Tag Archives: bookbinding

Pop-ups: Water Polo

I recently resumed my fascination with pop-up art. It’s fun to abstract the world to a system of interacting planes. I’ve created cats at play, architecture, and hot air balloons. It was inevitable that my play would turn to water polo, and so it has. I wondered how I would depict a goalie blocking a ball or a player swimming down the pool. I cannibalized some poster designs from a few months ago and was off to the races.

Below is my water polo pop-up book! I’m already scheming on new ideas, but I’m very proud of my first foray.

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Bookbinding once more!

There’s nothing like a cross-country move to raise one’s creative spirits. New words, new faces, and new ideas. But a big move also challenges order. Everything goes into boxes, and even when you bring it back out, it goes into a different room and belongs in a new place. Then everything in every other room is similarly displaced. And there are new restaurants and new people and new sights, and pretty soon, you’re hopelessly in disarray.

So last week, I finally fought back against entropy. For me, a good workspace has my favorite tools in arm’s reach, but never in the way. I set forth to accomplish that goal.

The ultimate test of a working space is simple—does it inspire work? Over the weekend, I tested my space. It does inspire. I made my first three books in New Mexico. They are relatively humble, but they are setting the tone for the work ahead.

I am inspired. =)

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More bookbinding

Winter is a great time to look outside at the cold rain and bare trees and stay in and bind books instead. Below are three projects from last week.

Book 1

Upholstery fabric makes great book cloth. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t need backing paper to keep the glue from coming through. It’s substantial enough that it doesn’t tend to bubble or warp. And it often has interesting textures that work well for a book cover. I love the fabric for book 1, the way it fits on the cover, the feel, and the sheen. Upholstery fabric can be pricy, but the retail price is similar to prepared book cloth. The fabric for book 1 was an $8 remnant; this project took at most 1/5 of that fabric. That’s not bad at all.

I did a coptic stitch with red waxed linen thread. At $16 a spool, it’s pricey, but it is a lot of thread. I’d estimate one spool could sew very roughly about 50 books of this size.

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I did my very first box for this project, following this set of videos for guidance. Sage Reynolds YouTube channel seems like an excellent source for book binding expertise. I’m sure I’ll be back there.bookbind-04049 bookbind-04048

Book 2- Dragonfly journal

For Book 2, I did my first long stitch book. For this binding, you simply sew through the spine. It was quick and pretty painless. I added a dragonfly embellishment to the cover, which I designed in illustrator, and had my Silhouette Cameo cut out. Another use for a favored toy. (Read more on the Cameo.)bookbind-04040 bookbind-04037

Book 3- Mad Scientist Lab Notebook

Book 3 features more raised details. Again, I did a coptic stitch. The endpaper I printed using the Silhouette Cameo’s art pen. It took a long time to draw all those paths, but I am in love with the result. The black slipcase (my second box!) features a mushroom cloud, cut with the Silhouette Cameo.

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The cover features a radioactivity symbol. I’m really excited about the mad scientist theme, so I’ll probably do more of these.bookbind-04034

Books and pictures and programs

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, so in departure from something more organized, I think I’ll just list off a few of my projects. Hopefully some of them will inspire you to something; at the very least, I know I can come back here when my own motivation wanes (it always does, it always will, we just have to learn to re-energize it).

  • In the last few months, I’ve assembled a science fiction and fantasy anthology for my writing group. I did all the formatting and editing and layout. Last night we had a binding party in which we put together several handmade copies. Soon it will be available for the kindle (after a little more work), but here are pictures of the first bound copy of Bizarre Tales from the Three Notch’d RoadSONY DSC SONY DSC
  • I’m taking a watercolor painting class through a local art community. Everything I know now I taught myself, and I’m sure there are new things I ought to learn. The next Zish and Argo will be even more beautiful.
  • I’m taking the plunge and going pro with my photography. Check out my new website karenblahaphotography.com.
  • I’m learning database design, something I knew zero about before June. You can just pick up a new skill, if you give it time and realize that it will be a slog at times. I’m using this book by Michael Blaha, which as the name suggests, my dad wrote. Nearly 30 years of osmosis didn’t teach me anything, but two months with this book has been inspiringly instructive.
  • I’ve been learning the Adobe creative suite, using videos from Lynda.com. I learned InDesign for the anthology pictured above. I learned a ton about Illustrator after being unable to make even the simplest graphics in it. Although I’ve been using Photoshop for years, I’ve learned more about it in the last month than I have in the last ten years. Immensely eye-opening.
  • I made the switch from Aperture (the mac photo-managing software) to LightRoom (the Adobe photo-managing software). LightRoom ties into creative suite better, and Mac is not supporting Aperture sufficiently anymore. And I’m using Lynda.com videos to speed my adaptation to LightRoom too.
  • I discovered a wikipedia for classical music whose copyright has lapsed. Imslp.org has sheet music for hundreds of composers for dozens of instruments. It even has some free recordings. I am working on learning Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore for piano, Grieg’s  Peer Gynt for piano, and Saint Saen’s Swan for viola. The only trouble is knowing which music you want!
  • I continue to work on short stories for my Clarion Write-a-thon goal. I’m on the second one, and I need to pick up the pace. Check out my profile page here.
  • And finally, I continue to work on my 100 scenes of Vironevaehn life. I’m up to 42 color illustrations.SONY DSC

Whew, that was a lot, and time to get back to it!

A little bookbinding

I really enjoy bookbinding from time to time, especially now that technical writing occupies the bulk of my time. It’s refreshing to complete something and see its completeness. It can be hard to feel holistic satisfaction from writing; there’s always one more thing to fix. Below are some photos of my recent projects.

