We made our first humbling attempts at Japanese stab-stitch binding, and since the awls were cattywampus,
as the instructor said, and my thumbs were destroyed before I realized I
was trying to press-and-wiggle them into the protective book board
underneath. The stark red cover was also unforgiving; a patterned one
might hide a little of the stray lines.
artists book will use this binding, which is appropriate, not only for
the convenience of the paper orientation and printing, but also because
this binding will allow for a sexy drape, which will not only invite
touch but will evoke the line of the body at rest.
second book was The Big Project: tape binding. We used a punching
jig, or punching cradle, and a template for the punches, which made the
task seem smoother than it perhaps was. Of what we've learned thus far,
I have developed a shy crush on the unassuming pamphlet stitch.
Please, please ignore my five-year-old technique in cutting the cover
also made a charmingly small dos-a-dos book at the close of the
evening, and while cutting, I discovered someone had printed on the back
of my ruler. The poem--Alice--
afternoon was spent in the basement of the MCBA, which, I've announced,
would be just as eerie and creepy as our own basement (which has its
very own dirt floored vortex of hell,
as our friend has named it), if it weren't for all the good company and
whirring of presses. Alone, with the lights flickering off--no, thank you.
began that first essential step of editioning her book. She has put
together her final book dummy, using overhead sheets to indicate how the
text will look on her layered paper, and she's done practice runs on
the Vandercook to test the bleed. She's noted the trip and ink
measurements and has started moving toward that final object. She
brought in a hard copy of the long poem she's been tinkering with over
the summer and into autumn and hopes to send out PDFs tonight or
tomorrow for final plates.
Her mentor in this program stopped down to discuss margins, and Regula, who was my instructor in a the weekend version of Letterpress I
also came and discussed the gripper margin. My brain whirred at the
precise nature of book arts, the ways in which one must measure down to
the pica when approaching a more professional product.
book itself will be 6 x 12 and Japanese stab stitch binding. The paper
will be doubly layered--an internal tan center and the outer layer a
cotton textured paper, which will be the paper the poem is pressed
upon. When I tried to describe it after first seeing it a little over a
week ago, I described it as a mix between a doily and snakeskin.
paper had a cellular feel to it, which is ideal, given the topic of her
long poem--she uses the skin's layers as the guiding organization and
returned-to topic. I love it. I've read it as it has transformed, and I
can appreciate the shifts and strengths.
Meryl's husband Shawn, who is a tattoo artist and is responsibleforthis,
will do the design work for the inside--an adaptation of those
dermis-layers, and Meryl will order polymer plates from Boxcar (I
ordered my first last week, which I will share once the project is more
The day was spent on the bad cutter;
one knows which equipment is finicky in the studio and that particular
one was being used by a bookbinding class upstairs. The press pulls
when locked and this paper has a fabric-type stretch. I contributed a
little bone folder action, which was meticulous and tricky, as the ends
didn't always line up and the grain fought me a bit.
joined us, telling us about her experiences with Occupy MN and her
reiki healing. She read through the hard copy, where we discussed such
intricacies as single word choice, italics, and the shifts in meaning
I'm glad to be present for this project--not
only present for a dear friend but also observing the practice for when I
delve into my own work, which might not be as elegant or ambitious, but
celebrated and better for the shadowing.
M. made a little post about it on her blog, hinting at what is to come.
essential, the kind. Book board, paper, scissors, bone folder, steel
ruler, snap-tip knife. Also: awl, linen thread, needles. Ephemera
with the pamphlet stitch. You'll turn to it when you need to punch a
needle through something. There is no easy way to draw it, so you'll
simply spin through, watch and repeat.
