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Altered Book Journal Round Robin Ends

November 21, 2009

Wrap up of the Altered Book Journal Round Robin of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective.

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Above: Some of the finished Altered Book Journals in this project. Not all of the members could be in attendance for the wrap up but the following books were started by (starting top left and going clockwise) Karen Wallach (Day of the Dead cover), Briana Goetzen (Book of Hours), Theresa Petermann (Bird eggs), Molly Anthony (blue journal), Roz Stendahl (Pigeon with Chicken Inset), Ann Ziebarth (Meditations), Clare Farrell (Songbook for Teenagers), and (center front) Lynn Fisher (purple and black book). Karen Wallach is a fabric artist and as part of her participation she made journal bags for each of the books when she had them for internal alteration. The books are shown resting on their bags, all of varying design and made with scraps from her fabric stash.

At Monday's meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective we also celebrated the conclusion of the Altered Book Journal Round Robin. The group project began in the fall of 2008 with about 12 people. There was a period of settling out and a couple people dropped out of the project, though their books continued to circulate for a few months among the other members! We finished the project with 10 participants.

The goal was that at each meeting of the Collective people would bring the book they had been working on and exchange it by passing it on to the next person on the list, always the same person, and same order. This didn't quite work out as planned and for awhile there were several orphaned books traveling together. I was never able to get a clear accounting of which person had which book as people unable to attend meetings often sent books on in the middle of a month, and were then without any book at all. But the happy news is that we didn't lose any books in transit through the mail or in exchange at the meetings! The even happier news is that each book has been altered in interesting ways by the participants following a suggested theme by the book's originator.

It was a fun project and I encourage you to organize a group for such a project. Set clear guidelines as to transfer and deadlines and subject matter or techniques as appropriate to your group, and then be prepared for things to take on a life of their own. Expect that some individuals will drop out because of time constraints or life events. And expect the unexpected as well—such as Karen deciding to make journal bags for all the books in this project.

    • lee
    • November 21, 2009
    Reply

    The journal bag was a great idea, and I love the look of all the books, could we have a peak into yours.

    • Jennifer
    • November 21, 2009
    Reply

    Hi Roz, I’m sorry I was unable to attend that last meeting. Too much going on; and somewhat disappointingly, many of the best pages in my book had been closed too soon, before drying, and were stuck together! So good artwork was spoiled in varying degrees. But it was a very positive, very beneficial experience, and I hope to do something like this again some day. Unfortunately, my related project at church seems unable to get off the ground — and I’ll say more about that by email. In the end, thank you so much for your time and encouragement, and for facilitating a lovely experience. Peace,
    Jen Schultz

  1. Reply

    Even after drop-outs and other problems, it looks like the project was a great success. The bags match the covers very nicely.

    • Roz
    • November 22, 2009
    Reply

    Lee, at various times I’ve posted my pages that went into other peoples’ books but I haven’t posted anyone else’s work (as I don’t have permission). But I will ask around and see if any of the participants who blog have posted their work from the project on their blog. I have to say it is all a variety of media and vastly different in approach, and all very, very cool!

    • Roz
    • November 22, 2009
    Reply

    Jennifer, you were missed at the meeting. I’m sad to hear some of your pages were stuck together. I noticed some artists using matte medium and I never have any luck with that. If that is the case, now that you have the pages pried apart, insert sheets of glassine (you can get a large sheet for about $1 at Wet Paint and cut it to size) and that will keep it from having similar problems as time goes on. Thanks for participating and filling other books with your art!

    • Roz
    • November 22, 2009
    Reply

    Timaree, I think it was universally enjoyed by the participants. And Karen has an amazing fabric stash, because yes, the bags all connected with color, style, and print to the book they contained!

    • Carolyn
    • November 22, 2009
    Reply

    What a fun project! It’s great seeing the covers of the different books. Do you remember what the suggested themes were? I’d love to do this and it would be fun to get a group going.

    • Roz
    • November 22, 2009
    Reply

    Carolyn, off the top of my head I don’t remember all the themes. My altered book journal had a theme of “feathered friends,” and Karen’s was a Day of the Dead inspired book. Molly and “lost and found,” which could include actual objects put in the book.

    Clare’s book was a teen song book from the 50s and I think everyone used music as a theme because of the pages we were working on.

    Anne’s meditation book meant that people were altering and responding to meditation quotes and images.

    One person used an old geography textbook and people responded to that text in personal ways.

    Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head because I can remember my work for them, or recently saw the books.

    Most people set some sort of connection between the book that was being altered and their theme, or in my case and Karen’s case, we heavily altered the front cover and several pages of the books we selected to then set a theme.

    (My book was an archival paper, sewn signatures murder mystery that had nothing to do with birds until I got to it!)

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