tl;dr - What I did in my book arts class this semester

I made my very first book in my youth out of plastic bags and printer paper following the instructions from a magazine.

Sophomore year, I met human extraordinaire, Sophie Schwartz, who told me about the Book Arts class during my photoshoot for folkmade (which apparently isn't a thing anymore (!) so I need to update my Shop link) when she saw my last journal.

This semester, I took the Book Arts class. We learned letterpress printing and then went into book structures. I made four pieces over the semester and I think it's easier to break up this post by each project. Most of this is for me to remember what went into each project - feel free to look at the pictures alone.

Brown So White, (with Fadwa Ahmed), 15 in x 17 in


We did a collaborative piece as our introduction to Book Arts. We worked in pairs to design a poster that used handset text and a linocut image. But what does it mean? We used a big and serious printing press, with rollers that we had to apply ink to and paper that we had to feed manually and a carriage that we can to turn to get the paper to roll over the form, and type that we had to set letter by letter. I mean, going through drawers with letters and spacings and putting the words together. My partner created the text in the borders and did most of type setting while I created the image and did most of the carving from the linoleum block. My partner printed the text in the borders first (vertical text! It's a pretty big deal), then we printed the image, followed by the main text and the result was our poster. The overall idea came from something our professor said about the lack of tenured faculty of colour at our school and asked, "Brown, why are you so white?"




No Wori, 8.5 in x 8.5 in, handset type with polymer image



This was my first individual piece and it took a lot more time than I thought. The assignment was to create broadsides in a ~fine art aesthetic~ using text and an image made from polymer. I wanted to use Matthew 6:25-34 because I have to remind myself not to worry on a daily (hourly) basis. I decided to use the patois translation of the Bible because: i) haffi big up my side any and every chance I get and ii) I thought the contrast (or perceived contrast) between patois and the fine art would be fun to play with. We were advised to make our image to point to the text but not be too obvious. I decided to use birds or flowers and then I remembered a doctor bird design I made in first year (life coming full circle).

First, I made the mock up on my computer. This involved a lot of resizing of text and images and working with the limitations of the physical press - eg. we only have a selection of fonts so I couldn't use something like Comic Sans even if I wanted to. I made a physical mock-up because moving the bits around helped me visualize it.



The next step was setting the text and preparing the polymer. It's fun when it works but not fun when you realize that you missed a letter or didn't mind your p's and q's (it's so easy to confuse p's and q's and d's and b's!). I ended up shortening the text to verses 30 to 34. I cut my hummingbird out on a scrap piece of rubylith and (with the help of a friend) exposed the polymer and prepared it at school (I didn't feel like paying money to have a company do it - bookmaking on a budget?).





The last step was doing the press runs (different times setting up and inking the press). I had four runs: one for the title and attribution (dark blue ink), one for the body (blue-green ink), one for the doctor bird (gold ink), and a blind emboss for my colophon (no ink). As much as misalignment issues frustrated me, there's something satisfying about feeling the impression of the text and image on the paper.






Plants We Love: A Sampler, 3.5 in x 5.5 in folded, 14 in x 11 in unfolded


We were supposed to make a one-page book and I wanted to incorporate my plant project. The images (scans of my paintings) and text are digitally printed. The tricky parts for this project were learning how to navigate Photoshop and InDesign (Sophie came to my rescue here), making sure things were aligned, turning things upside down so they would open correctly once I folded them, and making neat folds. The image on the back is mine and the border was me turning a mistake and making style. I made 9 of these.







Plants We Love, 3.5 in x 5.5 in, 84 in x 5.5. in unfolded


The compilation of my plant drawings in an accordion book. I handset the type for the plant names and digitally printed the other text and images. The most time-consuming aspect was the folding and gluing because I divided them into strips of 11 in x 3.5 in so that I could easily fold them into four. I was pretty ambitious when I started the project because I wanted to have 9 books (to give copies to people who have helped me out with my project). I made 3 (because time nuh unlimited and I wanted to come home). I have the materials for about 5 more so the plan is to go back and finish that up in my free time.










