Phreak Show Ink – Jamie


Tattoo - Jamie 1

Adorbs cyclopean Jamie

Tattoo - Jamie 2

Adorbs cyclopean Jamie

Awww…I think Jamie is so cute. He’s on my tender, fishbelly forearm just like on his big sister Tera.
Only she was expecting a perfect, beautiful memorial to her baby brother. Not a phreakified, one-eyed version…

This was (surprise!) the first cyclops baby Joe has ever inked.

Phreak Show Ink – A Sleeve of Characters


Placement of Tera (misspelled by my assistant), Romeo, Niko & Phineas

Placement of Tera (misspelled by my assistant), Romeo dropping down from her banner, Niko – Prince of Torture perfectly place by the elbow (gonna suck!) & Phineas w/ his top hat

A funny cylops-blob for Jamie (on the fishbelly, of course) and Jules on the sensitive underside

Doug Doug the Dimwit high on my shoulder, Jules on the sensitive underside (ouch!) & a funny cylops-blob for Jamie (on the fishbelly, of course)

Mantis blob with Lil Diva propped on her hip (top),

Mantis blob with Lil Diva propped on her hip (top), Jules wrapping him/herself around, Mama Snow by my wrist

Twiggy on the outside forearm,

Twiggy on the outside forearm, a glimpse of Mana Snow beneath her

I had to take a pause in my NaNoWriMo drafting for Epistle of Doff this morning. Reason: to consult with my tattooist on the sleeve images for my completed novel, Phreak Show.

Joe has purchased skulls and such from my business & does amazing ink work. When the idea to immortalize my phreaky characters hit me, I decided to return Joe’s patronage. His earliest appointment was 7 months in the future. That future arrives next Saturday.

Since NaNo means slacking on the blog, I figured the email I sent to Joe this morning was a way to show it some love. So here it is, chock full of links and words. I’ll be chronicling the sleeve as it progresses, so y’all might as well get in at the planning stage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe~
 
Lots of multimedia/data resources for this sleeve. Take a breath, give your creativity a good whack to get it cranked up, and dive in.
 
Here’s a copy of the original facebook msg I sent you back in May, with my thoughts on the style.
 
I want to do a sleeve of tats over the next couple months consisting of the characters from my latest novel, Phreak Show. It’s a Young Adult Fantasy, set in a modern-day sideshow with some steampunk/Victorian & magical tendencies.So, the characters are basically sideshow performers/freaks. I’m envisioning a bit of New School flare in coloring and style, with some high-contrast black, fused with some elements of old sideshow banner art.I can, of course, totally dredge up base images and we can work on the designs from there. But, I’m thinking how cool it’d be for the artist to get a vibe for the characters through reading the book. So, yeah, let me know if you’re game.
 
Here’s a link to my Pinterest. There are a few boards with labels starting with “Phreak Show” which have my inspiration images for the characters, clothing, jewelry, etc for the book. http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/boards/
 
This one specifically has the cabinet cards I made up for each character http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/phreak-show-cast-steampunk/  It shows them in their “everyday” forms, but I want the tattoos to add the element of their transformations into their sideshow personas like: Twiggy the Blubber Girl, The Prince of Torture (a tatooist!), etc. The original, color images I used are here: http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/phreak-show-castoff-images/ and these may be more helpful for reference purposes.
 
I’m thinking just head & shoulders for each one, with a ribbon/sideshow banner beneath with their sideshow names.
We have 8 appointments scheduled, right? There are a total of 8 (or 10–depending on how they’re counted) separate character images. Plus the smoky, colorful ribbons of “aether” to fill the spaces in between. So, I guess we’ll have to see how to work those all in? Or schedule some future dates to finish? (If I don’t go broke first!)
 
