Elsi Vassdal Ellis – Emma

Artist Statement

Emma is part of an on-going exploration for a series of books with some potential overlap of themes examining the lives of women illustrated, in part, using antique and vintage photographs from my vast collection. My collection begins with Civil War studio portraits, including tintypes, with both American and European photographs. The inspiration for Emma is a family history discovered by reading three volumes of farming diaries of sisters in the Shenandoah Valley, descendants of 18th century immigrants from Alsace to Pennsylvania. Narratives will examine the notion of plotting women, memory, traumatic events, and options for the unmarried.

Materials & Technique

Emma was created following a Bonnie Stahlecker whip stitch accordion online workshop. The exterior paper glued to binder’s board is an embossed cotton purchased in 2002; the interior is a digital collage narrative created in 2018 but languished in digital form until 2022 when an appropriate structure was finally discovered. The illustration is a combination of scanned grids, ephemera, coffee stains, patterns, and photograph from the 1880s. It is printed on French Construction Pure White 100# cover using a Canon G5020. The whip stitch is blue linen thread.

About Elsi Vassdal Ellis

Elsi Vassdal Ellis retired in June 2017 after 40 years teaching design production and book arts at Western Washington University. As EVE Press she has produced over 148 editions via offset, letterpress and digital printing, and 127 unique books since 1983 in a well-equipped studio. Her work is permanently housed in over 135 collections including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, San Francisco Public Library Grabhorn Collection, Yale University Library Arts of the Book Collection and The Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide, London, England.