But before all of this, there is the measuring, the cutting. Knocking the paper up, which gives a little giggle.
the grain by bouncing. Other ways: wetting the paper, tearing with or
without ease. Fold the paper, use a thumb and spread lightly. Use the
bone folder on the flat to create a sharp crease. Best not to fold one
by one; folding together creates a nest.
top of the book is the head; the bottom is the tail. There is the
spine and the headband, where you might expect. There are the front
covers / boards, the back covers / boards. The end paper, the foredge,
the text block. There is the square, she points--which protects the
book block, which can be an eighth of an inch, whatever you want, or flush. Single signature, for now. Or: single quire.
threading the linen (three times the length of the book), run your
fingernail along the curl, pull away excess wax. Punching the holes can
be the most difficult; sharing an awl with ghosts of classmates can be
wonky--cockeyed and harder thrust. Weave, then: square knot. Just as a
square dance, right over left, left over right, consider the ways in
which strangers meet.
This binding: ribbon. Another, later on, a tri-fold. A folder. A lip and insert.
We use the papers we marbled for end papers. I imagine them differently. I love them just the same.
accordion and measure: we create a simple pop-up, and I imagine the
decorative books Maya can dissolve in her mouth. We concertina. We
are like children watching the clown fiddle a balloon into a creature.
This one, there are papers folded, nipped at the corners, then inserted
to create a bound book without thread, without glue, covered bookboards
first time I took introduction to binding, I made miniature versions
with printer paper at my desk when my students were taking a test, were
creating posters for presentations. I wouldn't write a word on the
books I made, just put them on a shelf, forgot about them. Now, I will
write a letter, will write a poem, will keep them for something, for a
life outside of the craft, and will practice, still, with printer paper,
with delicate paper, with pieces so I progress and settle.
day has been windy, the sort that bends the trees, limbs and leaves
like hair on a woman in a convertible'd car. There's something freeing
about this point past the equinox, where the leaves are just flashing
colors, brief head-craning as something brilliant slips by.
Winter will be long here. It always is.
and tell: silk worm cocoons. The creatures rattled inside; gifts
inside an egg. Sorrow at knowing they'd boil to unskein.
We discuss the questions that have arisen since last week: Would autumn leaves make vibrant paper?
Likely to turn brown. But using some slurry to affix an undivided leaf
might maintain its color. One instructor of the instructor used
lilies--the flowers, the stalks, the pollen still clinging--and
developed an allergy so strong, she could not even touch the paper when
it was done. How does one make paper in one's own home? Buckets and supplies from a hardware store. A solid drill. I'm thinking of collecting, setting up a mobile studio.
Tonight: sheets of paper and paint in a pan.
must wake the paint. Acrylic dries so fast. Drop color into water,
watch it unravel. It grows and reaches; a second layer and you are
gazing at an x-ray film, organs on varicose display. [Recommended:
Golden Fluid Acrylic.]
the paper, let it dry while you work. Each color holds the paint
differently--the darker the paper, the darker the hold. We use white to
start; my purple print is pinked.
There is: the stone. It's beautiful alone, untouched. One uses a dropper to plunk the paint onto the size. One uses a whisk
for smaller splotches. The magic number--four to six colors mingle.
Consider the product; consider the book binding, the wrapping paper, the
There is: Spanish wave.
One wave is a mistake, a distortion. One can also start on one side of
the paper and galumph it down, rocking the paint, creating an illusion
of fabric folding.
is: Gel get. Get gel. (Get pronounced the same as one might expect;
gel with the guh-sound, as opposed to the juh.) Turkish: back and forth. These gel-gets are feathered; one can also keep a straight arm and find chevrons arising.
are ghost prints. Sometimes more lovely than the initial. There is a
space in the center where a paper once was. And the paint circles that
have sunk to the bottom of the tray won't change the tenor of your
is: snail. Small singular loops with a dowel or use the comb. My own
hands spasmed, the snails a confused, crushed shell.
There is also: non-pareil, peacock. There is try and fail and try and find some other unique meeting of ink on paper.
of the night, there is attempting color combinations that might appeal
to those I love--and left on my fingers, there is a stubborn royal
gold-and-purple, on another the red I do not care for but know belongs
in the pages of a beloved's scrapbook.
There is the
evening bath you take with your daughter, the soapy residue from last
night's bubble bath rising up, swirling and spinning beneath the tap,
and there is imaging drifting a sheet of paper on top and slipping it
away, coming up with the imprint of bodies from before, of patterns upon