My up-coming publication Surveillance underwent many design sessions before its creation. The theme being on surveillance, I wanted to produce an artists’ book that would involve the reader in an alternative way.
First, the thought process of finding the correct binding to properly present my artists’ book. After an active year of collecting images that would bring home the fundamental idea behind the project, I was ready for its conception. I chose, collated, sized and ultimately transferred the images into a layout in Photoshop. This step is always painstaking, since the choices are endless but results matter to bring to fruition the imagined piece. Once the book has been thought out, the essential work of deciding on size of the book, its presentation, the layout, placement... Then the printing phase follows.
A double sided printing job is never easy, registration is a whole other world, as you know. One has to remember that paper sizes are never perfect. I have typically found that 8.5” means 8 3/8”. This naturally means that all images and text on the verso need to be moved to the right at least 1/8” or more depending on your printer. It takes a while, but once the images and text are ideally placed on the verso, the work is done! But don’t forget to check your registration marks for every sheet or page to be printed so not to waste ink and paper.
Once more, my creative thinking wants new experiences and working with a new binding. After deliberation my choice was the tunnel book binding. But, how will it work with the content and the electronics. How to bind with electronics? ...
When in Austin, last Fall, I met with Natalie Freed and presented my idea and needs for Surveillance. Natalie was excited and open to all the requisites for the book, keeping in mind the possibilities and limitations of the materials involved. This was a great experience and Natalie was fantastic and knowledgable.
Natalie Freed works at the intersection of education, hands-on making and technology. Natalie was incredibly excited about coming up with ways to teach challenging STEM concepts through expressive crafts, especially textiles and the book arts. Natalie graduated with an M.S. from the MIT Media Lab in 2012, received her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Arts, Media and Engineering from Arizona State University, in 2009/2010. Freed moved to San Francisco in 2012 for a fellowship in the New Media Studio at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Then joined Lick-Wilmerding High School’s Technical Arts program, where she started the new Computing track and taught computer science and digital fabrication.
At this pivotal point after months of travel and other activities between our meetings, Natalie and I dovetailed our separate deliverables and the book is ready to be assembled. Oh! Wait, it’s a tunnel book binding and I require seeing through the cover to the inside pages!
By pushing the boundaries of my work and creating a tunnel book, I had to meticulously cut all the little windows in the cover page. Another process that would take an eternity. Unable to carefully cut to my OCD standards, I researched for a creative company or artist that could precisely cut the front page, which was my next step, since smaller laser cutters would tear into the fibrous paper.
I fortunately found Sarah Pike from FreeFall Laser, who works remotely with clients across the country on custom laser-cutting projects. Her approach combines artistic experimentation with technological experience to conceive exceptional work and always looks forward to becoming a part of the creative team. Collaborating with Sarah was another outstanding experience. Sarah uses a state-of-the-art CO2 laser cutter to precision cut and engrave wood, paper, acrylic, fabric, and much more, up to 1/4 inch thick, to convey one's unique vision into a reality. Sarah, used custom settings that optimized my selected substrate and helped develop the finished look for Surveillance.
After 2 weeks, the job was done, and it’s waiting for pickup. Traveling in Canada at the moment and shipping the pages back to me in Ottawa, Ontario, would be astronomical in cost. Therefore, a visit to Berkshires in Massachusetts in the Fall is in the works.
FreeFall Laser was born when Sarah Pike left the safety and security of a successful academic career and jumped off the proverbial cliff to start her own business. Sarah is a practicing artist with years of experience in bridging technology and the artistry of the hand.
I’m looking forward to finishing the first copy of Surveillance in its entirety and presenting it to Library Collections.
If you have projects you are having difficulties encompassing electronics and/or precision cutting situations, I suggest working with both Natalie Freed and Sarah Pike. For me it was a genuine pleasure!