Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Accordion or Back-to-Back Book

This is the accordion book. Or the back-to-back book. Whichever makes more sense to you. The book has three covers and opens in two directions. It's hard to describe, so I've added a bunch of photos, which hopefully will do what I've having trouble doing with words. The covers are made from some of my favorite paper. It's a reproduction of a William Morris wallpaper. I love the Arts and Crafts movement. I also used end papers on this book, which I don't always do. If you look at the spine view picture (3rd from the top) and the end view (last pic) you can see that each signature or section of the book is wrapped with small bits of paper just on the sewn edge. It's a classic technique. This book uses green, brown and wooden fiber paper. I think it gives the spine a unique look.

The book has a sage green grosgrain ribbon that wraps around it to keep it closed. The back-to-back book form can be used all sorts of cool ways. It can be used as a journal or a photo album. You could use it as a "before and after" book. Or for two sides of a family, two siblings, a male/female theme. Two people's version of one vacation. I think it's a form that really encourages creative uses. Plus, it just looks cool!

As it is now, the ribbon closure simply wraps around the book. If you'd prefer I can put a bone closure on it for a more fixed closure. This book and more experiments in the back-to-back or accordion style will be available at my booth at the Old Town Art Market.

Sewing on Tapes

I've been doing a bunch of books using the binding method of sewing on tapes that I learned from the Daniel Essig seminar. I guess this particular sewing technique has a bunch of names including the French Twist and the Herringbone. I figured I'd toss my hat into the ring and give it a name, too. I call it the Honeycomb.

So this book features a paper with a stylized alphabet which reminds me of Edward Gorey's work.

The front cover perfectly frames the whole alphabet A - Z, and the back cover centers this floral graphic seen above.

I have more of this paper, because I am interested in using it for a personalized book. I'd like to highlight one letter, or three like a monogram for someone. Another idea I've been toying with is to use a mica window, like in my mahogany covered book (featured in the first post in my blog), to encase one letter. So if this idea appeals to anyone, please give me a shout.

There's a detail of the binding in one of the pictures above. It's purple waxed Irish linen thread on ivory tape. The ivory tape matches the cover papers. The textblock is made with white 25% cotton 32lb paper.

Here's another "honeycomb" tape style. This one features a Florentine reproduction of an antique star chart. The tapes are made from strips of Nepalese Lotka paper in a navy blue which matches the ink on the star chart. The thread is waxed Irish linen in a dark rusty red color. The paste-downs are made from the same navy Lotka paper.

Both of these will be at my booth at the Old Town Art Market.

Celtic Weave

So here's another sewing technique I taught myself from a Keith Smith book. He calls it the Celtic Weave. In my opinion his instructions are vague at best, so I still have some kinks to work out to perfect it. The covers are made with Nepalese Lotka paper... it's a caramel color with prints of fern leaves. One of the nice attributes of the binding technique is that I can use two contrasting colors of thread. In this book I chose butterscotch and chocolate brown. I'll have to keep practising this technique, it looks simple once it's been sewn, but so far this is one of the most time consuming bindings I've done. Below is detailed view of the weave.

I'm going to keep working on this method to perfect it. I'll have this book and hopefully a few more like it for sale at the 4th Annual Old Town Art Market on May 31st. Come see me!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I learned the worm!


And I'm not talking about breakdancing! And having these worm skills is far superior to having the breakdancing variety. It's actually called the caterpillar. I learned it from Keith Smith's Non-Adhesive Binding Vol. III: Exposed Spine Sewings and he credits learning it from Betsy Palmer Eldridge. I'm bravely posting photos of my very first try, then my second and third. The third one is the only satisfactory one, in my opinion. And it's already reserved for my friend Kelly Lusis. The sewing technique I found surprisingly easy to pick up, but it's getting the tension right that will take multiple attempts. Like in the double digits, I'm afraid. But anyway, back to my bravery...

My first attempt:

So the legs are all over the place, I hadn't figured out a way to make a distinct looking head. And if you notice the book climbs slightly from left to right -- it's sewn more tightly on the left side than the right. And that's a consequence of a couple of things: I'm not used to sewing one station (one set of side-by-side holes to sew through) from cover to cover and then starting on the station.

