Plain WordsSeptember 26, 2012
It’s been a busy summer, and now I’m catching up with blogging ahead of some fast-approaching events at the start of term.
A few Saturdays ago I attended Book Artist Nancy Campbell‘s amazing workshop on altered books. We discussed a range of techniques, including blacking and cutting out sections before Nancy gave us each an old Pelican on which to experiment.
I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Sir Ernest Gowers’s The Complete Plain Words. After experimenting with watercolour pencils, I moved on to Sharpie pens. Of course, as a librarian, I know that these will eat the paper quickly, but the book was already pretty acid-damaged, and really it works as a series of images – lots of smaller pictures made from the pages of the book, rather than one piece made out of the book.
Some of the other participants used the exercise to find their own narrative or poems, using the restricted vocabulary of the words on the page. The Poetry School, who organised the event, has posted some of them on their facebook page.
As someone who has an academic interest in artists’ books, it was a great experience to see a couple of the basic techniques that are used. Although I will never be an artist myself, I have a different sort of appreciation of works like Humument as a result of the workshop.
If you would like to take part in an altered books workshop with Nancy, the next one is taking place at UCL on Saturday 6 October, as part of our Red Room series of events (of which more in a later post). Booking details here.
1. Plain Words. The idea is now as good as dead – Anne Welsh.
2. Sir Ernest Gowers. The Complete Plain Words. London: Penguin, 1969.
3. Plain Words. do not question – Anne Welsh. Photo by Nancy Campbell.