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that is pictured on the book journal list page. The cream colored cover is
bleached Siberian iris with a pinch of well beaten wheat straw. The hinge cover
paper, which folds around and forms the inside pastedown sheet, is Indian hemp
bast and stalk. The fan papers from the top are: black willow bast, red
mulberry, Japanese knotweed, bleached Indian hemp, horse dung, Siberian iris,
pokeweed stalk and Boston fern. With the exception of the bleached Indian hemp,
these are all the natural colors of the plant fibers. There are eight
signatures of three pages each made from abaca with hosta stem inclusions. The binding
stitches are ó
kettle, tape over suede hinge, three Coptic, tape over suede and kettle.
Shifting from papermaking to bookbinding has turned out to be more of a task
than I expected. All my work spaces are set up for paper. Every nook and
cranny is stuffed with handmade paper and the workroom is cluttered from floor
to ceiling...well, almost. It took the better part of the morning to shift junk
around and find all the bookbinding materials. Only, I didnít find them all.
Iíve lost my book of measurements. I
I remember most of them, but it will be fumble through at the beginning. Or
maybe, just maybe the book of measurements will crawl out from its hiding
place. I still have hope. **Iíve never done a book from handmade paper with
the deckles trimmed, but I have four I want to do for a special project. The
problem is that I only have paper for those four and no extra, so I donít have
room for error. Rummaged through my papers and found some hmp of about the same
thickness and character and did a test run with those. Itís
quarterbound book with brown cotton cloth spine and outside covers from a
cattail head/hemp paper. There are
five signatures of four sheets each made from a
strange mixture of leftover pulps
ó Shasta daisy, field thistle, coreopsis, bluegrass, butterflyweed, velvet leaf,
kudzu, beardtongue, swamp thistle and pigweed. Hey, donít laugh. The pulps
worked well together. Folded, the signatures measure 4.25Ēx5.5Ē. Three of them
have an outside sheet of a parchment like paper made from bleached Johnsongrass.
The end sheets are agrimony.
The signatures are tape stitched and finished with a super over the block.
Again, this was a test book to work through the bugs. The four books Iím
planning wonít look like this, but the format will be essentially the same.
have a bound book commission due in July of next year, and winter is a good time
for fooling around looking for the best binding that will allow me to glue
things onto the pages of that book. Today I did
a mockup book
that used one of the simple Keith Smith stitchings that go through the spine. I
wasnít especially concerned about the appearance of this particular book because
it is only a trial run to work through potential problems and give me some idea
of measurements. I found some cloth that Iíd backed with paper last year and
used that for the cover. The book has six signatures of six commercial pages
each. Though the commissioned book will have signatures that are 8.5Ēx7Ē and
this one is only 5.5Ēx4.25Ē, it still gives me an idea of how the internal
spacing will work.
few weeks ago I was shown how to do a different type of tape binding in which
the tapes go through the covers and are secured by tying on the outside.
On casual inspection, this produces a lovely
book and does so quite easily,
however, the technique that secures the signatures to the cover bothers me. It
requires that slits be cut through the two papers that hold the spine to the
covers so that the tapes can pass through. Raw cuts in paper disturb me, but
Iím bothered even more that the weight of the signature block falls solely on
those two sheets. Not good. I think there is a work-around that would preserve
the outside tapes, which is a striking way to bind, by sewing through the spine
to secure the block. At some point, Iíll try it. All the books that I saw
bound by the tape-through-paper technique were stitched on ribbon, then the
ribbons passed through the paper and tied in three bundles, one for each set of
stitching. I opted to sew onto 1/2Ē suede strips, each of which I then cut into
three equal widths. I
flat six-braded the top and bottom
groups of cut suede toward the middle of the book, then secured them under the
middle tape by tying each of those suede strips over the braided ones with a
square knot. This left all the ends to fall in varied lengths from the middle.
The rust colored paper on the cover is a commercial paper; the spine cover is
hmp from beaten hosta stalks and cooked but unprocessed hosta leaves. The
signature block is commercial paper. **Far too lovely to stay inside all day,
so I went foraging for papermaking stuff.
Several weeks ago I found two cotton cloths at Wal-Mart that will make gorgeous
book covers. Most of the time itís impossible to find anything with a print
suitable for books, so I snatched up both bolts and bought a yard of each. (Big
spender.) One is
with darker mottling, the other is a blurred
dark green print
on a lighter green background. Also, bought some mahogany colored cotton to use
for spine covers. This morning I used wheat paste to attach 70 weight linen
paper to the cloth back.
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Iím back to working on the four books I mentioned on the 5th. (FWIW, I donít
usually pile into projects, but am more of the ďletís mull this over a while
before committing to anythingĒ type person, particularly when Iím working with
handmade paper. That stuff is too hard to come by to make a mistake.) The
books will have five signatures of four sheets each. The paper for these books
50/50 blend of hemp and cotton rag with a pinch
of agrimony for contrast (top
sheet). Three of the signatures will have cover sheets of
leaf with a pinch of agrimony
(bottom sheet). The pastedown and end sheets will be pure
the covers will be cattail head fluff paper.
