mixed media artist book

Flower essences are herbal infusions used as “natural remedies for mind-body wellness.” LITERARY ESSENCES plays with the idea of literature as an elixir: a “you are what you read” approach to wellness.

Inside the clamshell box are essential tools for using essences of literature. Each vial contains the punched-out holes of pages from a copy of the book identified on the label, along with a scent. The guidebook answers important questions such as, “What if I take the wrong literary essence or too much of the correct one?” A set of diagnostic cards identifies the “positive qualities” and “patterns of imbalance” associated with each book. A pair of tweezers assists in the extraction of an essence from the vials.

Literary Essences

LITERARY ESSENCES is comprised of a set of 26 vials of "essences," 26 diagnostic cards, a hand-bound guidebook for using the essences, and a pair of tweezers. All are housed in a handmade clamshell case covered with Japanese bookbinding fabric.

Limited Edition of 25: $1500 each

where to purchase LITERARY ESSENCES

LITERARY ESSENCES includes the essences of books such as:

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Independence Day by Richard Ford
A Selection of Poems by E.E. Cummings
Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett
Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver

One way to approach Literary Essences is to find among the vials a book you’ve read. Locate its matching diagnostic card to learn how that book may have helped you. Then unscrew the cap of the vial to see if the scent corresponds with your memory of the book. In this way the artist book becomes a game of recognition.

Another approach would be to use the guidebook and the diagnostic cards to identify a book you don’t know, but should. For example, if you long for less longing, you might try Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho. Do you worry that something bad may happen but you’re not sure what? Grace Paley’s Later the Same Day may be of assistance. Case studies show that reading the book while taking the essence helps to instigate a positive emotional shift.


[excerpted text from guidebook]

How will I know if the literary essences are working?
A common experience for people using literary essences is an
intensification of certain traits prior to experiencing a transformation. For example, someone taking On Walden Pond essence to treat a life of quiet desperation may feel an acute awareness of oppression before being able to live independently. This seeming increase of an emotional trait has similarities to an "aggravation" produced by a homeopathic remedy, or a "healing crisis" stimulated by such cleansing practices as fasting.

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Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047


Copyright 2014 Wendy Fernstrum

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