persephone codex

The Persephone Codex


This is an art journal in progress that's usually so close to wherever I am that I'd probably grab it before I grabbed the go bag itself.   Simply as a structural object it represents a culminated inner vision of making a special book dedicated to cataloging and exploring personal symbols. I went into the active bookmaking process knowing that I wished to use an assortment of original surface design papers as well as unadorned paper/mailing bags with a texture I felt to be crying out for drawing & painting.  Most of these papers pre-existed anything but the basic notion as described above.  For 4 or maybe even 5 years they held space in a roughly gathered heap on my paper shelf.  I knew what I wanted but I didn't know why.  Consequently nothing really came together until I filled in that blank space.


This is a book filled with all manner of symbolic glyphs and images that mean something important to me.   I started gathering an inner download file of such things as a young girl and have also collected both objects and information related to this lifelong interest.  Thus I created three signatures that have 12-14 folios.  It was interesting to set up a design for the page order (and then physically put it together) with more than twice as many folios as I've used in all the other books I've made.  But the paper is much thinner.  Above is part of a mailing envelope.  I wanted the title page to be sturdy specifically because I tend to prefer something lighter and looser and have often regretted it from a construction level straight through to matters of ultimate durability as both substrate and the page that's going to be handled and turned more than any other.


I assigned one of the three classic female stages of life to each signature.   Most of the hand decorated papers are 70# printer's bond or 40# drafting vellum.  The vellum is spray painted/stencilled with a variety of water-based and walnut inks.  Once I had the signatures sewn into place I began working in collage and calligraphy as a way of familiarizing myself with the feel of the physical book.


Both Maiden and Mother substrates are less than stellar papers I made during a day-long and deeply cherished paste paper workshop here in town.  The dark green smudges on the page above are my finger-tip prints.  I consider the Mother phase of life to be about output and outpouring.  Some of us also have children and, through them, we have an Identity that's about as fraught and deep and wide and love-soaked as a thing can be.  I find it challenging to parse all that within the confines of sentences made of words.  As I add symbolic glyphs and visual representations I work in a deliberative yet relaxed and fairly playful way.  I decide what to add based on whatever crosses my path there in the studio.  Any time I open the book for this kind of quality alone time I sense myself giving form to invisible smoke signals I've been sending myself all along. 


This pastepaper above is not a disappointment to me.  It wasn't made at the workshop, either.  It was made a few weeks earlier at a studio open house.  There, working in the amazing creative space of a woman I knew through the library book club, I created two sheets of paper that came out so well I knew I was hooked enough to create a broader range of self-made art paper.  My favorite of the pair is featured above.  What's interesting to me is that I 'mistakenly' put this on the third rather than the second page in the signature as I'd done with the other two.   I guess because this phase of life is still in progress I felt the need to add an extra gate to open before this leap into brilliant sunset rose over ripe peach orange. 


The cover page of the Mother signature is St. Theresa curling her toes in esctasy level of gorgeous - thickly crinkled light pistachio colored Momi paper embedded with tiny mica chips.  They sparkle as mothers do and must.   The cover paper for the Crone section is equally worthy of delirium for me.  It's packing paper of a crisp-snapping nature that's pretty much my idea of the perfect lake beach sand brown.  One side is very lightly waxed.  The other has just the right icing of texture to catch pencil work nicely.

You can see the spine has a gap between these two signatures. It isn't really noticeable in the book's structure because there are so many pages in each group.  But that exposed spine has caused the sads from time to time when I come upon it.  I've felt in these moments that something belonged there and I didn't know what it was.  Today something arrived and literally fell right into the space pictured above.  Sympathetic magic at its finest.  I don't know if this is a permanent inclusion or what but for now I'm going to take it as a sign that I know how to keep myself tall and strong within my own truth and its many symbols.

This is how a new (r)evolution of healing is born ...