Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Once Upon A Time...

...a love of nature, books and polymer converge. 

For March 2015, the challenge theme for my guild (PCAGOE) is "Nature". As a self-described treehugger, you can imagine that this chick loves all things "nature". Well, maybe not all, I'm not too fond of stinkbugs, mosquitos or my summer-time arch nemesis - cabbage lopers (who I battle for my brassica family plants every year). But I think it's safe to say that, to my mind, MOST things in nature are a fascination and curiosity to admire and study. That being said, one might assume that this challenge theme was an easy one for me. It was not. Because the subject of nature is so wide open, there was simply too much from which to choose. After tossing around a couple different ideas, I finally decided that I would base my project on one of the books I was reading this past month. 

I'm also a book lover. I'm the old fashioned sort who likes her books with actual pages to turn (or as the Ikea ad says, "Book Books").  Yes, not very eco friendly in the scheme of paper production, but in my defense, 99% of the books I buy are second hand; we have quite a library of favorite reads in my house and we donate the non-keepers to our local library for resale, so we do try to keep the impact low. 

The book I chose for this project is the book Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. If you've not read or heard of the book, here is a pretty great summary. Basically the book weaves the stories of three female protagonists amid a backdrop of the natural world of the Appalachian mountains. Coyotes, luna moths and chestnut trees are all strong players in the book. Barbara Kingsolver has said this about the book: "This novel is not exclusively—or even mainly—about humans. There is no main character. My agenda is to lure you into thinking about whole systems, not just individual parts. The story asks for a broader grasp of connections and interdependencies than is usual in our culture." This is a concept that resonates with me, as one who deeply believes that this life is one big web, woven and connected to all living entities (human, animal, plant, soil and beyond). With that in mind, it seemed the perfect subject for my nature themed challenge. 

I decided that since I owned a paperback copy of this book, the best way to honor it would be to turn the paperback into a hardcover book - this is where polymer love-meets nature love-meets book love. This was not as easy a task as I had thought it would be. But I persevered. 

Since I've been doing a lot of faux polymer quilling lately (I will be making an announcement about the polymer quilling soon!), I decided to continue in that vein to carry out my illustration. I decided that I wanted to base my design on the Fibonacci sequence (or the golden ratio, the golden mean, the golden section or the Greek letter Phi). Fibonacci numbers follow a 1:1.61 ratio. The Golden Ratio is the relationship between two numbers on the Fibonacci Sequence, plotting those relationships on a diagram to scale will produce a spiral commonly seen all around us. The Fibonacci sequence is widely found in nature (think the unfurling of fern fronds, seashells, flower heads, etc.)

The front cover of the book is designed with images connecting the symbols of the story to the Fibonacci grid spiral. Built upon a base of Premo translucent with inclusions from a spent bag of tea, I first "drew" the Fibonacci spiral and grid in two tones of gold (to symbolize the golden ratio). In the upper right corner, you'll find the Luna Moth set against a quarter moon and night sky; upper left corner, you'll find a coyote set against an almost half moon and night sky; mid right, taking up the smaller parts of the Fibonacci grid and some of the bottom square, you'll see the 5 lobes of a chestnut leaf cluster; and finally, taking up the majority of the bottom square is one hand supporting another hand which holds soil and a seedling (symbolizing the human-human and human-nature connection). 

The spine of the book carries the theme of the Fibonacci spiral with the font that I chose to emboss the title of the book and the author's name... each letter carries it's own spiral, as you can see here:

As you can also see above, the area around the spine is covered in a burlap fabric. Needing this area to easily bend, I chose burlap to carry the natural theme. I sewed a hem at the borders of a strip of burlap (so no raw edges were exposed), it was then glued to the paperback book cover. 

For the back cover of the book, I chose to simply display the Fibonacci spiral and grid, as you can see here:

The inside of the book was treated to an image of a tree that reminds me of an extending web of connections. This is simply printed out on paper and glued to the back of the polymer, then strips of polymer encase the sides of the cover and overlap the inside paper cover, as you can see here:

 The inside cover looks pretty cool when you can see both sides juxtaposed: 

As I think I mentioned above, this project was a lot of work and more difficult than I had imagined. I know how I would do things differently next time to make life easier. Because I like the idea of turning paperbacks into hard cover books, I may revisit this idea sometime again. For now, I'm fairly pleased with this one. What do you think of my nature-meets-polymer-meets-book project? Please leave me a comment! Voting for this challenge will begin on the 1st of March. I'll post a reminder here on the blog at that time...


  1. You blow my mind with your creativity and mad skills. This is one of the most amazing things I've seen done with polymer clay. (Most of the others were by you as well.) I love it when you quill with pc too. It shows your precision skills. The whole concept for this piece, down to the smallest detail, is perfection. Wow. Just wow.

    1. Thanks Tammy, for the awesome comments! You are too kind! It's so nice to know that there's someone who appreciates my creative ideas! :)

  2. Great job. I love your explanations too of the design process.

    1. Hi Autumn! Thanks so much for the kind comment and for stopping by my blog! :)


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