Artist Books

Claire Van Vliet | Circulus Sapientiae

he term book arts, refers to the arts and crafts in the making of a book. Binding, papermaking and printing are all part of the book arts. Book artists, in the sense that this blog will address today, are artists who employ all these crafts, and contemporary technologies into creating unique, often extremely limited editions of highly artistic books. Book artist are not unlike fine artist in that their work can be of a unique personal style and very collectable. There is a magic to well designed and executed artist books. It takes the idea of the author and transforms it into a sensory story using words, illustration, interaction and often, sculptural effects. My reason for introducing the book artist at this point in time is to expose you to the magic of artist books. You will need to find this magic for your edible books – that idea that you translate with food stuffs that moves your reader. Enjoy the the beautiful books below by contemporary book artists. To learn more about the book and the artist, click on the image. Can you identify the magic?

Pat Smith | Hidden Ancestors
Lark Burkhart | The Good Book Kit
Bonnie Thompson Norman | The Windowpane Press
Chela Metzger | Bird Book
Margery S. Hellmann | The Holburne Press
Gloria Helfgott | Arachne: Vida Lobo
Margery Hellman | Ulysses
Charlene Matthews | Virus: A Love Poem
Jody Alexander | Due Date: It’s No A Popularity Contest
Alicia Bailey | December 1: The Hunt
Su-Ju Wang | Esther
Todd Pattison | Little Library
Claire Van Vliet | Tumbling Blocks
Karen Hammer | Even Before You Left the Farm
Emily Martin | Naughty Dog Press

Patience from Glowing Heads on Vimeo.

The Icebook (HD) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

Hitch from Pascal Monaco on Vimeo.

Books of Ice, by Basia Irland from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

Artist Books

Beautiful Book Paper

papermouldThe papermaking process is fundamentally the same since the invention of paper in 105 A.D. Plant fibers go through the process of BEATING, a means of pulverizing the fibers in preparation for casting. CASTING, uses a wood frame and metal screen, to pull the paper sheet from the slurry made with water and the pulverized fibers. The cast is then COUCHED, removed from the mold to absorbent blotters. The final step, PRESS DRYING, uses pressure to flatten the wet sheets. Modern papermaking technology began in the 19th century with the Fourdrinier papermaking machine. As with type, faster methods of production needed for distribution to larger markets came with the industrial revolution. (machine paper production video) (handmade paper production video) Handmade papers, with lovely deckle edges and artistic watermarks, are still used in special, or limited edition books. These collectible books can demand prices in the five-figure range depending on the quality of paper, printing, binding, and design utilized, while a commercial edition of the same book will use materials and production methods that keep the cost much lower. Finer books are printed on letterpress or offset presses with individual sheets of paper, while commercial printings often employ large web presses that use economical roles of house paper made specifically for these presses. The evolution of paper technology directly relates to printing technology. Better paper leads to higher quality printing and new refined type forms. The finish, watermark and materials used to generate a sheet of paper speak a language that translates the author’s words, identifies the book’s history and character. Paper may be one of the elements that protects the book, as we know it, from the approaching ebook. Just as we feel more connected to digital tablets and smart phones with touch technology, so do we connect to the feel of paper as we hold a book in our hands and turn the pages.

RomaFabriano Paper
750 years of beautiful paper


Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.37.20 AMDard Hunter Mill
Papermaker and paper historian


RagRoomHistory of Papermaking



Veldener UnicornWatermarks in Incunabula
Click browse motifs



Paper Quiz

Beautiful Book Paper