Thursday, February 23, 2012

Palm Leaf Book

One of my favorite book formats is the palm leaf book. It is a very ancient book format prevalent in India and other South-Asian and South-eastern countries. Palm leaves were one of the earliest writing materials to be used and initially they were used for religious texts. Eventually their use expanded to include art and other subjects. The leaves were made into a book by stringing them through either a single hole or two holes. Often, the top most leaf was covered with panels of wood, ivory, or other hard material that were often elaborately decorated with carving, inlays, painting, or precious stones. Even today, one can still find in some Hindu temples the resident astrologer  reading astrological predictions from palm leaf manuscripts. The format continues to be popular in folk art.

Anyway, I decided to make a palm leaf book myself. Obviously, I did not have access to palm leaves. Instead, I used Arches rough 140 lib watercolor paper. I painted the paper first using a combination of olive and sap green to give it a look of palm leaf. Then I antiqued the edges using distress stains. I cut the paper into 13 strips of equal width and length. On each strip, I adhered a scrap of vintage music paper and a thin layer of mulberry paper. Then I sewed the strips together. I wrote a a quote by Indira Gandhi, carefully spreading the lines across all the strips. I adhered a piece of vintage looking ribbon on the top most strip and attached a length of string to wrap the manuscript. 

The quote is biting and true and appealed to me:

"There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first. There is less competition there".

Indira Gandhi

This piece of mixed media art is in response to Ginger Snap Words of Wisdom Challenge

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Wonderful book, Indira--congratulations on being chosen as a Ginger Gem for this Words Of Wisdom piece! Hand made books are one of my favorite things to make, and I've never seen one in this form before. Do you just roll it up to close it?


  2. Trisha, this is wonderful news. Yes, you roll it like an accordion notebook.


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