Basically, you sew one worm to completion and then you start the other worm. This is a very rare way to bind, at least according to everything I've read.

And that picture makes it look like I bind my books in a cave. But I don't. I started learning this stitch at about 5pm and couldn't go to be until I had completed at least one entire caterpillar book. So this picture was taken at 4:17am.

My second attempt:

You can see above that I modified the caterpillar itself on the spine from my first attempt. In the first one I sewed the caterpillar at every signature. The caterpillar looked disproportionately heavy compared to the body on the cover. So in this second try I only entered every other signature... Better, but still not great.

You'll also see that sometimes Mr. Caterpillar's legs are much longer on the left side of his body than his right. It's those kinds of kinks that can only be worked out by obsessive repetition. Yay! (If you know me, you know this exclamation was indeed genuine.)

My third attempt:

I do think this one turned out pretty cool. I also like the pea pod paper with the big purple caterpillar coming to munch some tasty lunch.

This is the first time I've used this brand of paper... it's called Iota, and it claimed to be extremely ecologically responsible. The paper seems okay, it's interesting, different than what's out there and seems really pretty durable, that caterpillar puts some strain on the spine edge.

I ended up settling on sewing the caterpillar into every third signature on the spine. I think it is the most closely mimics the weight of the caterpillar on the spine.

And to wrap up the tail end of this exhibition of my new wormy skills... drumroll...
here is the tail end of the caterpillar

*reserved for Kelly Lusis*

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My first "sculptural" book

About a month ago I took a four day seminar with the AMAZING book artist Daniel Essig. He is truly brilliant and teaches at Penland, John C. Campbell and others. (My sweet generous husband signed me up for it.) The book I made is a bit of a frankenstein... it's more like a sample book. Daniel taught three distinct methods that we incorporated into one book. The seminar was taught at Hollander's in Ann Arbor, Michigan। Hollander's has an awe-inspiring source for papers and bookbinding supplies, and they have a beautiful workspace in the basement where they hold the seminars and share with the American Academy of Bookbinders. (They are great with mail-orders, too. All their paper is available for browsing online... check 'em out.)

Here are some pictures of the book I made during the seminar. All in all it's over thirty hours of work. The book is an accordion style, which means it has three covers and opens like an accordion... like two books facing opposite directions connected by one common cover in the middle. (This is turning out to be more difficult to describe than I had anticipated... perhaps the pictures will help.) This picture from left to right shows the mahogany wood cover, the leather closure across the first textblock, the middle cover made in the style of laminated papyrus, and the spine sewn with tapes using a "french twist" sewing method. I think it looks like a honeycomb. The end papers are varying nepalese lotka papers, the tapes, believe it or not are made of tyvek, the stuff priority mail envelopes are made of, painted with acrylics and the thread is a butterscotch color of Irish linen waxed 4 ply thread. The text block is made of Mohawk superfine paper.
This is the wooden cover. It's mahogany painted with layers of milk paint, which I then sanded off and sealed with waxed. The window is made of natural mica and holds a lovely piece of jasper that I've been holding onto for years waiting for the right project. Those tiny little nails are brass and normally used for doll house furniture. The window is sealed on the inside of the cover by another piece of mica captured by little snips of tin from an old tin ceiling tile. At the top and bottom of the cover on the spine edge you can see the Ethiopian endband that Daniel made popular. It's a very ancient sewing method and I think it's gorgeous. Here's a close-up of this endband. I will be forever grateful to Daniel for teaching me this method. I've already used it in a number of other books.
And a close-up of the mica window, which is a feature that Daniel is famous for.

The second spine has repeated the pattern of various green/grey lotka endpapers and uses two various of a Greek sewing method using contrasting colors of thread। (Again Irish waxed linen 4 ply.) The closure for the opposite text block is simply a braid of the waxed linen which just loops around an antique button on the mica cover.

I'm really grateful for the opportunity to have learned from one of the best, and I think the my book is pretty damn cool. At least cool enough to justify a gazillion photos and my first blog post!