I’ve always had a bit of a thing for crystalized fruit, but what about crystalized books? Designboom tells us of Alexis Arnold’s work in San Francisco. They claim she’s exploring the theme of materiality versus content — a theme that surfaces periodically in this blog. Just how these frozen-look books have anything to say about content escapes me. Indeed the Designboom piece gives the lie to the claim they just made by going on “in this series, the books are stripped away from their text and content, instead becoming superficial objects frozen in motion to highlight the water crystals and structure of the pages.”

The San Francisco phone book

The artist’s website, where many examples are shown, is unforthcoming about the methodology, though the captions for many of the objets d’art do specify borax crystals. ZME Science comes to the rescue informing us that “Alexis uses a super concentrated Borax solution. She boils the thing, allowing more Borax in and then submerging the book in the hot solution, manipulating it in the desired shape and then draining it. Here’s the detailed process, so you can try it out at home. [Their next paragraph goes on to give you quantities and timings.] Be careful when handling chemical substances though (especially hot ones) – Borax is not particularly toxic, but sufficient exposure to borax dust can cause respiratory and skin irritation.

So any of you who’ve developed a sore wrist sculpting your old books can now play at crystalizing them instead. Whatever you do though, don’t read them. Books are so passé: especially as we can now safely ignore them online. Really “the materiality” is all that remains!

Thanks to Nathan Barr for the link.