Nov. 29, 2020

17. Timothy Ely, Artist and Bookbinder at Part 1

17. Timothy Ely, Artist and Bookbinder at Part 1

Welcome to Episode 17 of Stationery Orbit where we are all here to learn more about creative letter writing, I’m your host John West and today’s episode is a discussion with a remarkable artist. He is an author of a multitude of art books and he has two softcover books available. We will be talking about how drafting and cartography merge into art; and how to use rubber stamps to trigger creative ideas.

Please welcome, Timothy Ely!

You can find his two softcover books on Amazon and they are:

Flight into Egypt

and 8 Books


You can commission new works, and find reproduction prints on his website A Planetary Collage


Here is the  link to the documentary for Tim’s art book, Line of Sight 


What inspired you to mix graphic design, cartography, drafting and bookbinding into your own unique style of art?


Which piece of yours found its way to the Library of Congress?


Can you tell me about the Compound 12 piece that is at the University of Denver?


What is cribiform?


Did you learn to make Japanese paper (washi)?


Do you have a favorite paper? 


Do you have a favorite drafting tool?


How many rubber stamps do you own?


If you are interested in seeing more of Tim’s work you can find him on the Internets at the following places:


You can find him on Instagram @timothyelyartist


You can also commission new works, and find books and reproduction prints on his website A Planetary Collage


You can find me on Instagram at:
@gneissguyco for pictures of cats and life

@stationeryorbit for stationery experiments

You can also write to me at:

Stationery Orbit
  Attn: John West
  P.O. Box 621
  Golden, CO 80402  

StationeryOrbit is my main website where you can find links to the Stationery Orbit Discord where I am currently hosting a Mandalorian Disney Watch party on Sunday nights at 9 pm EST for Season 2.

You can also find links there to my Patreon page and Stationery Orbit Merch which will help support Stationery Orbit and help keep you warm while you are making beautiful snail mail this winter.

Last and not least there is an easy link to rate Stationery Orbit on Apple Podcasts.  

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SO ep 17 tk3 match mixdown


[00:00:00] John: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 17 of stationary orbit, where we are all here to learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West as today's episode is a discussion with a remarkable artist. He is an author of a multitude of art books and he has two soft cover books available. We will be talking about how drafting and cartography merge into art and ways to use his art techniques to level up your creative letter, writing.

Please welcome Timothy Eley

Tim: [00:00:25] , John. Good morning. How are you 

John: [00:00:26] doing well? So Timothy also has, as I mentioned before, the two soft cover books. He has a flight into Egypt and eight books available currently on Amazon. And you can also check at his website, a planetary collage for custom pieces, including reproduction prints.

So Tim, what inspired you to mix graphic design cartography? Drafting and bookbinding into your own unique style of art. 

Tim: [00:00:50] Wow. This is a story that's going to go back in time. A long time. I started reading comic books when I was a kid, my mother [00:01:00] actually read the the text of the comics to me. And so I started to draw those things and I had a lot of paper.

And a lot of support for that. I have my own stapler, so I would make very small books and I would give them to friends. And we're actually. That connected to going to a library and growing up in a hardware store, colluded together to give me skills and make things and a source for looking at things.

The library taught me how to think the hardware store taught me how to make things and what I found I really liked because I could also get away with it in school was making books because they were small. So I could make a small. Say three sheets of paper folded stapled in the middle. And it was very easy to conceal it from my teachers.

Cause I was always getting into trouble for drawing. When I should have been perhaps doing something else. I loved the scale of that. When I got into printmaking, most of my etching plates in college [00:02:00] were small. I love the idea of carrying around a sketchbook that was small paintings had to fit in my car if I was going to transport them.

So nothing in that range was ever larger than three by four feet. And it couldn't be an inch more than that. Otherwise it would have to go on the top and, I grew up in Bluffton, Seattle, so it rained a lot. The origins of this is all very, it's a very complicated collision of sources.

