This Is Not a Father

I have spent much of this semester making this edition of five books reflecting upon my father who died when I was two-years old. It is very satisfying to make a book by hand and besides the moments when I wanted to abandon the project or figure out a way to abandon myself, (that moment when I was pasting down the pastedown and accidentally pasted the book in upside down was just one such lovely me-ism. I fixed it, but I am still bitter.) overall, yes, a finished book is a nice thing.


I also spent much of the semester writing a twenty-five page paper for my sociology class on the culture of art. I wrote my paper on livre d’artiste—very briefly, these are French artists books from late nineteenth to early twentieth century. The very first such book was called Parallèlement with etchings by Pierre Bonnard and poetry by Paul Verlaine. In my paper I write extensively about the influence of Charles Baudelaire as well as the publishers of such books such as Ambroise Vollard and Albert Skira.


When I finished pasting the books into the covers I wanted to put a weight on them so they would not warp. As I mention in my own little book about my father, I grew up surrounded by my father’s books and art,


but imagine my surprise when a huge spineless art book I used to weigh my books down turned out to be my father’s. The title: From Baudelaire to Bonnard published by Albert Skira.


That’s an odd bit of coincidence.




17 responses to “This Is Not a Father

  1. Dear Jessica,

    You are, indeed, your father’s daughter. Your love of art and books. Your sense of wonder at the world and your own place within it. Your constant examination of what it means to, in fact, be Eric Ryan’s most intimate creation — his youngest daughter, whom he barely knew yet through whom he still lives today.

    Handmade books are something Eric would surely have understood and treasured. His vision channeled through your eyes and hands and sensibilities. A wonderful tribute to a man who gave so much. Thanks as always for sharing your insights and emotions.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and may the New Year bring you love and passion and fulfillment.

    Warmest personal regards,


    • My goodness, I have got off to a rather slow start with my blog this year, and I have just noticed that I neglected to respond to your very kind words and wishes. Thank you so much. They are very much appreciated. If I survive my penultimate semester I will write to you soon to catch up!

  2. Heartache filters through. i know a little 5-year old that lost both his parents within a five month period. He will be okay in time, having found a home with his aunt and her brood.
    I’ll stick my head out: I baulk at the idea of any parent living through their child. Sure, genes and DNA and all that, but remaining distinctly individual is a given. Wonderful printing blocks. Would love to get to know the content of the books. Any chance of it being published on here?

  3. Wow. What an incredible piece of work. Just when we are being told physical books are being phased out by ebooks, the craft of making books is making a huge comeback. Have a great Christmas & look forward to reading of your exploits in the new year.

  4. my but will this book be available?

  5. That must have been a tough project, but I bet it’s cleansing too.

  6. The ink brushwork in the first picture, is it yours? If so, I hope that you’ll show more of it in the future.

  7. Gnaaagh. Speechless. ( Probably envy)……

  8. I’m sorry, I haven’t read this before… You “little wonder”!!! (quoting my / our beloved D.Bowie).
    You keep on surprising me and NOT surprising me at all, because I am aware that: your potential is huge, your sensitivity is tremendous… you’re but one and only, a unique masterpiece. And I do “envy” your capacity of doing so many things so well… meaning (and I ask myself very often: “how can she do it?”)
    Geniality is nearby… Congrats on your achievements and
    on WHO you are! I feel blessed that our lives somehow have met! 😀

    Love u more!


  9. Reblogged this on nós and commented:
    Geniality nearby…

  10. Oh thank you so much Celeste, that is really….well, I am a little speechless. Thank you for your very generous and kind words.
    The feeling is mutual!

  11. I post this again. I was a fellow student of your fathers at the Academy of fine arts. I knew him well and I have a few stories which might amuse you. However my main comment is the beauty of your book and the prose that I have been able to read through magnification of the image posted. Wish I could see the entire book, but assume impossible . . My name is Peter Lister and can be reached at
    Best wishes to you and your wonderful creative life.

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