Taffy is super excited — and I mean he can hardly contain himself — about today’s blog post:
Bibs, as usual, can’t figure out what’s going on, but anywhere Taffy goes, Bibs stays close to keep an eye on him:
It’s Friday, so there must be a castle in the works! Excitement galore!!
You can see what made me want to do this one:
See that fat round tower in the center with the two smaller towers popping out of it? I have NO IDEA how to make that, but I have to try. Also, I’ve been wanting to put a castle on a cliff and this one, well, that looks like a cliff to me.
I call my castle-making Book Art, because I use pages from old books as my building material (the Art part of Book Art) and I use books as things that prop up the stuff I build (the Book part of Book Art) but in my opinion these castles would be real, grown-up Book Art if I incorporated more of the Book into the Art. As, like, the book is a structural element of the building or scene, as if the Book were an integral part of the castle.
You now know for a fact that I’m getting fancy-thinking and artistically ambitious when I haul out the subjunctive.
Practically speaking, this means cutting up the book. (Look away, Steve. This is going to get graphic and yes, actual books were harmed.)
So I took a good look at that castle on the cliff and knew that I had just the right book to cut to shreds:
It’s a good thing that books are bound with those blank pages called endpapers inside each coverso that my castle can perch on a clean, non-Nazi platform:
This was my first shot at cutting the guts out of book and I made a mess of it. But every castle-maker needs to practice a new skill, so I wasn’t too hard on myself, and it was only an old Book Club edition of The Goebbels Diaries, which we sold (to me) at the used book store for the bargain price of $1.00. I learned at lot about cutting the guts out of a book:
- Most importantly, you have to pick a book that has been aged so that the pages are really soft. You’ll be cutting 4,5,6 pages at a time, so make it easy for yourself.
- You can’t just hack away at random pages, as I did (see: photo, above). You have to pick up a set number of pages, over and over, and you have to cut as carefully as if you are cutting out a dress pattern.
- This takes time. Don’t hurry, because every hurried cut will show. Resign yourself to spending a half hour doing this incredibly boring thing, except for the end when all your scissoring will have been worth it.
- Don’t round the rectangle…don’t cut a circle out of the pages. Keep at least two corners, to retain that “book’ vibe because, otherwise, it looks like a cow pat.
Dear Reader Casey emailed me last week with a question about last week’s castle, about the open-book perch I made from an old copy of the plagiarized work of fiction called Roots:
“As I remember”, Casey wrote me, “Roots had some pretty violent content. How did you find a non-violent page in the middle of the book to leave open?”
Here’s the deal: When I use a middle-of-the-book as the platform for a castle, I can use any book for sale at the used book store regardless of its content because I never leave the original pages hanging out in the open. For last week’s castle, I cut four pages from a similarly-sized book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I glued them over the pages from Roots, so that the book appears to be an old tome of German fairy tales instead of a plagiarized American folk tale. The rest of the text that is exposed by the cuts to the corners is impossible to read, so no cover-up is necessary.
However, when I cut into The Goebbels Diaries, I did have to watch out for the odd “Reich” and “Jew” that popped out, which I cut out (Goebbles uses “Jew” a lot), but then I ditched the whole thing as a practice exercise any way so good riddance, Goebbels.
One more digression: I was sorting a donation that came in last week and came across these two YA novels (Young Adult, ages approx. 12 – 17):
That font on the left side practically screams 1972, doesn’t it? The other one, which shows two girls in a crappy bedroom with a sewing kit, is from 1977. As a rule, we toss any book published before 2000 unless it is historical fiction or a Newbury Prize winner, but I took these books home with me because of their titles. I’m tempted to start a collection of kids’ books with “Die” or “Death” in the title. Because what is life without a bit of whimsy?
I also found this in another pile of donated books:
I don’t know what to do with this letter, but I can’t throw it away.