I laid out the rough outlines/placement I have in mind. Pics of my (roughed in) sharpied left arm are attached.
Roughly, here’s the order of inking I’m thinking. Totally open to your input. Maybe we can squeeze multiple characters with close proximity in during a single session:
– Phineas – top of forearm http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218339/ (This image is pretty spot-on. Love the dark shadows, but would like deep colors mixed in so it’s not solid black. Def want his signature eyes to stand out–they’re milky-blue, covered in cataracts)
– Tera – outside of bicep http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398272931/ In the story, she transforms to look like other people’s worst fears. So, not *exactly sure how to represent that…Also, she wears a heavy hood to conceal her face until the transfomrations are complete, so that might be an element to incorporate as long as her fiery red hair is still partially visible. (Romeo, a copper monkey may hang from her banner into the crook of my arm)
– Niko – perfectly placed for the Prince of Torture…near the elbow. A combo of this image http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218239/ along with shirtless Adam Levine http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218378/ (For the ink, half of his face ‘normal’, the other half tattooed and pierced
– Jamie – top half underside of my forearm (no image of him on any of the boards – he’s the Tera gets of her baby brother – only effed up into a cyclops baby)
Those are the first 4. I’m thinking we can decide the order of the rest and space them out as we go, using the sharpie template along with sizing as a guide for their placement.
 
I’ve also attached the manuscript. If you want to check it out, the main character, Tera, gets an effed up tat in chapter one, then enters the Phreak Show at the end of chapter 2. After that, the sideshow personas of the characters unfold over the following chapters. 
LAST LINK! lol – http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/tattoos-steampunk-otherwise/ This board will give you an idea of the types of tattoo styles/coloring/imagery I’m drawn to. I don’t want to dictate the style so much as I want you to interpret my ideas into your own Joe Crossman style. As long as the ink is helz-yeah-phenomenal, and consistent throughout the whole sleeve, I’m pretty open.
Thanks, man. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Lucas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe doesn’t know it yet, but I plan on typing with my right hand in his shop next Saturday. NaNo is live & Doff wants out of me. There’s no reason [other than the pain of metallic, pissed-off wasps hammering into my flesh] I shouldn’t keep hacking away at the next novel while getting inked with characters from the previous one.

Whether Phreak Show ever gets traditionally published or not, I absolutely love the characters and their story. Will I regret immortalizing them in my skin forever? Absolutely not. As long as Joe doesn’t eff things up for me like Niko did for Tera. Or did Niko really mess up her tattoo of Jamie…?

Epistle of Doff – Hands On Research #LucasArmKnitExperience


Athan - Knitting - Illustration

So an odd/fun/random/spur-of-the-moment thing happened.

It started with my NaNoWriMo project. The love interest is a trainhopping, attachment-free, badass. So, I decided he needs a hobby—something completely unexpected for that persona. And it needs to be something he can do to pass the time while catching out [i.e. riding the rails; hopping trains.] Something “soft”, traditionally “non-masculine”. I rolled through a few possibilities before settling on knitting.

KNITTING? WTF?

Knitting is reportedly therapeutic. It’s a practical skill; need a blanket while on the road? Gank some yarn and make one. But I ended up with a slight problem there since the process can take a while…

Yesterday, while searching for images to represent this aspect of my character, Athan, I initially had a HARD time finding images of guys knitting. I was getting quite frustrated. Then Twitter folk helped my search. And one link led to another to another until I ended up creating an entire Pinterest board: Men + Yarn
 http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/men-%2B-yarn/

In the process, I discovered Arm Knitting. That’s a thing??? Yes. A cool thing. Knitting using your arms instead of needles. And, using heavyweight yarn, the process goes quickly. Aha! A quick, no-tools-needed way for Athan to pass the time trapped in a rattling freight car. And since the world has an ingrained magic system where the purpose of an object [and thus it’s color, texture, density] can be warped, Athan has access to a limitless supply of “yarn”. He simply needs to transform tiny sections of the metal forming the train car.

As icing on the cake, this idea of weaving two separate skeins together is a perfect symbol of the central conflict my MC is facing. It’s also gloriously symbolic of the romance subplot. Perfection, I say.

