Art Projects

I Remember My Baptism by Making an Artist's Book

An artist's book is a book which in itself is a work of art, rather than a collection of art in a single book.

This book should be an expression of each student's own experience and belief about baptism. The books should be very individual and very beautiful.

If words are used, they should be used only for their artistic elements. Most artists use no words at all - even on the cover - but we will entitle our book I Remember My Baptism. Since many of us were baptized as infants, our only memory of our baptism is a spiritual, not a literal, memory.

You will need a heavy paper in white or ivory (index or card), mat board for the covers, gold and silver markers, gold and silver beads and fabric paint, formex film in appropriate colors, gold or silver ribbon or cord, and a glue that won't stretch the paper - spray mount is best, but is quite toxic and must be used carefully.

We will make an accordion book, tying it closed on both sides with ribbon or cord.

The book comes in three parts: cover, contents, and ribbon closing.

Determine the size of the finished cover. You may find some precut 5 by 7 supplies in art supply stores or in stores that specialize in memory books. I like a finished size of 7-1/2 by 7-1/2 inches.

Make the covers as elaborate as you like, working in lace, silver, and gold, and a variety of textured art papers to build up fantastic layers, including the words of the title at least on the front (the back should also be decorated).

Leave both inside covers blank.

Cut strips of heavy paper (white is best) 7-1/4 inches wide and 30 inches long. (This way you can get three strips per sheet.) Fold the paper into an accordion with three folds. Using a bone folder, start folding from the center fold for a more even accordion. (Commercial paper comes prefolded into 8 pages, but you may have a hard time finding any color other than black.)

With scissors or an X-acto knife,cut through the centers of the pages so images layer through the pages, always keeping the accordion structure intact. Add color (formex film, watercolor, and so on) to enhance the images, working from front to back and back to front. For instance, you could layer a drop of water from the front, and a flame from the back.

Cut lengths of gold or silver ribbon that are long enough to tie into bows on both the left and right sides of the covers.

Layer the ribbon on the inside of the cover, and paste the first full page of the accordion to the front cover, with the ribbon glued between the cover and the page, free to be tied on both the right and left side. Repeat with the back cover, back ribbon, and last page of the accordion.

Let everything dry thoroughly, and then tie the bows.

Please use the best quality materials you can find, remembering that this book will be treasured for a lifetime.

There are some examples of artists' books in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon, Art and Craft of Handmade Books by Shereen La Plantz, and Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden.

And Pia Pizzo's and Sue Ann Robinson's work in this area is truly inspiring.

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