Random Reports is a series of poems by Barbara Henry derived from vocabulary lists chosen by chance and choice from the first section of The New York Times. They reflect the spirit of the day and are specifically dated, and the subject of the poem is strictly a result of the wordlist.
They are often titled from the headlines. Many many years ago I asked Barbara to allow me a binding gathering the volumes 1, 2 and 3. Time being a theme on all I try my hand at, this sat unfinished for about 7 years. After an involved first attempt with low-relief carvings of scaffolding layers on wood covers that were deep enough for the gauging but too thick for the binding, its potential baffled the binder: thanks to Barbara’s kaleidoscopic talent with words, the number of design venues to explore was vast. Not to mention the weight of my own deflation. Little did I realize how ambitious that first attempt had been. It might photograph well, but oh it functions poorly. Under deadline-pressure I even went ahead and submitted it out to be handled. Oh the shame.
Trusting the process kernel originally glimpsed, however, I embraced as propelling force a writing technique known as “hasta pronto adelante“: forward forging ahead from wherever the work is at – a mindset that shares an essence with the poetic constraints of the work. Binding-wise I was in for a trial-and-error loop, but at least this time I kind of knew it. Such kindness to myself totally shared a vibe with Barbara’s forbearance: she never once asked me what was going on.
Forever forward moving, the initial scaffolding dimensional backdrop made its way to the foreground with the recourse of graffiti rubbings: reminiscences of the tactile response one gets from handling inky newspapers, the original substratum for the poems.
The back covers offer a contrast with this rough reality through the sensuality of leatherwork – alum goat hand-dyed to match Barbara’s color motif – bringing the harsh graffiti input to an immediate association with skins: layered experience, in tandem with the poems essence.
3 books were bound in this fashion, one of which is available for sale. The price (slipcase included) is $850. Inquiries, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
This final version luscious photographs are by Roni Mocan.
my long time obsession with limp vellum bindings, finally fully indulged.
and there is even an explanation for it:
as for the content, after many weeks working long hours to finish it up in time for the spring Book Fair, all I can say is I hope you will enjoy as much as I do (meaning, even though I’m completely exhausted it still tickles me, as a puppy or a kitten that keeps one awake the whole night would)
For me one of the great advantages of having a bookbinder mentality is the ability to, uh, bind.
Having to constantly deal with the imports of my unrelenting memory, I quickly realized how soothing is to gather my somewhat scattered mind products in order to get them folded-pressed-stitched-glued-and-covered.
There is hope for us all, books tell me. I am not sure I can always believe, but apparently a faltering faith is all the more faithful. Crawling leaps.
I am a bookbinder. My skill is my comfort – I hardly ever feel need to take breaks, or to zone out of work. My life, however, is pretty damn complicated:
Creating my own work alongside grew out of necessity to cope, language being a tool both forshaping and toshape.I hear often that what I do is sculpture, and that is certainly part of it. Words not set on stone gotta take some sort of form for my taste. But my previous career was in Communication, my first obsession was metalinguistic artifacts, and my present gravitational field is around coherence.