I love to draw. I love to read, I loved books that were illustrated and I love to travel through, as I thought, Looking at Oh, say a map of Northern Maine and how Fjord like it is to its counterpart in Norway was just a really interesting idea. And when I formally decided in the early seventies to I'm going to, the idea came up, I'm going to make books of some kind.

I don't know what this means yet, but it's going to be about sometimes something connected to portfolios, the presentation of drawings and series. [00:03:00] It was going to need some kind of cohesion. And the book just seemed to be the answer to that. Also it meant that I work with a lot of materials, different materials, different processes.

So that's the truncated. Yeah. 

John: [00:03:12] Yeah. For any of those out there that are not familiar with Tim's art, I'll include a link in my show notes, which is a documentary to his inline of site video. And it actually has a Segment in there where they do a, an opening and turning through one of his art books, which these truly are art books.

These are not just book bindings full of art prints. The entire book is a piece of art, including the cover box, which is immaculately constructed. It's really everything about it is remarkable. And I highly recommend everyone to go check out the video, go check out his website. He is really a remarkable artist.

Tim: [00:03:55] One, the remarkable things from exterior pressure, I had some great [00:04:00] bookbinding teachers and they set the standard for what say a presentation box should look like and anything that was not up to that standard. There was a, there would be a conversation about it and thought I loved the process of building this box, creating this sort of stage.

Theater or opening the box, revealing the binding, having the binding work to generalize specifications. So the book has to open. It has to function because that's what books do. And then it had to be an orderly or concertos presentation of a series of ideas. Yeah, 

absolutely. It's something that nowadays you have folks all over the internet, making videos about.

Doing their box opening and doing their unpackaging. And I think that whole genre would take on a whole different meaning if they were opening these art books, like what you're constructing. Yeah. I think so 

[00:05:00] John: [00:04:59] mentioning your art books. I understand that one of these found its way into the library of Congress.

Can you tell me about that one? 

Tim: [00:05:06] Let's see, that was probably in the eighties. A number of, I think I might have three or four books there. One granary publication called synesthesia, which I collaborated on with Terence McKenna. And that is one of the rare additions I hardly ever do multiples, but when somebody else is running it, somebody else's foreman and organizing it, making an addition is far less arduous, but if I'm doing it all myself, I tend to get distracted or impatient.

So anyway, synesthesia is there. A copy of approach to the site is there. And then there's one unique book, which I have offhand don't remember the name of, the library of Congress is very supportive of this work. That's going on. It falls under the. Umbrella of special collections and rare books.

This is an accessible collection. You can make an appointment and go see these things. And, the library of Congress is just a treasure trove [00:06:00] back in the eighties. I was interested in making class for books. And so I got in touch with somebody that was working there at the time. And he invited me down and took me to lunch and rolled out a cart full of medieval books that all, the only thing I had in common was that they were class shut and I spent the afternoon making drawings, a little brass and bronze class and metal furniture.

And at that time I was interested in coming up with contemporary versions of class. And so that was just one tiny. Example of this great American resource. 

John: [00:06:38] Yeah. Mentioning being able to go in and see things. I'm going to be greedy about this. And because you had a mention on your website about a piece that had found its way to the university of Denver and I live out in golden Colorado.

So this is going to be an easy drive for me. Can you tell me about the compound 12 piece? That is their compound. 

Tim: [00:06:57] 12 was one of those weird [00:07:00] chemical books where I got some. I see whatever I use. I gathered up assault. Our basement was dugout, Oh, a hundred years ago. And there's so there's chunks of basalt all over the property.

So I gathered some up and I put it into a rock tumbler. And I tumbled it for two months. And when I was all over, this are just the rocks and water tumbling together. I had a really nice slurry of a kind of slight gray material. And so I made some, somewhere between ink and paint and using ruling pens and other devices delivered a field's a proper form.

