I can’t quite remember where I met Nats, the creative force behind Creative Sacred, but I think it was on twitter. Nats makes the most incredible handmade books, using layer on layer of materials to compliment her words with textures and sensuality. It’s the knd of multi-art, line-blurring approach we love. But what’s special is not just what she does. It’s the brilliance of it. All the images here are Nats’ copyright and reproduced with her permission. Please go check out her site. It’s a treasure trove of superlativity. She also co-runs a rather spectacular site called the underground teaparty, which has nothing to do with reactionary Americans and everything to do with creativity and eating cupcakes.
I asked Nats some questions about what she does. Her answers were so cool I’ve reproduced the interview in full.
1. how do you come across the raw materials for your books? Do you have a bag you take with you everytwhere to scoop things up as you see them? Do you hunt certain things out?
Every artist is a collector. I keep all the paper ephemera that most other people throw away – old calenders, birthday cards, flyers & exhibition tickets. Recently my mother went on holiday to Austria and asked her to keep any receipts & paper stuff. Most of it was uninteresting except a museum ticket with a crucifix and a holographic stamp, which I used in my artists’ book, “Stories”.
Yes, I’m always scooping up interesting bits ‘n’ bobs & snatching things out of my friends hands just as they’re about to throw ‘useless stuff’ in the bin. They give me funny looks and ask what on earth I’m going to do with that scrap of paper.
2. when you start a book, do you start with an idea of what kind of object you’d like to make and build the content around that, or do the words suggest the thing?
It’s a dance between the image and the words taking turns to be the stimulus. I haven’t a clue what the piece will look like. I try not to over-think it. I know that I want to make work that shows my hand and looks crafted, tactile and precious which is why I’m drawn to using textiles. In this book I used lace and muslin that make you want to run your hands across the pages and twiddle the trailing threads.
3. I particularly like your post on spillages – do you keep things you’ve spilled stuff on, or do you use it as a technique? If the latter, does the artifice worry you, or is it simply another creative technique?
I use it as a technique to loosen up and keep me from being too precious about my work. Spilling, flicking paint, scribbling & finger-painting are perfectly acceptable ‘techniques’ when we’re kids and then we grow up and think of them as being childish. When you’re an adult spilling is associated without messing things up & making mistakes.There’s freedom in allowing yourself to spill!
4. Do you work with words that aren’t your own? If so, with whom would you most like to collaborate?
At the moment I keep other people’s words (sayings, excerpts from books & poems etc) in my personal journal. They’re words that inspire & centre & have lead to ah-ha! moments.
I was looking for a way to to make work that combined image-making & my own words. Some random googling & blog reading lead to me the world of art journaling and then artists’ books. All the words are my own – they are random thoughts, story-telling & sayings.
This is my first artists’ book and I’m so excited by the art form. I just want to experiment and see where I can take it, that may include collaboration in the future.
5. Would you consider producing zines or chapbooks of your words – or do those words belong only in the one-offs?
As I mentioned, I’m pretty new to book-making but I love the idea of producing zines and getting my work into more people’s hands.
I’m not rigid about my work being solely one-off’s but I’m thinking about how I can retain their tactile nature in reproductions. For this book I used tea-stained cotton paper, leather, diamanté, lace, muslin, gold-plated beads…all those layers & textures are intrinsic to the story-telling and to how I want the reader to feel when they are with the book.
6. Do people ever ask if you consider yourself an artist or a writer? Does that question make any sense to you?
When I’d tell people what I was studying at university – Fine Art & Journalism – I would get confused looks and the questioning would begin as they tried to corner me into choosing one definition or other. I have always been both. As a kid, I wanted to be a superhuman combination of Roahl Dahl & Quentin Blake. Image-making AND the written word have always appealed to me but right now I’m more drawn to calling myself an artist as the words are part of a visual art form.