Athan is highly gifted at warping & knitting. During long train rides, there is the obvious opportunity for him to teach that skill to my MC, Doff. Oh.the.moments. The symbolism. The ways Athan can playfully take advantage of Doff while his hands are bound in yarn cuffs.

But before I can write that into their story, I need to know how to Arm Knit, what it feels like. So, with the help of a YouTube vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqvC1xlm86U&feature=youtu.be, I learned. Today. For the hell of it, kinda accidentally, I ended up live-Tweeting my learning process & the emotions that went along with it. If you’re so inclined to check it out, I used the hashtag #LucasArmKnitExperience.

Quickly, folks tapped into my virgin arm knitting experience & turned it into a beautiful, fun conversation.

After the highs & lows, the successes & failures, photos became a necessity. So, obviously, an impromptu photo shoot  showing the end results of my first arm knitting attempt was required.

The whole live-action-learn-a-new-thing experiment was fun. Not only did I learn a new skill I can teach my characters, I also experienced the feeling arc of curiosity/frustration/peacefulness/accomplishment/celebration. Doff will feel that same progression. On top of all that, other folks decided to catch out with me. And, perhaps, I can recreate that excitement & willingness with Doff & Athan’s story.

I just need to write it first. NaNo, here I come.

Reference images for these two train kids & the rest of the cast of Epistle of Doff:
 http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/epistle-of-doff-characters/

Phalangeal Re-Creation -OR- The Day I Made Bones


My partner, Micah, and I happen upon odd things in our business. Sometimes that oddness appears in the form of human bones.

Yeah, I know, some folks find that creepy. I’m totally okay with that, because a lot of other folks find it phenomenal. In fact, we have a list of clients who are mainly interested in the uber-weird: plastinated organs, death memorabilia, human bones, taxidermy, preserved specimens, etc.

This past week, we turned down a collection of, to quote the seller, “Indian bones”. In his personal archaeological quest for Native American artifacts, he has amassed a barn-full of remains. Now, we have a personal aversion to this idea. Buying and selling bones which were once used for scientific study & education (and therefore, hopefully, gifted by the donor for that purpose) is a far different thing than trafficking remains which were once ceremoniously interred.

For us, this is a moral issue.

To the U.S. government, it is also a federal offense. (SEE: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act)

How to know the difference? Well, the educational items are cleaned & prepared–usually with mounting wires, hinges, springs & screws. A while back, we purchased a group of these specimens. Basically, pieces and parts from educational models—all in varying stages of disrepair.

That’s where I come in.

These past couple days I have been hand-carving replacement phalanges for a sad, little skeletal arm who had lost the majority of his digits. And because some of you may find this intriguing (and maybe just a *little* bit creepy…) here’s a slide show of the progression from busted to re-bonified.

So, there you go. No bones about it. [ahem…] From busted & sad to (I think) a much revived version.

And for my next trick– Well, actually, Micah is working on the next project. Documentary pics shall follow. Yes, it involves more bones. A skull, in fact. One which was cut into 7+ vertical slices… Mounting fixtures and a gorgeous base are being fabricated, a glass dome awaits.

In the meantime, to keep me busy, there are a few vertebra columns which need some TLC.

Nomad Trip & Such


couchsurfing

So much excitement going on around here. Lots of little things, which are amazing just because they will never happen again in quite the same way.

I’ll yap a little bit about my upcoming trip to Toronto, then post some random, un-captioned pics. [Ambiguous posts are ambiguous.]

The trip currently looks like this:
– Amtrak to Buffalo on the 4th. Hang out with strangers for about 6 hours. [Pending]
– Back on the train, passport in-hand, north of the border.
– Subway ride from Toronto to my couchsurfing hosts, 30 minutes north in North York.
– A private room, rooftop parties, lots of tea/coffee/booze, exploring the pedestrian-only Victorian Distillery Distict, random art & performances via the Fringe Festival, whatever other opportunities arise.
– Return train to Buffalo. Vist Niagara Falls with another couchsurfing “stranger”. [Also pending]
– Board the train home at midnight. Arrive in Cleveland @ 3:27 a.m. 2 hour drive home. Report to work at 8 a.m.

