Bookbinding

The Book of Nothing

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I posted a little teaser of this at the end of last month and have now finished and recorded the results!This book has taken a long time to come to fruition. Not because it was especially difficult, but rather because ‘Life’ has intervened and changed priorities as it can often do.

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The book was inspired back in January by Cheryl Penn‘s call for entries in a huge collaborative book arts project on the Artists Book Network. The project is called The Encyclopaedia of Everything and book artists from all over the world have been responding with their own submissions already. There are a few technical specifications, namely size and number of pages, but that is all.

Having established my theme I decided to adopt a formal book approach to the content and wrote a lot of material. The formality of this approach led me to think about materials and binding, which originally were intended to be quite formal to match, but on revising the text and adopting a more humorous tone, I decided to be a little more unconventional.

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I eventually opted for a stub bound, concertina spine with single sections pamphlet sewn onto both peaks and valleys. This meant that the page sizes would be different to account for where they were attached.

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The covers were originally planned to be leather covered boards with appliqué detailing, but I was not entirely satisfied with the results. I also used some old oak panels for a while, then some tin plate, but again, rejected these; they looked ok, but ultimately did not really add anything to the book.

I know that many creative people say that they get their inspiration when they least expect it, and I guess I am no exception to this. It was whilst I was making pizza dough one afternoon that it occurred to me to use some sort of clay to create the covers. Neat, eh? And the pizza was excellent too, just in case you were wondering.

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After some experimentation with polymorph plastic which wasn’t as workable as I’d wanted, I went and bought a block of air drying clay and got to work rolling out panels and making various embossed and impressed textures. This then led to the cover panels emerging like this, with the addition of various inks, paints and varnishes with much distressing and reworking along the way.

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The covers are simply glued directly to the extended leaves of the concertina section.

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So why the book of nothing? The content shows a series of images with cutout sections and appropriate quotations. The text describes the missing parts; the holes, spaces and gaps, rather than the objects themselves.

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The pages were formally composed using the typefaces ITC Giovanni and Univers 67 and were more problematic than first expected due to the two different page sizes.

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The contents cover the eye of a needle, the hole from Elvis’s last doughnut, the counter space from a discarded zero from the door of Number 10 Downing Street, the gap from the London Underground one is continually reminded to mind, lost works from John Cage and the last squawk of the dodo…

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10 thoughts on “The Book of Nothing

  1. Christopher – it is a real privilege to receive this book. It travels with me and has been seen by lecturers and students alike as an example of an EXCELLENT book. In fact it’s coming to lunch on Thursday as well :-). Thanks too for posting all the stages – I am printing as an addendum to my copy. X

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