Twenty-twenty Hindsight

I have been working on a new piece this week. In fact, nine new, similar, but not quite identical, pieces.

I covered nine 6.35 cm (2.5 in) wooden blocks with three different Japanese papers purchased from The Paper Place in Toronto. It’s almost exactly a year since I prepped the blocks by sealing them with several coats of starch paste/PVA mix.

Planning ahead can make things easier in the long run.

Each block will have nine coloured paper/stitched squares attached, one to a side. Here are six colours for one of the blocks.

It took a while to create six stitching patterns.

Eventually I decided on these.

The original plan was to enclose each block in a tamatebako of a single colour. The image below (from Priti Hansia’s Flickr account) shows a multi-coloured version. The tamatebako is constructed from six squares of paper, each folded into a menko.

(If you would like to fold your own tamatebako, there’s a good, if slightly blurry video here. Those who already know how to fold a menko might choose to skip forward to 2:20.)

All six sides of the tamatebako may be opened, so if all the panels are the same colour it can be used to turn a block with six inscriptions into a fortune teller. The questioner can open a side at random to receive a Delphic reply to any question about the future.

I have titled the work Twenty-twenty Hindsight. It fits the Square Dance exhibition’s theme of memory in that it recalls earlier versions of fortune tellers (going back to Delphi and beyond), and because memory is required to use a fortune teller of this sort. To ask a question, you must already have some knowledge of the world, i.e. memories. To know if the fortuneteller was correct in its prediction, you must remember both the question and the precise answer.

Thinking about cube-shaped containers that open on all sides, I got a little side-tracked. Is it possible to make a box with flaps that open on all six sides? For my purposes the interior cube would have to be visible, so I designed a panel prototype.

I can fit three of the panels together so that the interior shows when a flap is opened, and all the flaps work.

I have found two possible places where a fourth flap could be attached. Both of them create problems for the addition of the fifth and sixth flaps. It is certainly possible that my solution for the arrangement of the first three is not the solution. I have set the question aside for the moment.


Since it has now been recommended that Canadians wear face masks in situations where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, I will be making myself a mask this week.

It will be made from the same fabrics as David’s, but I thought I would try out this pattern from craftpassion. The pattern will be slightly modified —when have I ever not done that— and I will pass on an assessment of the results next week.

In other book arts news:

The great thing about a pandemic is the increased availability of online instruction.

John Neal Books has been posting links to available online classes/tutorials/workshops in calligraphy. The selection shown above is only part of the still-growing list.


You can find an hour long interview with Erin Fletcher here.

From the accompanying text on Youtube (links added by me):

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, North Bennet Street School hosted an online conversation with bookbinder and NBSS alumna Erin Fletcher BB ’12, discussing her process for creating a unique, embroidered design binding of the recreated La Prose du Transsibérien, on view at the School during the “Drop Dead Gorgeous” traveling exhibition.

Watch a recording of the full event above, including a Q&A segment with Erin, and a pre-recorded talk from fellow exhibitor Sue Doggett in London.

In other news:

Spring is well underway and this week it is brought to you by the colour yellow.


(The white flowered shrubs to the left of the driveway are Saskatoon bushes, AKA Serviceberry or Amelanchier alnifolia.)

Buffalo bean:

Also known as golden bean (Thermopsis rhombifolia), it is a legume so it has flowers like a pea plant.

Apparently it has been used as a source of yellow dye and medicine. It is not edible, containing toxins that cause dizziness, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

I’ll wait for the garden peas.

The final yellow for the week is the flock of seventeen male and and an unknown number of female American goldfinches. The females are much harder to see on the ground and in the bushes. We got to observe them for several days as they spent time in our garden eating enormous quantities of sunflower seeds.

Fortunately, the ones eating from the feeder spilled a lot of seeds on the ground for the rest of the flock, so everyone —except, perhaps, the two pair of goldfinches who have been here since May 4— was happy.

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, paper folding and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Twenty-twenty Hindsight

  1. lcmt says:

    We feed the goldfinches niger seed. They go mad for it. My feeders will be totally submerged under a layer of goldfinches.


    • Byopia Press says:

      I know they prefer niger seed, but they seemed quite happy with the black oilseed sunflower that was provided. The ones that actually nest here (two pair, I think, this year) will have lots of small wild seeds to choose from later this summer.
      ; ]

      Liked by 1 person

      • lcmt says:

        I don’t know if they like niger best, here it’s the only available alternative to a mix that has the bigger seeds which goldfinches don’t like. The bigger finches, the sparrows, the doves, the towhees, the jays all like the bigger seeds.


      • Byopia Press says:

        I can buy large bags of oilseed sunflower seeds (40 pounds), so that’s what everybody gets. The mixed seed justs gets wasted as so many of the birds I get won’t eat the millet and other things mixed in.

        Liked by 1 person

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