Blue Bluer News, 8/23/15

Folks, it's been quite a year. In the interest of being able to post something without writing a novel, how about some photos & bullet points?

Renaissance: A Book Arts Exhibition, featuring work by members of three groups: Triangle Book Arts, the Book & Print Arts Collective from Asheville, NC, and The Open Press from Chattanooga, TN. On view at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill until Sept. 6th.

Renaissance: A Book Arts Exhibition, featuring work by members of three groups: Triangle Book Arts, the Book & Print Arts Collective from Asheville, NC, and The Open Press from Chattanooga, TN. On view at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill until Sept. 6th.

  • Our local book arts group, Triangle Book Arts, has been taking part in an exciting traveling exhibition this year in collaboration with two similar groups: Book and Print Arts Collective from Asheville, NC, and The Open Press in Chattanooga, TN. The exhibition is called Renaissance, featuring work created with that theme in mind. The exhibition showed first in the gallery at Asheville BookWorks early in 2015, moved to the 4th floor gallery of the Chattanooga Public Library, and is now showing at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC, until Sept. 6th. Hope you'll  get a chance to see it!
  • Just as the Renaissance show is wrapping up at FRANK Gallery, a College Book Art Association exhibition will be opening at the John & June Allcott Gallery at UNC-Chapel Hill. Southern Exposure: Academic Book Arts in the New Millennium will be up from Sept. 3rd through Oct. 2nd, and features work by CBAA members from institutions in the Southeast region. I'm very pleased that one of the books from my I Ching series, I Ching #3: 'Difficulty,' was selected to be in the exhibition. Join us for the opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 3rd from 6-8 pm.
  • You may notice that this blog is now part of a new and improved Blue Bluer Books website. We're still making tweaks like adding a shop and adding information about new (and older) work, but the overall look-and-feel is there. I'll share with more fanfare when the final additions are made. Special thanks to Rebekah Miel of Miel Design Studio for her ongoing work on it. 
  • And finally, speaking of new work, it's been a productive 2015 in that regard, too. Below are some images of a new one-of-a-kind artist's book I created specifically for the Renaissance show, titled reNascent, and a new editioned artist's book based on an old poem of mine, called heart sutra, remix (cassette edition)

Enjoy, and more soon.

P.S. For a peek behind the scenes at what's inspiring me from day to day and studio work in-progress, please check out Blue Bluer Books on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sacred | Profane exhibition opening in Portland, Friday, 11/7

I Ching #3: 'Difficulty', showing now in the Sacred | Profane exhibition at 23 Sandy Gallery

The Sacred | Profane exhibition officially opens  at 23 Sandy Gallery on Friday evening. I Ching #3: 'Difficulty' is in the show, from my ongoing series of books inspired by the I Ching, as well as Ippy Patterson's Escape from Eden, for which I did the binding. I'm so pleased to be involved with the gallery for the first time, and especially proud after seeing the catalog of other work in the show.

Press release details are below, including a link to the full catalog of the show available for browsing and/or purchase. 


November 7 - December 20, 2014

SACRED | PROFANE is a juried exhibition of book art focusing on religion and spirituality. For this show we sought out works that take a stand or cross the line between the sacred and the profane, the dichotomy of often-polarizing points of view.

This exhibition features 57 books by 52 artists on topics such as: ritual and ceremony, creation and evolution, myth and memory, heaven and earth, superstition and scholarship, sacred and secular, rites and symbols, traditional and modern, occult and omnipresence, agnostic and atheistic, west and east.

As we all know, religion has a close relationship to books and texts. The Bible, the Quran, the Torah, Buddhist sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dao Dejing, along with many others, are all books deeply religious. With this exhibition, book artists had a chance to explore their own relationships to and rejections of religion and spirituality through the creation of their own sacred and profane artist books.

