Book #031

Well I thought I'd wrap up the month with a big, wild party of a book. It is Saturday night after all. This was made with all the junk mail I've accumulated this week, plus some free postcards that I picked up at Diva Espresso when we went out for coffee this evening. And I threw in a couple of candy wrappers and other ephemera that were kicking around.

There are 7 signatures, each with between 3 and 7 pieces of something in them, sewn together with a 4-needle binding. My favorite pages in the book are the window envelopes from bills and advertising; that's where I put the free postcards, candy wrappers, etc. It's always a surprise to see how accidental combinations of things can morph into something unexpected and way more entertaining - see a couple of details below. This was one of the most fun books so far. I guess junk just really speaks to me.

Looks like I have some threads to trim. The four needle binding is the first sewn binding I learned. It is a very simple concept and easy to understand, a royal pain to keep under control while it is the works and very satisfying when it is finally finished.


Book #030

Here's a picture of the cover of today's book. Unfortunately I am having some infuriating problems with my computer. Can anyone explain to me what to do when my scratch disks fill up?

The inside of this book is the interesting part; the pages are kind of unusual. But it will have to wait. Silly scratch disks.

OK. Scratch disk gods have been appeased and here is a picture of the inside of the book. The pieces of paper that make up the pages are all the same size but are folded in different places, so the pages are graduated in width. They are arranged in a single signature, so (in this example) the light colored paper is both the shortest first page and the longest last page. The dark brown is the next shortest and next longest...and so on. At the center, the light paper has been used again, and folded in half, so the centerfold pages are the same size. I think it would be fun to put an image on each page, and plan for the exposed parts of the images at the edges to combine to make a different picture when the pages are lying flat.

All of which makes me think of fore-edge painting. Fore-edge painting is an old art, still practiced by a tiny handful of artists, in which an image is painted on the very edges of the pages of a book. I don't mean that the edges of the book are decorated in a way that can be seen when the book is closed. The painting is done on the face of the pages, and the image is visible only when the pages are fanned - it is invisible when the book is closed. Here are two examples. I appropriated these images from the website of fore-edge artist Martin Frost so I could show them to you, and I'll remove them in a few days. Do go to Frost's website - and prepare to be wowed.


Book #029

I wasn't feeling very inspired today, at least not where the book of the day was concerned. It was another good day in the studio, though. That was a happy thing.

This is a very basic sewn binding, it goes by a number of names. It's a running stitch - a simple in and out; at the end hole the thread comes out and jumps over to the next signature and goes in, and out, and in and out, and jump and in and out.....

And so on. The strip of gold paper was added at the last - slipped underneath those long stitches - and glued to the front and back. That's all the cover this one's going to get.


Book #028

Oh, I had a great evening in the studio: made good progress on a round robin book project that I'm horribly behind in, did some samples for the Third Friday in February and made this book.

This is two books in one, or maybe more like two books in one and a half. The cover (which is cut from an old hanging file folder...beautiful brown paper) is in three parts and binds two sets of pages. I think this will eventually have to have a two-part story, or something told from two points of view, or things happening simultaneously in parallel universes. The black pages will be interesting. Which makes me think that it would be interesting to make a book like this with daytime pages and nighttime pages and tell the story of the same place at two different times. Too many possibilities...


Book #027

I'm getting Valentine Fever. We'll probably be seeing a lot of red and pink and flowers and maybe some not-so-flowery books over the next week or two. This one starts with a big square for the pages. (The 12" square sheets of paper that are 16 cents each at JoAnne's this week are great if you happen to have some on hand.) Fold it crosswise both directions, and diagonally both directions. Unfold it each time - you are trying for nice crisp and precise folds. Then open it up and smooth it out. Cut from one corner just to the center. Now, fold it back and forth on the creases you've already made, starting at one of the cut edges, like you would fold a fan . It's another version of the accordion fold. You'll end up with a triangular block of pages. Cut two covers (you can use your pages as a pattern, or measure) from something heavier than the pages, embellish as you please, and glue one to each end panel of your pages. This will make sense when you see it. You can leave it as is or glue some strips of paper across the spine to make a hinge. This makes your book a little stronger. (Glue only to the front and back covers, don't get glue into the folds or the book might not open properly.)

As you can see, you end up with six triangular pages (plus the inside covers) to embellish or fill as the spirit moves you, and they open up into a big inner area for...something else. Now, this is where you might want to throw away that idea of the paper from JoAnne's, because you can choose your page paper with an eye toward that inner area. How about a map? Or a page from an old book? Or some special wrapping paper, an old Grateful Dead poster (like you'd cut that up), a collage of your own, or a photocopy of...something. Collage up an 11 x 17 inch wonder and then make color copies. Yes, you'll only need 11 x 11, so fill the other six inches with something else. Then there are paper bags, wallpaper, sheet music, magazine pages or covers...what can't you use?


