aBout aBoBoBook

RICK & JONI GRAVES
My husband Rick makes tightly focused photographic images of aging industrial, structural, and everyday details, which are often in a state of neglect, decay, or repurpose. I make blank and bespoke books.

In 2018 we decided to focus on the photography and I will only accept custom bookbinding commissions, as time permits. Time will be at a premium over the summer because, in addition to selling on Etsy, we are taking to the road on the art fair circuit.

OUR 2018 SCHEDULE will be updated as the season progresses:
▶︎ DubuqueFest (Dubuque, IA) — 19-20 May
▶︎ Cogs & Corsets (Bloomington, IL) — 1-3 June
▶︎ Spring Green Art Fair (Spring Green, WI) — 23-24 June
▶︎ Faire on the Green (Oshkosh, WI) — 8 July
▶︎ Trollway Art Fair (Mount Horeb, WI) — 21-22 July
▶︎ Art in the Park (Lake Geneva, WI) — 11-12 August
▶︎ Big Four Arts Festival (Louisville, KY) — 8-9 September


BACKGROUND
Since our launch in 2015, I've taken great pleasure in crafting and binding each softcover aBoBoBook by hand. My husband Rick has lovingly printed many of his beautiful photographs, which we've used as book covers. In 2017, we expanded to include some of his stand-alone photographic images for purchase.

Rick's been taking photographs for decades, with a focus on the visual details that make up our world. His formal training was in the performing arts, so perhaps it's not surprising that he's interested in the ways that movement of light and form play together to create motion and emotion. With a background in old-school film photography, his images are printed with little or no manipulation of the digital image.

We are delighted that three of his images were jury-selections for the 2017 annual edition of MIDWEST REVIEW, including one used as a dramatic wrap-around cover. See https://midwestreview.org/issues/<br />
Rick's images can be incorporated as the cover of a handmade aBoBobook blank book, as traditional prints, metal prints, canvas prints, or A8-size blank greeting cards (with envelopes).

* * * * * * * * * *

In 2014, I participated in a terrific bookbinding workshop at Hamilton Wood Type Museum's annual Wayzgoose in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Participants were provided with 6x8” paper, told to fold it in half, and everyone created a stack of 4x6” signatures. I folded mine to be 3x8”—just to be different—and the result was akin to the 5x7” notepads that I’d used for years, with the advantage that it folded away to an even more manageable size. I had done some bookbinding before, but this time I was hooked and made scores of softcover books, in various sizes, for friends and family. As my bookbinding skills improved, my enthusiasm for the craft was only whetted. The result was aBoBoBook.

Although I've done other binding techniques, I'm still enchanted by Coptic binding and love that it looks like braiding. In addition to Rick's photos, some of my book covers are made using upcycled hanging file folders. I love their color and texture, and the olive drab covers are decorated with my doodle designs. The book sizes range from 3x7" or 4x6” to 5x7" and some custom books have been approximately 7x7" up to 8x12".

I’ve always loved pens and blank books. I like writing lists, doodling, and, over the years, I’ve been an inveterate notetaker using 5x7” pads. Working with engineers, I was impressed that many used successive bound notebooks, although I find the standard size to be unwieldy. Eventually I transitioned to using 5x7" notepads and smaller 'softcover' blank books of various sizes.

Like many people, I've found that putting pen to paper can be daunting: “It's too nice to write in it...” people say. I credit Anne Tyler, and her 1982 novel “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” for providing the antidote to that:
“New Year’s Day, nineteen-fourteen,” Ezra read aloud. “I hope this little diary will not get lost as last year’s did. I hope I will not put anything foolish in it as I have been known to do before.”
His mother hid a smile, unsuccessfully. What foolishness could she have been up to so long ago? Ezra’s eyes slipped down the page to a line that had been crossed out.
“There’s something here I can’t read,” he said.
“I never was known for my penmanship.”
“No, I mean you scribbled over it with so many loops and things—”
“Apple apple,” his mother said.
“Excuse me?”
“That’s what we wrote over words that we wanted kept secret. Appleappleapple all joined together, so no one could guess what was written underneath.”
“Well, it certainly worked,” Ezra said.

I vividly remember putting the book down to test it—and it really does work. So, appleappleapple ...

Cheers, Joni

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