This exhibit features book and paper arts related works including limited edition and one-of-a-kind artist books, sculptural books, altered books and broadsides by the following artists:  Islam Aly, Tania Baban, Alicia Bailey, Kate Barber, Anita Bigelow, Louise Cabeen, Clare Carpenter (with Ingrid Kincaid), M. Bernadette Castor, Gatis Cirulis, Robin Cushman, Carol DuBosch, Emily Dyer, Mari Eckstein Gower, Arini Esarey, Jerrol Eshleman, Walter Feldman, Cari Ferraro, Diane Fine (with Mario Laplante), Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, Vicki Gerton, J. Mar Goman, Francine Goodfriend, Patricia Grass, Stewart Harvey, Josh Hockensmith, Shireen Holman, Arlyn Johnson, Jared Joseph, Paula Jull, Naomi Kasumi, Dorothy Krause, Carrie Larson, Julie Leonard, Mary Jeanne Linford, Rachel Livedalen, Susan Lowdermilk (with Denis Keough), Marvel Maring, Sarah McCoy, Erin Mickelson, Chandler O’Leary (with Jessica Spring), Ippy Patterson, Meryl Perloff, Francesca Phillips, Linda Piacentini-Yaple, Katya Reka, J. Anna Rich, Lynn Skordal, Bessie Smith Moulton, M. L. Van Nice, Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Candy Wooding, Philip Zimmermann.

SACRED | PROFANE was juried by Jim Carmin, who has directed the operations of the John Wilson Special Collections at Multnomah County Library since 1998. Prior to that he was an art librarian at the University of Oregon and sold books, rare and otherwise, at Powell's City of Books in Portland. He has a Bachelor's in studio art and Masters in Library Science from Ball State University, a Masters in Art History from the University of Oregon, and has attended Rare Books School at the University of Virginia with classes in bindings and typography. Related interests include reviewing contemporary fiction for The Oregonian and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune; letterpress printing and bookbinding; and curating exhibitions in literary and book arts. This summer he'll be teaching a course on Medieval manuscripts and early printed books at Portland State University.

A full online catalog for SACRED | PROFANE can be found at:

Exhibition Title: SACRED | PROFANE
Exhibition Dates: November 7 - December 20, 2014
Artists Reception: Friday, November 7, 2014, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Location: 23 Sandy Gallery, 623 NE 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97232

Ippy Patterson's Escape from Eden, also showing at 23 Sandy Gallery

Sin (a new found poem)

A couple of months ago, Chuck Cave -- a book artist who had recently relocated to the area -- asked if I'd like to collaborate on a book with him for an upcoming show in Lithuania that he had been invited to participate in. Even though we hadn't (still haven't) known each other long, it was pretty obvious that we share some fundamental aesthetic ideas and approaches. We both like to invite chance into our work, and humor.

The result is a book we're calling Verso. We'll have more to share about it soon, but in the meantime here's a part of it in progress. Each copy in the edition will come with a unique 'errata' sheet that we create by altering a folded map page from a large atlas.

Today I've been working on my contribution to the first errata sheet, which will accompany the copy of the book we send for the show.

This page is inspired equally by Tom Phillips's classic A Humument, by Austin Kleon's black-out poetry, and by another of my all-time favorite bookworks, La Prose du Transsiberien... by Sonia Delaunay and Blaise Cendrars.

Below is the poem as I read it. If you read the poem on the image above, you might put the words in a different order depending on how you map out their relationships on the altered page...


Sin is vast. deserts and high mountains, lightly
rim the province

Perhaps China is overworked.

Sin comprises one-sixth
lows have been recorded.
is 505 feet below

the annual
Sin is
melons, seedless,
renowned throughout China.
Sin is isolated by
sheer distance, for centuries a
major means of contact with the rest of the world.

provincial, devoid, bare,
drought, scrub,
desert, Dry,
dead.  Nevertheless,
life exists

oases, great fertility.

oases are populated by people.
they have built intricate systems
in which various


Northern Sin, comprised of
10 inches of
large numbers of


The base has
been enlarged
near Ur

there are tanneries,
A number of mines



A significant
the linkup


Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide to Miracle-Making

Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide to Miracle-Making: A Manual (Abridged)
ed. of 100 copies, 8.5" x 5.5"
commercially printed; saddle-stapled pamphlet
$16 + $4 s/h (in the U.S.)
Please contact me for purchase information.

