A Message In The Form Of A Dove, For Noah

Dear Noah

(If you don’t want to read this, watch the videos at the end of the page.)

I’m sorry I missed you today. I wish I had seen the exhibition at the London Centre for Book Arts. And I wish I had seen the books at the British Library, decorated with gold. I’ve seen photos, and they look beautiful.

I’d be glad to know what you thought of it all.

Mostly, I’m sorry to have missed you, and the chance to make books together.

I’m John-Paul. Because we haven’t met, I don’t know what kinds of things interest you. Maybe I’ll find that out soon. I hope so.

In the meantime, here’s a bit about me: I’m 54, I live in north London, I have a wife and a daughter and I’m writing this at my computer in the room at the top of the house. It gets hot in here, on summer days, so I’m wearing shorts and T-shirt and my windows are all wide open.

The shorts are old, baggy, and (as the name suggests) short. My wife used to laugh at them, but I think she’s given up, because I keep wearing them. They keep me cool.

The T-shirt has a bird on it. It’s one of my own designs. If you hang around, you’ll come to see that I like making my own stuff.

I designed the bird by cutting it out on an ordinary rubber eraser, like this:

About the size of my thumb.

You probably know already that when you make a print, it comes out the other way around (left to right):


If you look carefully you’ll see that as well as indigo blue, I added a bit of red ink to the beak. I quite liked the result.

Another thing you might notice is the shape. Normally, I think of birds as somewhat round. To make best use of the longish rectangular rubber, I had to think for a while about how to shape this bird.

I tend to go on about this idea quite a lot: make use of the material you actually have, instead of wishing you had something else, because if you don’t have that other thing, you’re stuck.

If I possessed circular rubber erasers, this bird would have been more rounded.

Here’s what that picture looks like on my T-shirt (modelled by somebody else!):

This is how I imagine the dove that greeted Noah in the Bible, after the Flood.

If we had met, I was going to show you a variety of different books and booklets I’ve made. Simon said you might quite like to do that.

I hope he’s right, but if you have gone off the idea – well, that’s fine. I like this subject so much that I’ll keep going for a while, just to amuse myself.

After showing you the books, I was going to show how to make them yourself.

Here they are, a selection I had put together to bring to the British Library in a cardboard box:

Box Full of Handmade Books, To Show Noah.jpg

Please bear in mind that I’m not an expert like the people at the London Centre for Book Arts, or the British Library. I may get things wrong, or do things that look a bit wonky and unprofessional.

But to be honest, that’s part of the reason I like making my own books. They’re more relaxed. They aren’t perfect. (What is?!)

To make them, I use whatever happens to be available. Many of my books, including some in that box. are made out of brown paper grocery bags and old envelopes.

I’ll show you some time. But that’s probably enough today.

See you.


Video (turning this web page into a booklet)

You can download that booklet as a PDF here.