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Posts from the ‘Books’ Category


I’ve been making hand-made books for about a year now. I’ve learned about paper grain, how to fold signatures, what a wrap is, and the intricacies of glue.

I still get glue all over my fingers and my work area—but someone let the secret out….have a wet washcloth–nearby to wipe sticky fingers and then to wipe off work surfaces. Wastepaper is essential—and I have a lot of packing paper and copy paper of images–..lets just say I need to practice copying images on those big machines at Kinko’s—but then they are just three cents a page.

There is a new project posted every month. It takes me most of the month to complete the project–glue dries very slowly in our humid environment—I don’t have formal book press to make my signatures nice and neat. I finally figured out a cheap method–two smooth floor tiles and two clamps from Harbor Freight. i added a crop-a-dile. It is a fancy hole punch and eyelet setter althought I could not figure out the eyelet setting.

And last month I bought a paper cutter—what fun! chopping up paper into tiny bits the size I need for book signatures or to decorate covers. And so easy to cut book board.

After accumulating the parts for several books, I spent a day doing the final steps.

And then there was this project.

I’ve been experimenting with using soft covers–fabric but making it more substantial and not so floppy. This project started as a single book with very tall signatures. I decided it would be far better to make two smaller ones.

I have a large (maybe too large) selection of hand-painted/printed/embroidered fabrics to choose from. This was a piece printed with a zucchini one year; I just could not face another loaf of zucchini bread. I did simple stitching onto a piece of interfacing-it was fairly thick but not stiff. I reinforced the spine with another piece of interfacing and stitched along the lines to reinforce it.

The signatures are sewn in using a long stitch method.

Because the interfacing is technically a fabric, I didn’t think I could glue the end sheet in–so I used a fusible web; and then glued the flap to the signatures.

That metal plaque on the book on the right is from an old sewing machine. I have a large number of these–a touch of whimsey.

A Butterfly, A Stab, and A Celtic Two Step

And how would anyone put these things together?

Someone who is making hand-made books.

I’m not sure why this binding method is called buttefly but here it is. The covers are two water color experiments ona rather cheap but sturdy paper.

Then there is the botanical book made with a traditional Japanese stab binding. I used that cheap watercolor paper as the pages and Kraft-tex as the covers. I decided I don’t really like Kraft-Tex. It is hard to sew, hard to punch holes although I used the hole punch. It takes paint and markers well but it just doesn’t handle the way I like. I have just three more sheets of the stuff.

The interior pages are decorated with a bamboo quilt dipped in ink to write and draw. It functions like a dip pen–rather fun but takes a bit of practice.

Then there is the Celtic Weave book.

The covers again are that cheap watercolor paper I used as a test for colors on a painting. The sewing was done in two separate sessions–the link stitchs on the ends and then the Celtic Weave in the center. The weave part wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be as the signatures were all stabilized by all the link stitches. I did discover the value in tying a knot on each needle–thus preventing unwanted practice at threading needles—there were four needles to keep track of here—and then two for the Weave part.

A Leaf and a Book

What is the most logical thing for someone with lots of projects partially completed, too many plans for others, and a work room bulging with supplies?

Why of course you take a class to learn something new!

Sort of new.

In years past I took a class in printmaking where I learned a lot of different techniques. I have always been especially fond of wood-cuts. In addition to trying to learn water color painting–I also took several classes in that–but to my now chagrin, learned very little.

The class I took last Saturday was with Winslow Art Center in Seattle and featured Mollie Hashimoto. We were supposed to carve soft stamp–but I could only find linocuts. It is much more difficult and the size was too small for my fumbly fingers but the above is my first attempt on regular paper–not the nice water color paper which would allow me to color in some of the areas.

I used stamp pad ink, not etching ink–it also was not available–so I used what I had.

Heree is my second print. I don’t know why it is so light–I will have to do some experimenting with another ink pad perhaps.

And just to show I have multiple projects underway, here is the Handmade Book Club November book–diamond binding. The cover was made in a conference at Camp Allen near Navasota Texas. It is house paint applied with scrapers, twigs, and pine needles.

I f you are thinking my photos aren’t the best–you are quite correct. The graphic on the right is from an old calendar printed by a local mortuary and distributed annually to our local Episcopal Church—it isn’t glued on yet—and might have something else substituted.

Sort of a Leather Journal but Not Really

One of the recent project posted was a long stitch journal with a cut-out in the spine.

Trying to use what I have….I have a vast supply of nearly everything craft-wise, I chose to try a fabric journal.

I had made three fabric collages on ticking fabric that was about the right size for the paper I had.

I stabilized the fabric and sewed on an inside fabric to hide the wrong side of the collage.

Then I used my new tool–a Crop-a=Gater….a huge hole punch to place three holes; and then used eyelets to stabilize them,

I ended up sewing the signatures in twice—paper is much more forgiving than I had ever thought–being much more accustomes to fabric.

Figuring out a closure was challenging, and I used two buttons/buttonholes.

And here is the spine. Getting those holes lined up is tricky and I didn’t do the best job of it—but practice as they say may change that.

Thje cord is hemp found in the jewelry section. I used beeswax on it—that makes a huge difference in how easy the knotting and handling of the stitching.

Next week starts another hand made book challenge. I am trying to finish up some of the half done projects before it starts.

It’s a Secret

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.

Big Bend in Double Coptic Binding

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.

Zipper and a few tackets

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.

Pink and Purple Flowered Book

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.

Silk flowers and a new project

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

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.