If you visit the Arts Richmond Arts Council in Rockingham on East Washington Street, you will see a display of books of all sizes, colors and textures. But what may capture your eye most is the content of those books.
The artist, Deb Guess of Laurinburg, puts anything and everything into her books.
“I’ve been doing paper arts for 30 years,” said Guess. “I started constructing books, then shifted toward altering books.”
Some of Guess’s books open up like an accordion, some have pockets, windows, picture frames, poems, lace, buttons, jewelry, feathers and old black and white photographs.
“I love design and color,” said Guess. “If you could see my studio, it’s just buckets of stuff. I love mixing textures on a book, so there’s that visual interest. Some of my books are still empty and some I use as art journals.”
Some of the books just have decorated covers with blank pages. Others have every page covered. One book holds Guess’s notes from an art class. The book started out as a patchwork and fabric book with painted pages.
“Here I took the paper out in my yard and threw paint on it,” said Guess as she turned the pages, which were a blend of greens and yellows. “I built the book out of fibers and papers. Really, the colors choose me. I love blending colors. I love batik; there are so many rich pallets to play with.”
Like a pioneer of color and texture, Guess is unafraid to go where she has never gone.
“I love forcing myself to jump out of my comfort zone,” said Guess. “I don’t always like bright colors, but sometimes I force myself to use them. I took one of these books with me to Haiti as a journal. I travel a good bit to teach.”
Guess has been to countries like Japan and France to study and teach art.
“I’m also a metal smith and a silver smith, so anytime I can combine them, that’s fun,” she said.
On Monday, Jan. 23, Guess will hold a workshop for Richmond County Schools’ art teachers. She will show them how to create an altered book out of a children’s book to make “children’s board books,” explained Guess.
“I will show them ways they can use this with students,” said Guess.
Guess said she might consider teaching a workshop for the public, but it is still to be determined. Guess’s books can be made in a variety of ways. She has small and large books, and some are small enough to be pendants on necklaces. She has made books out of mica, dominoes and old sweaters. She has created new covers out of sheet rock and wax.
“I love designing new stuff, and I love taking classes from other artists,” said Guess.
For more information on the art teachers’ workshop, contact Arts Richmond at 997-6008.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.