Judith Hoffman

Galleries: DREAMS - memento mori - found - tools - pinhole - steam iron press

A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space

A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space, ©2020. 3.5 x 10.25 x 1.75 inches. Coptic bound. Watercolor paper, acrylic paint, pen, ink, crayon, pencil, collage, old book. The pages are slightly larger than the covers. This book was made from an old copy of the Golden Book of Astronomy that belonged to my brother-in-law. My husband Jim and his younger brother Alan were close when they were kids. Jim remembers making Alan laugh when he started crying. As they got older, they took different life paths, seeing each other mostly for family gatherings and holiday dinners. Alan died suddenly at 51. When we cleaned out his apartment, we were sad to realize we didn’t know him well. This book was in the 2021 Puget Sound Book Artists Member's exhibit. Not for sale.

A year after Alan died their mom went into residential care, so Jim and I cleaned out their childhood home. Among many other things, we found a copy of The Golden Book of Astronomy that had drawings and scribbles in it. Jim still has his childhood copy, which is worn but not marked up, so this must have been Alan’s copy. Jim supposes that Alan scribbled in his book so their mom got Jim another copy, and the marked up book went to Alan.

I saved a lot of stuff when we cleared up, mostly old books and comic books. Most of the books were added to a pile of old books I keep for collage. Aside from the comics there were mostly geology texts and some field guides. When I was making myself a new sketch book and didn’t have enough book board on hand, I thought I would use covers from some of my the old books. I don't normally make altered books, so I thought the covers wouldn't be needed.

After cutting down the cover of The Golden Book of Astronomy there was a horizontal piece left over that contained the title. Things lie ignored on my work table until I feel I must pick up. Seeing the scrap sitting there day after day made me think the long shape with the title would make a very appealing cover for a book.

From there I made pages to fit the cover. The pages are slightly larger than the cover. I wanted the book to feel very full. The obvious content was the marks Alan made in the book and his old comics. Preserving these childhood marks makes me feel more connected to Alan. Of course I had to add a lot of collage and my own marks to the pages (like the little circles on the left and right), but the scribbles are all Jim and Alan's.

As I got into the process of making the book and realized how many marks there were, I also realized I would have to accomodate many pages that were larger than my book structure.

The star charts with constellations are large flaps. See below.

This page and the next are my favorites. Alan drew the constellation shapes and just to make sure it's obvious, he drew an arrow from each book illustration to his version.

In this last page it looks like Jim wrote his name and Alan's for Alan to trace over. Under the flap on the right hand page is a shortened version of this blog post. It ends with "Good bye Alan - we'll look for you on the dark side of the moon.

I don't think it's possible to really say "goodbye" to someone when they die. But this is my attempt.

The back cover is another scrap from the book cover. It's even smaller than the front cover.