Daniel Essig makes book-based sculpture. To be more precise, he makes fantastical, elaborate, majestic book-based sculpture like nothing you’ve seen before.
Books are at the heart of each piece, but it’s as if their contents have left the confines of paper sheets and gained form outside the covers. Fish, birds, bridges, and buildings take shape in wood, and books may be tucked into a beak or studded like fins on the back of a sturgeon. Each book is expertly bound using the centuries-old Ethiopian Coptic binding technique, but many contain only blank pages. Text itself may appear instead as pattern transferred to a wooden figure, individual characters of lead printer’s type, or sheets of pages recycled from 19th-century Bibles. Together with paint, handmade paper, mica, rusted nails, thread, fabric, fossils, and other found objects, Daniel brings it all together into three-dimensional storybooks that are part fantasy, part history, and fully engrossing.
Daniel describes the small room in his house where he stores his lifetime’s collection of inspiration—rocks, bones, seedpods, shells, and more—as a German Wunderkammern, a “cabinet of curiosities.” And for eight weeks this fall, a portion of that Wunderkammern will make its home in the Penland wood studio for Daniel’s concentration Books, Relics, Curiosities. The workshop, like Daniel’s own pieces, will combine elements of bookbinding and woodworking. Sculptors, woodworkers, book artists, and total beginners are all welcome—the only prerequisite is curiosity.
Books, Relics, Curiosities will run September 25-November 18, 2016. Registration is open now, and a few work-study scholarships are still available. Call the Penland registrar at 828-765-2359 ext. 1306 for more information.
Books, Relics, Curiosities
Daniel Essig—This workshop will use wood to explore and honor elements of the book. After learning the basics of woodshop safety and tool use, we’ll investigate the infinite possibilties of book-based sculpture. Techniques will include carving, turning, burning, sanding, altering, distressing, painting, and bookbinding. Students will be encouraged to collaborate and to explore alternative materials. They can expect to complete a series of book sculptures. We’ll have daily demonstrations as well as discussions of historic and contemporary book forms. Everyone is welcome: book artists, woodworkers, curious beginners, etc. All levels. Code F00W
Studio artist; teaching: Anderson Ranch (CO), Arrowmont (TN), University of Georgia Cortona Italy Program, Penland; collections: Renwick Gallery (DC), Mint Museum (NC); representation: Vamp and Tramp Booksellers (GA); publications: The Penland Book of Handmade Books, Masters: Book Arts (both Lark Books).