Doctor Mister Miracles (a.k.a. Mr. Miracles; Miracle Man) is a round little enigma in a suspiciously familiar hat which shall not be named for fear of prosecution. He shows up periodically to embody my own and readers' inchoate ambitions and devilishly mischievous tendencies. He has trampled cities, journeyed to the afterlife and back, delivered a commencement address that he borrowed from a more famous author (with the author's generous permission), and rescued a clinically dead river through his avatars on Earth.

In Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide to Miracle-Making, he partially interprets a Chinese text into Enochian, the language of the angels discovered in the 17th century by English naturalist/miraclist, John Dee. I've partially translated the Enochian in turn (with the benefit of no knowledge of the language) into English.

I created the original edition by disassembling five old acupuncture manuals, altering the pages, and then reassembling them into five copies of a transformed book. This larger edition consists of my favorite version of each page, scanned and then commercially printed by a local printshop in Chapel Hill, NC.

Currently available for sale from the artist, at the Bull's Head Bookshop at UNC-Chapel Hill, and at Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC.

Surf book #3: Get Barrelled!

Surf book #3: Get Barrelled! 
ed. of 20 copies, 8.5" x 5.5"
tape transfer collage, digitally printed; saddle-stitched pamphlet
$20 + $4 s/h (in the U.S.)
Please contact me for purchase information.

Surfing and surf culture have enthralled me since my early, landlocked teens. My brother and I were avid bodyboarders until his young death by cancer in 1994. Since then I've spent less time in the water, but the lure is still there, and the visual magic of surf magazines still affects me like nothing else.

Surf book #3 is a visual poem composed of material from Surfer and Surfing magazines. Using packing tape, I pulled imagery from their pages, and used it to create an 18-page narrative collage. The collage samples from the full spectrum of surfing's visual culture, ranging from idyllic Nature imagery to baser, plastic consumerism and sexual objectification.

The interior contents of all 20 copies is the same digitally reproduced collage. Each copy has a unique cover created out of pages or covers of surf magazines, altered with drawings and text.

If you're interested in purchasing a copy and would like to pick your own cover, please contact me and I'll send photos/scans of the available copies.


Return to Ippy Patterson's Eden

Title page spread from Ippy Patterson's
Escape from Eden
Some years ago now, a magical opportunity fell into my bookbinding lap. Poet/friend/general facilitator of magical opportunities Jeffery Beam and I had just worked together on a small handbound run of his book, Visions of Dame Kind. When Jeffery learned that his friend and neighbor Ippy Patterson was interested in creating a book out of her recent drawings, Escape from Eden, he put her in touch with me.

You can see from the photos why I was in, immediately. Ippy's rapidograph drawings are stunning, and the visual narrative is perfect for the accordion book format.

We made the first copies of the edition in 2005 (9 or 10 copies, I believe, out of a planned edition of 20), and then took a breather as they made their way into the world. I'm thrilled to be working on a fresh round of copies for some new shows and events that Ippy has coming up later in the year.

An interior page spread from Escape from Eden, by Ippy Patterson

As impressive as the drawings are from page to page, they're even more so when you spread the accordion to its full 10' length.

Escape from Eden, open, by Ippy Patterson

The opposite side of the accordion features a poem that resonates with Ippy's drawing: "Paradise," by Keith Waldrop.

In the first round of binding, we created copies with three different bindings: a beige/gold, a rusty brown, and a burgundy. For the next couple of copies we are sticking to one color: Canapetta's natural cotton/linen bookcloth.

As much as I enjoy making artists' books with my own content, this project is a reminder that sometimes the greater joy is creating a book whose primary purpose is to support and showcase someone else's work, while I slip into the background.

