May 21, 2020 Book Arts Binding Instructor’s Work Juried Into Prestigious Exhibition
The Marriott Library is pleased to announce that Emily Tipps of the Book Arts Program has been included in the American Academy of Bookbinding (AABB) exhibition OPEN * SET. This triennial event showcases and awards bookbinders from across the globe who produce finely crafted design bindings. Emily created her piece using William Blake’s Happy Abstract, a letter he wrote to his friend and patron, Thomas Butts, on September 11, 1801.
According to the OPEN * SET website, the exhibition, “Is designed to encourage both new binders and professionals, and is open to binders around the world. This title reflects the two categories in which the binders compete—the Open Category, in which the artist chooses which textblock to bind, and the Set Category, in which participants bind the same textblock.” All entries were reviewed by a blind jury of three professional binders.
Emily is the Binding Instructor, Program Manager, and Associate Librarian in the Book Arts Program at the library, as well as the proprietor of High5 Press, which publishes innovative writing in the form of handmade artist’s books. She earned a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado and a MFA in Book Arts from the University of Alabama. Emily’s work is exhibited and held in collections nationally. She is an active member of the Guild of Book Workers and the College Book Art Association.
The OPEN * SET Exhibition will be on display in the Marriott Library July 31 – October.
Emily Tipps’ Design Statement:
To honor the text and the work of its author, I used the materials of his trade. Blake’s signature illuminated etchings were printed from copper plates then colored by hand; thus I selected copper etching plates to serve as the boards for my binding. Blake’s letter to his friend and benefactor highlights the nitty-gritty challenges to pragmatic productivity and references the inner workings of the artist. While recognizing its rhetorical flourishes, I was impressed by the letter’s transparency, so I elected to leave the spine of the book exposed. For the endsheets, I isolated details from some of Blake’s prints, enlarged them, and printed them on a large-format Epson printer. I wanted to use Blake’s imagery, but reframe and abstract it, calling attention to his color pallet and turning his artworks into something more akin to traditional decorated endsheets. I wanted to invite visual interest and abstraction into the treatment of the cover as well. The patina copper accrues evokes a sense of time–history embodied in the chemical reactions taking place on the surface. Blake is a giant of book and art history; adding patina to the cover (via a concentrated Miracle Gro solution) was an allusion to the temporal space between us. The titling on the cover is set in an outlined rendering of Bodoni (a related typeface to that in which the book is set), and is integrated into its surface as an etched title would be, although (since I am not an engraver, and this is a 21st century book) in a different manner: I produced vinyl letters from an Indesign file, and used them as a resist during the patina-building process. I ground slots in the copper with a Dremel tool and finished the boards by beveling the edges like printing plates and sanding them for handle-ability. Ultimately, the binding’s visual and surface texture is intimate and whimsical, qualities befitting the letter’s content.