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Monday, 3 July 2017

I Wonder!




Marian Bantjes is a Canadian Graphic Designer. Actually, she now calls herself a Graphic Artist, having moved on, she says from the creatively limiting sphere of Graphic Design to something that allows her to put more of herself—her ego—into whatever she makes for clients.

In this way, she’s a lot like Irma Boom, another favourite designer of books. 

I Wonder is a beautiful book inside and out. It’s hardcover. The black silk is embossed with gold—and the page edges are gilded. The beautifully lettered title is embossed silver. Every page is gorgeous and rich in its visuals and the various essays and ponderings (mostly blog posts, apparently) are thoughtful and thought provoking.


I learned about this book during my time at NBCCD, studying Graphic Design. It was brought up as an example of successful Canadian designers, or typographical art, or maybe the use of patterns. I can’t remember if my instructor owned a copy that he showed to the class, or if he showed us slides. What happened was that I immediately went out and ordered the book. There was pretty much no way to live without it.

Bantjes’ work is detailed—really detailed, and that’s part of what attracts me to it. The pages are loaded with things to look at all around the text. The patterns she makes are intricate and tight. They don’t just vary, they vary hugely from one end of the book to the other—from one page to the other. And she leaves no page untouched by design.



Never mind reading it (although it is interesting) this book is amazing just to flip through looking at pictures. It’s even good to just hold, with its lovely cover and comforting weight in the hand.

Bantjes waxes poetic on I Wonder here:
http://bantjes.com/work/i-wonder/

She calls it her masterpiece. I guess that may be, but I’m rather hoping she’ll make another stab at striking wonder.



A little note about my copy:

I notice that my copy of this book has a break in her cover pattern at the bottom of the front cover where “The Monacelli Press” name appears. Interesting. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

…and speaking of teeny tiny skulls



This one’s made of bone. It’s a miniature skull carved from the bone of a water buffalo by an artist who used to be part of the ivory business. The ban on ivory caused some hardship among these craftspeople, but rather than just condemn them and leave them to their fates, some people stepped in and encouraged a new approach using material that was essentially a by-product of domestication. 




This is clearly bone and not “fake ivory.” It is not intended to fool anybody. It’s instead a way for the members of this fair-trade group to use the skills they had in a way that could be marketed to the West.

I seriously would have bought the skull, regardless. 


It’s not high art, but consider the size and the material (which is unlike ivory in many ways, too) when you look at the features and detail carved into this piece. The workmanship is solid. 

I like that the mandible is carved out, so you get the sense of a jaw bone, rather than just a mass at the bottom of the head.



Also, notice the scalloping around the ears. That’s just whimsy, there. The artist lives in Malaysia. They're not into “day of the dead” stuff—and that shows through the rest of the skull.

I keep this bony little bit in a miniature china cabinet, so it looks massive.


And of course I'll have to now look at the rest of the cabinet's contents.

To be continued…

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Library Museum Gallery

My collection of things and why they're interesting to me:

What you're looking at in this first picture is the photo I used as a basis for a new little bit of art on an instagram post.
This is the Instagram post



This skull is made of resin. It was carved by a forensic artist whose job is to create models of remains for the RCMP, so practices with things like this one.

Here's the thing that's so neat: It's a miniature. I've set a tiny skull on top of three of my miniature books because it gave me giggles to do so. I have a real thing for miniatures and I'm going to photograph more of them later.



These are the elements of that photo laid out. I set a quarter down for scale, but probably should have turned it over (we'll all just have to live with that, since I'm not taking the shot again). The skull was a gift to me from somebody who knew the artist and knew I would be interested. My friends know me well. 
Of the three books, I believe I first acquired the Micro Mini Bible. It has a plastic case to protect it, but has a crease from being opened too enthusiastically. I know it looks like I'm doing the same, but I was being as gentle as I could.
Micro Mini Bibles are a collectable thing. They can be found on eBay and book trade sites, sometimes under "vintage." While they are completely readable, I'm not sure if the point of them is to have a handy holy book in your pocket, or just the novelty. I can't see them being the easiest—or coolest—way to enjoy a list of "begats." 





The book with the flower is an old volume of Emerson writings. Its title is Thought Treasures. It rings all the bells for me. It's got that "old book" feel, has lovely words, has an interesting cover (which frankly looks homemade) and is a miniature that sports at least some full-size detail.I believe I got it as a "thank you" from a friend for helping her with her parents' home. She  knows I love both books and miniatures. Her parents were a librarian and archivist and had been friends with many poets and bibliofiles.While other versions of Thought Treasures can be found through google, I've never come across this one specifically. I try every so often on the assumption that old books are constantly being added to the collections of others. Those collectors/sellers might use an internet catalogue system or a book trading site.
The last is a little translating dictionary that's small (one imagines) for the sake of tourists' pockets. That also explains the dog-earing. Well, maybe it's never seen the other side of the Atlantic, or bounced around with coin and pocket lint through Quebec's old city. Maybe this particular book was purchased by its original owner for the same reason I keep it: little books are neat.


There are other miniatures I want to put up. I'm not going to do them all at once, though. I'd like to photograph the library in a random way, so I don't get bogged down in "theme" entries. There's a lot of lovely full-size books and plenty more skeletons. I latch onto other nifty stuff, too, so my future posts about this won't be limited to any particular kind of item—beyond interesting, of course.