Final page spread from Escape from Eden, by Ippy Patterson.

Opening reception this Sunday afternoon, April 6th, 2:00-4:00

Looks like tomorrow's not going to be quite as beautiful a spring day as today was, but still a great afternoon to come out from hibernation to Pittsboro First Sunday. Lisa Gilbert and I will be at Liquidambar to celebrate the opening of our two-month, two-person show of artists' books and handmade blank books. 

Here's a little preview of a new book that I'll be showing there: I Ching #3: "Difficulty" 

(Please pardon the shadow stripes. This is the best I've been able to edit them out, and can't re-shoot the books because they're currently at the gallery. I'll re-shoot as soon as I have the next copy finished.)

This is the second book I've completed in the I Ching series. Like I Ching #64: "Unfinished," this one is also based on a sumi-e original that I then scanned and made archival inkjet prints of. The covers of each copy are decorated with unique burn and smoke marks, as well as some work done with a soldering iron. It will be an open edition.

Also debuting at the show will be the commercially printed edition of Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide to Miracle-Making: A Manual (Abridged).

Hope you can join us at the reception! If not, though, the show will be up until May 25th so there's plenty of time. You'll even have a chance to join us for another reception at the next First Sunday on the afternoon of May 4th. 

Upcoming show in Pittsboro! Opening reception on Sunday, April 6th

I Ching #64: 'Unfinished'
After an unusually wintry winter here in North Carolina, today the air had a distinct smell of green to it. Not the green beer of St. Patrick's Day (although there may still be a whiff of that around), and not yet the visible yellow-green tinge of pine pollen in the air. Just the first, barely noticeable taste of Spring. And the much more noticeable increase in temperature to 70 degrees.

With Spring this year has come an exciting opportunity. My work and Lisa Gilbert's work will be featured in a wonderful little gallery in downtown Pittsboro called Liquidambar. Here are details:

  • Where: Liquidambar Gallery and Gifts, 80 Hillsboro St., Pittsboro, NC
  • When: The opening reception will be part of Pittsboro's First Sunday celebration on Sunday, April 6th, from 2-4 p.m. 
  • When else: The show will be up for a nice, long, two-month run from Sunday, April 6th through Sunday, May 25th.
  • When else else: There will be another reception on the First Sunday in May, too.  Sunday, May 4th, from 2-4 p.m.

I'll be showing a mix of work--old and new, artists' books and handmade blank books of different kinds. Depending on space constraints, the giant Book of Mister Miracles may make another appearance, along with his smaller cousin Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide to Miracle-Making: A Manual (Abridged).

2 copies from the 5-copy original edition of Doctor Mister Miracles's Guide
 to Miracle-Making: A Manual (Abridged)

I've also just had a larger edition of DMM'sGtM-M:AM(A) printed, which I'll be picking up from the printshop tomorrow. It consists of scans of my favorite version of each page from the original edition compiled into a new version and digitally printed. It's my first foray into publishing a larger edition (100 copies) that's neither print-on-demand nor an open-ended edition of handmade copies, and I'm excited to see how it goes.

There will be copies of Surf Book #3 at Liquidambar, too, as well as copies of I Ching #64: 'Unfinished.'

I Ching #64: 'Unfinished', open

There's other new work in the works, but it's not quite ready to be photographed yet. A scroll inspired by the flooding Haw River, painted using water from the river itself; and a new book in the I Ching series: I Ching #3: 'Difficulty.'  

I'll see if we can't post some photos of the newer work before the show opens, but if we don't, I hope you'll come out to Liquidambar and be surprised.

Mr. Miracles begins...

When you haven't heard from me in a while, you can assume I've been busy in the studio...

The past couple of weekends have been big for the Mister Miracles giant book project! (Click here for a reminder of what the project's all about and to see what the empty giant book looks like...)  Last weekend Rio did a 24-hour-long drawing blitz to create panels for it, and this weekend I've been putting together the large panels for the front of the book.

