June’s hand-made book was a Secret Belgian Binding. Since I’ve never made a not so secret Belgian Binding, I wasn’t quite sure why it had to be a secret.
However, all was explained in the video lessons.
Belgian binding uses one long piece of thread/twine/string to sew the cover to the spine.
This secret has each set of holes sewn separately, i.e. top cover hole, top spine hole, top back cover hole. New thread for second hole on cover second hole on spine second hole on back cover and so on.
This creates a very stable book with signatures being sewn in after the two covers and spine are assembled.
I tend to watch the entire set of instructions all the way through, then go back one by one and complete each step. Sometimes I stall out on the very last step–afraid I will ruin the whole project. I have discovered though that paper is much sturdier than I thought it would be—not as sturdy or as tolerant of handling as fabric but still re-do’s are possible.
I used a gift bag for my covers; i tried to get out the wrinkle but not so successful. The signatures are Neenah Text paper in a desert sand color.
the hardest part was cutting that small piece of book board for the spine.
And while I was playing with paper I made the July book too. This one was an easy construction–a reverse piano hinge. Of course I had to make it difficult by using mat board as the signature covers and yupo paper as the accordion. The process involves cutting slits through the signatures and folding the accordian accurately. Mat board is stiff and hard to cut; yupo much thicker than Tyvek the recommended paper.
But I did get it done. The mat board had some of my photographs adhered as part of a class I took many years ago. If you are wondering what the photo is—it is a stack of lawn chairs—I know–odd choice but I liked the patterning.
The interior pages are a heavy weight copy paper torn in half. After some thought and because I am just not sufficently experienced to pick up a piece of paper and tell what kind it is—I have started to label the first page of each signature using a stamped letter—for this one it is a capital C with copy paper written in my best printing along with the weight.
I now have a small stack of blank books filled with mostly nice paper—and they are all of them blank. I’ve worked on understanding the various structures, the mechanics of constructing a book, paper grain, paper weights and a whole host of new vocabulary and techniques.
Using those books has been another matter.
Earlier this year, my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Big Bend. We had been there several times but it had been years since our last trip. I took a pad of very cheap water color paper, a small water color set, some markers and was determined to spend some time drawing and painting.
I did several marker drawings–harder than I thought to see value and convert it into gray tones. After several days i was brave enough to add water color.
I then had a small stack of drawings/paintings. What to do with them? None were good enough to frame but they were a nice memento of the trip. A few postcards were added to the stack.
A map of Big Bend and a brochure from the National Parks were used as the covers and I bound it using a double needle coptic stitch. Unfortunately I had thought myself more expert in book structure than I am and the first attempt was not good. I took it apart and tried again–this time with some light colored book cloth as the spine—the front cover stitches were loose and I didn’t like the color.
So I took it apart again—made more book cloth and tried again.
I’m much happier with this. I will add some written words and perhaps some more water color to some of the drawings.
One of the groups I was in had a basket full of word prompts; each of us put in a word and one was drawn out every other month or so. Some of mine were successful but I did not think this one worked.
I stuck it aside in a pile of ‘what shall I do with these’ for contemplation later or perhaps as a stuffing for a dog bed
I’ve also been working with fabric covers for some of the Hand-Made book monthly projects. Some are successful.
The project was a dos a dos tacket book. Two signatures with two covers joined together; similar to ones discovered in Africa. One signature was the Gospel, the other the Psalms. Interesting idea.
I made a small paper one.
I could not figure out how to use that zipper piece as the cover. I made two separate booklets instead.
Since that fabric was quite thick I decided to try eyelets for the sewing holes; narrow ribbon for the one booklet, perle cotton for the other two. the white one with the chili pepers is another one of those–now I’ve made it–what shall I do with it….ice dyed silk velvet remant.
It was an interesting experience; not sure I will repeat this format but it did give me several afternoons of thinking and experimenting with fabric, paper, and tools.
Sometimes working on a project provides a great distraction from the news cycle of unhappy events. ones that are hard to ignore, ones that sharply divide people with both sides being right and both sides ignoring the other.
Doing something useful, something that has a beginning and an end is my way to deal with my thoughts.
Yesterday, I posted a photo of the beginning of a book cover.
Today I finished it.
