Don Widmer ~ Illinois

Share this page:
Don Widmer: "I have chosen the artist book as my medium due to is ability to convey a text while simultaneously being sculptural. The sculptural element helps me to convey an emotion, a symbol, or a sound to encourage a transformative experience. ... I rely on traditional symbols such as masks, ritual objects, music and light to encourage the reader to partake in this cultural transformation. These symbols may appear through the use of handmade paper which has been laminated, watermarked or pulp-painted. Or the book itself may be sculpted, bound or cut to convey a sense of personal communication and connection. The transformation of paper and text into a sculptural object, often imbued with symbolic meaning, provides a way for me to achieve both a physical and psychological bond with various cultures and the outsiders who inhabit them."
Fanny and the Doll Corpse
By Don Widmer
Chicago, Illinois: Don Widmer, 2016. Deluxe edition of 10.

Two books housed in a cloth-covered clamshell box. Hand bound, sewn and assembled by the artist and includes his illustrations and original story.

Clamshell box: 8.75 x 10 x 2.25" (opens to width of 22"); bookboard, Asahi bookcloth, Laval bookcloth, Hahnemühle Bugra paper, ink, PVA; clamshell box structure with inset illustration, inkjet printed.

Tunnel book: 8 x 9.5 x .5" (expands to approximate depth of 10"); Bristol Smooth 270 gsm paper, Mohawk Superfine Text Paper, linen thread, ink; tunnel book structure, hand-sewn, inkjet printed.

Drum leaf bound book: 8 x 9.5 x 1" (opens to width of 19"); Hahnemühle Bugra paper, Arches Cover 250 gsm paper, hand-marbled 55 lb. text paper, Stonehenge 250 gsm paper, French Paper cover weight, matboard, Asahi bookcloth, graphite, beeswax, ink, PVA; drum leaf structure with graphite edge decoration, inkjet printed.

Don Widmer: "Fanny and the Doll Corpse consists of a drum leaf binding and a tunnel book, which come together in a clamshell box. This is a historical fiction account of Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicagoan who pioneered crime scene forensics in the early 1900s. It has mystery, architecture (Prairie Avenue's famous Glessner House), and history.

"Ten-year-old Fanny wakes one wintry morning to find her toy doll stripped naked and shattered in the parlor of Chicago’s famous Glessner house. A fan of Sherlock Holmes, she attempts to solve the 'murder' by questioning several well-known architects including Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Isaac Scott. This work of historical fiction was inspired by Captain Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962), a pioneer in modern forensic science and creator of the miniature crime scenes known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

The Glessner House Tunnel Book features outside views of all four sides of the famous Prairie Avenue home designed by Henry Hobson Richardson. Inspired by theatrical stage sets, tunnel books date back to the mid-18th century. Stored flat, the book can be expanded to create a 3-dimensional scene. The interior view of the Glessner House parlor contains visual clues to the 'murder' and is reminiscent of the miniature crime scenes constructed by Frances Glessner Lee.

Fanny and the Doll Corpse tells a story from the point of view of ten-year-old Frances (Fanny) Glessner Lee. It features a drum leaf binding, a structure developed by contemporary bookbinder Tim Ely. This structure is archivally sound, using very little adhesive, and provides the feel of a child's picture book. The 19 illustrations depict objects from the story with dictionary-like objectivity, appropriate for the shrewd mind of a police detective cataloging evidence."
$600 (Last 2 copies)

Click image for more








Flower Lore
By Don Widmer
Chicago, Illinois: Don Widmer, 2014. Edition of 20.

6.75 x 5"; 12 pages with colophon printed on back pastedown. Letterpress printed in 12 colors on Stonehenge 250 gsm neutral pH/acid free cotton paper. Printed on a Vandercook press. Drum leaf binding. Handpainted page edges with a wash of green gouache, then covered with a thin layer of beeswax. Paper-covered boards of iris paper handmade the artist. Cloth-covered spine. Materials: Stonehenge paper, mat board, bookcloth, PVA, handmade paper, ink, gouache, beeswax. Designed, printed and bound by Don Widmer. Numbered.

Flower Lore presents five flower images accompanied by a piece of folklore for each flower.

Blanket Flower – increase fertility with tea made from the dried flowers
Blazing Star – increase your horse's speed with tea rub made from the roots
Dandelion – ease rheumatoid arthritis with tea made from the roots
Lily – use bud to tell your fortune
Cone Flower – boost immune system with a tincture made from flowers & leaves

$145 (Last Copy)

Click image for more

Don Widmer Out of Print or SOLD Titles:  

By Don Widmer
Chicago, Illinois: 2010. Edition of 15.

