a house. The decorative element in the cover is a Czechoslovakian motif. Inside pages are handmade – some cotton rag and some are local fibers (day lily and hosta among them) symbolizing the use of everything available.
Most of the pages inside the book are empty, intended to be filled with the recipient’s own musings, reminiscences, and poetry. However I did insert some excerpts from the diary of a woman who emigrated from Germany and settled in Ohio in the mid-1800s. I chose quotations that I believed spoke to the commonalities of all European immigrants to the young United States.
This next book grew out of my experience living in Romania for a year. I was taken with the variety of styles of doors and I also considered doors as a metaphor for entering into a new and different culture. The book, titled “Romanian Doors”, includes almost five dozen pictures of different doors or details from doors. The cover, made of Romanian oak is shaped like many of the medieval doors and is decorated with elements of Romanian culture.
“Romanian Doors” was a collaborative effort between myself and Razvan Supuran, a Romanian bookbinder and paper maker. We made an edition of 30 volumes, the remaining few of which are available for $150 each.
The final book in this collection was also made while in Romania. It was originally a booklet demonstrating one’s membership in the communist party, purchased at a flea market. I used images and definitions from a Romanian dictionary published in 1956 to provide an alternatively biased consideration of communism.