Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Secrets of the Silk Road Decoder Book

Thank you all for your patience.  I am glad to be sending the information on the completion of the 'Secrets of the Silk Road Traveler's Guide.  After seeing the call for Artists to replace a book which was destroyed in a disastrous car bombing ,I started thinking about the exchange of culture, and how it happens.
I had chosen the silk road a way to remind us about how these exchanges work and how it enriches all who make contact. This was a nice long term project to work on, and in spite of all the wonderful things that I imagined I could continue to make --- there is a deadline and I had to pull in the ever expanding creative reins and bring this book and the journey to a happy conclusion. 
In the photo above is my version of an early Chinese compass.  There is evidence that the first compasses were ceramic bowls which were meant to be filled with water and then, upon which, a small metal fish is floated and which, because of its encounter with a load stone will point to the north.  
 You might notice that there are no instructions or information with these items. 

This is another booklet with two kinds of camel, one for desert and one for mountain, and marked with letters, these correspond with a separate, better to keep a secret with,  decoder book, the description in the code book would inform you as to which camel would be better for mountain travel and which will stand up to the rigors of the desert.
Each landscape woodcut has a corresponding map, also in code.  Cities, mountain ranges and rivers are marked with letters or numbers which refers to helpful travel tips, caravansaries, and trade.  Cultural and historical information will also be found in the Traveler's Guide Decoder Book.

All of the components are in place.   I used all sorts of paper, acrylic paints, traditional oil based woodblock printing inks, embroidery thread, watercolor paint, rubber stamps, hand cut stamps, iridescent paints, recycled prints and collage materials.  I wanted to use what I had already on hand, just as if I could only use what was locally available, or from re-purposed items.  I wanted it to have a rustic look, as if it came from a remote place where you would have to use what you have on hand.  I had a treasury of printmaking papers!  The sizes and shapes were dictated by the equal division of each page so that there were no left overs, or scraps of paper, everything went together so well !

And what of the Decoder Book? 

 As of March 5th 2007 the Availability of the Decoder Book is unknown.

And now for a journey of their own.  These 'Secrets of the Silk Road Traveler's Guides' will appear in many exhibits and hopefully help to make a statement that an attack on culture diminishes all of humankind.

Two of the twelve books (total in the edition) will be auctioned for charity and the third will keep company with the other artists' books at the National Library in Iraq.

This has been a wonderful experience, a journey of my own as well,  as I turned sixty years old while making this traveler's guide, momentous year,  and gratefully, have learned quite a bit along the way, I will celebrate that and look forward to many more adventurous endeavors. 


  1. What a wonderful project and enormous amount of work. I would love to see it in person. Congratulations on a job well done.

  2. What a fascinating and beautiful book!