Feathers: another DIY artist’s book — part 1

The first iteration of this book —or rather the first and second (more about that in a minute)— was inspired by finding the remains of a sharp-tailed grouse.

The little book contained scanned images of feathers from my collection and a short bit of prose I wrote about the day I found the remains. It was hung from a tripod made from sticks and some scrap leather. The book was suspended among the bird’s wings and feet and some chicken bones. I sold the piece —entitle Bird Book— to my then dealer in Calgary, Stephen Murphy. Unfortunately his girlfriend’s small dog thought it was dangerous. The dog attacked the piece and ate a large part of the book. (Oddly, it did not eat any of the bird parts.)

Stephen phoned me in great distress, partly because he was concerned about my possible feelings about the incident. I laughed, and made another copy of the book for him. Bird Book was later sold to Special Collections, University of Calgary Library, where it should be safe from the predatory instincts of small canines.

A couple of years later I found remains of another sharp-tail —just feathers this time— so I re-wrote the text and made a small edition using the tail feathers I found.

Finally I did another one-off for an exhibition in Toronto. This copy is not for sale, and is in the Byopia Press archive.

Although I have done several free printable projects recently, I thought it would be nice to celebrate the beginning of 2016 with another DIY artist’s book, so here is Feathers.

You can download the pdf of the accordion here. Please note two things: the file is very large because I did not go back and reduce the original life-size images, so it will be slow to load; and you may need to do either an economy print or reduce the percentage of ink in your printer controls to prevent the image blocking up. (If the image blocks up you risk losing the fine white guides and the feather details.) You will also want your printer margins set to the smallest possible width.

The pdf is designed to print on legal paper (8.5 x 14″), but if you use the ‘Fit’ setting it can be printed on A4 or 8.5 x 11″ papers as well.

When you have printed your page you will have something that looks like this, but with a bit of white margin where the black raven feather crosses the edge.

The first step is to cut the page horizontally using the black guides at either edge of the page. The bottom section will become the right half of your accordion.

Trim off the right edge of the lefthand section using the white mark as a guide —about half an inch on the legal size print— and fold back the left edge of the righthand section using the white mark as a guide –again about half an inch on the legal size print. If you have printed on A4 or 8.5 x 11″ you will need to check this measurement on your print. You can double check on any size by making sure the feather lines up correctly.

Glue the lefthand section onto the righthand section so that the cut edge is flush with the fold line. (You may want to hand colour the cut edge so that there isn’t a white line at the join. If you are using a laser printer you may wish to colour the fold line as well.)

The next cut is made parallel to the top of the righthand section using the cut-off tip of the raven feather (on the left half of the accordion) as a guide.

Finally, trim the top of the left half to match the right. The center of your strip should look like this.

To make your accordion, fold your strip in half (blank sides together) to make a fold at the middle join, then open flat with the blank side up. Fold the two ends to meet in the middle, then open flat. You now have four ‘pages’. Turn your strip over and fold each page in half to create an 8 page accordion. It should look like the accordion in the photo of the exhibition copy I showed about halfway through the post.

The book still needs a cover. If you come back next week, I will give you a printable pdf and instructions for that!







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. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
This entry was posted in artist's books, book arts, bookbinding, Design, instructions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Feathers: another DIY artist’s book — part 1

  1. dinahmow says:

    You’ve inspired me to clear out some (more!) of my old stuff with a view to making some folded books.Not sure about the feathers, though.All manner of critters attack them!
    Happy New Year!


  2. Pingback: Gifts from Cathryn Miller | Midnight Musings

  3. Your first feather book does have the looks of, I don’t know, taxidermy, or another carcass perparation thing. The leather and suspension from the sticksgive it some primal feeling,. Very interesting.
    Funny story that a dog ate it – or sad, maybe. Good that he left the wings, and you were able to make a new one!
    And the accordion looks like it contains a mixture of print and real feathers, is that right? If not, how did you achieve the right bend in the feathers so that if opens and closes properly?


  4. Byopia Press says:

    The feathers on the accordion are all manipulated digital scans of real feathers. In the original version they were life-size. The free printable version has been reduced to fit readily available papers.
    Real feathers have been used as inclusions or attachments in previous versions, but they never had to be folded! (That would be a most interesting trick.)


    • Ah, no folded feathers, then. Of course the digital version has scanned feathers… maybe I understood something wrong? In the fourth image it looked to me like there was a mix of scanned and real feathers. In any case, an interesting series of books!


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