Dipping in wax

Having made a film of me leafing through To The Sunlit Uplands, I planned to seal the book somehow. Glueing it closed would not have been visible for the viewer; it would just look like a closed book, not a sealed one. I considered binding or chaining it, but neither seemed appropriate to the idea of a book that is no longer (or perhaps never was) useful, which you want to set aside but not actually throw away.

Then I read about George Kubler’s concept in The Shape of Time (1962) of grave goods as things you are at the same time discarding and retaining. Thinking of how you might prepare something as a tomb furnishing and seeing the use other people had made of wax led me to think about dipping the book in wax or possibly wrapping the book in fabric and dipping the whole parcel. Either way, I would be sealing it shut but also preserving it.

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So here are my experiments in the casting workshop. First, I tried just dipping a small notebook. The colours and the writing are much more striking and contrasting than my book, so they show through even after several dippings, when I knew that the wax would just completely obscure TTSU. 

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160224 wax 04 for webI tried dipping fabric, which was harder to control than I expected. Though I liked the sculptural qualities of the result.

Then I wrapped one of the small notebooks, first in strips of fabric – a total disaster! – and next in one piece of fabric. This worked best if the book was set at a diagonal on the fabric so that the wrapped sections criss-crossed the front cover – see the photo on the right.

I was happy enough with this to want to do it with the actual book.

But just in case of problems, I had brought a book similar to TTSU from a previous small edition which I used for the final test. Here it is dipped in wax and then wrapped in wax-dipped fabric, and finally dipped again.

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The book quickly became completely obscured.  The right hand photo above is after several dippings. Once you could no longer see the book, the whole thing became just an object in itself, with a waxy yet fabric like surface, so I carried on dipping to see what could be achieved.

For the final version I decided not to dip the book first but just to go with the fabric dipped in wax and wrapped round. And to stop dipping while the sense of something below the wax was still present.

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