It didn’t take long–some random stitching to suggest flowers, measuring out the size of the Marble notebook, sewing the two seams—and this time I decided to try serging the seams.
That worked well to limit raveling but was too bulky to permit the book to be inserted–so a bit of un-sewing occurred
I ended up doing a bit of hand-stitching to secure the fraying edges of the sheer—I need to be more generous if I try this again.
And here it is.
It looks quite delicate–and very feminine—I am more of the jeans and T-shirt type—I may use it or I may put it in the stack of books to sell at the next vendor opportunity.
I have been trying to be very orderly and complete projects before I start another.
There are two projects on my design wall waiting my attention—both involving some drawing skills and one a new technique that I haven’t figured out yet—not a run-of-the-mill technique I can easily find on Youtube or reference book. It would be far easier to scan the images and have them printed on fabric than it will be to use fabric and thread to create the images
While I am thinking about this project, I found a length of silk, some stabilized purple silk gauze and a scrap of brightly colored pink sateen.
Flower shapes begin readily at hand due to my work on Garden Party, I cut out shapes, added some circles for centers, put down another lengthe of a fusible and a greeny-yellow sheer and here is what I have.
I backed it with a scrap of corduroy, stained and not large enough for a project.
I will finish it up with some stitching over the top using a heavy embroidery thread and then convert it into a cover for a Marble notebook.
A fun easily accomplished project not requiring a lot of thought.
Making books has always fascinated me. A decade ago, I made fiber books complete with stories I wrote.
During the pandemic, I discovered the Handmade Book Club and have enjoyed making the challenges and some of the monthly book projects.
I worked really hard on the last challenge…..the prototype was meant to have a soft cover and used Kraft-tex. I wanted a sturdier cover but with the feel of cloth.
I faced a piece of faux leather, created pockets to install mat-board for the covers and spine. I stabilized the holes for sewing the signatures with lines of stitching.
I am still perplexed as to how to note the type of paper used–I am not good enough at guessing paper content or weight to leave it to my guess—so this book I placed the paper identification inside the cover loosely.
The next book was a tacket. Dos a Dos Tackets were found in some jars in Egypt–and dated to early Christian churches. One side contained the Gospels, and the other the Psalms.
I made a small sample using a hand-carved stamp (two erasers) to make the covers.
I also did a single tacket model as I could not figure out how to make the covers firm and not floppy or fragile as plain paper would be.
The base for the covers was a smallish piece done for the word prompt ‘zipper’. I wasn’t fond of it and so cut it in half, worked away at making the covers more sturdy with the insertion of matboard and used eyelets to stabilize the sewing holes.
and again here is the inside. Using not so favorite fabric makes experimenting with techniques less anxiety provoking—and again I noted the type of paper in one of the books.
Those extra pieces of paper are for trying out colors before drawing or painting on the pages.
As I mentioned yesterday, we spent Thanksgiving afternoon at home, the weather being too nasty for us. Interestingly enough, along the way we noted that pipeline construction over the several bridges was under way with dozens of vehicles and safety hatted/vested workers at each bridge. On Friday, there were no vehicles and no workers—was it the release of the oil from the reserves? or was it no train traffic on Thanksgiving day? Either way, it had to have been a miserable day working in that rain and chill wind.
However, I worked on these two books.
In our younger years with young boys and trips to family and for some of my CME events, in addition to clothing and toiletries, they each had a ‘fun bag’. They usually had a coloring book with crayons, small Hot Wheels or other small toys, stickers, a book to read or magnetic checkers—just something to keep them occupied during the trip.
Two of our grandsons will be flying to Europe next month to visit family–it is a long flight—and I thought perhaps a book with paper and markers might be handy.
I used upholstery vinyl samples for the covers, cowboy fabric for the interior lining and a mix of papers for the two signatures. Signature covers make them a bit more sturdy and more festive–these came from an old calendar featuring train engines.
I sewed the first one three times—thread too thin, then discovered I needed to use a spacer to make the stitches even.
And do you think I could find any of my containers of beeswax? No, I had to retrieve the large bag we used to wax frames.
And then used a boot lace to fasten them closed.
Parents were pleased—and hopefully the boys will be too.
And here is my latest book-binding tool–used to punch holes in that vinyl.
I had heard about paste paper; watched a few videos on the process but last week was the first time I gave it a real try.