That’s the loose plan, anyway.

If It Itches, Scratch It


My most recent ink. (Of the legal variety)

My most recent ink. (Of the legal variety)

You ever get that itch? No, not that kind…but the kind that is more akin to an incessant craving. An idea sparks. Maybe for a hunk of chocolate you want to gnaw, a trip you want to take, or this thrilling activity you simply must experience. For us creative folks, the itchy idea can take the form of an image which demands to be painted, a character who wants to live, a new recipe which must be tested (and tasted). The crawling need to make this *thing* happen is all-consuming. It refuses to be ignored. And, no matter what, the only way to get rid of the blasted itch is to scratch it.

Yeah, me too. All the time.

Some itches have rules attached, and a decision must be made on whether you choose to follow them or not. For instance, I’ve been itching for another tattoo for a while. Tattoos have rules. Fun fact: Oklahoma finally legalized tattooing in 2006. If you are so inclined, you can now legally get your ink-itch scratched in all 50 states. But some states and localities set their own parameters. Such as:

  • You can’t get a tattoo if you’re under 18.
  • You can’t get tattoos on certain body parts—such as the face.
  • You can’t get a tattoo if you’re drunk or high.
  • You can’t get offensive or hateful words or images tattooed.
  • You can’t get tattooed at home or at a party, even if the artists is licensed, because the license applies only to the shop’s physical location.

Here in Ohio, that last one is law. A tattoo shop must be approved by a local board of health. Tattooing clients outside an approved shop is illegal. I have three friends who may or may not illegally ink outside the confines of a shop. Let’s pretend they do. If so, they have their reasons: indie personalities, lack of funds to do an official (expensive) pay-the-mentor apprenticeship, time constraints. Still, they hammer amazing images into more-than-willing tattooees. This system works because the tattooees have the itch for some ink, and the artists have the itch to create them. Simple supply and demand fueled by a pair of matching itches.

I have definitely been tattooed in official, legal shops. I may or may not have used indie scratchers to handle my itch in the past…

Let’s pretend I have. If so, I’m sure I experienced nothing but great, sanitary, professional scratching with amazing results. Assuming I may have gone the less-than-official route at times in the past, I am choosing to go mainstream this time around. The downside: my itch will have to squirm and twitch for nearly six months! A tattoo is obviously forever. Coupled with my perfectionism and pickiness, I want only the best. Especially for the subject matter I’m hankering.

There’s this guy, Joe, who once bought a human skull from me. (FTR, yes, it was legally obtained.) He happens to be a tat artist. And he also happens to do a.m.a.z.i.n.g. work. One more thing: he’s willing to meet this slightly random request I proposed. You see, the itch I need scratched is a full sleeve on my left arm. The images will be the 12 named sideshow characters from Phreak Show. Fluxxus the Human Chameleon, The Prince of Torture, Jules the Gender Enigma, Maestro Phineas Cocteau, Twiggy the Blubber Girl, et al. Even Romeo, the mechanical monkey, is getting some skin real estate. The negative space between the characters will be filled with the borealis-like aether from my novel.

So, cool, but a sleeve doesn’t sound like a random request. Tattooists execute those all the time. Yeah, but do they read an 86k  word manuscript to get a feel for the characters first? That’s what Joe has agreed to. We have discussed the style I want: hints of New School with bright coloring and exaggeration, along with high contrast, heavy-hammered black, plus skin-break highlights. Oh, it itches the more I think about it! And that itch is going to be prolonged. Remember how I mentioned Joe does amazing work? Well, that means he’s in high demand. He’s booked solid until November.

itch itch itch

I have 8 Saturday appointments scheduled beginning 11/16. In the meantime, Joe is reading Phreak Show while working on the image creation. If I may gush, I think that’s a kick-ass way to come up with a tattoo design. My words and ideas filtered through another artist’s interpretation. Even if I do have to wait six looooooong months.