5.25 x 10.625" tunnel book. Handmade paper of flax/abaca, cotton/sisal, dyed mitsumata. Laser cut. Letterpress printed. Text on both sides of the tunnel structure.

Don Widmer, colophon: "The Hamatsa (cannibal) was a secret society among the Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest coast. Part of its practice consisted of a dramatic performance with music, masks, and dancing. I tried to capture some of the essence of sound and movement in this book."

Don Widmer (in a personal email): "The text is original text by me, based on the declamatory nature and subject matter of existing song texts from the Pacific Northwest Coast Native cultures. During the actual ceremony, initiates into the Hamatsa secret society (usually teenage boys) are taken by the cannibal spirit to reside in the woods for a specific period of time.

The text also incorporates words to evoke sound and movement."

Click image for more

Saint Francis Girdle Book
By Don Widmer
Chicago, Illinois: Don Widmer, 2016. Edition of 10.

3 x 12" girdle book. Pages from recycled books. 12 pages overprinted with handset type. Bound in poplar wood covered in blue velvet. Fore-edge markers of cotton cord. Brass clasp. Handbound by the artist. Laid in archival box with colophon included.

Don Widmer: "St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82 - 1226), Roman Catholic friar and patron saint of animals, served as the inspiration for this artist book.

"Girdle books are mainly found during the time period of 1400-1550, in Germany and the low countries. They contained religious texts and were personal and precious pieces in an era where books were more rare and one-of-a-kind. When hanging from the girdle (belt) of the wearer, the text would be carried upside down. This was so that the reader could lift the book to read without detaching it from the belt. Girdle books were worn by both men and women, as depicted in paintings, sculptures, carvings, and stained glass images. Religious figures as well as lay people, such as travelers, carried girdle books. The books were often bound in vibrant colored suede or cloth. During the Medieval era, leather was cheaper than cloth, so a book wrapped in velvet would have been considered a luxury.

"I created my text block from recycled books about animals. The sheets are hand-torn and randomly arranged to produce interesting juxtapositions of text and image. They are hand-sewn on double cords using linen thread. The endbands are hand-wrapped with 18-pt. waxed linen thread. The book has shaped poplar wood covers, which are then covered in blue velvet. The fore-edge markers, which indicate the pages with handset type (featuring text by St. Francis), are made from cotton cord and tied with Franciscan knots, traditionally used by monks to tie their belts. The clasp is made from hand-pounded and shaped brass. The metal bosses used to protect the outside covers are made from upholstery tacks. The Turk's head knot used at the binding's tail is traditional. Instead of using leather, I used parachute cord. In honor of St. Francis, no animal products were used in the production of this book."

St. Francis of Assisi Girdle Book features twelve pages of handset type indicated by the fore-edge markers (Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press and moveable type to Europe in 1439). The text was printed on a Vandercook proof press using Bernhard Modern Roman 18 pt. type. It was printed at Spudnik Press, a cooperative print studio in Chicago. The text is taken from Salutation of the Virtues, ascribed to St. Francis by Thomas of Celano in 1247.

"The endsheet illustrations are reproductions of the following paintings:
The Stigmata of St. Francis, by Bartolomeo Della Gatta (c. 1487); St. Francis of Assisi by José de Ribera (1642)."

Click image for more







Transformation Mask
By Don Widmer
Chicago, Illinois: Don Widmer, 2015. Edition of 100.

7 3.5 x 4" hexaflexagon. Materials: Zander's Elephant Hide paper, ink, archival tape. Inkjet printed. Handcut and folded. Information sheet included. Numbered.

Don Widmer: "Transformation Mask is a sculptural paper structure called a hexaflexagon. The book's images are taken from a 19th-century mask created by an unknown Kwakwaka'wakw artist from the Alert Bay region of British Columbia. Many Northwest Coast masks included mechanisms which enabled the mask to transform into more than one being, spirit, or ancestor. Using strings, hinges and other mechanisms, the mask wearer could manipulate the mask to create startling, often awe-inspiring effects. This hexaflexagon structure can be manipulated to demonstrate the transformation qualities of the original mask."


Click image for more


Page last update: 07.18.18

Home | About Us | Contact Us | New Arrivals | Fine Press & Artists' Books | Broadsides |Resource Books | Order/Inquiry

   Copyright © 2015 Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, LLC. All rights reserved.