I was lucky to attend Emily Tinkler’s free Altered Books workshop at S. Walter Stewart Library, where more than a dozen participants eagerly listened to Emily describe how to fold, cut, and poke pages with an awl to turn an old book with a sewn binding into a work of art.
My husband had given me an out-of-date computer book to use for the workshop, and I soon went to work folding the pages to create an accordion shape. I was inspired by the examples that Emily had brought to show us, especially the one in which wire and ribbon rioted through the pages of a former book.
After the session, I took my unfinished piece home, where it sat on a table mutely calling out for something to spring from the folds of paper. Meanwhile, I continued sewing clumps of paper together with saffron and fern green thread.
A trip to the sticker aisle in an art store supplied me with the missing element. Fish! When I saw the fish collection, they seemed to want to be flying out of a book.
Back home with my stickers, I experimented with enlarged color copies of them, and Stewart kindly offered to print out mirror images on photograph paper to resolve the problem of looking at the back side of the piece and not seeing fish.
With my fish assembled, it was just a matter of cutting and arranging twelve skewers and affixing the energetic yet dignified creatures to them. As a final touch, I tied short lengths of the saffron and green thread around each skewer. I also added stickers to the decorated inside covers of the book. And that’s the story of Flying Bookfish!