Elissa R. Campbell | Blue Roof Designs

Book Arts Improv Book #3: The Big Bomb

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Welcome to the oh-so-late result of this week’s Book Arts Improv!

Once I had my concept, I had a really hard time deciding on how to execute the design. I was a flip-flopper.

One thing I did know was that I was determined to use QR codes. I started with cut paper and pop-up techniques. Unfortunately, the structure of QR codes wouldn’t let me do that. Poo.

Then I decided to combine printed QR codes with carved stamps. Then I decided to use no imagery other than QR codes. Then I went to sleep.

I finally came up with a plan on how to deal with the whole QR codes vs. stamps thing. It was a tie. You’ll see the results below.

Anyway, here are the themes I was working with this week:

  1. Something you pretend to know about, but you really don’t: Theoretical Physics
  2. A place you never want to visit, again: Arkansas
  3. A three word question: Where’s the fire?

And here’s the finished product – my third Improv 2013 book, The Big Bomb:

Handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

The book is bound with waxed linen thread using a stitch invented by Keith Smith called Dos Esquis. The cover is made of a bright red leather given to me by a friend as part of a pile of scraps from his work as a furniture maker. Thanks Craig!

I embossed the leather by dampening it and putting it in the press with a stamp cut from bookboard. I wish it had made a deeper impression, but for a first try, I really can’t complain.

Cut bookboard stamp

Here are the hand-carved rubber stamps (I can’t help myself):

Hand-carved rubber stamps

I printed the text pages using my go-to font, Book Antiqua, on Crane’s Choice cotton paper.

Here’s the inside of the book, with the story interspersed with images of page spreads:

It all fell into place so quickly.
Eric knew what he was supposed to do with his life.

And he was only 9 years old.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

On a recent family vacation, he toured limestone caves in the Ozarks.
He learned all about crystals, flowstone, and blind trout.
He loved the word spelunking.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Back at school, he learned about Enrico Fermi.
The Italian theoretical and experimental physicist had worked developing the first nuclear reactor.
That was so cool.

During lunch, it came to him.
He was going to create Vermont’s first B&B housed in a cave.

He needed firecrackers to get the job done.
It was legal to buy them in Vermont. If you were over 18.
He waited outside the store until a stupid-looking teenager came by.
They’d do anything for five bucks.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

The kid went into the store with Eric’s remaining ten dollars.
He came out with one package of something called Dyno Mighty Mite.
He didn’t give him any change back.
Jackass.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

He walked home and found the perfect spot for his cave.
It was near his favorite tree.
He dug a small hole with one of his mother’s gardening shovels.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Eric opened up the package of firecrackers – there were seven of them.
He figured that he’d need all of them for this project.
He placed them into the hole.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Matches weren’t hard to find.
There was a pack tucked next to the grill on the patio.
He took a deep breath and smiled to himself.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

He lit a match and touched the tip to each of the fuses.
Then he ran like hell.
It felt like hours before the bang, and it was damn loud.
He could smell smoke.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

He turned around to check out his handiwork.
There was a hole, but it certainly wasn’t any cave.
And the lawn was on fire.
Crap.

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

The fire was easy enough to put out with their garden hose, but it was too late.
He was surrounded by the entire neighborhood.
Good thing his parents weren’t home from work yet.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re going to kill someone!”
“Do you have any idea how stupid this is?”

Page spread from handmade artist book by Elissa Campbell - "The Big Bomb"

Eric decided to go with his usual response.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I dunno.”
The neighbors got quiet and stared at him for a few seconds.
Someone said, “Stupid kid”.
There was some murmuring, and people left for their homes.

Eric sat down on the front steps to his house.
He thought about the fire.
He thought about the neighbors.

Then he muttered, “Screw ‘em”, and plotted how he’d earn ten more dollars.

And now I’ll tell you about those QR codes. You don’t miss any of the story if you don’t have a smart phone to scan the codes. They simply exist to provide information that enhances the story.

For example, in the spread that mentions how it’s legal to buy firecrackers in Vermont, the QR code takes you to a website detailing the Vermont Statutes governing explosives and fireworks.

I really like the idea of using technology in something handmade. I still have QR codes in my brain and I foresee more work with them in the future.

At the end of the book, after the colophon, I added another QR code:

QR code

I am very fascinated by colophons and I decided that this book would allow me to fully express my nerdliness. The QR codes takes you to Google Books, where you can read An Essay on Colophons: With Specimens and Translations by Alfred William Pollard. The book was written in 1905.

Why yes, you can thank me for leading you to such an amazing resource!

I hope you enjoyed the book! As soon as I complete the edition, which should be limited to six, I’ll put some up for sale on Etsy.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the last batch of themes!

One Response to “Book Arts Improv Book #3: The Big Bomb

  1. This book looks terrific! I love the use of QR codes and I think the stamps look wonderful. The hose, especially.

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