The Bookshelf Project

I am currently working on a series of drawn bookshelves. I’m very interested in what people collect and why, and I have been drawing ephemera, found pottery shards, tools, pencils, and pen collections for several years. This series is a perfect fit, pairing my interest in archiving collected items and my love of books. I’m approaching these books not as a reader, but for the richness of the visual experience. When drawing someone’s bookshelf, I ask only to come to look at them and to take notes and photos, and if I’m able, to peek inside the books looking for ephemera and notations to draw. I don't rearrange them or remove anything from the shelf. The physical arrangement of the books is a true window into the collector’s vision.  I have many ideas and commissions planned for the series and will be working on it for the foreseeable future. They are drawn with pigmented ink on paper. Each book is accompanied by drawn ephemera related or found in the books. The Clamshell boxes are made by Erin Fletcher of the Herringbone Bindery in Boston.


Books Checked out By Louisa May Alcott in 1871, 2015

I found this bookshelf at the Boston Athenaeum. Seeing the actual books that Alcott had borrowed was very moving and was the inspiration for this series.  Along with the drawn books is a drawn copy of Alcott’s page from the charging record used by the library to keep track of books borrowed and returned. Attached to the inside of the box lid is a silverpoint drawing of Alcott along with a drawing of her signature.

In the Collection of the Boston Athenaeum. 

Math at the Ath, 2015

This bookshelf was seen at the Boston Athenaeum. It is a small collection of Mathematics books that were intriguing inside and out.  In the background of the books and in the boxes are drawings of the math problems from the books. I’ve also drawn the checkout card from one of the books that listed the names and dates the book had been borrowed.

In the Collection of the Boston Athenaeum. 

Modern Magic, 2016

This is the collection of early magic books owned by Steve Hollinger of Boston. They were magnificent — as was his fascinating studio. The books were well used, but also covered in a blanket of dust, which added to the mystique. I drew the spines of the books and pamphlets, and created ephemera based on the card tricks illustrated on the inside pages.  Also illustrated were covers of pamphlets with titles such as The Bunko Book, Card Tricks for the Amateur Magician, and How to Amuse an Evening Party. The cover of this book is made of one-ply museum board.  A hidden tab moves the eyes of a magician back and forth as he contemplates the small red devils on his shoulders.

In the Collection of the Library of Congress


She Cooks, 2016

The next installment in this series is a contemporary collection of cookbooks that belong to my partner, ceramicist Gabrielle Schaffner. I am the lucky beneficiary of her love for cooking, and am surrounded by cookbooks on a daily basis. It seemed like the obvious bookshelf to draw. For the ephemera in this book, I’ve replicated the handwritten recipes found tucked inside the cookbooks on scraps of paper, carefully reproducing the original handwriting as well as the cooking stains. Two of these recipes are used as tray papers in the clamshell box.

In the collection of Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections



L. Frank Baum & Oz, 2016

This is part of Jamie Guggina's collection of L. Frank Baum and Oz related books. I was drawn to this collection after visiting his house over the years and seeing his neatly arranged book shelves with the fabulous and colorful spines. In this artist book I gave a nod to illustrator John R. Neill on the inside of the box by adding his portrait drawn in silverpoint next to Baum's on an ink drawn banner held aloft by Tik Tok. In the box tray I've added an ink drawn Patchwork Girl of Oz with the text "I hate dignity". There are 8 pages in the book and a loose ink drawn portrait of the Wizard of Oz.

In the collection of the Boston Athenaeum


Brontë Books at the Morgan, 2016

In 2016, the Morgan Library held an exhibit called "Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will" curated by Christine Nelson. 

After seeing an image of these Brontë books on her Instagram feed, we connected and I was able to have access to a photograph of these books from their collection and later saw them in person, when I visited the exhibit and met with Christine. 

The books are drawn with ink on Frankfurt Paper. The book cover is an ink drawn copy of the marbled paper on one of the books from the collection. The box tray papers are the pattern of Charlotte Brontë's dress that was in the exhibition, on loan from the Parsonage Museum in Haworth. I drew the dress in graphite and ink, including a small stain on the front panel of the fabric. I had heard of the miniature Brontë books but had never seen one before. Seeing them in person was amazing! I drew an ink copy of one of the miniature books that was on display at the Morgan, adding thread to make it look realistic.

Price on request

Illuminated 2017

When I was a young artist, I visited London for the first time. I went to the British Library one day and walked into a room filled with illuminated manuscripts. I had never seen anything like it and those books spoke to me like nothing else ever had. I went back every day to be with the books, and when I left I walked through the bookshops nearby looking for information about what I had seen. I found a few facsimiles that I could afford and brought them home. It was very hard to leave London, as I felt I had left a piece of my heart in that room filled with beautiful books.  It had been an epiphany - standing in that room of hand painted books  - right then and there I dedicated my life to trying to create beautiful books. I felt the need to achieve a level of beauty. It is hard to articulate what I mean by this but I knew at the time and still know that it is an impossible goal to achieve. There is something about that moment that still pulls me into the studio each day.

After London, I poured over the facsimiles of the book of hours I had purchased, and researched everything I could find about illuminated manuscripts, the artists and scribes, and the techniques of their craft. 

Over the years I continued to add facsimiles to my library. When I started the Bookshelf Project a few years back, I wondered what would be the selection to draw from my own art library. It had to be the facsimiles! They are probably the books that influenced me most along my journey.

Price on request