I was supposed to attend a retreat in Falmouth Massachusetts last week but I could not make airline reservations work out—I thought I would end up sitting overnight in Logan Airport or without a ride to get back to Logan at the end of the retreat—plus the hotel had been more than challenging with difficulties in making reservations.
And so I ended up being a Zoom student.
I got a kit in the mail containing papers, wheat paste, and some paint.
I mixed up the paste. We made ‘tools’–from fun foam with teeth in shapes of sawblade or a jack-o-lantern smile.
Instead of using small containers, I used foam plates—-
And then I had to let all these papers dry. I used a dog food bag as my drop sheet—very handy they are!
It is quite humid here, the paper took overnight to dry. Then I had to put them under weights to flatten them out–but now I have a nice collection of paste paper to use in book-making.
I was not enamored of the selection of paint I was given—but now that I understand the process, I can choose colors more to my taste.
We have had several mail carriers over the years. Growing up in rural Wisconsin, the mail carrier knew us all by name and somehow managed to know which grandmother I addressed on the envelope as just ‘Grandma’ and then the town’s name.
He also delivered the baby chicks—and Mom made sure she had a fresh pot of coffee and some cake to offer when he came in with the chicks. Dad took the time from chores to be sure he could be there too–just to hear the latest gossip about neighborly doings in a time when travel was limited due to weather.
My good friend in Wisconsin leaves glasses of lemonade and brownies in the mailbox on hot summer days.
Our mail carrier will pick up the newspaper and deposit it on our front porch, hides packages behind the columns so they are not visible from the street.
But then there was this package.
My latest hobby has been learning how to make hand-made books. I had dabbled a bit in the past, made several fiber based books, and then discovered an instructor on-line…a new hobby with new words and new supplies and a plethora of things to try—-
Each month there is a new project. I used copy paper and some drawing paper and then decided to splurge on some Mohawk Superfine paper—and this is how it arrived—all ten sheets of 22 by 30. It was difficult to fit it into the cab of my truck…..although I can get down and up from the floor, a nice large flat surface at my shop is easier on my knees.
It is now torn into appropriate sized pieces for signature making—and that was a challenge in itself.
Fire has an odd fascination and while I trained as a chemical plant/refinery firefighter, participated in numerous drills at school and in the dorm, watched with horror as fire consumed houses and acres of trees, my plan always was to exit quickly and wait for someone to bring the injured to me.
However, I viewed the remains of the forest fire that swept over Colorado some years ago, the beauty of the starkness of the blackened tree trunks against the snow on the mountains. While wandering about, I found some smallish twigs turned into charcoal, picked them up and brought them home. I had used vine charcoal in some of my drawing classes and thought these bits might work in a similar fashion.
My plan was always to use fabric as the base for the drawings; I used a relatively coarsely woven fabric, spread some gesso on until it was just barely damp and then attempt to use the twigs. I found it was easier to dip the twig in the gesso and draw—but still the lines were very faint.
I decided to embroider over the lines.
Then while reading about book-cloth, I wondered why I couldn’t use a decorative paper as the paper layer.
I’m gathering up courage to finish this book–I must glue it to the cover; everything is done but this very last step— and now that I’ve written about it here, I may be compelled to complete this project.
Blogging is a natural progression for someone who enjoys the written word and beautiful imagery. My photographs are hosted at sylviaweir.smugmug.com. I am slowly transitioning all my photographs to this site and will hopefully edit them to a manageable number. In the meantime, I have organized my blog photos by year and so you may wish to merely sample the blog photos
Feel free to contact me for any questions. My website here has not been fully populated but as I work on my smugmug site, I will update these pages.
My work begins with a word, a thought, an idea, or a bit of a poem. I search through my library of images mostly on Smugmug or sometimes I go out and photograph new images. A pieced quilt pattern is sometimes chosen, sometimes I use a piece of fabric I have altered in the past. The imagery is added on using hand applique and then thread is used to add details.
Each piece is meant to draw the viewer inward providing them with ample opportunities to add their own story to the piece. If the piece evokes the emotion or thought I wished conveyed, then I consider the piece successful.
Sometimes I play 'what if' with fabric and paint and imagery. These might be considered equivalent to scale work in music--something I always enjoyed.