Some Odd Pages

Some Odd Pages 01When my two sisters and I were kids, we made books. Many of them are still kicking around the house somewhere. The earliest ones were “Adventures” and “Further Adventures”, accounts of an ordinary day in our lives, typed by our dad, bound with a stapler, and illustrated by us girls. Later, we did our own writing and typing. By the time we were in high school, we were sewing the pages together instead of stapling them, binding the edges with paper, gluing the endpapers to the insides of the cardboard covers.

When we grew up, we returned to home-made bookbinding only now and then, usually to entertain my sister’s girls when they were young. Other than that, it seemed to be something we had left along the wayside.

Then my youngest sister became an artist. In art school, of course she was an experimenter in many fields. But by the time she finished school, she had settled into printmaking as her favorite and most ready mode of expression. And bookbinding suddenly blossomed as an auxiliary art form. Prints to go in books, books to hold prints, so it began. But these books were nothing like the ones we had made as children. These books were works of art in their own right. The book and the contents went together, melded into one lovely thing. The more books she made, the further afield she travelled, the more wonderful the books grew, until they weren’t merely useful holders for their creative contents, but delightfully creative objects in their own selves.

Some Odd Pages 02There was the Wednesday Book, a collection of first words spoken every morning for a year, illustrated by a weekly Wednesday photo-booth snapshot. There was the Snow Book, with dreamlike watercolor washes illustrating snowy memories folded between blue-and-white ceramic covers. There was the stunningly gorgeous Bayeux Tapestry book, showcasing wonderful photos of the entire tapestry from end to end, displayed on an accordion-folded layout that took away my breath when I first saw it. There was “La Famille Inconnu”, a wistful album of unclaimed photos of long-forgotten lives. There was the comic tale of Urrich the Elder, a Monty-Pythonesque historical farce. There was the Ether Dream project, which wasn’t a book itself, but an act of performance art, a recollection of the joys of reading aloud expressed in a setting of translucent words shadowed onto sunlit paper curtains.

My sister took the seeds harvested from an old family book-garden and used them to grow more magnificent crops than any of us had ever imagined. Yet in everything so wonderfully new and strange, we could remember and recognize something else, a recollection of sitting on Daddy’s lap and picking out letters one at a time on the old manual typewriter all those years ago. Making books is in the family DNA, going back before we were ever born, going back to Grandma’s picture scrapbooks of the 1930’s, perhaps. But each of us has our own ideas, each expresses the book-making drive differently. Blossoming out of this garden of home-made books, my sister Meg’s ideas have gone flying higher and more free than anyone else’s, and burst into an explosion of creativity far beyond their original roots.

Some Odd Pages is the name of Meg’s studio. A simple name, nothing artsy or high-falutin’. Just — Some Odd Pages. At first glance, a striking simplicity. But at second glance, filled with the complex details of nature. A twist of growth here, an asymmetrical shadow there, a stone not perfectly round, a line not perfectly straight, like a blade of grass in the wind or a twisted piece of driftwood. She makes me imagine that books grow like apples on trees in her orchard, never uniform in shape, leafing out where they will, dappled colors blending into each other. I see Meg in that shifting orchard light, walking among her book-trees, a wide straw hat shading her face, reaching up to discover the books that are ripe and ready to pick.


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