All the signature sheets were pulled thin, the approximate thickness of 20
weight copy paper. (To give some perspective to the thinness of the handmade
paper, here are two stacks of 20 sheets of paper each ó
copy paper is on
the right, the hmp on the left.)
The spine will be the mahogany cotton cloth. Iíve been fumbling around with
ideas for an insert in the front covers, but Iíve not come up with anything
yet. They need something to keep them from being so plain. Mind you, plain
isnít always bad, but these need something special. I spoke with Jimmy Lou
Jackson, a glass bead friend, about doing a very flat oval bead in a contrasting
or complementing color to the covers, but Iím not set on that yet. **Today I
gritted my teeth and cut the deckles from the signature sheets for the books,
trimming them to 5.5Ēx8.5Ē. I donít like trimming the deckles! Slicing the
lovely edges off the sheets was almost physically painful. Such a loss. But
these particular quarter bound books require exact measurements, something that
I canít achieve using a deckled paper.
finally decided what I want to mount on the front of the four books ó a round
slice of polished deer antler with cattails scrimshawed onto the surface. Iíve
never done scrimshaw, but it was worth a try. Nothing much would be lost in the
effort. Many years ago a friend from New York gave me a box of deer antlers to
use in basketmaking. I tried a couple of them, but was never satisfied with the
results, so I just stuck the box back in a corner. Dug it out this afternoon
and bandsawed a few thin disks from one of the antlers. The slices were sanded
on a belt sander, then rubbed with fine sandpaper, emery cloth and finished by
polishing vigorously against the back of a legal pad. This created a smooth
glossy surface. In the process of all this, I shortened two of my fingernails
considerably and buffed off a bit of flesh. Art requires sacrifice. Etching
(scratching is the proper term) the lines on the rounds was...interesting. The
antler disks are about 3/16Ē thick and slightly smaller than a quarter. It was
hard to pin them down securely. Cutting in the cattail leaves was no problem,
but the heads proved difficult, particularly since I have ancient glasses and a
delightful case of astigmatism that doubles some lines and totally eliminates
others. I really do need to visit the optometrist.
not professional, are quite acceptable for my purpose. Iíll recess a place for
them in the lower right hand corner of each cover before pasting the cover
Still working on the four books. Punched the stitching holes, sewed the
signatures together, attached the super and left them to dry till tomorrow. Now
is as good a time as any to introduce my punch cradle and sewing frame. For
twenty some odd years I farmed. Because of the economics of farm living, you
learn ďmake do.Ē Iíve never gotten beyond that way of thinking. The
is a three piece make do affair ó the cover from my high school diploma
supported by two 3/4Ē blocks of wood with a ďVĒ cut in each block. The center
seam is covered with Duck Brand duct tape. (The adhesive on this brand of tape
does not come off on the punch needle.) The wood blocks are self supporting
because of their width, and there is no need to secure them to the cover. The
frame is even more make do. Itís
simply a 3/4Ē white pine board and a coat hanger wire that is inserted into
holes drilled in the wood. Rubber bands and clothespins hold the tapes to the
coat hanger wire and give tension, while thumbtacks secure the tape to the
board. Excess tape runs underneath the board and out the back, so that it isnít
necessary to pre cut the tape. (There is a sheet of chipboard on top of the
wooden board. This isnít really necessary, but is handy for marking the
position of the tapes before attaching them with thumbtacks.) The signatures in
the picture are the four sets for the books Iím working on. Each block of five
signatures is stitched, tied off, then the next signature is independently
stitched onto the tape above the previous one. When all the blocks are attached
to the tapes, they are removed from the frame. The tape is slipped through each
the blocks are properly separated.
Then the tape is clipped between each block. The blocks are placed, one by one,
in a clamp and a super of unbleached muslin is attached to the spine of each.
They are left to dry overnight. **The rest of my day was spent fooling with a
new digital camera, which came in the mail. The shots on this site were done
with a two year old Sony MVC-FD73. I truly love its ease of use and the fact
that it shoots onto 3.5 floppy disks, so easy to pop in and out of camera and
computer alike. For web quality shots, I donít think the camera can be beaten.
However, it wonít shoot print quality pictures, at least not those of any size.
My 35 mm kicked the bucket a few months ago, and rather than replace it with
another 35 mm, this week I bought a Sony MVC-CD400 digital, which will shoot
pictures up to 4 mega pixels onto CD disks. I have just finished reading the
instruction manual. At this moment, I am feeling rather inadequate and, to put
it bluntly, dumb. I am not a professional photographer...the booklet was not
written for the layman. This learning experience is going to be...interesting?