Okay, confession, I’m too damn impatient to wait half a year to scratch my tattoo itch. I found another great artist of the legal breed, and am getting images for my first 2 novels inked on my right arm. Capritare’s appointment is in 3 shorts weeks. (Only a querying writer considers 3 weeks “short”.) You know what this is starting don’t you? A perpetual itch that will need to get scratched with each new novel.

If the craving kicks in for flash fic & short stories, too…Frankly, I’ll have to look into finding surrogate skin.

Steampunk Orrery #1


Holiday prep. Work. Family. Friends. Storefront. Art. Steampunk.

These are the things which have been keeping me uber-busified o’er the last couple weeks. The pace holds no promise of letting up anytime soon.

In addition to our monthly stint in Atlanta & keeping stock for the massive bi-annual sale at www.grandviewmercantile.com, my partner and I will also be taking part in a six-artist exhibition in January. That’s.a.lot.of.stuff.

The Mansfield Art Center www.mansfieldartcenter.org asked Lucah to participate in a reclaimed objects show. In our business, we always incorporate vintage and antique items. But this venue allows us to push things further. Since it is mainly an art exhibit [with the potential for selling] we can focus on artistry over marketability. This is a welcome break from the question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of every project: What do I need to do to this piece in order to make it sell–quickly?

With that question eradicated from the equation, a new batch of them takes its place: How effin amazing can I make this piece? How far can I push it? What have I been aching to create but haven’t allowed myself to? What phenomenal piece of art can I dream up and execute?

In the theme-planning stage, Micah and I decided on a steampunk vibe. We further decided to make sure we incorporated gadgetry, moving parts, and taxidermy. Alright! Now we’re talking. Freedom to make some whacked up, ass-kickin’ art.

One of the first ideas to begin churning  in my mind was an orrery. Being a science geek and an artist, an astronomical model meshes both of these facets of Lucas. I’ve always wanted to create an orrery, but simply have never set out to do it. This exhibition booted me in the ass to finally make it happen. And since it is “art”, it doesn’t even have to represent a real solar system. It can totally exist as a fantastical place which spins and orbits only in my imagination.

Working with 100% recycled/reclaimed/antique/vintage materials, this is what I came up with:

 

Orrery #1

Orrery #1

 

Orerry (16)

Orerry (19)

Orerry (23)

Orerry (24)

Orerry (30)

 

Some of the components which make up this piece: antique globe stand, antique hand drill, cash register components, vintage croquet balls, iron, aluminum, steel, copper.
Cranking the hand drill rotates the steel sphere & aluminum ring. The large gear from which the other planets are suspended can be manually rotated. The mounting armatures can be swiveled or extended.

I titled this piece “Orrery #1” because I know that it is the first of many I will create. Now that the seal is broken, this thing is on.

Over the next couple days, I will post images of other projects we are working on for the exhibition. Specifically, a pair of “Prohibition Radios” complete with secret compartments, and a series of in-process images of the transformation of a mangy, balding, taxidermied bear into a battle-ready, copper-armored warrior.

And, oh yeah, happy holidays and shit.

 

Letting Off Some Steam


It seems like I have been writing nonstop since Oct 2010.

You can guess the next line, eh?

I have.

If you’re a writer, you know the drill: brainstorm, organize thoughts into coherency, draft, revise, seek  feedback, more revision, more & more revision, query, wait, perhaps even more revision, sigh, wait, sigh, repeat. This has been my life for twenty-one months straight. Yeah, I’ve slipped some other things in, but one of those ^ stages has always been ticking like a loud-ass clock in the background.

Officially, I suppose the ‘brainstorm’ part is still going on. My mind sporadically drifts into wondering, dreaming, and pre-writing my next novel. But, it is in that fun place where I can let it run if I like. There is no self-imposed deadline hanging over me. There is no pressure related to this process. If it happens, Yay! If I don’t think about it for days, So what?

Today, that writer-limbo-freedom allowed me to let an idea (which did not involve writing) come to life. I was in the midst of another task in the studio, saw some old clock parts I picked up a while back, and started making steampunk glasses. Uhhh, random. But since I didn’t have the threat of Author Lucas yelling at me, I started tinkering.