Have to get back in the studio to continue working on it, but here are some teaser photos of the first panel, which will be the book's title page!

Surf Book #3 (Get Barrelled): Cover #4

The original image for this cover was pretty perfect just as it was, torn out of an issue of Surfer magazine. But I couldn't just steal it without altering it somehow. Okay, sure I could--it's all blatant appropriation, anyway. So rather than try to 'improve' on the image or expand upon the story it tells, why not give credit where credit is due with these portraits of the tools of the appropriation trade...

Front cover:

Back cover:

And the full, open spread:

Surf Book #3 (Get barrelled)

A month of opportunities. In July I took a class with Maureen Cummins, who was teaching at ArtSpace in Raleigh. And last week I was at California Rare Book School taking a course on artists' books with Johanna Drucker. Either opportunity would've been enough to provide material to chew on for a year at least--to have them back-to-back as they were was overwhelming in the best of possible ways.

Maureen's class met four times, each Tuesday evening of July. The idea was that each student would create a small edition of an artist's book from conception to finish over the course of the month. I decided to continue a series I started with last year's Surf book #1/#2. Instead of a one-of-a-kind book this time, I produced 20 copies of an 18-page visual poem made up of collaged photos from surf magazines. It's called, creatively enough, Surf book #3 (Get barrelled). No text--just images I created by tearing photos out of surf magazines using a piece of packing tape.

Once I'd created and scanned the collages, I had the pages printed from PDF at Kinko's on a color laser printer/copier. Here's what the original cover looked like:

A title strip copied from the internal collage, glued onto the cover paper provided in class. Compared to the cut-up collages inside the book, which sample from the best and worst of surfing's visual culture, it was staid and out of character.

So now all the copies have been disbound and I'm creating new covers for them--a unique cover for each copy of the book. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be showing you the new covers, which I'm creating by altering pages torn straight out of surf magazines. A little graffiti, a little palimpsest, a little found poetry. Let me know what you think.

Here's today's cover, which graces copy #8 of 20. Front cover: 

Back cover:

And seen as a spread:


And here's a bit of found poetry I dug out of the advertisement on the back cover:

What is the future

What is the future
What is the future
we believe it is choice. The introduction of new 
shapes and tools means more choice
pintail, swallowtail, 
fiber, etc. All of these shapes, materials and technologies are relevant
Not all 
are created equal and neither are all
constantly testing
to give you the best
It is our job to not only supply our
products, but also
to make the right choice. Consumers deserve 
materials and
we are making the commitment to
you.  As the customer, you deserve

The (Blank) Book of Mr. Miracles

We're starting to get some ideas about what Mr. Miracles will do to change the world. For example, it has been suggested that he creates The Infinite Ham Sandwich which he then donates to a food bank; that he enables people to select produce that is always of the perfect ripeness; and that he will be responsible for something called The Miracle of the Unmurdered Children.

Before you start to feel giddy with a sense that we have enough material, though, let me assure you that we're going to need more. Because, this... the book we need to fill. Oh, and this:

The Book of Mister Miracles is going to fill this hinged, room-dividing screen, which is six feet tall and six feet wide (when fully opened).

The front of the book (seen in the top photo), consists of four large, blank panels that will be filled with one continuous piece illustrating Mr. Miracles' interventions in the world. Think "Hieronymus Bosch meets Looney Tunes." The back of the screen is divided into small, comic-book-like panels:

It will feature episodes from Mr. Miracles' adventures in comic format. If you're counting, there are 336 panels on the back.

So yes, continue to send us your stories and ideas! They don't have to be detailed or fleshed out--part of the fun of it for us will be filling the gaps in what you tell us. And we will keep sharing what we get from you.

Feel free to send us your input any way you like--in the comments below, by contacting me or Rio directly, or by emailing us jointly at


Mr. Miracles prompts

As you help us to get the ball rolling on what Mr. Miracles can do in the future, it would probably be helpful to know a little bit about what he's done in the past.