Onto arches cover to build up this kind of manuscript book. So it's a, one of a kind book drawn with local material gum Arabic, just probably some age in this paint mixture. And then it received, I don't remember off hand how it's bound, but it's either a planetary collage standard binding, which is a leather [00:08:00] spine.

And. Separate boards, or it might be a drum leaf binding. Once these things are out of my hands and I'm working on five books right now, and as soon as one of them leaves there, it just frees up some memory space. So unless I look at a reference image of it, I don't remember her. 

John: [00:08:15] Oh, that's fair. That's one of those things that if you're highly productive, then. You're going to have things merged together in your memory, but you did mention one thing that I wanted to ask about, and that is what is Cribi form. 

Tim: [00:08:28] It's just a lovely question. It's answered in an essay in the catalog, the tables of Jupiter and those, the story goes in 1971, my good friend, Richard Simons, and gave me an Osmo roid fountain pan as a Christmas present.

So he and his wife decided I needed to come up in the world. So I still have the pen. I'm looking at it. It's a small, Oh, it's very tiny edge nib. So I'm sitting in a biology class and I thought I will use this pen to take notes. And in [00:09:00] about three seconds, five seconds, I realized being left-handed, I'm dragging my hand through the ink.

And if I'm going to do that, I'm going to have to write backwards while that didn't work. And I needed to take notes much more quickly, but I was also impatient. And when we were talking about the mathematics of genetics, I just wasn't tracking it so as I usually do in those situations, I started to just draw and I was drawing with this pan.

And what started to happen was this began to look very Asian, Chinese. Because I was getting these gorgeous sticks and thins. So I kept doing that. And in a conversation with my roommate later, we decided I'm not trying to use a, I don't have this as a language. It looks phony. Let's see what else happens.

And so I began to draw captions for drawings with this pan and others, so that I wouldn't have to write a description in English. And for probably almost since the mid seventies, until. Oh [00:10:00] so for 20 years that didn't have a name, but my friend, Ian Boyden decided it near death, but we needed to build a call it something.

So I was reading a dictionary and I stumbled on the word Cribi reform, which means. Pierced like a sip. And I thought this was perfect because these marks are just drawings. They look like a language or a code or some kind of it's cipher it, but they truly aren't. And this is a great place to go on record of saying these things they have meaning, but they were also linguistically meaningless except for maybe a dozen marks that I've assigned certain concepts to.

So for a long time, It was just a way to draw and it was a way to activate space because I love the look of information that I don't understand. So I'd love to look at a medieval manuscript or something in any other language that I don't read, which is pretty much all of them. And not know as not knowing what's being said.

Is as [00:11:00] compelling as looking at a page of a Newton's Principia or anything else that is just not available to me. And this seems to be a very fascinating trigger for people because I get people that actually argue with me that this stuff will look so much like a written language. It has to be a written language.

So between Ian and I we came up with the idea of calling a cribriform, which as a resonance to a Tunia form, which is another writing system. I really love the look of. And it's a beautiful way to graphically make marks that are abstract, somewhat idiographic, but at the same time, extraordinarily playful and I've made millions of these things.

So I'm getting really good at it. And so the The overall syntax, they're very tight. They look great or they look like they should read. And so I keep thinking I could make a code book, which would drive a certain percentage of the population really [00:12:00] nuts, or, or the other hand just leave no, go inside from it whatsoever.

John: [00:12:04] Yeah. I think that the thing that struck me about the crypto form and some of the other marks that you use in your art. Is the casual precision that is used in your artwork where some of it looks like it's casual, but it's so precise that you can tell that you've been practicing it for years and years.

And it's definitely got an appeal to it. And especially for me as being a Sifi fan. It really S the cribi form really strikes me as stuff that you see a lot for alien languages, a Martian language or languages from out of the, out of our solar system that you see in a lot of the Sifi. 


Tim: [00:12:49] If you look at any written language, most of them are almost all of them that I had ever looked at are made up of. Longer straight lines and curved [00:13:00] lines and sort of those diacritical marks and that's about it. And I liked the Latin alphabet because there's something like what 11 letters that are symmetrical.

