Seashell Alphabets

Ideas for books come from many different places. In the case of the two books described in today’s post, the inspiration comes from the seashore and from alphabet books. Both works were made early in my career as a book artist.

A Beach Comber’s Molluscalphabet was made as a gift for a friend who collects seashells. Unlike those of us who just pick up pretty things on the beach, she is serious about it and can identify a shell with its Latin name and probable source location.

The image shows several copies of the book in different states: closed with shell-patterned lace paper sleeve, sleeve removed, and open for display. The “molluscalphabet” appears several times as a spiral and as a list. I had fun selecting words for the book, discovering terms like ‘xylophagous’ which means ‘wood-eating’ and describes things likes gooseneck barnacles.

I also collect seashells and occasionally find a clam or mussel shell with both halves still together. I used one of these for A Bivalve’s Contemplative Alphabet. The piece is housed in —of course— a clamshell box.

Inside the box is an alphabet book with clamshell covers.

The opened book reveals a 26 page text block cut to fit inside the shell. Each page has a word debossed on it. The words for the alphabet were chosen to reflect the rather quiet life of an animal that spends most of its life buried in mud. I chose words that reflect a peaceful state like “calm” and “flowing” and “nestle”.


I had some good news this week: my artist’s book Catacomb was one of 40 works selected from 180 entries for Reader’s Art: Concealed, Confined and Collected, an exhibition at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts which opens May 8, 2015 and runs until  July 26. I am feeling quite chuffed. 

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004.
This entry was posted in artist's books, book arts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Seashell Alphabets

  1. Beautiful! Congrats on the selection, too!


  2. Congratulations for being included in the CCC exhibit. Catacomb IS an engaging book, and the inclusion is well-deserved.


    • Byopia Press says:

      Thank you! It was one of those lucky coincidences: I had already made the book when I got the call for entry, and I thought the book fit perfectly with the theme of the show.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.