Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Journey Continues

The landscape woodblock prints are clues as to the sort of landscape a traveler might encounter.  They are not too specific as this travel book is meant to be vague, with hints and suggestions to finding the right way to traverse the Silk Road, as well as the once carefully guarded information about silk itself, which inspired travel throughout the ages.  This travel book, which is made with simple materials (in this ecological and economical strained time I decided to use whatever I had on hand, making what I had to work with fit the qualities of this book and be reflective of a time where using what you have is important, rather than having a plan and ordering everything needed to meet the requirements, I have made the ideas meet with the materials.) , is written with coded marks, letters and numbers which refer to a book which contains the answers, the details, the references to many wonderful things.  All of these marvelous notions, ideas, experiences and advise has been preserved in a comprehensive "Code Book for the Secrets of the Silk Road". This referencial 'code' book, although fictional, is meant to stand for the rich tradition of cultural trade along the Silk Road and other trade routes, where people exchanged information, ideas, destinations, dreams, music and poetry, for the connections that travelers make and incidental information and life preserving knowledge, that may provide a fine measure of valuable insight to the wonder of cultural exchange.  The booksellers' street Al-Mutanabbi, in Baghdad is such a place.

I began with Arches printmaking paper, and thought that if I could, make a format using the dimensions of this generous 22" x 30"'s.  At first I thought folding it in half would be a generous book, it was too much, the book I had in mind would be carried on the rugged road, it needed to be sturdy.  I also have in mind that it should have many facets of the journey, how to get from 'a' to 'b' as well as 'how is silk made',  ' what kind of camel',  'would a horse be better',  'how to tell directions' and many questions that the traveler might have.  As a visual artist, I thought it would be best to have some idea of what the terrain might look like and so the six block prints were made.  I had ordered some lovely paper, without a plan, and it was just perfect for this project.  Light weight, and in a variety of colors, so that each image could be a unique color.  The colors are soft and do not really show well in this format, but they were very nice to work with an each enhance the image.
I made two stamps, one of the silk moth (Bombyx mori) and it's catapillar's favourite food, the leaf of the mulberry tree (morus).  These are done in a style which is found in the art of paper cutting/cut outs, found in rural China.  The sky and ground are painted in watercolor with an acrylic glaze which follows to tops of the mountains/dunes with the gritty addition of crushed garnet, for the feeling of sand and it also allows for a good grip on the book (not intended, but it is there).  There is a moon in the sky, to count the days.

The interior is reflective of the accordion folded form.  The arches refer to the astrological sky found in the 15th century book, the Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry.  as well as the entry portal in many mideaval churches which display the zodiac.

The landscapes are folded, each with a cover that helps them to stand as a small screen.
The entire journey from Changan to Baghdad can be placed end to end.

I am so glad that you can follow along this historic journey with me.  I will show the progress of the many small books, rubbings and construction which fill the rest of the pockets in this travel journal in the next post.

Until then---


  1. Amazing work! I love the watercolor sky and your block prints are so crisp with detail.

    1. Thank you Susan. I am hoping to post the finale to this project very soon, hope you'll continue to follow along!