Now I Know My ABC's
As a book artist and calligrapher, I am captivated by the power and mystery of words,
and by the textures and images they invoke. In my books, letterforms themselves
become reflections of the chosen text. Their quality of line, weight, spacing, and
placement on the page combine to create an expressive visual language.
The impetus for a new book may come from my sensory reactions to the words. What
do I hear when I think of the words? What images or colors come to mind when I read
I see the idea of "text" also in a broader sense, and sometimes to the exclusion of
words, which results in books harboring abstract texts made of color and shape
arrangements. I like the fascinating ambiguity about a text or meaning which may
remain veiled, just beyond our complete understanding.
Exploring the interaction of form and content is the never-ending and often exciting task
of the book artist. For the person who makes one-of-a-kind book structures, the search
is always on for unusual materials which will amplify and give form to the text. My long-
time interest in working with fibers as a spinner and weaver has carried over into my
book pieces. Some are woven or lashed with bamboo, linen or leather. Others are
bound with handspun cords and threads during the paper-making process.
It is when I move out of the familiar that I experience the most joy in my work.
My interest and loyalty are rightfully placed upon the search and not the destination.
My perceptions about "book" are ever-changing, and my books are always a
surprise to me.
“Now I Know My ABC's” is simply an alphabet book, in that it contains only the letters
on units (the blocks are the "pages"), all gathered together in a binding (the box).
“Teleology” is bound with techniques I learned from Daniel Kelm. One interesting point
of information that you may already have about that one is that the colorful papers
came from a collaborative design session with me and three other calligraphers. We
took turns painting upon several pieces of paper, then cut the large papers in half. Our
task was to each make some kind of artist book. We later had an exhibition of our
books. Each one was quite different in form. "Teleology" was my effort in this
A calligrapher and lettering artist for thirty years, Jean is recognized for experimental
alphabet design and innovative one-of-a-kind artist books. She has traveled throughout
the United States and Canada, lecturing and teaching a variety of calligraphy and book
arts workshops and frequently is an instructor at international calligraphy conferences.
Jean's work has appeared in regional and national exhibitions and is published in
lettering arts books and calendars. Her commercial lettering for the greeting card
industry, advertising, rubber stamp design and corporate identity is created in her
studio in Savage, Minnesota. As a fiber artist, she continues to hand-spin, weave, and
market a variety of yarns spun from natural fibers. Her current interests include on-going
exploration into the creative work of William Morris. Since 1999, Jean has also been
involved with the healing art of Reiki as a practitioner and teacher.