I wanted to print a mountain range on the back from a linoleum block but after talking with my professor and the TA,  I decided it wouldn't work out because the image would show through on the front. I remembered that I had nice paper in my room (with bits of leaves!). I ended up turning that into the cover for my book (because I’m cheap and didn’t want to buy book cloth). But! This led me to a ~blue~ version of the paper when I went to buy more paper. So I have actual Blue Mountains on the back of my book.













 That was a lot but that's what I made this semester.  I know a lot of my descriptions and explanations aren't 100% clear so feel free to ask me any questions you have.

The song is "No" by Nicolas Jaar.


I hope you're doing well wherever you are.

Thanks for reading,
Keren


Hi friends,

Are you ready for some high quality content?


Two Fridays ago, I put some of my plants on display at a Black Arts Gallery at school. I showed four of my plants and half (or all, depending on how critical I am of myself) were unfinished. I enjoyed myself (despite/including moments of tripping over my awkwardness) and the responses from people were encouraging. It was good to spend the night admiring work from other beautiful and brilliant black people on campus.


It reminded me of last year, when I showed my self-portrait (my baby picture surrounded by beads and the phrase "Pretty for a black girl"). I was nervous about showing that piece because it is so personal but the response from people helped me realize that at times art goes beyond me. Wow - I sound dramatic - but I hope you understand what I mean. I spend more time than I should wondering if there's any point to me making work and sharing it with people. I wonder if I'm selfish because I enjoy spending time in the studio obsessing over the right shade of green. I wonder if I'm vain when I talk to my friends about a new project or ask for their opinions on it. I wonder if I'm insecure when I post things to Facebook or Instagram. I know these are questions I need to tackle for myself and I know that they point to things I need to consider about where I find my validation and worth. But that's why it's nice to have moments when my work really speaks to people and they tell me that they appreciate it. The Black Arts Gallery last year reminded me that I have things to say and things to share and that many of those things will connect with people.



That's why it was nice this year to see people appreciate my plants.

The semester is wrapping up and I have paintings and projects to finish up. But it's all good because that's how it goes. I hope you're doing well, wherever you are.

The song is 'Fettucine' by 1K Phew



Thanks for reading,
Keren



Plot twist! Keren cleans before she does her weekly post. I won't say much because it's late and I'll ramble so let's get to the point.

Reading Bio lecture PowerPoint slides.

Writing Emails and text messages because I'm rubbish at responding to people when they send me messages.

Listening "Go Buck" by Flame =D Legitimately the song that introduced me to Christian hip-hop/rap artists.

Needing To wash my dishes (why I so dutty? It come like every week is clean I haffi clean sumn).

Hoping To meet up with more people this week.

Loving My friend's sermon this morning on Being Cured vs Being Healed.

Yes yes. I'm going to wash my dishes and then sleep friends. I hope you're doing well wherever you are.

Thanks for reading,
Keren



The plan was to write a few blog posts throughout the week but I didn't because life. It was a busy week (if you couldn't tell by the state of my desk). I also can't focus right now. I'm trying to do a reading but there's a strange country-rock music thing going on where I am. I'm bobbing to it though. I need to clean my desk - it's bad. And under my bed. And clear up storage on my phone. And my laptop. It's all good.

But! I did have energy-receiving moments related to things I made. 1) I met with a real life science illustrator to get feedback on my work. The meeting went well. I can draw. (I have to keep saying it to myself because I forget and I talk myself out of it and compare myself and and and.) I need to work on making the plants look more life-like though (more contrast, making closer things larger, more vibrant). I should do more drawing from observation - not just plants - for practice. 2) I finished a commission for a friend - a choker in a lovely brown-cream colour palette. (I used that bead mix to make a ring at an unearthly hour of the day.) She liked it and I'm happy.

Reading Some form of reading for multiple classes.

Writing Notes on those readings.

Listening "Nasty" by Vic Sage

Thinking Whether I could be a rapper and what my name would be.

Needing To clean. Jah know.

Feeling Kinda nasty. I need to clean myself as well as my room.

Loving That the weather has been decent and we had sun for most of last week.

