NINA: Greetings HBC Community! For my first ever member interview, I had the pleasure of shooting some questions over to Pamela Wood of Rarehare Creations. Initially I was intrigued by her balance of artist books and fine bindings and on delving deeper found someone with an intense passion for art and story telling. Read on and learn more about a fellow member...
NINA: I sort of fell into book making by accident so I'm always curious- how did you get into bookbinding and book arts?
PAMELA: I have a BFA in Studio Art Printmaking. Handmade paper and many parts of book arts were not foreign to me. My first jobs took me into graphic design, producing publications and a high end magazine. I started my own graphic design firm, Artboard InK, Ltd (it is now mostly Rarehare Creations) and I still do some graphic design. In the mid 1990's I took my first book art class, from there I sought out all kinds of engineering for artist's books I could find on my own. Duplicating the structures as I could. I sought out classes in book arts at the University of Utah book arts program and then to AAB in 2009 for my first classes.
I made a lot of books. I had a solo show of my work in 2006, most people had never seen my work all in one place. Vamp and Tramp, Bill and Vicky Stewart, came to the show. I signed them as my agent, I'm still getting in collections that I would have had a hard time doing myself.
NINA: I’ve been viewing your pieces online and you tend to use a variety of media. I see that you are also a diploma applicant at AAB, how do you balance the fine bookbinding with the more artist book aspect of your work? Do you find that one lends itself, or informs, the other as you are working?
PAMELA: I have spent my life immersed in art. I had only one goal: to be an artist. Exploring all kinds of materials and techniques is very exciting. I like having lots of resources for my books, it helps to know where you want your piece to go. The balance of artist's books and fine binding is an interesting question. On one hand you think that they can work together, when they can work against each other. How I manage is to alternate between the two. I can keep it fresh in both areas. The part that helps both areas is craftsmanship. You can never go wrong with an expertly executed work, the little things really matter.
NINA: Your work is not only hand-bound but you also write, illustrate, and make paper. How in the world do you find time to do all of that? Do you work through one project at a time until it is complete or do you have multiple projects in various stages going at the same time?
PAMELA: I have lots of stories. Books are my expression to tell my story my way. I still create one at a time. What happens is I spend non-work time thinking about other projects, and sometimes even dreaming of them at night. I have lots of drawings, plans, and notes in folders. I go to the folder and get the materials together for my next books while finishing up one on my bench. I have always drawn. In fact, my first jobs out of college involved drawing: I created line art of appliances from photos for newspaper ads, the other was drawing for two archaeology digs the pottery and excavated finds. I write in waves, when the ideas come to me. When I go to do the final piece I refine and edit them. The illustrations are refined when I get to the finished piece, it is the same for the decision to use handmade paper. I make handmade paper in big batches. It is lots of physical labor, the process is just not worth it for one sheet. With a stockpile of my handmades, I can decide what will work best, like my other design decisions. In 1996, I had a fellowship to develop my own pulp formulas and make the paper for two weeks. It was a wonderful experience. By knowing how to make beautiful handmade paper, your work will be better for the knowledge.
NINA: One thing I think everyone always wants to know - how did you come up with your studio name? There are animals incorporated into several of your works, how did you decide on the hare to include in your name?
PAMELA: My studio name is Rarehare Creations. I was born in the year of the Rabbit. I was working on a book that got me researching the history of the Chinese Zodiac. With this I developed the PSW in the rabbit shape. Initially I intended to have the shape be created for my own watermark in my handmade papers. I decided to leave it as my logo. I love it. It really suits me.
The Rabbit on the Moon book is the story of how the rabbit got to the moon and why. The story just about broke my heart. I wanted it to be a special book. Now having lost my husband suddenly last year, the shock of the rabbit on the moon story parallels the shock I've been dealing with this past year, grief and PTSD. I'm coming "home" through my artwork, it's very slow. I'm finishing a book this weekend, it took too long, but it has pulled me back to life. Without my books and their creation I'd be well...let's just say it's saving my life.
This blog post was written by Nina Eve Zeininger.