So if you flip an a over, it still raises an a, I think we have maybe 20 to 30 available. Lines shapes we can make with around and pan of inch pan pencil, a marker. And so we can get a little variety in there, but it's amazing to me that out of these handful of marks, we can come up with this infinity of concepts.

John: [00:13:34] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That's a very unique way of looking at it and it, but it's entirely correct. Even within the English language, you see everyone and the variety of fonts. That have crept up over the years, either hand drawn or computer generated. 

Tim: [00:13:52] It's astonishing. It's. I look at the volume of new books published every year, and I think this still made [00:14:00] up of 26 letters, a bunch of numbers and a few dots, dashes and commas or whatever.

And we're still able to take those things and fuse the Meldrum swirl them. This vortex of language is able to generate something that's completely anti entropic. It's expanding, it's not contracting. And what the cribriform did for me was give me a market-making system, a drawing system that's distinct from the say rectangular images of maybe a landscape.

Below that can be a field of cribiform. And then I've got this variety of maybe 50 different instruments over here that make a different kind of line quality. So I could copy out the same line of current reform or even a line of numbers. And just by changing the tool, it changes my hand. It changes my relationship with my body, to the drawing board.

Some of them are done [00:15:00] standing summer sitting summer are not quite lying down, easy chair with a drawing board on my lap. And so it's a way to notice that I could try to make the same book. Repeatedly, but I can't repeat anything. And so as a it's like trying to make the same bread recipe repeatedly.

It just, it's just not possible. We really don't do that. 

John: [00:15:23] Some people think they do, but we don't do it well. 

Tim: [00:15:26] I know I love it when people say gee, I followed the recipe and I've made this a dozen times and it's different today. And I was like, yeah, it's November and it's not August. And so things change.

John: [00:15:39] Yeah. Anybody from New York will tell you the New York pizza, not New York pizza, if you don't have a New York water. 

Tim: [00:15:45] Oh, absolutely. I lived there for a decade and I that's absolutely true. And it's, and the water is also so spectacularly unique that I don't know that I would be able to tell it, pick the taste out of sample.

But [00:16:00] I always enjoy getting a blast or New York tap water, and it was special. I recognized the first time I had a glass of water, there's all kinds of things that are relevant to that. It's the same with the bagels in Montreal. They're just 

John: [00:16:13] absolutely. Yeah. That's absolutely the truth. So mentioning various locations and how things are different.

I was taking a look and it looks like you had studied in Japan. And I was wanting to know if you had learned anything about making Japanese paper or Washi. 

Tim: [00:16:32] I was only in Japan for five weeks and my main mission was to learn something about paper, but I had Oh, a year or so earlier. Made Western style paper in Seattle for several weeks.

And we were doing it in the winter and I'm not really given to hard work and making paper is very physical. I found I didn't enjoy having my arms up in now and your ice cold water on a Saturday morning at eight o'clock. [00:17:00] I decided to, so I think I'm going to leave paper-making to the specialists because it's, this is going to be a really huge arc to learn, to do this well, to make bill, to make paper.

But to my specifications, I'm already having trouble with this bookbinding stuff. And I'm having a great challenge in fusing book, binding to the drawings I'm making. How do those things work? I think I'm going to settle back and I paper from the specialists. But I'm still really fascinated with Japan as a tool culture, as a an aesthetic as a graphic culture.

So I went I visited paper-making villages, I've visited a couple of printers, printmakers and bought a handful of good tools, came back with a lot of paper. And the Japanese paper to me is just miraculous. And so I. I have used it ever since 1981 when I went to Japan was in coming on 40 years now and I found I can do things right.

That are [00:18:00] very fascinating for me. So I will take, say, Oh, a sheet of fairly common paper. Oh, I see. Kennecott has a nice paper for that. I'll mix up a batch of methylcellulose and a bit of acrylic varnish and surface that paper and let it dry. And I do it on a sheet on a release. Plastic sheet. So when that's finished, I could peel it up and I can draw on it with the finest point.

