Musing over Bonefolder

Musing over Bonefolder

Over the weekend I had the chance to browse the latest issue of Bonefolder. This issue (Volume 4, No. 2, Spring 2008) is excellent,  and well worth popping over to the site and downloading a copy. Muriel Prince’s article Women and Books: Contemporary book artists share their thoughts was of particular interest. Recently I have become more interested in book binding and artist books. I have always had an interest in this area and have started to bind my own studio journals.

Murial Prince asks why so many women are attracted to artists books as a format and suggests that possibly “it’s the freedom of the multi-disciplinary approach that appeals to women, the not being pigeon-holed and restrained by tradition or convention, the idea that anything goes – the concept can be realised using any and every means at the individual’s disposal.”

It had me thinking half the day because my mind wondered if it was an area of artistic practice where women felt they could carve out a place without having to contend with a huge and historically large pile of cultural baggage like the tradition of painting or sculpture has.

The “no rules” aspect of a particular practice is often highlighted when women talk about a creative practice they love. For instance both crazy quilters and art journallers constantly say that anything goes there are no rules. It is as if throwing away the rules is necessary to be creative, in some areas of textile practice. Many women feel that it is time to break the generations of strict rules around some areas of textile practice. For instance what is and is not done when embroidering a cloth. The thing is there is actually no rules left in many of these traditional areas too. However there are lots of people who still believe there are and are fearful of breaking some unspoken rule they do not know about.

Back to artists books, as format for self expression you can still explore a concept. The physical size of artist books are often small and often intimate which may also be a factor as size can hint at the private domestic space.

Anyway this one article gave me food for thought. I really wanted to simply point to the whole issue as it is well worth reading if you are at all interested in the paper arts or even if you simply keep a visual/art or studio journal. If you feel like leaving a response here or musing on your own blog about the importance of rules please do! Leave a comment to let me and everyone else know. I know I will read it … now must be off now as I have a living to earn.

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  1. And also used to make books too. 🙂 http://flickr.com/photos/emmajane/tags/bookbinding/

    The question of rules and gender within craft is fascinating. The talk that Linda is referring to is long (44 minutes) and does contain some cuss words and vulgar ideas. It was a talk designed to shock computer geeks into thinking differently about why it’s important to have women involved in open source computing. I won’t be offended if it’s not your style. 🙂

    Many of the female hobby-crafters I’ve worked alongside are “permission-based learners.” We take advantage of classes/workshops to safely explore a new technique with a leader and with others who are also new to the technique. Historically we had The Guilds (although more so for men in the crafts) so permission-based learning is definitely not a new concept. It’s true that throwing out the rules is very liberating, but it’s also interesting to look at how many of the techniques we use are half-ideas we’ve actually picked up from someone else. Within my own craft work there is very little experimentation in structure. … whereas my dad invented new ways of turning wood on a truck-axle lathe…my craft-based creativity is mostly expressed through colour.

    Programming code doesn’t have the same immediacy that crochet and painting do–but the concept of raw materials is the same. First we need to teach ourselves (teach women) how to think creatively about computer-based tasks and how to start demanding more from software. Then we need to think about a social structure that will help all newcomers to the software world explore their creative talents. Craft instructors will know that many students suffer from a fear of creativity and potential failure–in many cases the instructor’s role isn’t really about teaching new skills, it’s about unleashing the student’s inner creativity. Can you imagine how different your digital experience could be if creating software were as inspiring as the TAST challenges?

  2. Thanks for sharing this link to the Bonefolder – I have been happily absorbed for hours!! and have down loaded several issues now to print out and re-read!! I intend discussing Rules on my blog!!! I may ramble too long for here!!

  3. A touch of synchronicty here, whilst browsing the web for information about using Linux instead of Windows OS I came across a lecture by Emma Jane Hogbin. She was, somewhat indirectly, talking about encouraging women to go into open-source software use and development because there are no rules and therefore you can be creative! http://emmajane.net/ incidentally she knits and sew as well!!!! The lecture should come with a warning for those easily offended (signs of working in a man’s world??)

  4. You’re right Lemontreetales! My creativity flies around in my mind so much that I can’t start or stop. Sometimes somebody (mostly me) needs to set some rules to actually get somewhere. Lots to learn, still… 😉 and that’s wonderful.

  5. Sure it’s great not having to follow all the “rules” all the time. But I think that actually hinders creativity at some times. It’s good to try setting a few rules per project that you follow. It’ll give you a starting place and also will give you the rules that we all like to “break”. For instance, you may not be following rules for your sampler, but you have set up personal rules for it – size and base fabric. Perhaps that’s not the type of rules that you meant in your article, but it’s what popped into mind. 🙂

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