It all started at the FORMAT festival where I was told that the Blurb book of my body of work was too ‘corporate’ meaning that the paper and cover were too glossy and the pagination reflected a ‘corporate’ ethos which, I was told, was not sympathetic to my subject.

What could be simpler than put my images together, find a suitable paper and print away?

Three months down the road and I am working with artist Susan Coulson who has made numerous books of her own artwork. With one month to go, Susan is panicking.

The book I am trying to emulate is Martin Cregg’s ‘Midlands’ because I think the paper, the layout and the images all hang together very well. I saw the book and bought it at last year’s PhotoIreland in Rosscommon after I had been to see Brian Cooney’s degree show.

The first version was too clumsy:

Version 1 (4th April): One main page with the prison image as base then my letter to Ian on the left opening flap and his reply on the right flap / leaf.
Version 2: Too many things wrong: the transparent paper confused the elements; the letter inserts made the whole too clumsy.
Version 3: too small to handle.
Version 4: it was fine small but when I extrapolated it to a bigger version, it looked wrong and clunky.
Version 5: Playing with ratios of plant to image and inserting letter sheets as per Martin Cregg’s book.
Still playing with paper size. Not too happy with it – the proportions are wrong, imo.

I then printed a half-size version on my A4 printer and used a book fellow-student Sarah had lent me on how to construct a book: Annette Hollander: Bookcraft which taught me how to stitch the ‘signatures’ together. I planned my book layout and was short of a couple of images so I decided to include some of my letters.

I have 7 signatures with 6 letters from me and 6 responses from Ian. I am quite pleased with this half dummy but am anxious to see the final, full-sized dummy.

Signature 2 with Ian’s letter sewn in.

I am now working on the dummy printing on a 600mm paper. I investigated double-sided inkjet papers and found I had a choice of one. Trying to track it down to someone who could supply it without having a minimum charge of £200 was another epic journey of discovery. I now have a small roll and will print out the individual pages as soon as I am confident with the printer and with the composition of the book. Next week I am visiting my friend Susan Coulson who will show me how to fold the pages and make up the cover.

2 thoughts on “Making my own book for the exhibition

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