I must admit to feeling somewhat despondent today.  That’s not a frequent thing for me, but I have a reason to feel despondent, today of all days.  I’ve been thwarted.

How and by whom? I hear you ask.  Well, let me tell you . . .

I have made a commitment to participate in the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild “Art of the Book 2013”.  This is an event that only happens once every five years, and our Calgary Chapter is privileged to be hosting this time around.  Traditionally the opening is held in Toronto in conjunction with a conference or book fair.  After that, the show travels across the country for two years.  For the first time, the show will open outside Toronto, exhibiting at The Triangle Gallery in downtown Calgary from Thursday, July 4 to Thursday, August 22, 2013.  The show will then go on its travels for the next two years.

“The Art of the Book” is a remarkable showcase of the best of contemporary book arts in Canada.  Any library catalogue search will reveal past “Art of the Book” catalogues in circulation, with consistently high quality of content and production.

This is my first time participating, and it has been my intention to begin early and produce all new work to submit to this exhibition.  I have already shared with you my thinking behind my recently completed artist’s book “The Voice of Silence”.  There is a photo essay to be found on my Facebook page, giving more detail of the creation process.  “The Voice of Silence” is the first of the books I am creating for “The Art of the Book”.

The next books to be created were something even more special.  I had begun the planning for these books last Fall.  The intention was to create a three-dimensional box-type hinged book from a dried and carved gourd.  I had the vision in my mind very clearly and began with the selection of some particularly fine warty gourds last October.  Yes.  Last October.  How’s that for planning?  It is, of course, possible and quite easy to purchase pre-dried and cleaned gourds online for craft purposes, but they all have a smooth skin.  I wanted the bumpy, ‘warty’ exterior.  So, I chose my own.

I then set about drying them.  As instructed, I kept them in a sheltered place, on my deck, turning them regularly and checking for mould.  They have sat outside on a layer of dry compost since early November 2011.  I have checked them every day, looked in on them, made sure they were alright and coming along.  At last inspection a mere two days ago, they were hard and dry and had a good hollow sound and no mould.  It seemed time to bring them in and begin the work.

image courtesy of Arizona Gourds

You may imagine my dismay, therefore, to go out on my deck to collect them this morning, only to find them . . . gone.  No, not fallen, not broken or smashed or damaged beyond use.  Simply . . . gone, where they had been present yesterday.  In that moment, the bottom fell out of my dream for this book (these books, if both of the dried gourds were successful).

Of course, I have gone through every permutation of what may have happened to them.  I have put up notices in my building asking for their return.  I have cleaned my house with a fury to channel my anger and disappointment.  And all the while, my mind has been a blank where they should have been.  I have worked on this vision methodically for so long, and now I must think of something else.  It is too late to begin again, I will not be able to properly dry new gourds in time for the submission deadline. 

And so now, instead of my well-planned execution of new work, based on ideas that have been mulling in my mind for the last year, I must begin again.  And where my ideas were, there is a big blank page.