Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A have a friend who has been writing poetry for a while as part of her healing process.  She confided that one of her greatest wishes is to publish her work.  I couldn't make that wish come true, but I could bind her existing collection of poetry into a book for her.

This was my first experience with actually printing and binding text.  I experimented both with Microsoft Word 2010 and Publisher 2010.  I was able to get Word to generate a Table of Contents and update it easily.  I didn't however like the print preview portion of the program because I couldn't see how the pages were going to line up for double sided printing.

I was using a booklet format 5.5 x 8.5" and I wanted to make sure the imposition of the numbers was correct.  I do have a more professional program Page Plus4 that I have purchased for this purpose, but I wanted to see what the Microsoft programs had to offer.  I found that Publisher did a good job of the printing when I imported the Word document into it but I couldn't find enough information in the help section to be able to update the Table of Contents in Publisher.  I guess I'll have to search Amazon and see what they have to offer in the way of resources.  Publisher lets you insert a Table of Contents so it must be able to create and update one.

Anyway, here is a look at the finished product.

I used a faux leather (heavily embossed) for the spine and a bronze, brown, gold and white paisley paper for the cover.  I used a coordinating striped paper for the endpapers.

It is a slim volume so I made it with just one signature and used a five hole pamphlet stitch to sew it. 

I kept the page numbers to the bottom center of each page.   I used the Calabri font and kept the body of the poetry at 10pt. which was quite readable in this size book.  The poems were arranged in chronological order.

I made note of things that I might do differently and I am going to try the same project using Page Plus4 to see if it makes some of the procedures easier.

My friend was quite pleased -- even if she wasn't "published" she did have her work in a hard cover book.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What got me interested in bookbinding in the first place was altered books.  I've been dabbling in this medium for several years now.  I started creating altered books and using them much like visual journals to express feelings and emotions and then got caught up in the various techniques for altering the books themselves.

Once again, it wasn't easy to find classes in my town so I used the Internet as my source of information and instructions.  Luckily, there are several Yahoo Groups that focus on this medium and they were and are a big help to me.  I did eventually find a group of like minded individuals in my home town but I came in at the end of a Round Robin and the group folded the next year.  It was fun while it lasted, though.

Here are some pictures of an early altered child's book.  I used this one to express how I feel when I'm seriously depressed.  I was lucky enough to find magazine images that worked with my poetry and I used distressing techniques on the pages to make them seem dark.  I used a ransom font to add to this effect.

I used white acrylic on the front cover and then stamped the title, "It's been a bad day" using Stazon ink.  I used ink to darken and distress the cover.

I used the Lumiere acrylic paints on the backgrounds and then darkened them with black ink that pounced on top.  I tore the edges of the pages and used ink to make them look like they'd been burned.

This is definitely one of my darker books but I don't think that all work needs to be light and positive.  I was actually quite pleased with the way that this book came together.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I just had to share this video.  It's on You Tube but it comes from Symphony of Science.  There are others in the series.  The musician, John Boswell, remixes quotes from famous scientists and excerpts from videos into this music videos.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Our Place in the Cosmos

I had hoped to add another video here but I can't see to make that happen so it will appear in another post.  Check out the site.

Here is another of the science/music videos.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In 2009 I was able to take another workshop with Don Taylor at the Labatt's Visual Arts Centre at the University of Western Ontario.  This workshop focused on replicating a historical leather binding and using papyrus as the paper. 

I had not long had pins removed from a fractured right wrist (and yes, I am right handed) so even after a summer of physiotherapy my leather work was not quite as precise as I would have liked. I enjoyed the workshop immensely in spite of that little handicap.

We used onlay (the overlaying of leather on leather), tawed vellum insertions (those are the very light woven lines), some gold leafing, and some embroidery stitches (tacks in each corner and a woven stitch across an open section of leather).  I used a warm brown as my full cover leather and a rich red as the onlay.

You can see that the book is held closed with small leather straps that have rings on the ends.  These rings fit over knots of leather to hold the book closed.

You can also see that the endpaper is edged in red leather before being attached to the cover.  This gives added strength to the structure.  The cover was made from laminated sheets of papyrus (they were glued together for strength).

If you were to look closely at the pages, you would be able to see the actual striations of the plant material as it is laid vertically and horizontally.

We used guard structures when we sewed the signatures so that the fine hemp cord would not tear the papyrus.  These were thin strips of folded vellum that were placed in the centre of each signature to take the stress of the threads.  A handsewn headband and tailband was extended into a support stitch on each cover to provide stability when the book was opened.  The red leather edging covers all but the very ends of these stitches.

While those with more dexterity were able to do much more elaborate onlay work -- and some of it was truly amazing -- I was pleased with the fairly simple geometric designs that my wrist allowed me.

