For this three volume set of artists books, I began with a whimsical challenge. What could I do with this collection of fortune cookie fortunes that I’d saved over the years? Small treasures of wisdom or nonsense, I felt a need to preserve them, feeling it would be unlucky just to too my fortune in the bin. At the same time as I was wondering about fortunes, I came across some cast off pieces of Rives BFK paper, again too precious to toss in recycle, yet too small to use for a real print. And yet, again, I had acquired a collective of embroidery thread that seemed to me like watercolors in fibrous form. And so, my fortune cookie fortunes would become art, as random as the fortunes themselves. I began the process by pasting them down in different spaces and angles in the 27 little pieces of the precious printing paper that I’d saved and divided up. Then I pulled out my watercolor brush pens and began to respond, without trying to over direct, to the fortunes’ messages. With 27 little paintings in hand, I responded again, this time in prose, rambling thoughts in semi-reflection of the fortune’s meanings. These were drawn in ink. And finally, I went back in again, sewing with the embroidery thread to add a more dimensional and textural element to each of the small paintings.
Sitting there satisfied with 27 little paintings, I thought about what to do next. An accordion book would be used to display 9 paintings in each book on one side, with a title page that introduced the volume 1, 2, and 3 and a reflection on the “story” of selecting from the typical Chinese American restaurant menu that I’d grown up with in the northeast – food selected with 1 from column A and 2 from column B… On the back of the accordion, I typed my own variations of the fortune paintings on the other side. The three volumes are housed in a slipcase and labeled with the title and artist’s mark.
Size: Each accordion book approximately 4″w x 6″h x 1/2″d folded closed. Open size (flat): 40”w x 6”h. Handmade and/or printed papers, Rives BFK, pen and ink, watercolor, embroidery thread. Custom slipcase.
© 2019 Mara Jevera Fulmer