Little hands, little books
RANJANI K. SHETTAR
At a recent book art workshop, children were taught how to make their own books...
The art of scrolling...
From the time writing became a way of communication and recording information, there arose a need for books. Binders, designers, writers and artists have contributed towards its evolution.
In the Late Bronze Age, traders used diptych which had two wooden cases cast with wax which could be scratched upon; Babylonians had clay tablets for books; Assyrians wrote on clay tablets which were in the form of octagonal cylinders; Egyptians had papyrus scrolls; people of the Middle East wrote on parchment scrolls and the Chinese on silk scrolls; our ancestors used palm leaves for scriptures. Chinese invention of paper in 100 A.D. became a landmark in the history of book making. Books have gone through changes before arriving at the rectangular format codex (groups of pages bound together between the covers of a book) book of today, which is handy and convenient.
Book art is a specialised subject. Getting children to work upon it opens up new avenues for their creative expression. The recent book art workshop at Samkalpa Art Studio was a culmination of literary and artistic work. Our experiment of book art worked well with the collaboration between artists and writer. It was just the right combination to elicit response from the children. Eight participants between the ages of six and 14 wrote their own stories and illustrated them in the book they made themselves.
Working on a book format, opens up new possibilities for their expression. They start seeing a purpose to write and draw. Authorship and ownership! A book format work will sensitise children to many issues like layouts; different formats of books other than the regular rectangular ones; narration, splitting it to several pages in a meaningful way and having something to illustrate in every page and to seeing the published books in a new perspective. Choosing an interesting shape for the cover page or for the book itself, which is related to the story gives them a good creative exercise (an apple-shaped book for an apple story or a ghost-shaped book for a ghost story).
The activity may have been exhausting, but the final outcome was worth every moment of it.
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