Here are the results:

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Today, I created an unexpected something on the spur of the moment. It wasn’t a piece of flash fiction, a poem, another chapter’s worth of edits, or any other writing related thing. [Well, I say that…but here I am blogging about it. And–the novel brewing when it wants to, does have a steampunk element…] Oh hell, whatever. I spontaneously created and had a helluvalotta fun doing it.

Now to sew up a brocade waistcoat to go with the glasses…

In High School, I was the ‘Artist’. Won a lot of awards for my art. I had an art-arch-nemesis, though. We were friendly, but quietly competitive. We silently assessed one another’s work, secretly envied one another, and cheered one another along with a respectful jealousy. One County Student Show in particular, I took 2nd place in acrylic. He got 1st & 3rd–sandwiching me with his entries. We never gloated or pouted. We simply nodded and congratulated one another. I haven’t seen him for 18 years, but we are ‘friends’ on facebook. Every now and theI troll his page…

Lobotomy That Didn’t Quite Take


The two halves of my brain like to talk to one another. Not as in the split-personality kind of way, but as in, Hey! I’ve got this idea. Wanna work with me on it?

It’s like having a lobotomy that didn’t quite take.

We all know the pop-science concept of the left hemisphere controlling creativity, with the right hemisphere controlling logic. In weird human-body-fashion, this lateralization results in the right brain dominating the left side of the body and vice versa. While there is some quantifiable truth in this concept, it doesn’t really break down all that clean and perfect.

I am right-handed. I tend to notice lefties everywhere I go. There’s no telling how many store clerks, mechanics, salesmen, customers, and random folks on airplanes I have asked, “I see you’re left-handed. Are you creative?” I’d say, oh, about 90% of them chuckle and protest profusely that they’re not. So much for a dominant right-brain causing lefties to ooze with creativity.

Check out this tidbit from the all-knowing Wikipedia:

“A person’s preferred hand is not a clear indication of the location of brain function. Although 95% of right-handed people have left-hemisphere dominance for language, 18.8% of left-handed people have right-hemisphere dominance for language function. Additionally, 19.8% of the left-handed have bilateral language functions.[5] Even within various language functions (e.g., semantics, syntax, prosody), degree (and even hemisphere) of dominance may differ.[6]

So, what do my botched-lobotomy halves like to team up on? Well, just about everything. More specifically: art, furniture design, writing, witty things. (Does that bar me from being called a ‘half-wit’? Probably not.)

Left-brain likes spreadsheets and formulas. But right-brain likes to make them pretty with lots of sleek formatting and graphics. Creative right-brain likes to make stuff. And left-brain logically says, Let’s do it using stuff we already have. Let’s repurpose these things. Let’s make non-functional stuff functional.

OK, says right-brain. As long as we can also make it beautiful. So, they–we–do. Furniture, lighting, mirrors, accessories, art.

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So what does all this babbling about lobotomies & brains & pics of repurposed creations have to do with writing? I mean, after all, this is The Chronicles of a Fellow Seeking to Publish a Novel or Twelve, right?

  1. A writer is the sum of his parts. I don’t write in a vacuum. (Too much dust and dander in there.)  My stories are influenced by my surroundings, my likes and dislikes, random knowledge I have soaked up along the way, my experiences, my creativity, my quirkiness. My personality is infused in all I do.
  2. Writing is the repurposing of words.  The words are already lying on the table, stuffed in a hemisphere, haphazardly stacked in a corner. I have to pick them up, turn them over, look at each one from every angle and decide how they will best fit together to create a finished phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter, novel. The end result has to be functional, but it also has to be beautiful.
  3. I like weird stuff. I’m not sure which lateral half of my brain this stems from. Maybe the creative-right? But, hell, maybe it’s the logical-left which is trying to make sense of the odd/unique/off. This holds true in the people and things I surround myself with, and the premises and concepts I incorporate into my writing.

