Exquisite Corpse Project

In 2019, the New England Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers invited members across the Guild to participate in a collaborative project. This project was inspired by the abstract and absurd Exquisite Corpse illustrations created by the Surrealists in the 1920s. Twenty-one members from across the country signed up to participate.

Each plaquette was covered in Harmatan goatskin leather and assigned to three collaborators, who were given directions to create either a “head”, “body” or “legs” for their designated portion. Each collaborator was given a month to work on their portion before shipping it to the next collaborator. Everyone was asked not to peek and create a design without knowing what the previous collaborator(s) had done. The results were truly wacky and nonsensical and truly unique.

Each plaquette was auctioned off during the Standards of Excellence Seminar in Philadelphia and collectively raised $580. The proceeds will go towards the scholarship fund.

Jane Griffith
Combined profile and frontal facial views created with sea snake and goatskin onlays.   Outlined in black calfskin inlaid lines.

Lang Ingalls
Hand tooled lines are filled with bright blue inlays.
The inlays depict the ‘hand gesture of trust’* over a buddha-like round belly, in a stylized design.
* In the Yoga tradition this is called Pala Mudra, and is also known as creating clarity of thought and relieving anxiety.

Julie Stackpole
Design: “Cowboy Boots”
Lino-cut embossed then onlays of miscellaneous goatskins, embossed again, with extra blind lines and silver foil touches on the spurs tooled.

Emily Patchin
Onlays in black goat and buffalo leather. Feathered onlay in burgundy goatskin. Yellow goatskin cut with Japanese hole punch and inset in to tooled “eyes.” Teeth painted in acrylic. Blind tooling under eyes with small gouges.

Jason Patrician
My design was inspired by a book of insect artwork of Christopher Marley. I used a combination of leather onlays, which included metallic leather (salvaged from a local motorcycle seat upholsterer) to capture the natural iridescent colors of these insects. Blind-tooling was added around the onlays, and then filled with thinly pared strips of leather.

Yi Bin Liang
Teal leather, gold leaf and acrylic paint.

John Nove
Head was inspired by the design on a Northwest Coast (Haida) sun mask. Goatskin onlays, carbon tooling, metallic gold thread.

Jeanne Goodman
Eggshell inlay with carbon and gold tooling.

Roberta Woodrick
Miniature crazy quilt with hand-dyed and commercially printed fabrics. Machine pieced. Hand and machine quilted. Quilt hand-stitched to O’Malley Crackle Cave Paper. Inlaid into the board.

Priscilla Spitler
The head of CASSIOPEIA, the vain Queen of Ethiopia. Banished to the heavens by the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, she was chained to her throne. Cut and pasted goatskin leather onlays with gold and colored foil tooling. Her constellation is tooled in gold stars on her headdress.

Erin Fletcher
I created a colorful cape by painting geometric shapes onto fair goatskin with Acryla gouache in navy blue, olive green, pale blue, magenta and coral red. Similar shades of cotton embroidery floss adorn the cape through hand embroidery in back stitch, chain stitch and French knots. The body behind the cape is made up of paper onlays of handmade kozo paper and Bugra.

Beth Morris
The deer’s legs are formed by Parchment inlays adjoined to green Leather Inlays that create each hoof. Both legs are surrounded by lines, broad strokes, various marks, blind tooling, and tooling in Silver Leaf, adhered with traditional egg glaire. Further layers of color were added with gold foil work and gouache painting in violet.

Karen Hanmer
Blind-tooled onlay of alum-tawed goat, inlaid lines of goatskin have been gold and pigment foil-tooled, surface gilding of sprinkled gold and moon gold leaf. Whale based on illustration from Natural history of the cetaceans and other marine mammals of the western coast of North America by Charles Melville Scammon.

Colin Urbina
Tooled Edge Onlays, Blind Tooling, Inlays, Gouache
A grotesque amalgam of a body with sea creature limbs.

Joanne Kluba
Goat leather, paste, gold foil

Lili Hall Sharp
Inlays: Oxidized and shiny copper, translucent vellum laminated to security envelope paper and tooled with gold. Onlays: Chagreen goat and snake skin leathers. The materials were chosen for their colors and textures knowing the plaquette was a terra cotta color. The design sprang from a doodle, knowing I wanted something playful, with an illusion of floating dimension.

Eric Alstrom
As spring approaches and insects return, I started thinking about the three sections of the Exquisite Corpse as head, thorax and abdomen. While perhaps not exactly analogous, the thorax fit the middle section. What began in my mind as a very stylized, generic bug turned into a shiny beetlesque butterfly. The wings are made from a collage of dyed kozo and acrylics; body is Claire Maziarczyk paste paper wrapped over folderstock; legs are black moriki wrapped around sewing cord set in paste. And just as insects fly through the air once again, I let my exquisite corpse fly off the plaquette in search of corporeal freedom.

Todd Davis
The main motif is an adaptation of a triskelion, an ancient symbol found first in Malta circa 4000 BCE and pre-Celtic Ireland circa 3000 BCE. This particular one is inspired by the flag of the Isle of Man, three armored legs with golden spurs. But rather than a monochrome background of red, a four-color wedge-shaped pattern is used which is inspired by the umbrellas used by the inmates in the 60’s television show “The Prisoner”. A Baltic birch plywood disk is covered in goat skin and surface gilded goat onlay. A central dowel on the reverse of the disk is pressure fit into the center of a disused fidget spinner roller bearing which is then fixed to the plaquette surface allowing the entire disk to spin.

Penelope Hall
Inlay with glazed earthenware and various layered papers, using wheat paste and PVA. I used a design from one of my doodles.

Coleen Curry
I made a whimsical non-human body with a tail and wing flaps. The neck portion showing to me  was slightly green and that led me to choose the materials.   I used top pared faux alligator leather that was similar in tone to the green and painted with teal and red acrylic highlights and dots. The lizard like body was inlaid into the board with underlays of black eel-skin wingy-flaps. A glass bead was sewn onto the tip of the tail before inlaying the body.  The are around the body was sanded and embossed with sand paper and painted.

Emma Sovich
Handmade mulberry paper, hand marbled cotton and abaca paper, handmade hemp paper

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