Graduating the Book Arts Program

Book Arts, MEME

Since becoming a member of the artist’s cooperative at the MCBA I have been working towards earning my Certificate in Book Arts.  For the last two years I’ve taken classes to fulfill the 140 hours required across three categories.  By earning the Core Certificate you achieve a basic competency in printing, binding and paper making.

Last weekend I completed Intermediate Papermaking: Imagery In, On and Of Paper taught by Bridget O’Malley.  We explored watermarks, pulp painting, resists and more.  I was exhausted after three Saturdays of back breaking work but it was so satisfying to get my instructor’s signature on my tracking form knowing I had completed all the requirements for my certificate.

Paper CastCasting my Head in Paper Pulp

Then and there I shared my idea of how I had been contemplating creating a wearable mortar board out of paper pulp.  Suddenly it occurred to me that there was plenty of fiber beaten at my disposal along with classmates who could help me cast my head!  I made a spontaneous decision and ransacked the kitchen drawer (note to self: replace the Saran Wrap at the center).  I wound my hair up in plastic so I could eventually get the finished piece off.  I grabbed an extra plastic apron to wear around my neck, and told my classmates to “go for it.”

Bridget fearlessly laid a slopping deckle full of wet pulp over my shrink-wrapped skull.  I can forgive her for neglecting to get some of the water off it because it was her suggestion to make my mortar board into a book that opens!  Peter pulled sheets out of the vat, Fred was kincouching paperd enough to squeeze them out before sculpting my head, and Laura was on the periphery with my phone capturing the photographic evidence.  The rest of the classmates seemed generally amused, one got real quiet and kept her distance but who could blame her?

I worked the rest of the day with the cast drying on my cranium, stopping now and then to wick off the water collecting at my temples, forehead and neck.  By the end of the day I was sweating bullets – I swear the plastic wrap was melting my brain.  It looked like I was wearing a hybrid motorcycle/German war helmet. Here’s more proof of me carrying on as if it’s normal to work like this in the paper studios – nothing stops me from couching paper!!

Good thing I had a glass mannequin head to transfer the cast to when I got home so that I wasn’t forced to wear it for days while it dried to shape…

TJ Goerlitz, Sketchbook

Sketch of Mortar Board Art Book Project

Every wacky idea starts with a spark of imagination.  Some ideas should not be followed up on.  I’m not sure if this is one of them.  Only time will tell.

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