I've made several books and collages about Mr. Miracles (originally known as Miracle Man) over the past 15 years or so. They've been ephemeral little things like booklets of altered postcards and drawings on white styrofoam cups. Mr. Miracles' first act was to stomp on a city, Godzilla-style, but that was in his moody adolescence. He has matured, reformed, and dedicated himself to doing good in the world (although he still has his mischievous side...)

I don't have many images of Mr. Miracles' past acts to share with you because they were mostly given away to friends, but below is a collage showing the beginning of one of his frequent explorations of the afterlife. He's the guy on the bottom left in the walrus mask--he looks a little different than usual because he's in disguise.

So keep all of this in mind as you help us to brainstorm about Mr. Miracles' life and times.

See the original blog post for more ideas. Please send us your input either in the comments, or by emailing us at mistermiraclesproject at gmail dot com.

Thanks for the ideas so far, we look forward to hearing more from you, and will share more soon!

Help us with our next project: Mr. Miracles

We've got many projects a-brewin' here at Blue Bluer Books, and there's one in particular that we need your help with.

I'm working with Rio Aubry Taylor of Light Riot to create a large-scale, one-of-a-kind artist's book for a group show in December. We're soliciting your help in developing the content for it.

The book will feature a character named Mr. Miracles, who is capable of whatever you tell us he is capable of. We will gather your stories into a crowd-sourced mythology or hagiography, recounting how the life and adventures of Mr. Miracles changes the world as we know it.

So tell us...

  • What can Mr. Miracles do? 
  • Who are his friends, supporters, and antagonists? 
  • What are the titles of some of his most famous adventures, achievements, or parables? 
You don't have to go into great detail--we'll work from what you give us. Most importantly, tell us, if a little egg-shaped man with stick-figure arms and legs and a funny hat were to waltz into the world with the power to change it, what would change look like?

You can drop us your ideas in the comments below, or by emailing us at mistermiraclesproject at gmail dot com.

New from the studio! I Ching #64 ("Unfinished")

Over the weekend I put the finishing touches on the first 5 copies of a new edition.  Combine that with the tricks we recently learned in a workshop about photographing your work, and I have some photos to share!

If this guy looks familiar, that's because it has been in progress for a while and we've popped some photos of it into the last couple of posts.  It's the first in what will be a series of small accordion books inspired by entries in the Chinese wisdom book, the I Ching.

This one is based on the 64th and final entry in the I Ching, which is usually interpreted as "Unfinished," or "Not yet completed."  I created the original copy as a sumi-e ink painting.  The edition shown here is produced digitally from a scan of the original, inkjet-printed on an Epson R2200 photo printer.  I couldn't be more pleased with the printed results--in fact, in some ways I prefer the printed version over the painted one because the contrast of the blacks and greys is more pronounced.

Since the theme of this one is "Not yet completed," I guess it's appropriate that when I finished the printing and binding of the first 5 copies, I was unsatisfied.  The plain sumi-e look wasn't quite right for it.  I started to do some more reading about the symbolism of entry #64.  As soon as I re-read that it was composed of the two symbols for Fire over Water, the light bulb turned on.  There was already water in the sumi-e ink for the painting.  It was time to burn.

Like with my last book, stitching speechless, I decided to invite chance and fire into the studio.  With a combination of incense stick and matches--lots and lots of matches--I added smoke and burning effects to the paper.  The effects are surprisingly different from the burning we did on stitching speechless.  The paper we used for that project was a mulberry paper that burned very easily.  It was all I could do to make some marks on the page without completely destroying it.  In contrast, the paper for this book--a digital inkjet paper called Moab--reacted very slowly to fire or heat.  The result is smaller, subtler burn marks, as well as some smoke effects whose fluid-like look I love.


For now I'm considering this an open, unlimited edition since I am printing it digitally and producing it all myself.  It's available for sale directly (contact me through the Blue Bluer Books website), or will soon be on the road with Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

And keep an eye out for new books in the series soon!