Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flag Books for Everyone

April Diary, 1979, Hedi Kyle
Paper, Binder's board, Ink, and Watercolor
In the collection of Richard Minsky
Note: This is the original design for the book form know as the "Flag Book"


Many lifetimes ago, I worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Perched in a tiny attic space off of the library, my task was to unwrap bundles of items that had been stored there and decide what their relationship was to the museum's history, document them and put them into a more archival package.

This was the Memorabilia Collection and this was a rather wonderful job. I found packets of photographs from around the world before globalization changed how everyone lived; travel kits (one made by Cartier) for explorers who went into the wild places in the world; artwork of all kinds and dimensions; documents; papers; etc., etc. Everyday revealed new and exciting finds in my little treasure trove.

When I became lonely in my quiet little space I would creep down the ladder into the Restoration Studio where women with a wide range of incredible skills were at work cleaning paper, rebinding rare books and creating wondrous fitted boxes with leather and gold lettering to safely cradle priceless tomes.

One of these book wizards was Hedi Kyle, the originator of the design for a book form known as the "Flag Book". I attended a workshop to learn from her how to make this fabulous book form many years later. However, concurrent to the period when I worked at the museum, I studied book arts with her at the Center for Book Arts, then located on Lafayette, around the corner from the loft I had sublet at Bond and Bowery.

From Hedi I also learned how to make paste decorated papers (to be discussed later in another posting). Well, if you combine paste papers with a flag book format you can have a great deal of fun with young people, old people and everyone in between. This is such a flexible and forgiving format. It not only encourages individual creativity but also allows those who are less deft to create something that is quite fascinating and satisfying in the end! No mean feat for book arts that are well known for requiring the higher end of fine motor skills.


This is a student made project with the objective of illustrating something from 32 different points of view. When high school students are able to channel their true interests into art you can get some amazing results.
Here is a basic formula for a two flag book format
Flag book pdf by Kathy Miller & Diane
Weintraub

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