Lore Spivey - Book, Paper, and Mixed Media Artist




Originally posted on 9/14/2021

At my Bookies Group meeting this week I was asked about my process in making a carousel book.  When I design a carousel book I try to stick with five page spreads, no more than six, because the book best displays this number when opened into the carousel form. I use this to inform the rest of my content decisions.

The Idea

Like my other artist books the process for making carousels begins with the idea. Sometimes this idea springs from something that randomly catches my interest. Sometimes the daily news will strike a chord. Other times the catalyst could be a memory, a comment made by a friend or stranger, or an event of historical importance. You get it, the idea can come from anywhere, my favorite actor or even a song on the radio. Then, I take the idea and brainstorm.

The Analysis

I break the idea, let’s say botany, down into small pieces.  I usually look up Webster’s definition of the word. 

    botany:        1: a branch of biology dealing with plant life

                         2a: plant life

                         b: the properties and life phenomena exhibited by a 

                             plant, plant type, or plant group

From there I narrow plant life down to flowers and I make a list of my favorite flowers: daisies, roses, tulips, lavender, peonies, hydrangeas, lily of the valley, iris, delphinium, chrysanthemums, etc. I research famous quotes about flowers. I love quotes. I collect books of famous quotations. A quick internet search makes this part easy. Then I write down the quotes that speak to me in the moment. I’ve had as many as three pages of quotes to choose from after completing this step.


Next I look for imagery. To me the visual is important in a carousel book because it can be displayed as a work of art.

I prefer images with intricate details, they make for a much more interesting book. However details are challenging to transfer into my drawing because I have to be sure the pages will fold and unfold properly, and that the image can be seen and read clearly through all three layers of the page spread display. Another factor to consider is how the paper will support the image, being careful to leave enough background when cutting the design.  It is a study in negative space, which after all the years I have practiced I still have to problem solve to get it correct. 

                                     image                                                   quote                                                   page spread

The Selection

So, I have a definition, a list of quotes, and images to choose from. Keeping in mind that the carousel book will contain no more than six, (ideally five) page spreads, I have some tough choices to make. Examples  I consider when tackling this part of the process are: 

1. Which quotes do I feel have the most meaning? 

2. Which images have the best detail for rendering in a solid color using positive and negative space? 

3. Do any of the quotes fit specifically with any of the images? For example:

4. What colors will be used in each layer of the page spread? 

5. Will the same colors be used for every spread or will each be different? 

6. What will be the final size of the book?  

7. What color book cloth for the cover? 

8. What will the cover image be?  

9. What will be the title? 

10. How many books will be included in the edition?

Some of my answers are fairly consistent. I generally  use one color scheme throughout the book, except in my special edition hand colored books. My books are usually 5x7 in size. I coordinate the cover with the color of the page spreads. I select an image for the cover that is not already included in the book. I keep the title simple, one word if possible. Finally, most of my editions are limited to 10 books because I hand assemble and bind each one. Now that these questions are answered I move on to the next step.

So there you have it, my process. There are many other paths to the same destination, this is just how I get there.


First I gather materials and make sure quantity is sufficient for the edition size.  Two of my favorite resources for bookbinding supplies are Hollanders and TALAS.  I use an acid free 65lb. card stock paper for page spreads. This can be found easily at craft stores, but one of my favorite suppliers is French Paper, the colors and variety they offer are spectacular.   


Next step in production is drawing. I use a program called CorelDraw. Drawing takes me anywhere from five days to three weeks depending on my creativity level and the intricacy of the images.


Then I send the images from the computer to a laser cutter. I use an Epilog.  My cutting bed is 12x18 inches so I can usually cut two images at once. 


Each piece of each spread must be folded on the centerline. 


When all parts of every page spread are cut and folded (3 layers x 5 spreads x 10 editions = 150 total pieces)  I organize an assembly line setup so I can work without having to stop and look for missing parts.


Each spread has three layers that have to be glued together. For the carousel finished book size I am referencing (5x7) the layer sizes are. 10x7 back,  8.5x7 middle,    7x7 front. This is six glued edges per spread, and another four glued edges (39 total) to assemble the final book block. Similar to a pop-up book, these glue points have to be precise for the carousel to open and close properly.


Now comes the finishing touch, my favorite part of the process. First, I lay out at the davey board pieces and insert magnets into front and back (to later hold the carousel open). Then I cover the board with book cloth. These covers go back to the laser at this point for rastering of the image, title, author’s name, etc. I like to include the title on both front cover and spine so the book can be easily found from a shelf. When the covers are complete I glue the book blocks inside. 


If you want to be really fancy, the next task is to dress the books with  jackets. The jacket protects the book and adds an interesting visual component for marketing.  If desired, a colophon can be printed on the inside as there are no other pages on which to include this information on a carousel book.

Sign & Number

The final part of the process is to sign and number each book before it goes out into the world. The production time  for ten books is approximately a week.

I began sewing masks today. It was on the news that there was a deadly virus spreading through China, and it was so contagious the rest of the world was put on notice. 

There were several cases already in the United States, but not many were taking it as seriously as it should have been.  Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime. I have read about the Polio epidemic in the late 1800’s - early 1900’s. Early on it was not known how contagious that disease was, and by the time someone figured it out it had widely spread, and there was no vaccine for Polio until 1955. 

I have taken things for granted. Seeing horrible stories of tragedy and pain on the news I would be thankful those events weren’t happening to me - but at the same time it didn’t even seem possible that it could happen to me “Oh, that’s terrible,” I’d think, “ but it’s on the other side of the country, or the world.” Fires, mudslides, hurricanes, pandemics.  I was not uncaring- but it was definitely more sympathy than empathy, because I had nothing to compare in my own life.  Nothing like the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Epidemic has ever happened in my lifetime. 

