Translation, the not-ta-da (books, craft, and ashtanga yoga)

toleap001 toleap003Inspired by Don and Colin and books about books, I’ve been thinking about translation: from feeling to language to object (or feeling to object, or object to language, or object to object, etc). In this book, I combined images of an earlier book with text from a different book. I really liked those previous books, and I thought they were resolved, but I am surprised to find that this new iteration is more interesting. I’m having fun translating past work and material to make more. Not new things, but translations of other things; the recent works build upon and translate the previous things.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the “ta-da!” moment (or lack thereof). More and more I realize that while I can appreciate the ta-da!, it’s not the only thing of interest; in craft it is easy to get caught up in making the ultimate book, the ultimate pot, the ultimate painting, the cleanest perfectly registered print with a zillion color runs, the superlative, or what Karl refers to as expensive wedding presents (“ta-da!”). In yoga it is easy to get caught up in the perfect pose; I would like to hold my ankles in urdhva dhanurasana (“ta-da!”) even though maybe I don’t need to do that at this particular moment in life, or maybe not ever. Do you know Kino MacGregor? I find her online presence endlessly curious. My interpretation of ashtanga yoga and craft right now is that they both teach the value of the not-ta-da. Kino is curious because she writes about the not-ta-da, daily practice, patience and slowness, and surrendering oneself to God/love/the universe/etc, but the images she presents are all ta-da!: a beautiful lady in beautiful scenery performing beautiful, difficult poses. I actually have no problem with Kino (she looks like she has fun, and too many people find it too easy to criticize a polished yoga lady in tiny pants) because she is a reflection of contemporary culture. She’s giving the people what they want, because the message is tailored to the platform of delivery. This is actually really interesting: what happens when ashtanga yoga, internet yoga celebrity (???), internet DIY, and a culture that privileges instant gratification collide? These things are in contradiction with each other in a lot of ways, but here we get Kino, who in turn provides a really interesting set of contradictions to consider and accept and reject.

Glenn Adamson (everyone in craft seems to be talking about Glenn Adamson, sorry) writes about craft as a verb. I see the act of of bookmaking as a verb, and practicing ashtanga too. I think this is an emphasis on process, a long-term commitment to refinement, in contrast to the more outcome-based fields of art and design. This commitment to refinement (the verb of Adamson’s metaphor, something fluid and variable) is not to be confused with a commitment to the refined (the noun, something static). Sometimes craft forgets itself, or doesn’t forget itself at all, and expensive wedding presents suspiciously termed craft are born, or Kino posts photos of advanced poses on beautiful beaches around the world as her representation of “practice and all is coming.” This presents only one facet of many.

To return to the not-ta-da and translation, I want to make and act with a neutral attitude to the ta-da moment. Why not practice a wide urdhva dhanurasana one day, and reach for the ankles another day? Why not make an ephemeral zine (I’m thinking about a particular zine pointing out the visual similarity between a specific rock and a slice of pizza) because that form best suits that content? Why not make a panel book housed in a double-walled clamshell box just to see if I can? I’m realizing that it’s possible to deliberately choose to not choose any part of the spectrum, but instead choose to respond with careful individualized attention to each idea, each action, each day. In this way it is possible to translate experience in many ways, sometimes finding a ta-da and sometimes not, oh well, ok, while retaining the ability to be surprised.

Translation, the not-ta-da (books, craft, and ashtanga yoga)

Books + Scans


I’ve been busy printing, binding, and scanning books.

My teacher Don Crow has been talking a lot about looking, really looking, and I’ve been applying this to books: how we look at and read books, how the structure and material and presentation of the physical book affects how we approach it, and how context affects reading and looking.

This page is my favorite page, “to hug a large man for a long time” in teeny tiny type.

Books + Scans


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I’m making a THICK roundback book. Thirty-six signatures! I’ve only done this particular binding once before, so I wanted to see if I could control the curve on a larger scale.

I’ve been having fun making books where I amplify one variable: What does an extra-large (2.5 x 3 feet) German case binding look like? What happens when a relatively small book has thirty-six signatures? And so on, in a test of my binding capabilities and of the bindings themselves, and the effect on the reader-viewer.






I made a cigar box with a hole on each side with sweatshirt sleeves attached.

A vehicle for touch!

Now I’m making books to be read with one’s hand in the box, presumably holding someone else’s hand, a series of “Books for One Hand.” I think I’ll make more boxes too, using different scales and materials. Meg said this one reminded her of a Kleenex box, in proportion and color, and it’s true, rrgg.

I’m in a bit of a funk this week; big critique was last week and now I’m marinating in commentary, a little unsure of where to go next. I had decided to go on research paper vacation, but then I made this little book today, so I’m all over the place. I think the sun’s gone away too finally, for probably a long time, so maybe that’s a cause for funk too.

Oh, and I’ve made a blog for my MFA class, but there’s no content yet, so I’ll share when it becomes… Robust? That’s what I’m hoping for at least (no sense in me blogging alone in two places).






I’m working on producing a lot of things to work out ideas. I’ve been making these page spreads incorporating fibers and typewritten text and Polaroids. I’m not sure what they’ll lead to? I’m struggling a little bit with the decorative nature this work. I like it, and I like making it, but is this enough to justify it? Right now I’m treating it as bell work, a daily exercise to get my hands busy.

Alyssa used to tell us something that her teachers told her: “slowly, slowly.” I will trust in trusting that patience and time will bring …something.



Miscellany (expansion)






Many things have been happening (understatement?).

Top to bottom:

I may have found resolution for the Nest of Gratitude. A box? There is going to be an open house potluck show at the MFA space this week, so I’d like to show a few nests.

I’m learning about box making from Barb. The best adjective I can think of to apply to box making is “satisfying.”

The lovely view from my studio window.

Jeik and I bought a tiny press together. Right now it is in the bedroom so I can see it when I wake up, and think of all the tiny prints I will make on it with Jeik one day. Not pictured: three cases of type(!).

I’ve been learning about mold making for ceramics in an effort to revise and expand upon the tooth vessel series. Casting and molding reminds me of printmaking, so my intention is to create ceramic work from the perspective of a printmaker (working in an interdisciplinary way, of course). This box contains alginate that I will use to cast teeth, fingers, toes. The side of the box is quite inspirational!

In other news, graduate school is blowing my mind a little bit. We’ve spent a good deal of time questioning and deconstructing what we are doing in our art practices, and what we are doing pursuing an MFA. There’s been a lot of self-reflection, as well as excitement to MAKE.


Miscellany (expansion)

Lost and Found



I received this sweet email the other day regarding one of the Lost and Found books:

Hi Amanda,
I meant to send this to you ages ago… I took one of your Lost & Found books from your table at an art event at Club Congress in April. I loved it so much, it was difficult to let it go, but I managed to do it. I “lost” it at the Little Free Library in Dunbar-Spring, on 2nd St and 10th Ave. I wanted to make sure it didn’t get rained on or thrown in the trash, so I thought this was a safe place. Though I’m sure you were prepared for the risks involved in losing your book, I regret not including your contact information in the book before I lost it. Maybe someday, it’ll come back to you, somehow.
Thanks for sharing your art with me. Here are some photos, attached.

I started this project with no expectation of getting a response, so I’m amazed that anyone has gotten back to me at all. I’m delighted!

Lost and Found