The beard album

beard_album02web

The idea of miniature men with beards has consumed me for the last few weeks, beginning with the ones drawn on drafting film with a brush pen (see here). This book was conceived to be like a Victorian photo album, full of serious looking people sitting very still. These are serious looking men, some from the modern era, some from earlier days, with their only link being that they have beards. Their beards are clearly an important part of their identity, often worn with a swagger, and generally beautifully kept, trimmed and neat. The modern ones may even use beard balm – a product I have only recently come across.

The book is made as a concertina, with windows decorated with punched holes to surround each face. Each drawing was as crisp as I could make it. The ones inside are 25 x 25 mm and the one on the cover is a little larger, being 30 mm deep. They are drawn with graphite pencil. I do my initial drawings much larger, spilling out of an A4 sketchbook, then I scan them, reduce them to the size required then redraw from that.

The album pages are paper with a marbled texture to them, and the cover is red leather, with punched holes and gold thread stitched and woven around the aperture. The cover is very simply made, simply cut to size with a very sharp knife, the folds for the spine made with pressure from a bone folder pressed along the edges. The drawing for the front was taped in place, then a piece of the same paper as the concertina glued on top, then the concertina glued to the back cover. The black leather straps for closing the album are inserted through small slits cut in the spine of the book, and then wrap around to be tied at the back.

This album will be submitted for the miniature art exhibition which will be held in Sydney in May at Juniper Hall in Paddington.

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31 thoughts on “The beard album

  1. So great to see how the bearded men came together. It’s a beautiful and refined presentation Anna. It’s great to see it in comparison to your hand so I understand it’s size, very small. I hope you submit it for the show you mentioned in your post. Wonderful work Anna!

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  2. What a brain you have! I would never in 16 lifetimes think to produce something like this. I am spellbound. I love the way you ‘value-add’ by making such a beautiful concertina book…like a house for all your men. Each man has his own room and window.
    I hope you have granddaughters one day because I can so see you making fairy-sized books for them.
    Wonderful, Anna!

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    1. Its a brain that has a lot of stuff going on Julie! A bit like a dog with too many interesting smells to follow …. I love your analogy to a house for the men and I can absolutely see it! Making fairy sized books for grand daughters, or even grandsons, now that could be fun!

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    1. Aah, dapper! That is a nice description! Yes, I find doing large, loose but fairly detailed drawings first informs the small ones, but they still turn out differently as I like them to take on their own character. The process helps me get inside what I am trying to capture. Thanks Jana!

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      1. Sort of, but I meant more than that. It subverts the whole idea of weighty people. So I might imagine a piece of Victoriana, miniature portraits of people of importance, selected to go into a book for the instruction of children, ladies and the servant class. But, in fact, the portraits have been selected for the weight of their beards. So by comedy I don’t mean it is trivial or mere poking fun. The comedy is part of the artistic narrative. One might even see it as feminist art.
        This is my take on this. It does not have to be yours of course. I love the project.

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        1. That is a perfect articulation of what I was trying to achieve – I knew there were more developed ideas of the intricacy of what I was trying to depict in my mind, but you have drawn them out into words. The beards, and what they signify, are the essence of what pushed me into making this little book. It could be a feminist statement too, I will need to think more about that. Would a man approach this in the same way? Thank you so much for elaborating your comment, its something I will continue to turn over in my mind.

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          1. Hi Anna
            I enjoyed reading your reply. I do think that the blogging works quite well to gather reactions to our work. I have benefited similarly.
            As to your question would a man approach this similarly, I think this idea was unique to you. Somehow though, the idea of this piece seems more natural and less laboured, both lighter in tone but sharper in its point, than if a man had conceived this as a consciously pro-feminist statement.

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            1. I agree about blogging – it is so useful to get people’s responses to our work. Everyone is generally very kind, but even a non-response is sometimes enlightening! This is such an interesting discussion – I think anything that is conceived as a statement is immediately on shaky ground, and can end up laboured and unsubtle. With the way I work, ideas emerge gradually, and I often surprise myself by the outcome, and can then often find more significance in the imagery than was originally imagined. Of course, this can work in reverse too, and a piece can end up more emotionally hollow than expected. Also, I do like the idea of finding comedy or humour, or even whimsy within subjects, but once again, generally it is the things that creep up on me that I think are more successful. To me, some kind of back-story, or just something more than a beautiful image is important. Thank you so much for this – discussion is such a good way of clarifying ideas!

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  3. This is really beautiful – I think its really lovely when the way the artwork is presented becomes part of the artwork, plus small perfect books are always cute!!

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  4. I love how you have incorporated them all into a book. Your binding as always is so interesting with your attention to all the small details. The red leather and gold are a great addition, giving a modern take on Victorian bling. Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen – I knew I wanted to emphasise as you call it ‘Victorian bling’ and the heavy decorative element of those albums, so I’m glad that came across. Making a sort of package of the drawings through an album like this takes the idea into another area I think.

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