Did the covers for the four books today. (Iím not going to tell you I had to do
two sets of the covers over again because I attached them on the wrong paste
line and didnít discover it until they were dry.) The spine cover is mahogany
colored cotton cloth backed with 70 weight linen paper. I carved recesses in
the davey boards for the scrimshaw pieces, then used wheat paste to attach
paraffin buffed cattail head paper to the boards. Gently finger smoothing the
paper down into the recessed area brings the paper into contact with the paste
and allows its dampness to soften the paper so it will stretch without tearing.
Then a bone folder can be used to finish easing and pressing the paper into the
edges of the recess. After all four book covers were assembled, they were
placed in the press with thin chipboards between each to absorb moisture. They
will be left to dry for 48 hours or so under pressure. The chipboard will be
changed twice during that time. FWIW, guarterbound books do not provide instant
gratification. Itís do a step and wait, do a step and wait. Failing to wait
can offer some rather interesting results. These are
the edges of the junked covers that I mounted
were only in the press for a few hours and provide a very good lesson in what
happens when you donít WAIT. Iíll also acknowledge, while Iím at it, that the
covers were laid off with the davey board grain running the wrong direction.
Not sure exactly how that happened, but that was corrected for the replacement
covers. I may still try to alter and use these covers, if only for some wild
haired scheme. Wonít be much lost.
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Attached the signature blocks to the covers this morning. There is a
very specialized setup
for this. The block and covers are left in the jig for thirty minutes or so,
till the glue sets up. Before it is completely hardened, I flatten the edges of
the muslin with a bone folder to help keep it from showing under the pastedown.
This time after the muslin was securely attached and more or less dry, I used
Yes to attach the pastedowns sheets the inside covers. I would rather have used
wheat paste, but these sheets are extra thin agrimony handmade paper, and
because I sometimes find it necessary to reposition pastedowns, I wasnít anxious
to introduce any more moisture than necessary. As it turned out, the blocks
were so perfectly positioned, it wasnít necessary to adjust the sheets at all.
At this point, I put plastic sandwich bags between the covers and the signature
blocks, and placed the books back in the press to dry overnight. (Plastic bags
seem to work better than Saran Wrap because they are more manageable, and the
bags work far better than waxed paper because they offer more protection from
the dampness.) Iíll probably take the books out for a look-see before bedtime,
though if anything were wrong at this point, nothing could be done about it.
Glue, no matter what kind, tends to become irreversible very quickly. Iím sure
there is a Murphyís Law about this.
(Did I cheat and look? Of course.) This is probably the first time Iíve ever
four books that I could not tell apart,
other than from the scrimshaw designs. Usually, there will be some minor
difference, a small flaw here or a slight difference in measurement there, but
itís not the case this time. The books are identical. There is little credit
to my craftsmanship in that statement. Perfect quarterbound books require the
blessing of bookbinding angels. There were four of them on my side this time.
FWIW, this picture of a
and the other of the four books are the first two Iíve shot with the new digital
camera. Our friendship is extremely tentative right now. Weíre still
Fooled around with quarterbound miniature books today and learned that there are
no shortcuts. If you want a miniature book to work ó to open and close properly
and like a full size book ó it has to be constructed in the same manner. The
signatures must be
stitched and a
super and ďcordsĒ used to attach the
block to the covers. Just using the pastedowns to secure the block wonít work.
They will eventually pull loose at the spine. And forget the ďgee, this
cover is so thin, it should bend and let the book open without having to do
hinges.Ē Nope, and it only took doing one book the wrong way to find that
miniature books must be hinged in
open properly. Though the two
almost identical from the outside, only the one on the right will open and lie
flat. The other must be forced open, then it is difficult to close. Both books
have 5 signatures of three pages each made from 20 weight copy paper; the
pastedowns are bleached Johnsongrass paper; the covers are bleached Kentucky
bluegrass; the spine protector is lemongrass paper. All three handmade papers
are super thin. Both the Johnsongrass and bluegrass are very much like
parchment ó see-through and crinkly.
wanted to do one more mini book while the methods were fresh in my mind. This
one has a
cloth spine and signatures
from 50% hemp/50% cotton rag handmade paper. The cover is lemongrass paper. I
was afraid the cloth might prove too thick, but it worked well. The handmade
paper for the signatures was the approximate thickness of the commercial 20
weight paper, so that proved no problem at all.
Iím still here, plodding away. This journal has been neglected, in part,
because each entry would be a duplication of the previous dayís. I have been
pulling together a commission from last April. The book required many, many
different handmade papers, and much of this past summer was spent collecting and
processing the plants. Now I am at the stage of writing it, keeping in mind how
the words and pictures will work with the papers and actually assemble into a
book. Even by my own standards, the
of handmade papers is fairly impressive, not so much in numbers as in variety.
For the past week or so, I have been involved in format negotiations with
Microsoft Publisher. Iím writing in Word, then importing the file into
Publisher, and the automatic format changes are interesting, to say the least.
Word has a nasty way of concealing certain formats, which suddenly become
obvious in Publisher. Good thing I love a challenge.