These pages were done as part of an assignment in the
Carolingian section of our year long class. I have been
collecting Haiku for quite some time, especially the poems of
Basho dealing with nature, and this seemed like a perfect
opportunity to start putting them in book form. I wanted to be
able to add to the book over time, so I chose a post-bound
format. The elongated pages seemed to fit the poems and also to
go well with Carolingian, a book hand custom-made for long lines
of small writing. I wanted the book to be spare and elegant, in
keeping with the subtlety and austerity of Basho’s work.
I chose Arches 90# Hot Press Watercolor paper for the pages
because it could take the abuse I intended to give it, and
because it folds easily: all the long pages are soft-folded
about 11” in from the right side, in order to decrease the size
of the book and to add a little mystery to each page. Each page
is 6” x 21 ½” when unfolded, almost the full width of the paper.
The closed book measures 11 ½” x 6 ½” in a horizontal format.
For the Oak Tree poem, I chose a plain page and lightly drew a
single line 2” up from the bottom. I did the drawing first,
taking care to keep most of the image to the left of where the
fold would be.
I then did the calligraphy, using a Mitchell #3 nib and wine red
stick ink for both. I love the rich color with the tree image;
it reminds me of oak trees in the fall. This poem is one of my
favorites; Basho seems to be reminding us to be ourselves, and
not to seek after transient glory.
For the April Air poem, I used a page cut from a full sheet of
paper that I had previously altered by taking it outside,
hanging it on the fence and flinging water and various dilutions
of walnut ink and black gouache at it, letting the splatters run
at will, and then cutting it into pages. The page I chose for
this poem seemed to be asking for a few simple leaf shapes, so I
added them using a black Micron .01 pen, and then gilded them
using Instacoll and Lemon Gold. It was a dry day, but the gold
went down easily, which surprised me. I did the lettering with a
Mitchell #3 nib and black stick ink. I resisted the urge to add
the butterfly, but who knows what might happen in the future?
I love this project because it fits so well with the organic way
I like to work, and because I loved learning Carolingian, so
full of possibilities. I know I will use Carolingian and
variations for many projects and this book will continue to
grow. I hope my granddaughter will love it, too. Thank you,