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An edition of hand-made books about a ballerina – my mother – who fell in love with the bullfighter-comedian Cantinflas in Mexico City.
An edition of hand-made books about a ballerina – my mother – who fell in love with the bullfighter-comedian Cantinflas in Mexico City.
An edition of hand-made books about a ballerina – my mother – who fell in love with the bullfighter-comedian Cantinflas in Mexico City.
199 backers pledged $11,770 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

El Torero y la Bailarina / The Bullfighter & the Ballerina project video thumbnail
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El Torero y la Bailarina / The Bullfighter & the Ballerina

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PROJECT: “El Toreador y La Bailarina” is a hand-typed, hand-built, hand-bound love story. It's an artist’s book about the romance between my ballerina mother and the Mexican actor, bullfighter and comedian Cantinflas in Mexico City, 1941.

Miriam Golden, American Ballet Theatre
Miriam Golden, American Ballet Theatre

As an artist who works in the genre of “artist’s books”, I want to make a book about their 1941 romance in Mexico City, using original photographs and telegrams.

Cantinflas and Golden
Cantinflas and Golden

My mother, Miriam Golden, was a ballerina with American Ballet Theatre. The company was in residence in Mexico City in 1941; there she met the actor Mario Moreno, known as Cantinflas. Miriam was 21, on her own for the first time, and full of adventure. Mexican culture and language appealed to her deeply; this charming story tells of a vital young woman who had a whirlwind love affair in Mexico with one of its most colorful characters. Their romance lasted a year, and their friendship for the rest of their lives. 

The place that Cantinflas holds in the hearts of the Mexican people can’t be overstated: to this day, he’s pictured everywhere in toys, books, museums, puppets, posters, and in reruns of his over 40 films. (Americans may know him from his appearance in the 1959 movie “Around the World in 80 Days” with David Niven.)

Cantinflas plays a clownish character who could actually do the dance of bullfighting, as well as acrobatics, gymnastics and other physical comedy.
Cantinflas plays a clownish character who could actually do the dance of bullfighting, as well as acrobatics, gymnastics and other physical comedy.
No bulls were hurt in the making of this movie. Just exhausted.
No bulls were hurt in the making of this movie. Just exhausted.

Both my mother and Cantinflas were public figures, so this charming story is worth telling as historical anecdote. In addition, it’s a universal tale of youth and romance in another culture, and the decision finally made by a young woman about her future.

Creating this edition of books brings this delightful story to the public for the first time. It will give me a powerful connection to my mother at a time in her life when she was younger than my own daughter is now. And as an artist, I will complete a significant project in my practice as a maker of “artist’s books.” 

To give the quality of the story’s historical period, 10 original copies were typed by a "mecanografico" – one of the many men in Mexico City who types everything from love letters for the illiterate to invoices for businessmen. Typed in Spanish on vintage onionskin paper, each translucent page overlays a photograph underneath. The English translation appears next to the photograph. 

Raúl Tenorio Rodríguez and me, in the Portal de Evangelistas.
Raúl Tenorio Rodríguez and me, in the Portal de Evangelistas.

The second ten will be typed here in Seattle (I ran out of onionskin in Mexico) by Emily Thompson, a translator of Spanish poetry.

The $5500 that I’m asking for will go toward designing, finishing typing, printing, and binding an edition of 20 typed, hand-bound books for collectors and 20 inkjet-printed, wire-bound books for gifts and promotional use. 

Once I've reached $5500, any funds above that will enable me to travel to  Mexico City and in the U.S. to promote the book to libraries, museums and collectors, and to give a series of talks about the story of this couple from long ago. 

The making of the book will also be a collaborative effort. Paper Hammer is a publisher with a bookbindery in Tieton, Washington. Bookbinder Maria Solorio is from Mexico; she feels a connection to the project through the language and the story, and the Mexican-American community of Tieton is a bridge between Mexico and Washington State, so there is the additional appeal for me of connection with community. 

Thank you for your attention! 

Best,
Ellen Ziegler

Prototype of book!
Prototype of book!
Inside covers have collage of Cantinflas' movie posters.
Inside covers have collage of Cantinflas' movie posters.
Photos are visible through Spanish text typed on onionskin.
Photos are visible through Spanish text typed on onionskin.
Photos are glued in by hand to the page with the English text.
Photos are glued in by hand to the page with the English text.

Specifications: There are 20 pages in each book: 10 are typed on onionskin, and each typed page overlays the reproduction of a photograph or a document, hand-mounted next to the English translation. Photographs will be inkjet-printed on archival paper. The handmade edition is 20 copies. I’ll also make another edition of 20 laser-printed copies that will be wire-bound, for gifts and promotional use.

Risks and challenges

This project uses the skill set that I've been developing over the last ten years of making artist's books. I look forward to producing my best work yet, with your help.

I don't see setbacks, except for all those hand-typewritten thank you notes!

Thank you! Ellen

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Thank-you card (handwritten!) with an image from the book, "El Torero y la Bailarina."

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    PDF of the book! and a 5 x 7 archival reproduction of the fabulous photo of Miriam Golden and the burros in Mexico City with a hand-written thank you note! (this is a new reward -- all backers over $20 will receive the PDF; I just can't modify the other rewards at this point :)

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    5 x 7 archival reproduction of the fabulous photo of Miriam Golden and the burros in Mexico City with a hand-written thank you note!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Set of three limited edition 5"x7" photos from "El Toreador y la Bailarina" on archival paper, AND a thank-you note typed on a vintage typewriter!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Signed laser-printed digital edition of the book “El Toreador y La Bailarina” in Spanish and English, AND a thank-you note typed on a vintage typewriter

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    NEW! for those who'd like a book and missed the $100 category: signed laser-printed digital edition of the book “El Toreador y La Bailarina” in Spanish and English, AND a thank-you note typed on a vintage typewriter

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Signed laser-printed digital edition of the book “El Toreador y La Bailarina” in Spanish and English, a set of three limited edition 5"x7" photos from "El Toreador y la Bailarina" on archival paper, AND a thank-you note typed on a vintage typewriter.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A copy of THE LIMITED EDITION BOOK, “El Toreador y La Bailarina". Onionskin typed pages in Spanish overlay photos and English translation. 22 pages plus cover. Binding by Paper Hammer, Tieton, WA.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Tour of artist's studio (Seattle) and private showing of all editions of books made by Ellen Ziegler, plus a copy of the limited edition book, “El Toreador y La Bailarina" (description above.) Tour takes place in Seattle; donor must supply own transportation and housing :) And all my love forever.

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Funding period

- (32 days)