Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Part 2: Binding Practice

The online course I was taking, Extending Embellishment, finished long ago, and although I hadn't completed all the tasks, I had to set it aside for now if I am to meet my bookish deadlines.

So since mid-September I've been working on two book projects simultaneously, with a slight leaning towards the wedding album I am making for my friend, as the deadline for it is sooner. When the album is finished, I will blog about it in greater detail, but I thought you might enjoy seeing my practice-run of the binding.

Initially I had planned to make a porcelain covers, and to use a combined coptic and celtic binding, which the bride had seen on some of my other books and loved. However, photo albums are largish and heavy, so I scrapped the porcelain covers.

A little more research convinced me that a coptic/celtic binding might not be sufficient for a decent sized wedding album. The problem is that these are across-the-spine bindings, and especially after my time bookbinding in Paris, I now understand the greater strength that binding along the spine imparts to a book.

I spent some time reading Keith Smith's volume, Exposed Spine Sewings, and was pleased to find what seems a very happy compromise. Smith suggests a mixed binding, part across the spine, and part along it. Perfect! (Hopefully!)

In the end I have opted for a combination of a celtic binding and the icicle. The former is a binding with which I am quite familiar, while the icicle is new to me. It has packed raised cords combined with spine stitches and is very attractive, while providing good, firm spine support.

As it was completely new to me, and I had to teach myself from Smith's book, I thought it was advisable to have a trial run. It was certainly worth it, as I was a bit over-zealous with my cords, pulling them a little too tightly, and as a result the cover pops open.

Icicle binding and coptic headband

Nevertheless, I was encouraged and am now in the middle of binding the actual album. It looks good so far, but there is still a way to go.

Next time, I have some photos of  tests for my Book*Art*Object work to show you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mid-Spring: thinking and doing

 Part 1: Mostly thinking

I've been managing an hour or so most days in the studio, and this allows me to keep things ticking over mentally, and a little practical progress to be made.

In contrast, I have occasionally cast my mind back to a happy time when I was preparing for my ceramics graduation exhibition, and I worked in part at the dining table in our open-plan unit. My clay buildings surrounded me, and were one of the first things I saw when I opened my eyes. The intensity of full immersion in the creative flow was such a pleasure, and I'm sure that the work benefited.

These days I am aiming for a different type of flow. I'm doing my best to appreciate what I do achieve (both in the studio and beyond) and the days do feel more spacious and less pressured (mostly!)

This year for the first time, I'm noticing the rhythm of my days and being more aware of how I structure my time. It's a schedule of sorts, but it has developed quite organically, rather than by my imposition.

As a result, I'm feeling more content despite not really having as much energy as I would like to have. The way I feel during the day "leads" me, and after observing this for a while, I can see that there is an internal pattern happening.

When I push to fit in more, whether in the studio or elsewhere, there is a tiny bit of give, but one step too far and I find myself in a crabby mood, my mind filled with negative thoughts and hopelessness lurking not far away.

The first iris of the year, and two frisky goldfish
Living in a subtropical city, it is quite possible for the seasons to cycle past with minimal impact. I've been trying to be more in step with the seasons over the last two or three years. Taking the time to pay more attention to the changes that do happen has surprised me with the amount of daily pleasure it gives.

I've started a project where each season I will gather some representative plant material and use it to make natural dyes and ecoprinted paper. This was kicked off by the pansies which my lovely house-sitting friend Louise planted for us, as a welcome home from our trip in winter. The dark purple pansies have been flowering madly and I have been snipping them off after a couple of days, and putting them to freeze until the plants are spent.

Meanwhile, I've been progressing with binding the wedding album I am making for a friend, and in my breaks from that, testing different materials and structures for my next BAO edition. So next post I'll share some of that.

Through the Blind

Monday, October 08, 2012

Atelier du Marais: Part 3

There are two finishing steps that I learned in the bookbinding studio in Paris and I'd like to share them with you in this post.

Lining the inside boards

Have you ever made a book and when you glue the papers to the insides of your covers, you discover there is an annoying ridge where the fold-ins from your covering material end? Sometimes it isn't a problem, especially if your lining papers are fairly heavy, but with a lighter paper, like the japanese one in the photo above, the ridges can detract from your nice neat finish.

The answer is very simple, but it wasn't something I had seen before. You line the insides of the cover boards using thin card.

From my notebook, May 2012

To glue, we used a generous coat of wheat paste. The cards are then put aside for at least 10 minutes, to allow the paper fibres to expand and contract.

The cards are placed into (a) and (b), fitting closely and accurately to the spine. Trimming will be necessary because the card will have expanded and this is more easily done over the leather.

To trim, you first score your line creating a gutter. The Stanley knife can then be run lightly along the gutter to remove the excess without cutting the leather.

Finally, put the book block inside the cover boards and place the whole thing in the press while the paste dries.

Books in the press. Note the protective red and pink cards, which stop unwanted glue reaching the book blocks.

Making rolled leather headbands

I saw some of the other students make beautiful, woven headbands with different coloured threads for the books they were binding. Sadly my time ran out before I had the chance to try that for myself, but I did learn to make rolled leather headbands for both my books.

I've scanned the notes I made so that hopefully my sketches will help to clarify the steps.

1) cut some leather cord to the width of the spine
2) bevel both ends

3) cut a rectangle of thin leather so that the short sides are a bit longer than your cord
4) apply PVA to a bit more than half of the rectangle
5) put the cord in the centre, at the bottom of the glued area
6) fold the leather down over the cord and press it down, shaping over the cord

7) when the folded leather is holding in place, make cuts down either side of the cord and across at right angles, as shown on the left. The area which remains is the rolled head, which will be visible in the closed book.
8) next, carefully remove only the top layer of leather in the areas marked with red stripes
9) apply PVA to the "spotted area", ready to glue the headband onto the book block
10) the final sketch shows the "wings" created in step 8, which are used to position the headband and allow you to pull it in close and flat, ensuring a nice tight fit.

Above you can see the wings have been removed now, and the head sits in tightly over the spine.

That's all I'm planning to post about my time at the Atelier du Marais, but if anything is unclear or you have any questions at all about it, please drop me a line in the comments.