Do you ever get waylaid when planning a creative activity?
Disappear down a creative rabbit hole?
I recently fell down a long hole into the world of the dragon scale book. I had not even heard of such a book until recently, but as soon as I saw the structure it spoke to me. I had to give it a go.
At the time I was trying to make a book about the forest, wishing to express my mixed feelings about being in the forests of British Columbia where my family live. Love and fear, all mixed up in one. Somehow I hoped to reconcile this by writing some words and making a book.
But then I came across the dragon scale book, which is an ancient Chinese book structure, over 1000 years old.
I found a video on Youtube that described it.
I fell in love.
I had an idea to make a book with a forest running across the pages, and my words inside.
I made a book and chopped up the image above to sit on the edge of the pages.
But the pages felt much too heavy and stiff, and ideally the photo needed to be printed onto the page rather than glued on. I went back to the drawing board and popped up to London to explore different paper options, looking for a much lighter printable paper. I am never disappointed by a trip to Shepherds near Victoria station.
I found some paper that I liked, at just 85 gsm, but the prospect of trying to break my image down and print it across many pages felt daunting. My printer and I do not see eye to eye over working with non standard paper sizes.
So I decided to take a little break and try using Japanese calligraphy ink on the folded pages instead.
This felt more appropriate for the structure, and allowed me to opt for an abstract style.
I glued around 50 pages in by hand, enjoying the repetitiveness and calmness of the process.
I felt excited by the outcome, even if it outwardly had nothing to do with a forest (except that the paper probably came from a forest, and at a stretch the pages could represent trees.....
Also I was laying the ink in differing widths on the page as a representation of going into the dark forest......
Once it was finished and had been rolled up, it took on a new character, with curly pages that allowed a sculptural arrangement.
I realised that it was not possible to store flat, and having rolled it, it needed a box.
Now that was a whole new project. I ordered some card.
I made a dummy box from cardboard, and worked out a template.
I then made it three times before I got it right. I accidentally cut off tabs, I made a hole in one fold by creasing too hard, I wasted a lot of money with my mistakes, but I learned a lot.
I learned about how to correctly crease and fold card. My life is that exciting.....
But on the third attempt I had a black box with a burnt orange sleeve, just the right size for my book.
It felt like a major achievement. Never has so much effort been expended on a box!
artist booksNow that I have made one dragon book, I can't wait to make more.
It might be a forest book, but then again, it might not.
The possibilities for different sizes, papers, colours and shapes are exciting. I can't wait to get started.
And if you would like to own this one, then please click here
Caroline Fraser - an ordinary life
on life, suburban living, art, creativity, photography, book art and travel.
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Welcome to Caroline Fraser Photography
Colourful abstracted and traditional photographic landscapes, book art and workshops. Capturing the moods and beauty of nature whether in wild open places or in small sanctuaries in suburbia.