He is sharpest pen that I have, and that's a trip. And then, because the stuff is so sheer, it can be laminated onto the exterior of a binding. If I make a drawing, I don't this can become linings for a spine with some interesting stuff in coated in it. Or it can go into the book, it can be dry mounted or somehow train Kool-Aid into Intuit, to Japanese papers, just an astonishing material.

And I want her to see it. And spending a day at a paper-making village, it told me everything I needed to know. So I could speak [00:19:00] either with a paper maker or talk to a specialist and get my needs met. 

John: [00:19:05] Yeah. And I think that one thing that I've definitely learned as I've been doing this podcast is.

The. The Japanese paper is so remarkable because the Mulberry tree Mulberry bushes that they're drawn from have such a much longer fiber length to them. That's what causes the ability to make that sheer paper that is still incredibly strong and incredibly resilient to inks. But it's definitely something that's different than the Western paper-making process, where we're doing a lot of stuff from cellulose fiber, from trees.

Tim: [00:19:39] The older preen paper-making machine works around 1830 at backward, there's paper that was made in France that because they were getting the water out of the sane, the paper chemistry is really strange. It's very acidic, but the fiber length was so great that the paper is just resilient.

Of course it's [00:20:00] linen. It's much sicker. It's almost like the difference between French food and Japanese food. Is the same analogy for Western papers and Asian papers. They're just fantastically dissimilar. And those differences are just amazing to begin to pull together and work.

John: [00:20:20] Yeah. That's a fascinating way of looking at the two different cultures. And like I said, that definitely bring their own flavor to the equation 

Tim: [00:20:31] in Japan. I studied. Japanese style book binding and it took my teacher only two or three days to basically tell me you have it all. And I taught you everything that you need to know about Japanese book binding.

And, I never really believed statements like that because they're just a bit too glib, but. She wasn't far off the Mark. And then I turned around and went to England for a year and I could have stayed there for five years and [00:21:00] never learned all of the nuances of English or French or other continental styles of binding it's.

It's a really big deal. It's like studying architecture, nobody ever gets all of it. And. One of my English teachers told me that you might as well not worry about getting all of it, because what you need to know is who else knows how to do stuff. So when you bump into a problem, you can't solve, you go talk to them.

And he was right. And I have never had a binder ever say, no, I can't help you with that. Or I won't share that with you. So that whole community is, has always been extremely generous and. It's one of the things that I really love about this area of working is that generosity and that communication it's pretty trippy.

John (2): [00:21:45] Like you said, it's sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know, and you've got to know the right people to get the right tools. So I'm going to take a step back here and I'm going to ask, because you've had so much exposure to so many different kinds of paper. Do you [00:22:00] have a favorite 


Tim: [00:22:01] I'm not sure I'd use the word favorite. Although I have used arches cover white. For ever, because it is so forgiving. So I would say it's my favorite because it allows me to do anything I want, I use it to Make everything from box liners to the folios for my books, I can get it wet. I can let it dry. I can print on it. I can paint on it and draw on it.

If I just started a book this week and it's going to have a lot of, lot more drawing than maybe I won't say more of a normal, but I really enjoy the process of gelatin sizing, these print papers, because they don't lose their. Forgiveness quality, but the surface kind of firms up a little bit and I could burnish it and, or calendar it and make it extremely smooth.

So I'll be tubs sizing 10, 15 folios over the next week. But I, at the same time I have a drawer full of different [00:23:00] kinds of papers for drawings that go on the wall that are going to be framed. I have piles of Strathmore drawing paper. I use Strathmore watercolor paper to build boards out of because it's very rigid.

