This month we are proud to present:
Book Arts at the Co-op
Nancy B. Baker
Nipper the Zipper and Howdy Tattoo is the name of the kid’s book that coop member Nancy Baker has illustrated. Written by local author Marian Kelner, the book is available at the Coop and aims at early readers from the ages of 4 to 10. Says Nancy, “We didn’t dumb down the language, so it is actually ideal for older kids to read to younger kids as well.”
The text is based on a poem by Kelner that is published in a larger volume of poetry. Kelner came up with the names Nipper the Zipper and Howdy Tattoo without having a visual image of what these characters actually were; she left that to Nancy’s imagination. “I came up with Nipper as a kangaroo, because of the zipper. Howdy was a little difficult. But we had spent some time in Brazil about ten years ago, and during that time we were in an ecotourist lodge and a local guide came along, he was standing there holding an armadillo by the tail and was saying tatu, tatu. We remembered that and said, well, Howdy can be an armadillo, because that’s what Tatu means in Portugeuse.” She also gave the little creature a “mom tattoo.”
The basic story line is that Nipper and Howdy sail into the ocean in a boat made of glue, and get stuck. They get scolded for adding trash to the water by a dolphin, and then they promise to become stewards of the sea and and enlist others to join them. Kelner's original poem wasn’t quite long enough for a book form, so she added to it after visiting a botanical garden in Florida where they had an exhibit from an organization called Washed Ashore.There were giant, ten foot high sculptures made from trash taken from the ocean. They received permission to use pictures of the sculptures to create collages in the book and incorporated art-making into the storyline. Explains Nancy, “Nipper and Howdy start combing the beaches for plastic and garbage and picking it up and enlisting other people to help them, showing them how much fun they can have. Some plastic goes to the recycling center and some goes into these sculptures. The examples of the sculptures are made out of collage paper. At the end, the book asks, ‘Do you want to help Nipper and Howdy to clean up the ocean?’ and we have a list of things kids can do to help.”
The book is available at the Shelburne Arts Co-op, World Eye bookshop in Greenfield, the Great Falls Discovery Center gift shop in Turners Falls, and online at amazon.com. There is a book signing scheduled at Green Fields Market on Saturday December 1st at 2 p.m.
Edith has created a limited edition, hand made art book featuring a folk tale she and her husband collected from Azerbaijan when they visited there in the early 2000s. “It is a handmade, limited edition only 50 copies signed and numbered,” says Edith. She also made some blank journal books. Her handmade journals are are each unique projects, no two alike. Says Edith of book making, “It’s a killer, it really is very precise. You can’t be even a hair off. It is unforgiving as far as the measuring. But at this point, I know what I am doing. I took a class several years ago, a bookbinding class at the Nook and I just watched a million youtube things when I decided to really work at it.”
Her folk tale book is fairly small, only about 4.5 by 5 inches, with seven illustrations that she has “tipped in” (glued in separately rather than having the image printed on the page with the text). On the cover is a copy of a rug that Edith wove herself following lessons in carpet weaving while in Azerbaijan. This goes with the theme of the folk tale, which is called The Carpet Weaver, about a king who has to learn to weave carpets in order to win the hand of the woman he loves. (There is more to it than that, but Edith does not want to give the story away here, so you will have to find out the plot twists by coming in to see the book in person!) It is a tale suitable for all ages, she says. She will also be at the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair on Friday, Nov 30thand Saturday, December 1st.
Laurie Wheeler, Shelburne Falls Arms Library director, has developed a new method of book preservation. On a shelf in her house stands a row of jars, their labels bearing some popular titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Silas Marner, 1984, The Phantom Tollbooth. How does she fit a book in a jar?
Well, this is just a little tease. The books stored in jars are in transition from printed pages to “Miss Reads Beads,” as Laurie calls her necklaces made from discarded books and magazines. In true librarian fashion, each necklace is made with paper beads formed from specific, popular publications. A label attached to each informs the customer what book has left the shelf on their behalf.
The literary twist to her artistry is quite literal: each bead is made by rolling up a strip cut from the page. Laurie will read through the books to find important words or names that (hopefully) fall at the very bottom of the page. Then she cuts the page so that the callout word will roll up to be legible on the outside of the bead.
Testifying to the title with familiar words is a sure way to endear these readers’ rosaries to book lovers everywhere. Laurie finds it redemptive, as well. “I look at the struggle right now with the written word because of what’s happening in the publishing industry. The internet and electronic publishing have changed how people view books. At one time they were just so precious and people really treasured them...I look at this as a new way to treasure them. They can have another life again.”
Also giving new life to old books is coop member Nina Rossi, who discards the pages of old books to repurpose the covers as wall pockets. Nina scours tag sales, book bins, antique stores and other places for hardcover books that have interesting covers. Embossed designs, pictures printed on the cloth or impressed into the leather or vinyl of a book was once more common. Nowadays, an illustrated book jacket usually goes over the plain cloth binding for hard cover books.
Nina lines the old hardcovers with fabric and cuts strips of wood at an angle to glue on the sides, so that the front cover is a little lower than the back. Decorations are added to the holder, such as bits of jewelry or vintage trim.
Two grommets pressed into the back cover provide a place to run a string, wire, or ribbon for hanging on the wall. The resulting wall pockets are great for holding mail or storing brushes, pencils, dried flowers, and other lightweight items.
Nina also has a self-published little book called Rhymin’ Slimin’ Slugs that serves as a companion to her slug figurines. Written in poem form by Nina Gross of Greenfield, the booklet explains some of the marvelous qualities of these fascinating creatures with cartoon like illustrations by Rossi. The two Nina’s came up with this collaboration when Gross shared her longer poem about the food chain with Rossi, who of course wanted to excerpt the slug section since that has been one of her specialties for many years now.
Also on the shelf by Rossi is a coloring “book” of sorts called Psychedelic Turners Falls: Scenes to Color with a Twist.” These line drawings by Rossi, meant to be colored in by all ages, are presented as a collection of 8, 11x11" prints in looseleaf folio form, topped with a fancy letter press cover designed and printed by Swamp Press of Northfield on some wavy, iridescent-looking paper. Featured are some landmarks of Turners Falls with fantastical elements incorporated into the scene: for instance, alligators at the Shady Glen diner, an arachnid “Spinner” statue at the park, and a Jam Band of fish playing instruments at the Rock Dam fishing hole.