Handmade Books

Handmade books by Gena Ollendieck
Preus Library
October 27 - December 16, 2010

Gena Ollendieck

Gena works from her studio, Indigo Books, in Cresco, Iowa.

Artist's Statement

"I have always found inspiration in old discarded objects, nature, and vintage black and white family snap shots.  The beauty and mystery inherent in old and forgotten objects offers me the opportunity to transform the ordinary into something new.  My books are bound using a leather hand-binding process in which the pages and the cover are hand sewn.  I use all acid-free, archival-quality paper ideal for mounting photos and memories.

A curious child, I spent hours outside my parents' Northeast Iowa home in the woods and prairies exploring and finding all kinds of interesting "junk".  Later, this curiosity lead me to a profession in visual arts instruction and then to the wonder of Paraguay, South America (as a Peace Corps Volunteer with my husband) and finally back to the beautiful limestone bluffs and rivers of my childhood.  My studio and home are on the land of my childhood.  A very special place  where I work and live with my husband, daughter, and cat.

In the early stages of each piece, I begin by creating a collage surface on which to work.  This is either on the books' cover surface (after the binding process is complete) or the collage backing.  Old black and white images, post cards, pages from old books, and vintage metals and children's games are used to establish the feeling of each piece.  I am artistically and emotionally drawn to old flatware especially spoons.  The beauty within the natural patina lends itself to telling and creating a story all its own.  The beauty of the spoon represents to me the values of home, family, and nourishment.  I use these ideas and build the themes of my work around those core values that I hold deeply within my being.

Then, internal workings of broken pocket watches, typewriters and cameras, bits of rusted metal, children's games and additional natural elements are incorporated.  And finally, leather is stretched over the cover surface of each book and closures and end pages are added or matting and framing is done. 

My goal is to create a new story from the objects and images I alter and assemble, playing with the feelings that coexist between the natural, physical, and imaginary worlds."

-Gena Ollendieck


2010-2011 Gina Ollendieck