Thanks for reading,
Keren



I'm rebranding! Nah. Not really. I just figured that "The State of My Desk" is a lot more realistic and true to who I am as a person. (Plus it helps me call myself out when I realize things like the empty cookie box had been on my desk for a week.) My Sunday Currentlys had a good run though.

I have to keep this one short and sweet. Last week was busy and I'm still catching up on work and readying up for this week. I have some ~deep and insightful~ posts in the making though. (Don't get your hopes up.) Once I ensure that I don't fail my classes. Thoughts about my interests and trying things that are intimidating and how life unfolds and being thankful that I can't see the future because I would just assume the fetal position fast fast. (Now that I think of it, I'll probably keep most of it in my journal and write a post about how many shades of green I've discovered in these past few weeks.)

Reading The readings for my conservation class once I post this.

Writing Notes from said readings.

Listening "Take Off"  by Derek Minor featuring Canon, KB and Ty Brasel

Thinking I'll probably need to eat before I sleep. (But I have a hard time telling when I'm hungry (!) I think I'll make some tea then.)

Needing To trust myself and my decisions.

Feeling Hype because of this song.

Hoping It doesn't take too long to fold clothes. (Not really a hope still. It really depends on how quickly I fold.)

Loving The love and jokes from people I spent time with this past week. (Good friends are a good thing.) +ginger mint tea because it nice like sugar and spice.

Thanks for reading,
Keren



Is it okay if I say that it's still Sunday somewhere? Of course it is. This is my blog.

It takes a certain number of days to make a habit. I don't remember the number but I know it's not a week so I'm here writing. I had some encouraging moments in the past week - related to the project and life in general. I didn't do as much drawing because I underestimated preparing for classes last week would take but it's all good. I shared a photo of a sketch I did over summer so there's that to look at.

And now for the things.

Watching Hitch because you don't need any pizza if they have food there.

Reading My journal entries from a retreat with my Christian fellowship this weekend.

Writing A progress report for a class.

Listening "Vibes Vibes Vibes" by Social Club Misfits featuring Chris Durso and Aha Gazelle

Thinking About whether I'll wake up early to wash my hair or just wash it in the afternoon.

Needing To clear my bed so I can sleep.

Feeling Excited about the ways I can incorporate the project into other classes.

Hoping I fall asleep before I get hungry again.

Loving Community

Thanks for reading,
Keren


Hi friends,


Bet you didn't know that I spent time in the bush again this summer. How could you if I didn't tell you? But it's true. I'm working on a project through school looking at plants in the Blue Mountains and their uses and trying to fit art into the whole picture.

Can I be real and tell you that it's an intimidating prospect? That impostor syndrome is hitting me real hard right now. That I'm doubting whether I can do what I wanted to do, whether I should do what I wanted to do, whether I even know what it is that I want to do? To the point that I made a first draft of this post in August but didn't put it up on the blob.

But wise people told me that I need to reframe my thoughts. What I call anxiety can produce the same feelings as excitement - it depends on how I look at it.

So can I tell you that it's an exhilarating prospect? That I'm thankful I get this chance to work on a project at home. That I'm enthusiastic to see what the project turns into, how my thoughts change, what I'll learn from the process, and how people will respond to the work.

So what is the project?

The best summary from my proposal is this:

"My ideal product will be a series of illustrations of plants that also highlights their cultural and scientific significance."



So far I've written many emails, done a number of Google searches, realized that there are more books about Jamaican plants than I thought, had thought-provoking, spirit-filling, energy-renewing conversations with people, reread my proposal many, many times to remind myself of what I want to do and why, accepted encouragement from family and friends, seen a part of Jamaica I've never seen before, had my insides rattled on some real country roads, tried to pretend I didn't have to do this project, asked Mommy to pull over so I could pick some oil nut and try to make castor oil at home (still need to do this) and learned that peaches (!) grow in Jamaica.


Ramgoat Dashalong

Carrying plants home from a trip


Now I'm back at school and I get the chance to draw plants and write about them. (And now that I've broadcast it to the whole wide world, I actually need to do something about it.) 

I'm excited to share what I'm doing and hear what people think about these lovely ~plants~ and culture and art and all the intersections.

The song is "Avocado" by Jah9.




Thanks for reading,
Keren


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