All this comes together to make me who I am as a person–first–and then as a writer.

I dig spreadsheets, math, order, patterns, and symmetry.
I dig impulsive decisions, creating, chaos, randomocity, and things that are askew.
Add in psychology, Dali, hard science, skydiving, mythology, documentaries, medical oddity specimens, square-toed shoes, poetry, physics, spiritualism, and shiny things.

Compute it all, embellish the edges, and toss in the variable of two hemispheres which get along (most the time); and you have a silhouette of the joker composing this post.

While not officially the victim of a botched lobotomy, my lobes definitely fire at different times. I’m just glad they choose to aim at the same targets. It takes a pretty unified front to make the craziness happen. So, thanks, left-brain. Thanks, right-brain.

You’re welcome, they answer in unison.

Carving Up Books


Bibliophiles, don’t hate me. My book carving is done out of love. 

Rarely is a writer only a writer. We have facets and interests which span beyond the boundaries of merely crafting words on a page. A few of my other interests include psychology, astronomy, gadgets, couchsurfing, antiques, furniture design, spreadsheets, weird shit, low-fi music, dry wit, art, etc, etc…

Learning and creating are my two favorite things in all the world.

A few years ago, I created a series of altered books for a solo show at Kenosis Gallery in Mansfield, OH. These were amazingly fun to make. The inspiration for each work sprang from a concept I wanted to convey, the book’s title, inside illustrations, the cover image, or a trinket I wanted to incorporate.

In the medium of altered books, I can tell a visual story using recycled materials. Some of the books were given to me or came in box-lots I won at auction.  A few I purchased for their visual potential: size, title, cover design or color.

Here are a few of the wall-hanging pieces:

“Into You” was sparked by the transparencies from an “H” volume of an old set of encyclopedias. As a kid, I used to sit and read random entries for hours at a time. The pictures and captions always caught my eye first. All but the last few pages of this book are carved out. Each transparency layer is suspended between a 1/4″ thick layer of pages so they align but do not touch. 

“Into You”

“Dynamo Electric Machinery” speaks to the influence of technology upon the family. The different collage elements are mounted on varying depths of carving. Some of the images are from the actual book itself. I love breaking the plane of a piece, and the telescopic antenna does that beautifully while remaining on-theme.

“Dynamo Electric Machinery”

“Foreclosure” was a response to the economy, the housing market crash, and the whole myth of the American Dream. Whether a homeowner’s property was in a low-end or high-end location, those 12 monthly mortgage payments and any effort to sell the house were major issues. The title and cover image of this book sparked the piece.

 

“Foreclosure”

 

“Free Love” is definitely a play on words. A key part to this piece is the exposed words from the original text which can still be seen peeking around the anatomical image of the human heart.

 

“Free Love”

For “Fragile”, I studied the illustrations within the book and created my own story for the main character. The stitching and real egg speak to the internal state of this new character I created in my head. 

 

“Fragile”

I have over a dozen more wall-hung and free-standing pieces I will save for another post. I see my altered books as visual pitches: a quick snapshot into a story. Of course, these pieces do not represent the premises inside the original books, but stories I chose to tell instead.

I already know that–when my manuscripts become novels–I will definitely alter them into visual works of art. An autographed copy of an altered book written and reconfigured by the author sounds like a sure-fire giveaway to me.

In the meantime, I’ll throw this out there. I do commissions.

Do you have a favorite book or story you would like transformed into visual form?
Are you an author who would love to have an altered version of your own novel?
Agents: Would you like to see your clients’ books as wall-hung art?

Let me know. My willingness, creativity, and carving tools stand at the ready.

 

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*** A few words about the main image at the head of this post:

“Surrender” is the most autobiographical piece in this post. It is also one of the more intricate altered books I have created. Each level of the tiny steps is about 1/2″ deep. These were quite a challenge. It took me a while to collect the images from multiple sources–looking for just the right one to relate with the others. The spiral staircase dropping down is constructed from the arch-shaped section I removed from the cover.