Hiram College

In recent weeks, the contemporary media class has been exploring bookmaking.  This goes hand in hand with the gallery show going on until the 25th of February, Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books II.  There are books featured by artists around the world right here in Hiram, Ohio.In class, students were asked to create a western codex of their choice.  By the time the due date had arrived, there were so many beautiful books expressing personal interests, ideas, and opinions.  One of the artist books that stood out to me was senior, Loretta Ford’s book, Vascular Systems. Below are details of Loretta’s process, challenges, and ideas going that occurred while making her western codex.

Q: First, tell us a little info about yourself…

I am a senior Biology major and an Art minor. I would have been a double major, but I didn’t have time to fit in the credits for the Art major. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in art. From a young age I tended towards carrying a sketchbook around, especially on long trips. My dad is artistically inclined, so I imagine that’s initially where my interest came from. 

Q: Tell me a little about your book? What themes were you playing with?

My Western Codex is titled Vascular Systems, which basically means ‘to be composed of tubes to transport fluids.’ Most organisms deal with this concept in one way or another, so I toyed around with the idea of plant and animal tissue. The book gives rise to circulatory imagery (including blood vessels, hearts, and lungs), as well as flowering/fruiting
plant material. 

Q: Process…is there a certain process that you had while making your book?

The process for each page of the book was different. A couple of them were simple pencil and paint work. A couple others were just extracted from biology class notes. One page that nicely surprised me was the second to last with the fruit on it. I used glue to draw small pieces of fruit, spread green tissue paper over it, and let it dry. Then I tore off the tissue paper that wasn’t glued down and outlined the remaining shapes with a black micron pen so they would look more like grapes, apples, etc.

Q: Did the book show going on in the gallery influence you at all while making your book? 

 It was nice to compare and contrast my book with the ones in the gallery show, but mine wasn’t particularly influenced by any of them. 

Q:  Do you have a favorite page in your book?

My favorite page would have to be the one with little lungs and hearts floating about the paper bag background. I cut out pairs of lung-shaped paper and painted hearts in between them. The way the matte medium plays with the paper bag adds extra oomph and I think the color scheme works pretty well. 

Q: Were there any challenges you faced while making the book?

My biggest challenge was probably the final stage: sewing the border around the cover. Sewing through canvas, cardboard, and the matte medium between the two by hand was difficult – my fingers were a bit swollen the next day. I also stabbed myself a decent amount and bent one of my needles beyond repair. It was an adventure.

Q: Do you have any online portfolios where we can view more of your work?

 This was my first and so far only Western Codex – I generally consider myself an illustrator. Some of my other work can be seen in my online portfolio at www.behance.net/fordlr