Karen Hardy, “Beckoning”

The cover of the book, made of clear acrylic sheets laminated with translucent handmade paper. The title is slightly obscured beneath a layer of paper, introducing the elusiveness and depth that are important conceptual features of the book.

The imagery in this spread was created with embedded sand and pigmented pulp, applied using a stencil technique as the paper was made. Elements fnom multiple pages are visible thnough several layers at once, coming into and out offocus as the viewer moves thnough the space of the book.

A detail view of a translucent page with hair inclusions. The paper throughout the book contains combinations of abaca, flax, and denim, and its translucency is the result of overbeating the abaca and flax pulp.

A spread showing the use of pigmented and unpigmented pulp. Because the papermaking process involves an aqueous suspension of fibers, the action of waves crashing is captured in these pages quite literally as the different types of pulp collide and disperse.


Karen Hardy (Asheville, NC)

abaca, flax and denim handmade papers, sand, hair, linen thread, acrylic; letterpress printing
Edition of 3
30 pages
12.25″ x 34.5″ x 0.25″ open
12.25″ x 18.25″ x 0.25″ closed

Curiosity about materials and the associations that they carry is my primary motivation as an artist. My artist books begin with paper that I make by hand, and their meaning is inseparable from their physical materials. More than simply a two-dimensional substrate, paper can communicate ideas through expressive qualities that are not merely visual, but tactile, aural, and even olfactory.

Beckoning is about gravitational force, both in the physical, literal sense of the moon pulling at the earth’s oceans to generate tides, and in the psychological phenomenon of being drawn to the moon and to the sea. The concept forth is book developed through working with the paper itself. I created imagery and texture with different types of paper pulp, and with sand, thread, or hair that I embedded in the sheets as they were made. Because the paper is translucent, the composition of each spread is defined by what appears within, behind and on the surface of the pages, causing an ambiguity of depth that pulls the viewer through the layers.

The book is divided into two sections, introduced by a quote from Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea:
“The tides address the sense of hearing, speaking a language of their own distinct from the voice of the surf.”

The first section, titled “Overture: Susurrous,” consists of several delicate “blank” pages that rustle as they are turned, suggesting the sound of waves on the shore. The thin, translucent sheets progress through a gradient of color from deep indigo to unpigmented, and serve as a reflection on the falling tide. In the second section, “Pull and Beckon,” partially obscured forms are gradually revealed and then disappear again as pages are turned. Moving through the layers is akin to traveling through the depths of the ocean, or glimpsing the bright orb of the moon through drifting clouds. On the final pages, the Pablo Neruda poem, “Nace (It is Born)” is letterpress-printed in both the original Spanish and in English translation.