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Topic: Life and the Library and the Forest: Altered book for my year in Yosemite  (Read 1609 times)
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« on: January 06, 2019 05:51:45 PM »

For my final semester in library school, I moved to Yosemite to be a full-time intern at the Yosemite Research Library. After the semester ended, I got hired to work at the bookstore in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, and once the busy(est) season started winding down, it turned out the library had enough grant funding left over to bring me back through the end of the year. I wrote a blog about it, as part of my school requirements, but I had also hoped to create an altered book about the experience.
I kept delaying posting this altered book because it remains so incomplete. There is so much more to say and draw and express about the sacred, ever-changing Yosemite and my experiences therein! However, as some-bo-dy once told me, the years start coming and they don't stop coming, much like new projects that distract me. So I'm just going to share what I have since I don't know when I'll ever come back to filling out this book.  Smiley

It is an old volume from an outdated Time Life Books series that exists in practically every library I've been to, but which nobody wants. I picked it up from a library book sale for maybe $.25. Adding a few words to the cover (and putting tape over them), and covering pages with gesso, I had my starting point.

I prepped a lot of it before I arrived in Yosemite, and I was so busy working and just LIVING and soaking up the place that I didn't really want to slow down to pull out my traveling art supply kit. In hindsight, I should have at least colored more of the pages in advance, but at least they were gessoed.

There's a story connected to Yosemite behind everything in the book, whether it relates to how I received it or what it represents. The sticker was part of a gift package that came from a concessions staff member I'd only briefly met once, whose name I didn't recall; she had wrapped up dozens of packages of stickers and chocolates and was delivering them at Christmastime to any office or individuals she'd worked with throughout the year. Everyone who works in Yosemite Valley deals with so many hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands) of people every year that her thoughtfulness and generosity stood out all the more; not to mention park concessions staff make practically no money and are worked to the bone, so to give and hand-deliver gifts to so many people meant a lot. I hope she is thriving, wherever she is now!

I found a good-sized photo of Half Dome, and after gluing it to a page near the back of the book, cut the shape out of several preceding pages so the view could continue through much of the book.

For Earth Day I had a little workshop station where visitors could make journals out of scrap paper, with old Yosemite calendar pictures on the covers. I prepped tons of images beforehand to make the process faster for participants, and several scraps I cut out were still indicative enough of Yosemite's beauty for me to hold onto them and stick them into the book.

One of the simple pleasures I found in working for the bookstore was punching holes out of the ever-popular stickers  all tourists insist on buying. Once I discovered the punched hole pieces were also stickers, I started sweeping them up and collecting them to use in my book instead of throwing them away.

When you deal with hundreds of people every day, they really all start to look the same. Rather, there are a number of types you keep seeing over and over and over. I sketched out the primary types on my phone's sketch pad, but have only copied a couple of them down into the book so far. Grumpy, husky white guy with goatee in the camo or fishing/hunting t-shirt and baseball cap wasn't one I saw every hour, but he was the easiest to draw.

A friend sent me the greeting card on the right, without having seen where I was living that summer, and it was uncannily similar to the reality of my yard. There are smiley-face stickers relating to an interpersonal sore-spot in my library experience that I'll refrain from sharing here; it will suffice to say that I'm not into extrinsic reward systems.

Great image from a librarianship magazine; I still want to add more text to the page, though.

It didn't take long for me to realize that my goal of keeping a full-fledged nature journal just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I used sticky notes to listd animal species I encountered, with one per location (there are many, many areas within Yosemite).

I was trying to keep a long-distance relationship going at the same time, so on many of my weekends I went back to Central California by car or train. I embroidered the route on this California map.

Monochrome page of findings.

Though I didn't fill the page, this was my one attempt at taking the journal out on a hike and capturing what I experienced. It's a good practice, but it takes discipline that I hadn't developed. Plus, in the world of hikers and outdoor adventurers that I'd wandered into, books and art supplies are considered too much weight to bring on the trail. I thought that was preposterous at first, but then I started hiking and figured out what all the "travel light" hype is about! A big book is a no-go, but a pen and a few sheets of paper are still a good idea. There's no telling what inspiration might strike in the wilderness.

I'll add more or edit once I eventually come back to working on this book. I spent several amazing months with the National Park Service again more recently, in southeastern Utah, and I didn't even consider doing a book for that, knowing how far behind I am on this one! I hope I can keep finding ways of incorporating what I've loved about these parks into some kind of art.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019 06:03:09 PM by calluna » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Thank you for sharing this home with me for so many years.

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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019 06:32:28 PM »

Calluna, this is beautiful!!  What a fabulous treasure of memories.  A word of unsolicited advise, if you don't mind.  Don't put off working on it, even if it's just a quick note of a memory on a sticky note.  I started a similar book from 2012 and kept putting off putting memories into it until I could 'craft it right' and now some of the memories are fading.  So I'm keeping a stash of pieces of paper to just capture the memory.  Beautuful work!

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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2019 07:05:07 PM »

Mun!! Hi, I haven't "seen" you in ages! I hope all is well. You're absolutely right. Even if I were to work on it now, I'm not the same person now, and it would cease to be a book that captures that special time period.

Thank you for sharing this home with me for so many years.

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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019 07:32:31 PM »

It has been way WAY too long since I've been here but it's great to be back.

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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2019 06:12:01 AM »

Oh, this is wonderful! I really like the cut out, so cool.


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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2019 06:31:04 AM »

What a great way to commemorate a wondrous experience! Or at least parts of it. Wink  Kiss

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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2019 10:00:52 AM »

What an amazing piece to commemorate an amazing experience!

« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2019 02:00:03 PM »

This is really awesome, epic and fantastic!

I hope you're able to continue to add to it - especially the sketches of the visitors!

Really, really great.

(Hi MunLtStampr - so happy to have you back!)

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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019 12:37:10 PM »

Love your book!  It is a wonderful snapshot of your time in Yosemite-obviously what you've done still evokes memories for you which is the main reason for an altered book I think.  I wonder why we are always so hard on ourselves for not "completing" projects/ideas-really if you choose to continue with your book it would be interesting to see how time has influenced your memories.   But if you don't it still exists as a portal of your time there.   Totally a win either way Smiley

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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2019 12:39:27 PM »

Congrats! This has been chosen as a Featured Project! Smiley

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