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Lauren Henkin -- Still Standing, Standing Still Limited Edition

Still Standing, Standing Still Limited Edition by Lauren Henkin
Features book inclosed in handmade wood box with print
Lauren Henkin's third handmade book, Still Standing, Standing Still documents Henkin's obsessive interest in a tree. "Slowly — around and around and around — I examined it in varying light and perspective. It was alone, with its scars unclothed, threatened by vines, but still standing," she says of her subject. The versatile book is a beautiful creation, and it is also available in remarkable limited edition. Exceptional care and thought went into the design of the book and limited edition, the extent of which is best shared in Henkin's own words. She was kind enough to tell us how this beautiful object came to be.

"The design of the book began by referencing how the images were created. The photographs in the book are of a single tree in Oregon. In photographing it, I knew I wanted it to read like I was moving around this object, and studying it in a way that we don’t take time to normally do—to tell multiple stories within the context of a larger one. So I knew, from the beginning, that I wanted the viewer to not only be able to experience it as a traditional photobook, but also able to display it, and move around it, as I did this tree, and experience the book itself more as a sculptural object—where the images from certain perspectives would blend together to create a new abstract set of visuals.

Still Standing, Standing Still Limited Edition box, book and print
"The question from there was how to construct the book in a way that would enable it to be flexible enough to accommodate both kinds of viewing experiences. I turned to an incredibly talented Portland bookbinder, Rory Sparks, who, after multiple meetings and dummies, helped me envision a way to design it utilizing a drum-leaf structure, a subtle magnetic closure so the book covers snapped together when the book was fully open, and eventually a wood box that would also function as a display for the book. Once we decided on these major structural and aesthetic decisions, the smaller ones needed to be resolved. It’s the resolution of the details that often elevate a project beyond what you see in the everyday. For this book, details that would need further consideration included how much of the full tree do I reveal, should any text be employed, material decisions, typography, and what would the box look like?

Prototype boxes and woodworker Chris Held -- photographs by Lauren Henkin
"For the design and construction of the box, I turned to a recommendation of Rory’s, Chris Held, who with a partner owns Von Tundra, a woodworking studio here in Portland. When we met, I explained to him that I did not want a traditional clamshell box. Again, turning to the images for guidance, I thought about this tree which stood alone, with its scars unclothed, threatened by vines, and damaged by lightning or other violent acts. I felt that the box itself needed to feel more organically realized, as if you could imagine walking around it, gathering pieces that had fallen or been broken off, and then constructing an enclosure from the remnants. Chris made a fantastic first prototype that was extremely close to the final design. After months of reworking the proportions and scale in relation to the book itself, which eventually culminated in one day spent together selecting wood and crafting one last prototype together, we completed the box that would house the book when closed. When the lid was lifted and rotated to rest on the base, a routed out pie shape was reveled allowing the book to stand when properly fully opened.

Interior and side of wooden box
"The other details quickly came together once the box was completed. After testing many papers, I selected Hahnemühle Museum Etching, a thick warm paper that presented a more natural feel to the images than a bright white paper would have. I decided against showing the full literal image of the tree from afar as I do in exhibition. I felt instinctually that holding something back and even differentiating the experience of viewing the book from the prints in exhibition made me want to investigate the images more frequently. I wanted a reference to it, a clue as to what you were looking at however. So, I took the photograph of the full tree, created line art from it, and in combination with Rory’s suggestion, letterpressed the image onto the cover. We settled on a very light ink, ghost-like almost, to give the suggestion of what was to come, but not give it all away." -- Lauren Henkin

Find more information on the limited edition here