Book Seventeen


Not a journal but a scrap book. Built from the solid bones of an Ampad 22-156 computation book, it started out containing design notes for teapots but soon was given over to illustrations and photography culled from discarded New Yorker magazines. Some of my favourite illustrators are found here: Adrian TomineLara TomlinSeth, and others. There are clippings of photographic work that has been far to good to be tossed out with the recycling. There are sad obituaries for both Irving Penn and Richard Avedon.

#17 is still ongoing. When space gets tight it is time to sharpen the scissors and eliminate the stacks of periodicals. Over time it is surprising how much of a sourcebook the scraps become.

Despite the terrible name, Ampad makes great books. If you are the type who keeps a laboratory, and you need to make notes on the progress of experiments - you know, diagrams showing how your genius takes form, vectors, equations, forces, chemical names, explanations and observations - you could find no better book than the 22-156. You could paste in an entire 8.5 x 11 inch sheet and still have a margin left - which is why these work so well as scrap books. They are sewn together, finished with book binding tape, but have no spine - and so there is no spine to break. Some gentle rough-housing and they submit and lie flat. They are not cheap - especially North of the border. They may not be available for much longer, either. As the Wiki tells us, Ampad filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005. Stationer's trivia: Ampad invented the yellow legal pad, beloved of lawyers.

Keeping a scrapbook always leads me to contemplate images and essentialism. I keep images because they hit me in a profound way. Being something of an image mechanic, I'm always looking for the essence that makes an image work. You can see me late at night, turning the pages, muttering: what is it? what is it? Damn you -  give me your secrets! Invariably these books hint that whatever it is that makes the image work, it is never exactly what you think it is.

Here is a list of books.

Tim McLaughlin

Photographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada