Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Appropriated Book

A few years ago I got a new watch.  It came with a  palm-sized
instruction manual written in eight languages.  The cover was plain black with the Italian words for clocks and instructions:  orologi instruzioni.  I would have bought the watch just to get that manual.  The tissue-thin pages were printed in 6 point type, and it was mysteriously illustrated with fine pen lines with charts, graphs, clock faces and diagrams.  I could never make sense of any of the instruzioni, even the ones translated into English.  But I quickly appropriated the book itself to be my new journal. 

I yearned to write in it with my fine black pen.  I began carrying it everywhere with me and using the marks on the pages as well as the text blocks as prompts for tiny quick sketches.  I wrote very little in this book-- it really is more of a sketchbook, but the drawings take me right back to the days they were done.

We were in New York on a freezing cold rainy day waiting for a bus that didn't seem to be running that day to take us uptown.  My hands were numb, but the little book needed a drawing of the funny tour bus with its load of blue-plastic-swathed riders.  I had slipped the book into my jacket pocket, of course, so I was able to sketch while huddled under the bus shelter as we waited and waited for a bus. 


A few weeks later I was sitting in bright sunlight at  graduation at the college where I taught.   I had slipped the little book into the sleeve of my robe, so I could amuse myself during endless speeches and exhortations.

The page on the right above is a sketch I made as the moon was setting.  There was a perfectly placed clock face on the page, so I began with that and drew in the rest of the drawing around it.  I had carried the book in my pocket when I went out for a walk in fields near my house.

These two pages were done a few weeks apart.  On the left, my grandson Jacob drew the archway at a wedding we were attending together.  He was getting a little bored, so he amused himself by drawing in my book, which I, of course, had in my pocket.  On the right is a drawing of some water buffalo at a farm in New Hampshire.  We were visiting our son and his family a few weeks later, and we visited the buffalo farm.  I loved the shapes of the water buffalo in their mud wallow.  Looking at the sketch I remember the conversations we had as well as the excellent mozzarella we bought there!

14 comments:

  1. What a great idea!!! I want one too. :)

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  2. Mmm.. memories of mozzarella. That water buffalo farm has since moved to Canada, leaving only two herds here in the U.S. Neither of them within an afternoon's drive, sadly.

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  3. This is beyond inspirational! And I want one too :-D

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  4. You can ALL get one! Just buy (or get someone to buy for you) an Armani watch, and grab the wonderful little black instruction book before someone else gets it. Andi-- so sorry the farm has moved! WHY did they go??? I have several other drawings of their herd, I am happy to say.

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  5. I never would have though of this! Great idea!

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  6. Gwen, I did this once with a small booklet that Starbux gave out to advertise their new VIA Coffee. Too fun!

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  7. What a great idea! I never thought of using an instruction manual as a journal. I am always amazed by how ANYTHING can be used for a journal, and yet there are so many things I haven't thought of yet! Thank you for the idea.

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  8. Well well. I would love to search your pockets in case you're hiding more of those little tresures!

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  9. You're so clever. I never seem to connect the dots and reuse things like this.
    On Wednesday, while at Gwyneth's installation of re-utilized cups, Melly showed off the recycled wallet she acquired from you. There was great interest in this re-using of materials and an iPad was whisked out and your site found.

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  10. You guys crack me up! I can't wait to see you all in NY in May, go on one of your incredible adventures! DO you ever go looking for old machinery and junk? Where would you go anyway for that kind of stuff? Once I stumbled into a little shop in Chelsea where they had rolls of hot foil stamping ink plus a jumble of old hot foil presses. They were getting ready to close and NOT eager to entertain my questions. I could never find the place again!

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  11. This is the BEST!! i WANT ONE!

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  12. It IS the best! Too bad you have to spring for the Armani watch in order to get it!

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  13. Can't you just see us throwing away the Armani watches and keeping the little booklets? A panic!

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