book arts


I made this small shell book for my sweet brother and ocean-lover, Matt, for his birthday this week.  Its covers are a true pair of incongruous ark clam shells (that we found together years ago at the beach – I think) and it’s bound with a two needle Coptic stitch variation.  Along with individually handcut pages, it features endsheets of handmade mulberry paper that I marbled with a suminagashi process.  :)


These gorgeous examples of decorated paper come from A Specimen Book of Pattern Papers Designed for and in Use at the Curwen Press (1928). While this paper most commonly would have been used as endpapers, Paul Nash explains in his introduction that he chose “pattern paper” as a more general term since this paper would also be used for book covers and jackets. 

The 31 samples included in this book range from florals reminiscent of wallpaper to bold modernist wood engravings. They were designed by artists Lovat Fraser, Albert Rutherston, Margaret Calkin James, Thomas Lowinsky, E.O. Hoppé, Edward Bawden, Paul Nash, Enid Marx, Eric Ravilious, and Harry Carter. 


Leonardo DiCaprio finally gets his long overdue Oscar. Almost. 


Minnesota: Land of 10,000 lakes and 1 floating library

There are lakes everywhere in Minnesota and now one of them has a floating library.

Thanks to Sarah Peters the contraption above is open for business on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. Designed by Molly Reichert the 8 foot structure will hold upwards of 80 books for water travelers to peruse and check out.

Canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, skiffs, rowboats, or even inner tubes are invited to paddle up to the Library and browse the shelves from inside their watercraft. The library has both circulating and reference collections of artists’ books contributed by artists nationwide. A staff of friendly floating librarians facilitate the check out process and make reading suggestions

There are even drop off boxes on the shore to return the books.

About the project, Peters told the Minneapolis Star Tribune “Art books are not a widely known art form..And so there’s an element of delight and surprise. First of all, canoeing along and coming across a library. And then having it stocked with books that are totally unique. It’s like this double whammy of inventiveness. It can expand people’s ideas of what art is.”

True enough but it could also ruin a lot of those unique books. Granted one cannot enter the library but the confluence of books and water rarely ends well.

Perhaps a shore-based library by the landing dock could have achieved the goal of exposing people to the pleasures of book arts and artists books without  the high risk. But then again maybe the reward is in the risk.

Story at the Star Tribune: The land of 10,000 lakes now has a floating library 

Floating Library website

Flickr set of the Floating Library, 2013

h/t Shelf Awareness


[Wish you were here] / by Emily Martin.  [Iowa City, Iowa : Naughty Dog Press, 1996]

“Consists of 21 envelopes and 57 postcards commemorating the artist’s trip to Wales and mailed to Iowa City, Iowa. The postcards, numbered sequentially from 1 to 57, are distributed in groups of 3 in the envelopes, each set forming one continuous communication. Each envelope also contains some memento from the trip, e.g., an airline boarding pass, a hotel receipt, a parking ticket, etc. Postmarked chiefly from Cardiff, Wales, the envelopes are joined to each other by interlocking loops cut from their ends and hinged together by a series of red and yellow pencils”.

N7433.4.M364 W5 1996 

Emily Martin teaches in the University of Iowa Center for the Book. ( uicb ).


“Handmade, marbled papers were popular in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and are considered works of art in and of themselves. The Decker Library is fortunate enough to own a number of beautifully marbled tomes from the 18th and 19th centuries, including marbled edges and covers.”

Pictured above are examples of some of the beautiful marbled volumes from the collection.  To see these and more, check out our new library exhibit on Endsheet Art curated by Allison Fischbach.