Ordinary Objects, Unusual Books

February 9, 2018

By Nancy Kuhl

A Beinecke Top Ten List of titles using everyday objects in unusual ways to make unique and limited-edition books (plus one using books to make an unusual object).

Please Plant This Book by Richard Brautigan, San Francisco: Graham Mackintosh, c1968.
Call Number: Zab B739 968Q
Printed on envelopes containing seeds with directions for planting.
Tender buttons, Tenderly. By Laura Davidson, [Boston, Mass.], 2007.
Call Number: Zm St34
“Selected passages from Gertrude Stein’s ‘Tender buttons’ published in 1914”–T.p. verso.Thirteen 4.5 cm. paper discs joined accordion-style with a pink silk ribbon to form 26 pages, in a hinged brass box with seven buttons affixed to the lid.
Paper Dolls: Stories from Women Who Served edited by Pam DeLuco; illustrated by Annemaree Rea, San Francisco, CA : Shotwell Paper Mill, 2013.
Call Number: Za2 R22 2013P
Letterpress and silkscreen on paper made from military uniforms. “Paper Dolls: stories from women who served, is a fully functioning paper doll book. Each letterpress printed story is followed by a screen printed illustration onto paper made from the uniform referenced in the story. The stories span more than 40 years of service and include all branches of the military. Together, they represent a collective experience of women in the armed forces.” – Shotwell Paper Mill.
Crawl Space by Suzanne Heyd. [United States? : s.n., 200-?]
Call Number: Zac H511 C85 2000
Poems printed on 24 numbered paint chips in shades of white, laid in paper case secured with copper wire.
Flight: Tales of the Urge to fly from Daedalus to Lilienthal by Charles Hobson, [San Francisco, California] : Pacific Editions, 2017.
Call Number: Zab H6525 +2017F
“FLIGHT has been made as a limited edition of 30 copies, completed in the fall of 2017. Charles Hobson wrote the text and created pastel monotypes for the edition which have been reproduced as high-resolution digital prints. The typeface is Adobe Garamond and the text has been printed on stained paper created with an acrylic wash. Each book contains five folded paper airplanes fitted into pop-up tabs.
Gather the Supplies Needed for your Tea Reading Session … By Amy Millan. [Valencia, California] : [California Institute of the Arts], 2013.
Call Number: Zac M605 P21 2013
A poem and two tea bags housed in a box. An edition statement has been typed on the bottom of the box and a ribbon with a tag has been tied around the box.
Half Off by Mimi Pond.  Berkeley, CA : Rebis Press, c1981.
Call Number: Zab P7737 +981H
Bound in transparent vinyl cover with pink shower cap oversewn along spine.
Asylum– Institution– Sanitarium–  by Tama Stone.  [New York]  c2004.
Call Number: Art Storage 924
A doll bed, mattress, pillow, pillowcase, flat top sheet, flat bottom sheet and blanket; all cloth items machine-embroidered with women’s accounts of being declared insane, with rules of conduct from a women’s jail or with statements by the artist.
A History of the Accordion Book by Peter and Donna Thomas, Santa Cruz [Calif.], 2015.
Call Number: 2016 Folio 6
An artist’s book made by slitting open the bellows of an unrepairable A. Rosati accordion and inserting images and text to create the pages of the book. The front side of the accordion consists of the keys, the buttons, and ten pages. Nine of those pages are illustrations, one is the title page. The back side of the accordion consists of 12 pages, five of which are illustrations, seven of which are text. “This real accordion book was made … for Yale’s Beinecke Library in the late fall and winter of 2015 … This is a one-of-a-kind book”–Colophon.
Call Number: Zab V3115 +983E
Nine fabric leaves with painted illustrations and text. Leaves sewn together with Japanese stab binding.
Jubilation by Sande Wascher-James. [Whidbey Island, Wash.], 2012.
Call Number: 2013 Folio 112
An artist’s book consisting of a pop-up paper sculpture in the shape of a fan, mounted on 2 black cloth-covered panels placed end to end. The fan consists of 24 sections, each filled with Japanese papers in red, gold, white and black and spilling out over the top, as are three red “Bicycle” playing cards at each end. The sections are made of paper, printed with French calligraphy lessons and 18th century Italian ms. text and decorated with printed images of pens and pen nibs. Each section is folded in the manner known as Turkish Map Fold, and the Japanese paper enclosures are sewn into the sections with black thread.
Votes for Women by Sande Wascher-James. [Whidbey Island, Wash.], 2015.
Call Number: 2015 Folio 137
Housed in custom-made box with one of the posters from the suffrage movement and an image of “Votes for Women” pin on the lid, image of pin repeated on interior of box.  Along with the papers are stamps of American women who were influential to the suffrage movement or who worked for women’s rights. Included are Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Julia Ward Howe, Belva Ann Lockwood, Abigail Adams, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie C. Catt, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, and Frances E. Willard. There is a stamp honoring the 50th Anniversary of woman suffrage and two stamps celebrating equality progress. There are also images of “Votes for Women” buttons and two pictures of women promoting voting (one from the 1920’s and one from the 1960’s). Includes paper-doll cut-outs of four women carrying lanterns who were part of one of the marches in New York.
The Valise by César Aira, Johanna Calle, Matías Duville, Maria Laet, Mateo López, Nicolás Paris, Rosângela Rennó, Christian Vinck Henriquez.  New York : Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, [2017]
Call Number: 2017 Folio 307
Physical Description:95 pages + 1 volume + 2 posters  + 1 volume + 1 album + 37 prints + 1 kidney shape object + 1 handscroll  + 1 volume  + 1 envelope  + 1 map + 1 sound disc + 1 double-headed glass bulb + 1 booklet ( 21 pages ). Issued in a carrying case
The Loveliest Night in Ages. [New Haven, Conn.] : [Publication Studio New Haven], [2011]
 Call Number: 2014 Folio 365
A unique book created by the guests at the Publication Studio New Haven dinner on Nov. 18, 2011, which marked the end of the Studio’s week-long residency at its pop-up shop in New Haven. Pages are fashioned from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shopping bags and contain autographs from dinner guests, hand drawn illustrations using ballpoint pens and markers, and collages made with pine needles, leaves and wax candle droppings.
[Brown paper bag book] [New York, N.Y.] : [Creature Press], [2010?]
A blank “book” created from an unopened brown paper bag that has been cut in half horizontally, with one half placed inside the other and stapled in the middle to form 8 “pages.” Printed on an angle in the upper right-hand corner of the first “page” are three lines of text: CREA / TURE / press.


[Demon tumbling down stairs] by Erica Van Horn, [Paris : s.n.], 1988.
Call Number: Zab V3115 988D
Five books wired together side-by-side and the covers hand-painted. “Illuminated books #18. Erica Van Horn, 1988.”

Beinecke Top Tens gather (approximately) ten related items to give an at-a-glance look at some of the Library’s interesting, important, strange, compelling, beautiful holdings. To suggest a list subject, contact us: Top Ten Ideas.