If you have a chance to take a workshop with Don, try it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the summer of '09 I was lucky enough to take a workshop on Box Making through the Southwestern Ontario Chapter of CBBAG.  The workshop was held at the Labatt's Visual Arts Centre at the University of Western Ontario and the instructor was Don Taylor

We spent a morning making paste papers from wheat starch paste (it's used in bookbinding) and various dyes and pigments for colouring.  The print making room we were working in had large drying racks that could store the paste paper while we began the task of cutting the Davey board (a heavy cardboard) to the sized that we would need for the box that we were going to make.

Our goal was to make a box that looked like a book with a rounded leather spine over raised cords.  When you open the front cover of the book, you would be opening the lid of the box.  We were then given the option of making a tray to fit into the box, making it a two layer box.

We used a strong PVA glue to hold the pieces of the box together and wheat starch paste to cover the box with the paper and leather (the same procedure we would use when covering a book).

Here are pictures of my effort:

You can see in the first picture that a gold lined paper was used to simulate the pages of text in a book.  It gives the impression that the pages have gilded edges.

I used an orange leather to match an orange/gold paste paper that I had made earlier in the workshop.  The paper had a soft sheen to it and the colour seemed to be a gradient from gold to orange.

The box has a leather hinge and dividers in the bottom tray.  The interior is lined with a soft brown embossed paper. 

I was unsure about a tray so I made one anyway that could be covered if I decided to use it.

During this process I found that a small set square was invaluable for making sure that my corners and box walls were 90 degrees.  Square metal weights were also useful to hold the walls in place while the were drying to make sure that they dried perpendicular to the base.  We used screw set dividers to replicate measurements so that we could be sure of accuracy.  Accurate measurements were very important in each step. 

It was a very interesting exercise and I'm sure that it gets faster with repetition.  Don seemed to have no trouble at all putting his box together.  I seemed to be all thumbs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Now for a change, this post has nothing to do with bookbinding.  I've been lucky enough to take several online classes and workshops (most of the free) from Cynthia Powell.  The latest workshop or rather series of workshops, which I have most willingly paid for, is called Digital Montage Studio and it is a series of classes that explore digital image manipulation.  One program used is Adobe Photoshop Elements which is a program that I have but I've only touched the surface in my use of it. 

There are five workshops in the series and each one is a stand alone entity so that you can opt in for which ever topic interests you.  The first workshop was for beginners and began with simple explanations of layers and blending modes.  Cindy and Sherre, the co-instructors, run a Yahoo group that allows great communication among participants and the course leaders.  A lot of sharing of resources and insight and constructive help takes place in this group.  Files are posted for download and resource links are available for use at any time.

Here is a run down of the workshop descriptions taken from Cynthia's website:

July 19-30th-Workshop #1-Blending Texture & Color Layers-Blending/Overlaying for dynamic visual effects. Bonus technique: "Trappings" will be shared in this workshop. SOLD OUT!

August 16-27th-Workshop #2-Creating & Using Custom Distressing Tools-Create unique brushes (from found images) and learn how to use various digital tools to create the illusion of age to your backgrounds & elements. Bonus technique: "Gesso Effects" will be shared in this workshop!

September 13-24th-Workshop #3-Bonus "Digital Stenciling" Technique will be shared in this workshop!-A truly unique way for using Stencils in the virtual world of digital imaging. The results are stunning! Plus create a variety of digital stamps for your own personal collection.

October 18-29th-Workshop #4-Shadow & Light-Creating depth with Shadows, Bevels, Styles and Lighting effects + additional blending techniques. Work with text and photos! Bonus technique for creating a truly unique signature for your art!

November 15-24th-Workshop #5-Filters & Patterns-Filters can change your whole perspective, when you discover what they can do for your art! Throw in some patterns and your digital world becomes a playground for your art.

These workshops are loaded with fabulous digital mixed media techniques and a few New Bonus Techniques as well!

For more information, to see samples and to sign up for these great on-line workshops-visit:  Digital Montage Studios

Here are some of the montages that I created for Workshop I:

This assignment was called "Widow's Walk".  Several images were added in different degrees of transparency.  Texture was added as an overlay.  Special effects were added to the layers.  Every image was placed on a different layers


This was a bonus assignment after Workshop II.  In this one, I practiced taking out the background from around images so that the dolphins and the paint splashes sat cleanly on the black background.  This technique will be useful when you want to take an element out of one picture and add it to another or use it in your own artwork.Once again, I really, really, need to practice my digital photography.  Some of the participants in these workshops take amazing pictures.  Those of us who can't are left to rely on copyright free images found on different web sites or purchase for use images from sites like istockphoto.