Book #026

This book's pages are sewn as shown in the left picture, and then a cover is glued on. The pages are 8.5 x 11 inch paper cut in half crosswise and then folded, so the book measures 4.25 x 5.5 inches. The cover is one piece of sheet music just big enough to wrap around the book. It's glued (with good old Elmer's) over the stitching on both sides and along the edge of the spine as well. You can see that the stitching shows through pretty distinctly. I think this is because the cover paper was a little thin for the job, and also because it wasn't completely dry when I scanned it; it may smooth out by tomorrow. Not that stitches showing is necessarily a bad thing...binding is beautiful, I think.


book #025

I was challenged to make a book out of this long, skinny, very sturdy brown paper bag from the liquor store. I do love brown paper! I wanted to somehow make use of it having an inside and an outside, to use it to hold something as well as to be a book. I thought I could create compartments by sewing across the width of the bag, thus sectioning it off into fully enclosed secret hiding places, and at the same time use the sewing to attach a few pages. A little experimentation showed that a quarter of the bag's length was a nice size for a book page, and that four sections could all be neatly folded up and tucked into the little bit left at the open end of the bag. (Note that there's an open compartment at the top of the bag, where you do the tucking.)

I ended up stapling the pages in, instead of sewing, and tucked some bits of ephemera and flat thingies into each hidden compartment. Yes, you have to get in there somehow, preferably without destroying the book. But why can't a book be a puzzle, too?

This is going to be a fun book to fill. It will be something about threes, or things that come in threes, or perhaps a story with three parts. I will probably end up carefully taking it apart and replacing the contents of the compartments with more appropriate or relevant ephemera when I know what the book is saying. Ideas are flowing.


Book #024 A, B, and C

I almost didn't post these, I was so disappointed in the quality of the pictures. But I guess they at least show the construction of today's book(s). I started out playing around with the idea of making books out of old calendars, and I had three likable samples by the time I was done. At the top is a boustrophedon, cut along the grid lines - one page to a day. Next is a long accordion with a closed spine cover; I cut along the horizontal lines of the calendar and glued the weeks end to end to make one long strip of a month. Last is a French fold using a 2 x 4 cell (day) grid cut from a calendar page. Only the long accordion has all the days right side up, the other folds result in some topsy-turvey weeks. Don't we all have those from time to time.

What these books might be good for: Make a set of 12 little books and a box to put them in. Make them out of last year's calendar and use them as tiny diaries or souvenirs, or use next year's calendar and have a set of datebooks. Copy the appropriate calendar page and make invitations to a party - put the guest of honor's picture on the front. Make a vacation journal.


Book #023

This Three Out Person is an exercise in found poetry. There are any number of ways to find found poetry; my favorite is to take a piece of text - a page from a book, an article from the news, or some such printed matter - and then decide on a system to select certain words. In this case I rolles two dice, and counted off the words according to whatever number I rolled. The first roll was 11, so I started counting at the beginning of the text and then wrote down the eleventh word. Then I rolled a seven, so I kept counting, starting with One again, and wrote down word number seven. And so on and so forth until I was tired of it and each page had four words on it. Then I added some rubber stamp faces that I carved ages ago, collaged the cover ransom-note style, and called it done. Found poetry is entertaining, and you can make up all sorts of oddball systems for choosing your words. You can pick the first word in each line, or the last word in each line, or every word that follows a word beginning with the letter "S", or...you get the idea. Most of the time it turns out kind of meh, but every now and then it's sublime. For the record, I don't consider this one sublime, but it's not the worst one I've ever seen either. And, hey, I didn't write it...the dice did. Clever dice. The whole thing is (punctuation mine):

Man of end language,
is. Do person three, now,
to before children.

Film here, year, not job;
now immutable end.

Palm, art another twain,
this three out person.


Book #022

Four booklets in one. Each color is a separate 8-page booklet, sewn together using a similar color perle cotton. Then all four are stacked and the ponytail of threads is tied in an overhand knot, binding all four booklets together. The threads are wrapped, in alternating colors, around the remaining threads, to make a "friendship bracelet" sort of cord. Another knot at the end holds it all together, and the ends are trimmed. The booklets are about 4.5 " square, the cord is about 6" long.


Book #021

Here's a book with a Coptic binding...sort of. I've done this binding before and thought I'd remember how, but in the end I had to make it up as I went along. I'm a great believer in improvisation; the first person who ever made a Coptic bound book, almost 2000 years ago, didn't have directions, and look how that turned out! Really, if it holds together and opens and shuts and the pages turn, what more do you really need? A book is a book is a book.

One cool thing about this binding is that anything slab-like can be used as a cover, as long as you have two slabs the same size and can put some holes in them.

Another cool thing about this binding is that Coptic books, and Coptic art in general, are beautiful and fascinating and there is a lot of information to be had. You could start here, or here.