It's thick. It's a hundred percent rags, so I can build boards that are just gorgeous. What else is in there? Oh, there's all kinds of breath papers. I had graph paper printed on arches cover. Oh, gosh, 30 years ago. And I'm down to my last eight or 10 sheets. And so I'm thinking do I want another a hundred sheets while I live long enough to do use it all up?

These are the questions we face, but I look at this is these drawers full of paper. I figure I've got to really get busy here. 

John: [00:23:44] Yeah. That's every stationary addicts, a nightmare is hitting stash acquisition beyond life expectation. 

Tim: [00:23:51] I have so much goals, leaf. Yeah. I'm looking at well, okay.

We need to do a really big project to Europe and leaf something. That's mammoth, because [00:24:00] if I ever have a state sale, it's going to be the weirdest estate sale. Ever, because there's stuff up here that makes no sense. I have devices for delivering ink and paint, so I can control a grid of drips and drops and people look at it and they, then, why do you have a thing with 20 funnels on it?

Last year I bought a a Christmas tree turntable. So I've been making these really elegant. I eyedropper her drawings on fairground art, and on a thing that turns. And so I can control these. These vorticies of ink with a whole different kind of control than if I'm trying to say draw a spiral just by hand.

John: [00:24:38] I've definitely seen some of the precision that you have in your drawings and in your artwork. And actually that does lead into the next question, which is, it appears that you use a lot of drafting tools. And like I mentioned before you have a casual precision to your work where it just seems like you've done it so many times that.

You're [00:25:00] doing it and it's, it is precise, but at the same time, it also has a casual quality to it because you've done it so much. And the question is, do you have a favorite drafting tool? 

Tim: [00:25:09] I have a favorite drafting tool this morning before we started, I gathered up a couple of cans, full of things of a tool I'm holding is a pair of proportional dividers.

And I think I have two or three sets of these and this, and all of them are set too. A one to 1.6, one eight ratio. So it's the golden section. So if I open the divider up and measure the short side at say one inch, then the long side is going to be 1.618, and I will Mark off these kinds of measurements inside of a drawing, just as a way of creating constellation points.

That then on the next goal can be connected. So there's a rational side and I think I'll invite you to think about this as three plates [00:26:00] printed to create an image. So the base plate. It's this very precise drawing, almost like it's all drawn with just pen ink and a straight edge, and maybe a compass.

The second layer is something drawn quickly in less than a minute or two with a big fat brush full of ink and paste. And that's just, it goes on almost like a giant Japanese calligraphic Mark. And usually it's very physical. It's very crazy. And sometimes they don't work like they're done repeatedly, but it any event it's bam and it's a Mark and that's the second layer.

The third layer is when those two pieces are put together and all your adjustments start to get made with pastels and more watercolor and, pushing the value range up or down. So there's a ratio involved and there's just a lot of addition. And that addition is. Is added until the overall syntax, the texture of the drawing is [00:27:00] reached.

And I will sometimes hit a point where I'm maybe just tired and so I'll step back. And I go, I just can't tell if this drawing is finished or not. And so sometimes I'll ask my wife and show go in that, it's not there yet. So let it set it aside for a day and just kinda keep going. And there's actually no.

Possible way to go too far until you hit black and then maybe then you started racing back. So it's moot, but there is a really interesting balance point where suddenly the information is just in this tension that says, yep, this is it. This is just right. You don't need to salt it anymore. It doesn't need any, anything else to make this drawing or this dish complete.

And I keep looking for that completion and. Part of that process is why it takes four months to draw a book. 

John: [00:27:52] It's interesting to me that you're starting from the golden ratio. Mother nature tends to set out rules [00:28:00] for us, for how things resemble beauty and the golden ratio is a perfect example of that.

And I love the idea that you are, you're building art on top of structure. It's almost kind of the way life works as well. That. You take a look at some of the very harsh realities of what it takes to get to life ends up being structure and mathematics and science. But when it comes to life itself, life is messy.

