Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The "Book of Dreams" Project: Monotypes, Recycling, and Binding (Oh, My!)

Hello all! Now that I can get out a bit (at least on the porch) I hope my photos will improve somewhat.  I had to discard some of the ones I took inside, because the flash reflected off the shinier parts of the piece, making it difficult to see what it actually looked like.  Of course, I will unify everything when it's finished, by using the proper surface coatings, but I'm not ready to do that yet. With the varied surfaces that are unavoidable when using mixed media, this is another issue that has to be resolved in the end.

This is part of the first inside page spread for the Book of Dreams.  Since the text block of the original vintage book has largely come loose from the cover, I thought that if I used single page 'signatures' (I know they're not really signatures, but I'm trying give you a clear visual here- and probably not succeeding.), made from sturdy, durable material, it would help to bind the pages to the cover more securely.  Not really being very experienced with book-binding techniques, I'm not sure if this will work, but it seems logical to me.

What I decided to do, then, was to recycle parts of an old monotype that wasn't successful.  It's a  method that usually works out well for me, because it gives me layers of color and images on which to build.  Being a big layer-er, it functions as kind of a head start, and the additional layers tend to yield a richer piece with increased depth.  Of course, I first needed to come up with a scrap piece that fit in with my vision; I had an idea of the one I wanted to use, and luckily it worked out.

First I played around with fitting the appropriate section of the scrap piece to the page; when satisfied with the composition, I cut out the parts I wanted.  In this particular case, the figure was already there, but had to be significantly modified.  I won't describe all this in detail, but one major thing I changed was her dress, which looked really floopy.  (Yes, this is a word, at least in my head...)  I took a piece of gampi (also called silk tissue) and tried to make it fold where the folds in the dress should be, gluing it down with gobs of acrylic medium as I went.  Though it didn't turn out the way I had hoped, I decided it was acceptable; to me, it looked a bit like encaustic, or maybe like her dress was made of ice, or water.  Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow, people.

The wing was added, part map and part feathers (the feathered part came from Wing of a Roller by Durer), and then the stitching to connect them.  I made several other changes and additions- everything from adding more grass, as well as the egg and the bird, to changing the shadows, and removing things from the sky and other areas.  The thing I love about Rives BFK is that it can take the abuse of some pretty aggressive washing and erasing.  I did still tear up a few spots; this is where creative improvisation comes in (otherwise known as gluing something over it if all else fails).

This post is getting longer than I intended, so I think I'll continue later with the alterations and collage work I did in the pages of the book itself before gluing the monotype in place, and, of course, with the completion of this spread.  Be sure to check back for that update, and as usual, I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about materials, methods, or techniques.  Also, I would love to read your ideas and advice, if you're so inclined.


  1. mmmm, Sharmon - what a story this painting tells. i love the idea of a dreass made of ice or water... xxoo, sus

  2. Sharmon here's a link that shows you what I did:

    You'd asked how I made the mold so that's how; and if you go to posts that are near by this one (a few before and a few after), you can see the journey. Hope that answers your question! *smiles* Norma

  3. merci pour tous tes gentils commentaires sur mon blog..
    la petite fille me fait penser au dessins de frida kahlo..
    mais tu n'as pas les ailes coupés.. tu t'envole avec ta peinture!beau!

  4. I like your descriptions and 'saves' to this beautiful piece. The wing is genius and the dress perfect in its folds. The key is the mood and you have captured mood triumphantly!
    My memory fails me when I see one of my finished pieces...can't remember what and when steps...all a mental fog?!

  5. Oh this is a beautiful a book of dreams Sharmon! Thank you for sharing the details of your porcess love the dress, the map the wing the egg oh everything! All your layering should help to stabilize your old binding, if not you can always sew through in places and add bookbinders mull for reinforcing, it's a favourite material.
    have never tried Rives BFK but am currently in love with Saunders Waterford Smooth warm white 425 gsm

  6. this is stunning!
    I absolutely love it....
    it's just gorgeous!

  7. Thanks, Sus... the story will hopefully be much clearer soon...

    Thank you, Norma, I'll check it out.

    Elfi, what a generous compliment... I'm honored.

    Mary Ann, mental fog is my usual state of mind. Thanks for all the kind words... If I had to remember specific details of what I did 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., I would be lost. This is more of a summary (just the main ideas, as I tell my students). for instance, if I had to describe how i painted the figure... no way!

    Mo, thanks so much- I'm so glad you like it! Thanks, too, for the suggestion about the mull; I need to get some of that. I'm not familiar with Saunders Waterford Smooth. Is it a printmaking paper? Rives BFK is 100 percent cotton, very thick and strong. I'm going to check out the SWS, maybe give it a try.

    Wings, I'm thrilled that you like it so much. Be sure to check back for the continuation.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I'm happy to reply here, but may not always have time for individual emails.