Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Gallery: New Work

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Title: Unabridged



Unabridged | 2020 | $1800

Linen thread, some made into sewing supports by the binder; wood boards; repurposed dictionary pages, parchment hooked endleaves.

approximately 4 x 4 x 13”

Series of 20

In late 2018 I responded to a call for entries to make a book from one volume of a 1910 encyclopedia that would otherwise have been discarded. I viewed the book as a supply of wonderfully thin but surprisingly strong paper with a lovey, subtle pattern. The strength provided by packed sewing on double cords supplemented with endbands with frequent tie-downs transformed the binding into a kind of medieval slinky.

Early in the Pandemic while I listened to my Governor's daily hour-long briefing, I began work on a series of similar but much thicker books, each made from one entire Random House Unabridged Dictionary. The bindings are stripped down to their most elemental structure: paper, linen, wood. Any ornamentation comes only from those materials: the pattern of the text, the tone and grain of the wood, the color of the thread and the sewing supports. I began to vary the later by making my own sewing cord from linen thread using historical rope-making techniques.

Thread color and wood for boards vary. After the initial books are sold, subsequent books will be made to order and not available for immediate delivery