Tim: [00:28:33] It's very messy 

John: [00:28:34] as we were finding out 

Tim: [00:28:35] and, and the things just messy too. And at the same time, we're adding things to a pile. We're subtracting things to a file. And just like stacking blocks when we were children there comes a point where you get the balance, and it always seems that balance plus, or minus a couple of percentage points is really how life works. So there's pressure on it. And then there's benefits of rewards. And so it, it's a very beautiful [00:29:00] thing to start. From, a natural ratio of the golden section or any one of the root five rectangles root rectangles.

Those all are places to begin to set up a format. So the arches cover paper is a favorite, but it's not a very interesting size. It's 22 by 30. So I will frequently cut those sheets in half and give myself the biggest possible folio size, which is 22 by 15. And that's a nice big space. But it is, it's not relevant to the golden section.

So I ended up printing off a bit off of one side, then all of a sudden things lock into place. And if I break up that space into a golden spiral and then maybe erase the spiral and leaves these rectangular spaces, it starts to resemble a comic book. And so then the inside of those certain tensions and values can be established so that you've got like stepping stones.

And when I do this, I find when I [00:30:00] show these folios to people, even if I don't explain anything, they are, they're pulled in a bit more than if I do something that's much, much more random and chaotic. It's subtle. It's better for them to have these. Ratios involved that are echoed in their bodies. 

John: [00:30:17] I'm going to take the conversation into a little different direction.

So I know you do quite a bit of work with snail mail and art in, in mail, not necessarily mail art, but I understand you have quite a rubber stamp collection. Can you tell me about that? 

Tim: [00:30:33] Yes. When I moved back to Portland, I was reacquainting myself with the city and I found a rubber stamp. Of a Greek coin with an owl on it.

And I remember this as the first stamp that my wife and I bought together. And she said that she had a collection of stamps. And I told her about one that I had a small, one of just rubber stamps. I got from a butcher back when meat was still wrapped in butcher paper. And they were going [00:31:00] to throw all these stamps away and I snagged them.

So I had stamps that said, Hamburger and beef loin and things like that, but they weren't very interesting. It was too pop arty. And so I began to think these rubber stamps, this is a really interesting way to tweak up my sketchbooks so that I could take stamps and stamp paper before the book was bound.

So there will be image triggers. So when I would come to an image of say, Oh, I don't know, a mountain range or a fish at my trigger. Something that would generate a chunk of poetry or an idea about Fishbones or gossip or, I just had no idea what would happen, but I knew that I sensed that these stamps would trigger things unexpectedly.

And I really like that. It's like throwing dice and then selecting a card that gives you a command. It was a game. So this was the mid nineties. And all of a sudden we were finding that rubber [00:32:00] stamps stores, shops were popping up all over the place. And Seattle boasted tons. I can remember going up to Seattle one weekend and maybe we hit 15 rubber stamp stores and we probably spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

On stamps. And we were with a good friend of mine, the man who actually gave me the edge pen back in 1970. And so Dick drove us around and we hit even more stamps. We went out as we went as far North as Everett, Washington, and as far East as Acqua. And we just had piles of, Richard also was collecting and he was much more of a collector than I was.

And we just recently inherited. All of his stamps. So adding those to our, we bought stamps as entertainment. We would hear of a stamp store up somewhere outside of Portland, Oregon, and we'd drive to it. And, maybe we'd come back with three stamps, but, we would then notice that you were getting a lot of stamps here.

So they're all [00:33:00] cataloged except for the new input. Intake it's just massive. And almost all of them are tremendously great stamps. I would guess right now we probably have in the neighborhood of maybe 5,000, I could be off, but it certainly, we have a lot of them on there all over the place. And we're finally just working out methods for getting them generally gathered by subject.

So let's try to get all the landscape stamps in one place. We don't have a lot that I would consider. I don't know, frivolous might be the right word. I don't have a lot of stamps of people's faces, but I have lots of diagrams and musical instruments and things that are very abstract, but they all play a role in making things so they're triggers in the sketchbooks and they contribute to male art.

