On the Navy Pier in Chicago there is a treasure called The Smith Museum of Stained Glass. Everyone has heard of the Prairie School of architecture, pioneered by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, but not many people necessarily realize that the adherents of that architectural movement also designed stained glass for the windows of their buildings. The Smith Museum has a collection of their work plus that of many renowned Chicago stained glass design companies that flourished in the early twentieth century there. There is a special room devoted to some of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as totally over-the-top windows designed for churches. While it is a tragedy that the buildings housing these glorious windows have been torn down, we are blessed that some people were able to snatch away these examples of a high craft so that we can see them now.
Once I discovered this place, I kind of went nuts and took digital images using a camera borrowed from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This book was my final project in my artists' book class, and is composed of photographs I took at the Smith Museum that are printed on inkjet vellum, and poems I wrote about trying to adapt to living in Chicago after eighteen years of living in a highly rural environment in Massachusetts. I let each image stimulate my imagination to write a poem, then I printed the book pages on my little Epson C-84 inkjet printer. I used vellum for the stained glass because I wanted my reader to have the experience of looking through something translucent to read the poem suggested by the image.
On the vellum pages is the information about who created the window, and on the text pages is the poem. Regarding the photographs, if there were reflections caught by the camera, they stayed. I wanted it to be clear that I took these photographs; I didn't obtain slides from the museum. There are imperfections in the images, which is intentional.
There were actually two different editions of the book: One was perfect bound with a paper cover that I gave to my son as a gift; one was bound with a Japanese stab-stitch using paper I made from 100 percent cotton fibers, and lined with decorative paper. Both editions had a window cut through the cover through which you could see a snatch of the title page stained glass window. This photograph shows what the book actually looks like when open.