Book #020

OK, again with the accordion books.

Is it a bit of a stretch to call this a book? I'm not sure myself...maybe one benefit of making books for a year is that I will zero in on a definition of my own. For now, let it suffice that this structure is included in many books about books, and I like it. This is absolutely without a doubt my favorite design for a fancy one-off greeting card.

My original plan was to show the three big presidential memorials in Washington DC: Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington. And for text I would insert Elizabeth Alexander's poem from the inauguration. But the monuments turned out to be way too hard to cut out at this small scale (working in my lap in front of the TV anyway!) so I went for an easy little scene out of my head, with a tiny Washington Monument on the horizon - my nod to the festivities and the day on which this book was made.

I hope you can tell from the pictures how this goes together. Just fold the paper in eighths, cut three-fourths of the way lengthwise and fold up as shown. Working out the scene takes some experimentation - you might want to cut a plain rectangular window in the three front panels and then tape your house, trees or whatever back on to make a pattern. Then trace it onto a fresh sheet of paper and fold and cut.

If the folds on the flat half of the page (not the scene) look a little wonky, it's because I fiddled with them after the rest of the work was done. In this example I used a pretty heavy card stock, and the long, wrap-around cover couldn't handle the thickness of the folded up scene. So I re-creased the folds where they really needed to be. You can see how much adjustment was needed by the shortness of the final lap - the part that tucks under the tab in the second picture. It would have been smart to leave the folding of that side of the paper for last, and to have then wrapped and creased it as needed to neatly wrap around the insides.


Book #019

I have a supply of Seattle newspapers circa 1933; they come in handy for a million things, including the covers of Book 18. The covers are heavy card stock covered with paper and glued to the end panels of the accordion. Some people think accordion books aren't really books, maybe because they are so easy to make and a favorite project of grade school teachers. But actually it's a venerable old format - the next generation of books after scrolls. In essence they are scrolls that are folded instead of rolled, enabling a reader to open the book anywhere along its length without having to roll and unroll and reroll. I think that must have been a pretty radical development at the time.


Book #018

This is a tiny accordion book with wrapped covers. It's a traditional Japanese binding that uses no adhesives or sewing or anything but paper and some heavy card stock. Very nifty.

Unfortunately, it was the most difficult thing to photograph that I have ever encountered. Whether it was something about the book, the materials I used, the camera or the phases of the moon - I don't know. This was the only picture that turned out at all (out of about 20!) so I can't show you any more details than this. I'll make a bigger one sometime this year, maybe it will take a better picture. Meanwhile, the Library of Congress has some good directions, with illustrations, for making a book like this. Go take a look.


Book #017

This was a little different: the book construction was minimal - pages and a cover stapled together. Most of the work (and the fun!) was in the content. I don't know what made me decide to do it this way. I guess I just felt like smearing paint around some more. I used some mailroom supply rubber stamps that I got at the dollar store ages ago. They came in stacked sets of three, self inking, and they are almost spent. But the words are great: cancelled, confidential, urgent, air mail, original, duplicate, confirmation...and two more I can't remember just now. Not 'completed', that's another stamp. Oh well - it's not all that urgent is it?

So, I drew (ultrafine Sharpie) and then colored (my old Prang watercolors from my childhood, believe it or not) a little picture for 7 of the stamps. It was very flow-of-consciousness...a nice way to spend an evening.

My friend Lena came to the studio yesterday evening. With the holidays and snow and all, I hadn't seen her in a long time, and it was really good to visit. She brought me three very nifty things that she bought online ('cause today's my birthday); I'll post some pictures of them later on. We had an inspiring conversation about life, crafting, stuff. I always feel inspired after a visit with Lena. And then about 10pm we went out for pie and coffee. I think pie and coffee is one of my favorite little rituals. It meant a lot to my dad; he loved his pie. He was a traveling salesman, although with a very small territory so he wasn't ever away, except maybe one night a month when he went to Bellingham. Name a city/town in Western Washington and he could tell you where to get good pie.


Book #016

I ended up scanning this, although photos would have been preferable (I didn't get batteries for the camera). It actually scanned fairly well except for the spine. It's impossible to show the spine without a photo, because you can't flatten it; when you open the book the spine curls up and disappears. Sort of like a potato bug.

This binding is sometimes called a Piano Hinge, and it is similar. Actually it's several piano hinges, and they connect the pianos together into one big...what? Mega piano? Enough of that. Anyway, the image at the left is the front of the book, the other is the inside center.

I have boxes and boxes of greeting cards; my friends save them and pass them along. Among other things, I make little scrapbooks out of them. They end up completely covered with the stuff I glue into them, so it doesn't matter what I use for pages, as long as it's sturdy and takes glue. What a great way to recycle cards! This is one binding I would use for such a book, the fastest and it requires only scissors and some sticks; there are other suitable bindings, and we have 349 days left to look at them.