If you are interested in digital art and image manipulation and would like to learn more about using the software, I would highly recommend the course offered by Cindy and Sherre.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I have to admit that I first got intrigued by the idea of journals when I saw the Bind It All featured on the Quietfire Design site here.  I saw how easy it was to use and since I loved using coil bound journals myself because they always opened flat for writing I thought this would be a great tool to own.  I also liked the idea of being able to bind single pages and thought of the possibilities for altered books since that was one of my main interests at the time.  With the added thickness of embellishments, some of the pages were proving to be unwieldy in regular books.

I purchased a Bind It All before I began to learn about sewn structures.  That doesn't mean that I've given up using coil bindings.  I still think that they are great for certain things.  They just don't have that rich, traditional fell that sewn bindings have.

Here are some samples of my earliest coil bindings.

This journal is covered in handmade paper and you'll notice that the coils don't go all the way from top to bottom.  That makes the journal a little more loose when you open it, but that is good if you intend to embellish the pages.  I haven't decorated the cover of this one yet.

The covers of this journal are made from artist canvas.  I painted the canvas using acrylic paints and then embellished using metallic words.

This journal was covered in torn pieces of mulberry paper and stamped with a word quote "Love where you're at and believe life will lead you to where you want to be" Joanne A Ross  from Quietfire Designs.

Sorry about the glare on the picture.  I was using the overhead light in the workroom and this journal has a protective coat of gloss varnish on it.  I shouldn't have photographed it flat but I didn't see the glare in the lens of the camera.  (I really will have to improve my camera skills).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I tried my hand at fabric journal when I took an online course with Sue Bleiweiss of Three Creative Studios.  She guided us through a variety of fabric journals and I loved every minute of it.  I had a bit of experience sewing but the instructions were quite clear and you didn't need a fancy machine to accomplish the task (which is a plus for me because I don't have all the bells and whistles on mine).

You can see in the picture above that beads were added to the long stitch on the journal spine for decoration.

This journal was done in a faux suede cover with a patterned cotton lining. The suede is also used to make an inner pocket.  Each signature is wrapped in decorative paper and the signatures are attached to the spine with a long stitch binding.  A metal clasp is used to secure the journal.

I also repeated this style of journal using bold prints with elastic closures (they were actually fuzzy headbands from the Dollar Store).  I used a large, decorative shell button as the catch.  These journals were popular with my nieces.

You can see that the covering paper for the signatures picked up the bright colours from the fabric cover.

Both journals have a fold over flap that keeps the journal and it's contents protected.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I remember the first hardcover journal that I ever made.  I saw an announcement for a one day workshop being held in Grimsby, Ontario (the home of Wayzgoose) and it was the first and closest (in Canada) opportunity that I had come across.  The workshop was taught by Louise Kratka from Guelph.  Putting a hardcover journal together from start to finish is not something you would usually do in one day, so some of the finer points of bookbinding were skipped over for the sake of speed.  At the end of the day though, we did have a hand sewn hardcover book with paper cover and cloth spine.  We used commercial, premade headbands.

The paper we used for the text block was Mowhawk superfine 8.5 x 11" which is a short grain paper so that when you fold the paper in half, the grain runs parallel to the spine.  This prevents the pages from warping when they are glued into (or cased in) the book. We did have some warping of the book covers but I learned from later workshops that this was due to the heavy nature of the cover paper and the light weight of the end paper.  To counteract this, we should have used a filler on the interior of the cover.  This would have evened out the discrepancy in height between the two papers and would have helped with the warping.  This was probably a result of a time shortage in the workshop. 

Our books were still a bit damp when we took them home and in ideal conditions, they would have dried under weights.  All in all, I was pretty pleased with my first hard cover book and when I look back on it, I can see the things that I have learned since that time and I keep it as a reminder of my first effort and as an example of why I should not rush the process. 

I have to admit that sometimes when the end is in sight I have a tendency to rush to the finish line rather than take my time and enjoy all the steps along the way.  When I do this, I'm usually dissatisfied with myself and the finished product.  When I'm tired I become all thumbs and that makes for sloppy workmanship.  That's when I need to tell myself to walk away.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another type of binding I've tried (and I think this time the materials came from Club Scrap) was a Coptic Stitch binding called the "Raven's Claw".  The reason for that will be easily apparent when you see the picture of the binding.

The signatures were sewn over cords that were inserted into the cover boards in the shape of a raven's claw, then feathered and glued to the board before being covered with decorative paper.  My top row of stitching was not quite straight.  I didn't get my sewing station pierced quite evenly though the other two sections look better.  I would choose a different paper to cover the boards in a second attempt at this book.  I don't think the paper chosen sets off the character of the book.
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