I started by unbinding the book, the two small staples tossed into the trash with a freeing gesture of joy at finally getting started, the loose eight pages suddenly feel less intimidating, and I am excited for their journey toward their final completed identities.
I planned to used a liquid photo-emulsion to print photographs directly onto the page, and much thought was spent addressing the layout of the book. I needed to establish where the photographs would be, where the emulsion would need to be placed, which pages were reserved for drawings, etc. The liquid emulsion I used was called "Ag-Plus High Speed Emulsion", and heating was required to liquify it before painting. I set up the painting station in my dark room, with a hot water bath for the emulsion, and progressed to apply the emulsion onto several pages from the sketchbook. The painted pages were left to dry in the dark, and once several layers of the emulsion were applied, the prepped pages were stored in a light tight bag, or loaded into a pinhole camera to await exposure.
The pinhole process was less than satisfactory. I always say, if one feels like a pro', "hot-shot" photographer, just shoot some pinholes to restore one's humility; the process is unpredictable, and results are often unexpected. My issue with the process was that the combination of the pinhole camera making a soft focused image with the soft print quality of the liquid emulsion, created images that were just too blurry to be distinguishable.
I also had issues with the chemistry of the emulsion, getting strange results due to the way the emulsion was pulled between the two leafs. I needed to repeat my processes many times, using a heavier weight paper, and painting the emulsion and exposing the two pages together, yet drying and processing the two pages separately.
Shooting photographs with the theme in mind, (Long Road Trips and Short Phone Calls) I also made prints using the traditional enlarger. Having discovered some vintage negatives, I included images of my paternal grandmother. This image was one of the first successes with the medium.
I continued prepping pages, and shooting photographs, and experimenting with the photo-emulsion and all the ways I could make marks. I used a camera-less procedure, creating photograms with the film and other objects. I was painting and drawing with more traditional mediums when not using the photographic modes, and always thinking of alternative ideas for the project. I would draw over processed photographic images, cutting, and collaging the pages and images together, weaving a visual tapestry.
Eventually, I amassed a pile of completed pages, some successes, some failures, but together they were layered and interwoven with the various techniques I'd used. The messy group felt very disheveled and unorganized, and I was unsure of my feelings about what I'd created, but I was committed to finishing the project. (After meeting Shane, from Art House, in Denver at the Million Little Pictures; Photo-Mobile exhibition, I was shocked to learn that the majority of entries are never returned!!??)
I had four sections, or gatherings, of the individual pages, each containing four leafs. I included one extra section made up of only one photograph, a pinhole image printed on resin coated photo paper. The strange quality of this middle page, seemed to bring the chaos of the other pages together, and being an actual photograph, it is a signature of sorts, a nod to the camera, the machine, I use in my art making. In the end, I included many of the 'failures', as a testament to my process, and really, a sketchbook is a place to experiment, and I wanted to show all the images I had created.
The following post will explain the binding process.