Unless it’s raining,  the birds are singing outside my window each morning. They have no idea the world is dealing with COVID-19 right now. The sun comes up as normal, and those sweet tweets bring me calm in the midst of this quarantine. I have always been a recluse, so the isolation part of this epidemic is bliss for me. I don’t have to make excuses or find reasons not to go out. I get to stay in my studio for hours with no interruptions. But I do worry about my family and friends. Most people don’t find it easy to stay put for a few days at a time- much less weeks or months.

While the rest of the world seems to be using an app called Zoom, a friend of mine thought it would be nice to do a little something different to stay connected. She introduced me to Art Mail. It’s pretty basic really. Create a piece of art that will fit into an envelope and mail it to someone. Being the old fashion girl that I am, I loved this idea. You can see my very first creation above. 

I have always admired the work of the Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher. (M.C. Escher 1898 - 1972) I created this accordion book, inspired by his drawing titled Relativity which he created in 1953. This  drawing also reminds me also of a song titled Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked, written by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman in 2003. I am awed by the various genres of art that amalgamate during my creative process to form a new work. 


Originally posted on 9/1/2020

Fresh. Ripe. Juicy. Cantaloupe melon always reminds me of the Sunday afternoon dinners of my childhood spent in my grandmother Nell’s intimate kitchen. Grandma usually began planning Sunday Dinner on Friday evening. On Saturday mornings, grandma and grandpa’s schedule flowed through the day like an easy stream. Coffee came first, usually at sunrise, accompanied by bacon or sausage, eggs, biscuits, and gravy.  Next was their weekly visit to the Farmer’s Market down-town. They would bring home found treasures, bright greens, reds, purples, and yellows. They would have lunch, usually a tomato sandwich, and then grandma was off to the beauty parlor. After getting spiffied up, it was time for a big decision to be made. Winn Dixie, Harris Teeter, or Park-n-Shop? The Park-n-Shop was all the way in Charlotte, so they didn’t go there as often as the other two. If we were lucky, my brother and I got to stay the evening with them and help do the shopping. On those evenings, we were right there with grandma and grandpa helping snap green beans, or de-silk ears of corn, or shell peas, or whatever needed to be done. Sometimes grandma would bake a cake and we got to lick the beaters. We would talk and talk about nothing, and The Lawrence Welk Show was on the television.

We lived in the house right next door to grandma and grandpa, and my bedroom window looked onto their driveway. On the Saturday nights when we didn’t get to tag along with them to the grocery, I would watch out my window anticipating their arrival home. I’d wave, they would wave back, they carried in their items, and I pictured them sitting there watching Lawrence Welk with their dog Copper instead of me and my brother. Secretly, I was happy I didn’t have to watch Lawrence Welk, but I missed my grands. (I’m sure they were happy to have a little break – but they would never, ever tell me that. I was always welcome anytime.)

Night overtook evening, and one by one I’d see the lights in the neighboring house go dark. 

Sunday morning it was time for church. When I was young, mom and dad didn’t go to church, but I went sometimes with my Aunt Chrissy. She was a Sunday School teacher and all the kids loved her. I felt special being her niece. Anyway, at some point mom and dad started going to church, and like the Energizer Bunny they kept going and going and going. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other time the doors were open. I got so tired of going to church I asked grandpa if I could go to the flea market with him after Sunday dinner. Me and grandpa always had a great time together, and we didn’t get in any hurry, so I would get back too late to go to church (as I’d hoped). After missing church a few times, I wasn’t allowed to go with grandpa on Sunday afternoons. My heart was broken. I think his was too. 

After church, mom and dad would talk, and talk, and talk to the other church folks, and it seemed like an eternity until we could leave church and go to grandma’s for dinner as we did almost every Sunday.  Her gas stove would warm the air inside the house until it was steamy, which was delightful in the wintertime, but in the summertime a large clamorous air-conditioning unit in the window would compensate. I could smell deliciousness the second we opened the door. As we entered, Grandma would be standing over the stove stirring a pot or watching the oven for the biscuits to brown. My brother and I would run into the living room where grandpa was for hugs, and to stay out of grandma’s way. Grandpa always asked us how church was, and if we were hungry. Then he’d tell me how pretty I looked in my church dress, and my brother how handsome he looked. Mom stayed in the kitchen to help grandma, and dad sat in the chair in front of the window where the light was best, quietly reading The Gazette and sipping on a glass of grandma’s sweet tea.

When the food was ready, grandma would take out several well-worn porcelain bowls that had belonged to her mother, my great grandmother Rose. Then she would fill them with green beans, corn, fried okra, squash, rice, macaroni and cheese, lima beans, butter beans, potatoes, tomatoes, collard greens, or whatever she had found at the Farmer’s Market the previous morning. My brother was especially happy when it was macaroni and cheese. My favorite was her chicken casserole. There were always sliced tomatoes, and there was always fresh, ripe, juicy cantaloupe melon cut into long moon shaped slices. 

After dinner, mom and grandma stayed in the kitchen to wash the dishes while the rest of us returned to the living room. I’d read the funnies paper from The Gazette, and my brother would watch Fred Kirby and The Little Rascals on TV. Mom and grandma eventually joined us, then we would all begin watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or The Incredible Mr. Limpet, or The Beatles Yellow Submarine, or whatever the Sunday afternoon movie happened to be.  One by one the adults drifted off to nap and my brother and I would wake them up when the show was over. Then it was time to walk over to our house to begin getting ready for church again.