Monday, August 19, 2013

Handmade Books

Above, eight double-page openings from one of many handmade books James Castle conceived and constructed out of household scraps and other found materials. A cigarette package transformed itself into the book's cover. Castle, who could not read, represented blocks of text on inside pages with wavy lines.

Even though he did not put words together, James Castle frequently made crisp, exact copies of individual letters, alphabets, slogans and headlines. The lettering, like the drawings, was executed with a sharpened stick using an ink recipe the artist invented for himself by combining soot and spit. (Example immediately above lettered on top of partial pages from a pre-existing illustrated recipe book. Examples immediately below suggest the layout and contents of family photo albums.)

Three images below represent a tall narrow book with "GARBARDINE" on its cover. Inside, the two-panel pages mimic images appropriated from print advertising.

A shaft of light running down the angles of an attic ceiling and wall could appear both in a handmade book and as a stand-alone drawing. In transposing the scene from vertical to horizontal (or vice versa), James Castle reconceived it just enough to fit each with utmost dramatic intensity inside its paper-space.