The thing with the learning journals is that they remain, for me, rather obstinately books. I know the theory that what you write on makes a difference to what and how you write and I agree. It does make a difference. So does the pen or pencil or brush which is why I am such an avid customer of cultpens. But I tend to write and draw on anything that comes to hand and then glue it into a traditional sketchbook. Part of me thinks this is efficient and straight forward. Book technology has lasted so well for good reason. It works amazingly well. Simple, robust, satisfying, water-resistant, battery free. Etc. Trying to reinvent the book with some less effective version doesn’t appeal. But I am very aware that the book is also something of a strait jacket with it’s tediously rectangular pages and chronology implied by order and  leaf turning.

Why can I not make a book that isn’t a book? My new bookbinding skills have enlarged my book vocabulary into some interesting multi-paper books. I have made a couple of these now. They have pages of as many different papers as I can find including graph paper, drafting paper, various sorts of maths paper and so on. These have been designated ‘off task’ books and they are being worked on with variations on automatism, the marks relating to the paper and the showing through of the image before and the dots and lines and so on. Non-chronological and undated. Filled in as I go along whilst watching telly or in idle moments. Trying to break habits of finishing everything and making things match and keeping inside a genre and all that sort of thing.

Still books though.

Today I had some time at school on my own in the classroom because of the strike day. I tidied stuff up and started collecting card ready for the learning journals module. I thought it would be an idea to make a book out of some matt grey board I found so I cut it to size at 15cm square. My intention was to make a book of some sort and, having cut the card, I looked at the pile of it and thought about how to bind it with big rings or string or elastic and so on. It would still be a book though so then I started thinking about a box. In the end I settled on a slipcase design and I found a small CD and drew round that to make the finger hole so that I could get the card out of the box. I used the hot glue gun to stick it together because I like the rough edges it gives, like welding joins on cardboard. Everyone else thinks it looks rough as hell though so I tired to finesse the edges and failed pretty much so I decided to paint it white with a view to it being an undercoat. My intention was for it to be a sort of painting book and to carry the separate bits of card around and mark them up and then put them in the box.

But at some point my decision making changed. I picked up the small size CD that I had used to cut the finger space on the edges of the box and I drew round it on a piece of the card to ‘start things off’, to get the first card in the box with a mark on. This looked quite good. It was more or less in the middle and it looked good, the way a circle int he middle of a square does. So I did another one. And I painted that with the white acrylic. And i did another one. Then I painted a few squares roughly with ahite to get going and to be the background for a circle.

Whilst these dried I got on with a bit more tidying and found some old art magazines and an art history part work and I picked up a full sized CD and started cutting round that on the magazines and sticking them on the card. Then using the holes I had cut as stencils on the card and then sticking down the holes with the paint around the edges from the stencilling and sticking smaller circles n top of the bigger circles and so on. I was basically riffing on circles and collage and white paint and a black drawing pen. The rules of the game changed slightly as each new element came along, as I found something else to collage on or a new relationship between the paint, the cut outs, the holes and the simple marks.

Then a colleague needed some input on monoprinting so we spent an hour making monoprints of various sorts together and I did them as circles with a view to collaging them on. By the end of the day I had thoroughly distracted myself from the various things I should have been doing but I had pretty nearly completed a series of circles on a square riffs. 31 cards mostly marked on both sides. I think they should be called ’62 studies’ or something like that. It is a teaching aid, of course, a demonstration piece for the learning journals modules of a non linear book. It is also an example of a flow of connected creativity, one thing leading to another. Clearly thought about as I did them but quite quickly done and not easily annotated at the time.

Must make another one when I get back from Oxford.