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Book of the Week — Remember the Light

“Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer’s cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
— Buddha Shakyamuni

Mary Risala Laird
Quelquefois Press, 2007

Artist’s statement in an email to the curator: “My best friend was diagnosed with non smokers lung cancer in 2005 and given 3 months to live. I asked myself what I would want to do if given the same. I had always wanted to make an artist book. So I spent two years letting an edition of 7 Remember the Lights come to fruition. I chopped up some etchings I made called Earthquake, the one of 1989 when I moved to California from Wisconsin.


And put another relief roll etching (when Murshid sings) in the back of the book, writing over it with acrylic matte or glossy, mantras of the world religions. The Mantras are written throughout the book. I incorporated 7 quotes on Light, and 6 poems I wrote when I went to Tibet with a Sufi group in 1986. The title page has a plate from the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose. Another one from them appears as the image of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, which is printed twice in grey, right side up and upside down, doesn’t matter where we are in space. Little holes of light, like Leonard Cohen suggested, let in the light, in this case by using Japanese hole punches. I had always wanted to add color to my traditional book making. So I brushed gouache on the pages with cotton balls. I also loved using colored pencils and straight lines to connect the pages, as well as printing blocks of wood used in printing, making them type high so the wood grain would shine through. Lobsong’s Mother’s page has a sumi painting I did of Japanese ink, of bamboo; I had a polymer plate made and printed it pink, because it is a color I don’t often use and I wanted to experiment.


I had fun drawing ladders into my etchings, connecting things, like thoughts, of planes of consciousness.
And stringing along the trajectory of human experience, you know, birth, life, death birth, life, death.


In the signature where I have iconized my mother, and also did Xerox of her and me, I used end signatures I had left over from an edition of poems from a Rumi book I printed for Coleman Barks.
I like using Xerox and commercial papers in conjunction with the hand made papers (blue green) I made in Wisconsin many years ago.


I had learned a blanket stitch from Michael Burke and used that around the hole I cut with the hand showing through (One Handed Basket Weaving/Jelaluddin Rumi. Versions by Coleman Barks.)


On the colophon page I started each line with a cap, spelling out my name, vertically as you read down.


And hiding at the end of book is another poem about being on retreat in a hut, with an etching printed relief rolled and worked into, based on a courtyard in Florence, Italy, from a sepia print I inherited from my Grandfather who got it there in 1896.

The stories go on. My friend lived 5 years longer.”

Colophon: “Resurrected and transmogrified etchings form the basis for this Infinitesimal edition, primarily printed letterpress. Actual copies: Seven, using Dante and Goudy Engraved. Text papers include Arches BFK, and Somerset. Endpapers & concertina guards: Nefertiti, Long ago made by hand at Barcham Green Mill, and hoarded by me Awaiting the right project! Overprinted relief-roll etchings When Murshid Sings and Earthquake, may include laser-print, egg tempura, Assorted colored pencils, polymer plates, Xerox, cut-outs, sewing & Reticulated energy patterns. The laced-cords wooden board binding You are holding, is based on an 8th c. model. Hand-planed covers, Laboriously covered with deer or goatskin, are fitted with brass Ornaments. Thanks to both Laura Wait & Michael Burke, models of Undying inspiration. Copies are hand numbered.” Rare Books copy is no. 2.”

Artist’s addendum to colophon: “Maple and cherry covers are not covered. Bas-relief of right and left hand, carved into the front and back covers.


Books come enclosed in drop spine boxes. Trays are black calf or goatskin lined with white deer or golden elk skin. Outer covers: there are two purple ostrich and two of teal ostrich; two more of lime green bovine; and one in lime green goatskin.


Leather straps match the outer covers, and attach to brass hand-filed knobs on the fore-edge. A copper disc is inlaid on the front cover, a debossed crescent moon at its base. My Opus.”

Photographs by Scott Beadles

View the original article on the OpenBook Blog

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