The first two are books I donated to my local writing club, WriterHouse, for a charity raffle. The purple and grey book is a perfect-bound notebook with a bone clasp; it contains linen textured paper. The dusky red book has exposed linen tape to allow for a more flexible spine. It contains a slightly warmer-colored linen textured paper. I made a similar book for myself a few months ago–having something beautiful to take notes in is a great incentive for me.

The third book is a copy of my novel draft to send to a friend who until now has been reading from a pdf. I used a red poppy patterned paper for the endpapers–I love the pattern but it’s a slick paper that can be hard to keep flat. I was pleased with how it turned out. The book’s cover is black imitation leather.

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Achievements!

Today I submitted my second technical paper. I should know its status in a couple of months. I really hope it gets accepted, because I think it has some really good results.

I also finished binding a rough draft of my novel. I finished the draft itself last Thursday =). To reward myself, I bound a copy for myself. Then I’m going to reread the words and mark up alllllll the things that are wrong or that I want to change. I’ve never gotten this far before, though, so I wanted to recognize that achievement with a binding. I’ve included some pics below. 360 pages (including some blank pages for my comments between chapters) and 82,000 words. Hooray! Just simple photos for now, maybe I’ll get around to a nice photo shoot in a few days.

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Miniature Books!

This weekend at the festival of the book, I saw an exhibition about miniature books. The exhibition is a traveling show from the University of Akron including about 80 small or odd books. At the exhibition, Molly Schwartzburg, the curator of the miniature books collection at the University of Virginia, gave a talk about the exhibition and about mini books in general. The university has a collection of several thousand miniature books, which by their definition means no bigger than 3″ in any dimension when closed. Some of the mini books are made for artistic purposes, and others for practical purposes. The Knights of Columbus used to send miniature books containing short stories to soldiers during WW1, packing the tiny books with cigarettes. The Akron exhibit didn’t adhere to the 3″ limit, but all of the books were eccentric.

Below are a few pics from the collection.

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This does fold flat- “Solar Terms” by Ling Luo

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“Altar of Transformation” by Cathie Bleck

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A bunch of accordion style mini books.

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“Pig, hog, bacon” by S. V. Medaris, showing the life cycle of a pig on one side and bacon on the other.

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“I went to the mountains, but they were not there” by Rachel Mausier- a really cool combo of book arts and something more like origami.

 

Making Lovely Books

As my blog might reflect, I have a tendency to lurch from one area of interest to the next. Last week, my interests moved again to bookbinding. The pile of lovely paper and fabric sitting in my office called out. (hollanders.com has some lovely stuff.) So I tried a few new things.

The book below is covered with Japanese linen. I used an exposed stitch on the spine, and exposed linen tape. This is the first time I’ve cut a hole in the cover. Appropriately (see last week), I found a Hiroshige painting in the creative commons to use in the hole.

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Next I made a book that closes in the front with a bone clasp. The cover is black imitation suede.

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Finally I did a more formal binding of my Zish and Argo story. It’s a pretty simple binding with only a single 7 page signature, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. In the second picture below, you can see one of the spreads. All of the illustrations are digitized watercolor paintings.

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New books in the Etsy store

I’ve been busy binding and I have two new kinds of products in the Etsy store.

  • Canvas-bound journal with original photo cover: a 90-page lined journal with a durable and colorful canvas cover.

  • Mini sketch book: 72-page 4.25″ x 5.5″ sketchbook with Strathmore sketch paper. Bound with a Coptic stitch for a very flexible yet strong spine.

 

All available books are listed here, or can be found at the Etsy store ViroBooks.

 

Beautiful Books

I love a well-made book. There is something awesome about a book with golden edges and an embossed cover. I like pages with heft and texture, and books with color illustration. However I am also a great fan of classic science fiction, and 1960s scifi seems rarely to intersect with fine binding techniques. I often go to the used book stores and find paperbacks with yellow cracked pages and broken spines. The cover art is often wonderful, but these books are dying and falling apart. Many of these books have not been reprinted recently, or are offered only for outrageous prices as ebooks.

Lovely books were always a source of inspiration as a kid. This Tasha Tudor fairy tale book was my favorite (and was a big source of inspiration for my own collection of fairy tales). I hope with the rise in ebooks, we will see a rise in beautiful books. When you need not spend space on books, perhaps that space will be spent on books that are also art objects. Lately, I feel like I’ve been seeing more attention towards the appearance of books. Right now it’s more limited to literary classics, but I hope it will grow towards science fiction, which seems like it could benefit from such visualizations. Here are a few pretty books I’ve noticed:

  • Hiroshige, by Taschen (pictured above). This book is gorgeous. Bone clasps hold together the cover, and the book is bound in the traditional Japanese stab-binding style. The paper feel like it is cotton, and it really suits the art it bears. Also at $40, it isn’t insane, and it’s even cheaper on amazon.
  • Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics Series. There are a ton of books in this series, from Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arabian Nights to Foundation and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. One complaint: it’s very hard to judge the contents from the web. I found in person that the older out of copyright works had many more illustrations inside. I especially like their Arabian Nights. Most of these are around $20, so they are affordable.
  • Basically anything by Folio Society. I am particularly intrigued by their Foundation Trilogy, which has some fun-looking illustrations. Folio Society is a bit pricier, so I haven’t gotten anything from them yet.

I would love to hear about any other finds as well. Good hunting! (And here’s some lovely bookcases as well.)