Monday, August 5, 2013

observing the artist's book: tattooed ladies + meryl depasquale

Meryl has been working long on this project, so my coming on the scene on the last printing day is a bit like helping someone hang up the ribbon before it is cut.  I'm grateful for this look; someday I'd like to work in this medium, but with two children, both incredibly small and charmingly e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, alas, I cannot dedicate the time or the space or the mess-potential to this kind of work.  So once in a while, Meryl lets me peek at what she has been up to, and I'm so, so glad she keeps moving forward and allowing me these glimpses.

Here is the mock-up / book dummy:

I am fascinated by the collections of process.  I love the off-prints, the happy accidents, the pieces that are used for measuring. 

This project is especially wonderful because it's a collaboration between tattoo / visual artist-husband and poet / book artist-wife. 

Meryl also made bookmarks and broadsides to accompany the project.

(PS:  Note the subtle differences between elephants.)

I'm impressed at how much measuring is involved in the process.   There's something about the quiet repetition, the ticking out of space:  I could see some as groaning at the tedium, but to me, there is a meditation to it.  Of course, one cannot truly operate without glancing occasionally at the clock, without letting to-do to peck at the edges, but anything one can do with the breath, I hope, can press that away.

(And then, the ink begins to smudge.  Or there's this strange line that won't stop.  Or the measurement was wrong and you've printed already.)


Then the printing began.  My job is simple:  catch the prints, stack them without smudges.  Mostly, it's company-keeping, and I've found Meryl and I have really lovely opportunity to talk--dig in about poetry, manuscripts, project plans, travel (AWP), the like.  It makes me hope she has many, many more of these projects and her husband has to go out of town for a bit so I can spend some time talking.  Stories to the rhythm of a Vandercook.

I'm proud of her and I have a crush on her tattooed lady.  She's pretty amazing--both in illustration and in the poem.  This book is a part of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts' Parts of a Whole exhibit, which opens Friday, August 16th.  It's a small run, so I've asked her to please hold a copy aside for me, and I'm looking forward to this excellent piece to add to my small but growing collection.

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