Paper Craft. Repair. Blocks. Nearly Everything.

A few things are spread throughout my studio this week. Contrary to being distracting, having a few stations to work at keeps me from being idle too long, especially on days that I feel restless. Many projects = no excuse for a lack of productivity.

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PAPER CRAFT. This past March-April when I had the privilege to go to Japan, I picked up this paper craft model of Toji, a five-story pagoda in Kyoto. Paper craft projects consist of several pages of punch out parts that are then glued together to create an object, creature, or in this case an architectural landmark. (The image on the right is one that I received from a friend a while back. The chickens peck when you turn the handle!)

I’ve seen several of these paper craft projects in various places, but this one especially hit my geek button. While this is certainly an excuse to procrastinate, I still find myself learning from the paper structure. The pattern is simplified so the structure can be assembled by a person of unknown skill while maintaining a level of visual complexity, which can only be achieved by skilled paper engineers. It is worth my time, I swear.

REPAIR. On a more serious level, I am also working on a few repair items. The repair work I receive on average is usually of two sorts: academic materials with monetary value needing stabilization, and books that have more of a sentimental value that need a little tender care to help them survive the use of future generations. The above photo shows some of the paints I was using in order to tone tissue to match the unevenly aged paper on a book cover. This work may drive some people to the brink of insanity, but with the right approach, it can be fun. With a lot of practice, the process doesn’t take nearly as long as you might expect.

BLOCKS. The latest creative endeavor of mine is a book of wood block prints. As the photo suggests, it will pertain to bugs. I spent a good deal of last month composing drawings of bugs, viewed way too closely, which will be the central characters of the book. That stack of wood is getting my attention this week. A larger sheet was cut down to the size of each image block (with my new Japanese hand saw!) and, today, the rough edges were sanded. I hope to start cutting the blocks with the imagery by the end of the week.

NEARLY EVERYTHING. During the moments with the paper craft, the intricate details of repair, and sanding wood blocks, I am accompanied by a great audio book. If you have been looking for a good studio mate that is both interesting and enlightening, Bill Bryson is the guy for you. His book, A Short History of Nearly Everything is a great way to stay focused. Drenched in science and history, Bryson makes the miniscule components of our planet as interesting as the mysteries of the oceans we still know surprisingly little about. Having a way to become a little smarter while I toil in the studio really rounds out my day. Thanks Bill!