back forward

©2007, Purple Mountain Observatory, 6.25 x 5.75 x .75 inches, 300 lb. watercolor paper, acrylics, collage, prismacolor pencils. While making this book I was thinking we are all made of stardust. According to "almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star." I like to think the stars are always overhead, looking down on our lives, even during the day when we can’t see them. The figures in the book are covered with stars. The lines marking the constellations sometimes join to stars on the figures, as if the people are part of the starry sky. From wikipedia: Purple Mountain Observatory, also known as Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory, is an astronomical observatory located on the Purple Mountain in Nanjing, China.

"On top there is an ample terrace surrounded"

This book was originally inspired by a bit of found text in "The Comet is Coming" by Nigel Calder. "In 1600 Jesuit scholar Matteo Ricci, while touring China, wrote about the Purple Mountain Observatory: 'On top there is an ample terrace . . . surrounded by magnificent buildings erected of old. Here some of the astronomers take their stand every night to observe whatever may appear in the heavens, whether meteoritic fires or comets, and to report them in detail to the Emperor.' " This text varies a bit from what I used, possibly because it came from a different edition.

I made the signatures by hinging together two pieces of 300 pound watercolor paper with tough oriental paper. You may see the slightly darker hinge in the center of the spread above. I wanted to be able to bind single sheet signatures of heavy watercolor paper with a coptic stitch. Since making this book I have found Keith Smith's "Sewing Single Sheets," and like that technique better.

"surrounded by magnificent buildings of old with"

"with instruments both ancient and modern."

"Here some take their stand every night to"

The last word of each phrase repeats on the next page. It's a technique that was used in early books to aid the reader.

"to observe whatever may appear in the heavens, whether"

"whether meteoritic fires or"

"or comets, and"

"to report them in detail to the emperor."

home galleries blog tutorials open studios
about links what's new contact