I have a short list of maybe eight people that I regularly correspond with and. They have their rules for what they want to send me, [00:34:00] but mine is, I want to send them ideas. And so often somebody will get just scraps of things off cuts from things that I've been working on all week making a set of end papers and the paper is beautiful.

So they might get stuff they can use as bookmarks, or they might get something that actually is a suggestion of something that I've been working on a hard-edge. Painting. They might get a chunk of that and it was all scaled down or all fits into a beautiful envelope. And then for me, the process, it has to go through the post office.

I can't just make something and put it in another envelope and give it to you. You need the full you need the full Monty you need the full effect of it having been canceled and maybe bent and delivered. And sometimes even a comment from the postmaster is always good. 

John: [00:34:47] As long as it doesn't show up in the please, excuse our dismemberment of your mail bag, the little plastic bag of shame that shows up once in a while. 

Tim: [00:34:56] Yeah. I had a couple of those I've stopped using anything [00:35:00] that might get somebody's insecurity upset. Like I have a lot of beautiful old, Toxic waste and biohazard and new sticker, but I just don't use those anymore.

I don't understand anything. That's gonna upset some authoritarian because it isn't worth the anxiety for them. And I don't want it. I, that stuff goes inside the envelope.

John: [00:35:22] I completely agree. And I got to say, I am very envious of your stamp collection. Some of my favorite stamps, I tend to go for the bigger stamps that I can then color on top of and. Having a stamp collection like that as it'd be a playground for me. 

Tim: [00:35:38] You'll just have to come for a visit. Yeah I, we just bought a laser cutter a couple of years ago and we're just tuning into really how to use it. I'm interested in making shallow cut wood engravings wood cuts. To make prints from, and, but it just occurred to me.

I, I could make a rubber stamp. That's a foot [00:36:00] square and why am I not doing this? And I expect something really perverse to start happening here. 

John: [00:36:06] That's super cool that the laser and any of the CAD cam stuff that's come around here recently is just changing. Who can make art.

It's really fascinating. 

Tim: [00:36:17] Yeah. 

Wow. Just look around here and we go, anything that we can scan. And, or draw or retreat in some way we can burn it into some other material and make a print from it. And I've always been really interested in obscuring the source material. So if I were making rubber stamps, I would never borrow, take a copyright free clip art book and just lift those.

I would somehow. One of modify those things. I also have a desire to make a whole series of appropriately scaled, small bookbinding process stamps, maybe 10 at all, so that I can, I often annotate and make lists of how I'm going to proceed on a binding. And I really need [00:37:00] those lists because the things are complicated enough that it's really easy to overlook something.

And I thought, will it be, it would be really fun to have some stock images so that I could write out a. A step and illustrated quickly with a rubber stamp and then modify that if necessary. But if those things really help, I find I need a lot of lists. Like not quite recipes for just guides. 

John: [00:37:25] Yeah. No, that's a brilliant idea. A visual checklist like that. That's gotta, that's gotta be worth its weight in gold. Yeah. 

Tim: [00:37:31] Could be, it could be. I need to figure out. Which images of processes that I need to actually have a stamp for. It'd be nice to have a book binding press. So when the command comes to press the book for 24 hours, there could be an image of a press sitting there, and it's just amusing.

And I, it's just something to add a bit of richness, but a spice to the process, because one of the things about making those lists, as you begin to question, why am I doing this step this way, which can lead to figure [00:38:00] out an alternative way of hooking two things together or. Doing a certain kind of stitch or where to put something, to hook it to something else.

And I really love taking the tradition and then flipping it. So making lists has really helped that a lot. 

John: [00:38:17] And that's going to wrap things up for this episode of stationary orbit. We'll finish up this conversation with Tim and episode 18. If you are interested in seeing more of Tim's work, you can find them on the internet at the following places, you can find them on Instagram at Timothy Eley artists.

You can also commission new works and find books and reproduction prints on his website. A planetary collage.