Arts and Crafts
My interest in book arts has led me develop skills in other kinds of crafts, as well. Paper, pigments, cloth, and wood are all elegant and sensuous materials that have captivated me. They call out to be massaged and informed with new meanings. A beautiful book requests the courtesy of being stored in a lovely box to protect it and give it an enduring home. A piece of driftwood pleads to be saved from the storm surge and restored to its inherent holiness. Cuts of fine lumber whisper 'touch me, shape me' as they display their grain like ephemeral veils blowing in the wind. Walking down a forest path I see a twisted branch. It has been waiting years for someone to notice it's beauty and immortalize it as a border design. Indeed, I am surrounded by voices and patterns that cry out to be elevated into art and displayed in fine craft.
And so I have listened and obeyed....
Illustrations for The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming
Pigments and tools...
I have collected many of the tools, minerals, pigments, and materials that I use in my work during my travels. These unusual, and in some cases rare items are the result of 30 years of searching and experimenting, trying to merge traditional skills into modern arts. From lapis lazuli acquired in Afghanistan at a time when the world was a much different place, to rare papers excavated from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, to brass punches and rollers discovered in dingy binderies in New York, these are some of the tools and materials that I use to create my work.
Some, like the red coral, can be ground into a powder and used in illuminations to create a light-refracting shimmer to the piece. Others, like the dried snake and stretched lizard (from a Chinese apothecary in Toronto), just seemed like the kinds of things an alchemist ought to have at hand. And of course, my construction tools, while very basic, rarely sit unused for long.