So, where were we? Oh, right: we left me with scissors in my hand and an undated but probably 1980s era Book Club edition of Vol. I of Shakespeare’s plays. This is how that turned out:
This is its good side:
This is its bad side, as those two towers popping out of the roof of the fat tower were beastly hard to do but I’m pretending that I intended all along for it to look a bit wonky:
I always have the most fun finding bits and pieces to decorate with:
Top Cat asked me what I call this castle,and it had not occurred to me to give the castles names, but of course now that he’s put the idea into my head I am writhing with a castle-naming desire to find the best names in the universe for each construction.
My first tactic would be to steal from Paul Klee (1879 – 1940), the Swiss German artist whose highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He was the rare fine artist who was never lazy nor inconsiderate enough to call any of his art works “Untitled”.
P.S. If an artist can’t be bothered to give a title to a work of art, then I can’t be bothered to give a crap.
Paul Klee showed up for his viewers and for his art and gave his watercolors and drawings — all abstract compositions, by the way — the most wonderful titles. Here’s a sample:
A Young Lady’s Adventure
Separation in the Evening
Once Emerging From the Gray of Night
Heroic Strokes of the Bow
And my very special favorite, on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, is this:
This is called: Mural From the Temple of Longing <Thither>.
I have already stolen this title for my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, on page 50-51:
So it would be bad form to steal this same title again.
If stealing from Paul Klee doesn’t lead to a brilliant castle name, my fall-back tactic is to administer a therapeutic dose of vodka and tonic and see what pops up in my head. It takes about a pint of booze to lighten up my persnickety Capricorn habits of mind and free-associate as well as a Swiss-German surrealist.
To tell the truth, my mind is very scattered these days. I have a sick kitty, and that wrecks my concentration. This kitty is the one who as lived in my house for ten years and has never let me touch her, so getting her to the vet is torture. I have pursued her all over the house by setting traps — TRAPS, in my own HOUSE — in the basement, the living room, the hallway, the dining room…and she evades them all. She was caught (by me) in the same trap ten years ago and she’s smart enough to not fall for that again.
So, as a last resort, Candy has holed up in my bathroom upstairs:
You can see her dermatitis, where she has pulled out most of her fur because of some kind of skin irritation. I gave her a nice fluffy bed to sleep in and a new litter box to poop in, so of course she sleeps in the litter box and poops in the bed.
My vet did offer a Hail Mary in the form of an over-the-counter anti-histamine that can be used to treat skin rashes, and Candy gets half a pill every day, which she devours because I dissolve it in her favorite snack of diced clams in clam juice.
We’ve been at this for a week and I haven’t seen any more tufts of fur wafting in her wake, so maybe the anti-histamine is working.
I don’t know how long this stand off will last but I would like to have my bathroom back because for now, it is off-limits to me because I can’t go near Candy without her totally freaking out.
My brain is out of gear for another reason: I deny, I reject, I veto, and I refuse to accept that August is over and tomorrow it will be September. Nope. Not gonna happen, not on my watch. Every last shred of my intelligence is dedicated to pretending that for once, things will stay just as they are, here in the last fine days of endless Summer.
Please, Universe, please let that happen.
Or, Universe, and don’t act like You don’t hear me, please let October be worth it with a huge-ass report from special counsel Robert Meuller that details, irrefutably, that der Drumpf is the lying, treasonous, fake-billionaire con-artist turd-pile Anti-Christ (for all those shit-eating MAGA evangelicals) that we know he is. I can face Winter knowing that it will be awash in a Blue Wave. Please, Universe, please let that happen.
Until then, Taffy and Bibs will be warming up our seats on the sunset-watching apparatus in the backyard.
Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. May all your Summer wishes come true, and all your cats not sleep in their litter boxes.
P.S. Here’s the books that I will defile for the next castle:
They are Volumes 1 and 2, published in 1971, worth $4.99 on amazon.com. Our used book store price is $1.00 each. But the thing I want to exploit is this:
I’m thinking: Bridge.
See you back here next week.