Thursday, October 13, 2011

introduction to book arts: bookbinding (two)

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.

Meryl's 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.

Our 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 above.  

We 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--

Sunday, October 9, 2011

dream of a perfect interface (one)

This 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.

Meryl 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.

The 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.

The 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 responsible for this, 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 underway).  

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.

Colleen 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 therein.

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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

introduction to book arts: bookbinding (one)

The essential, the kind.  Book board, paper, scissors, bone folder, steel ruler, snap-tip knife.  Also:  awl, linen thread, needles.  Ephemera etcetera.

Begin 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.  

Test 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.

The 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.


Before 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.

We accordion and measure:  we create a simple pop-up, and I imagine the decorative books Maya can dissolve in her mouth.  We concertina.  We book board.


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 and all.


The 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.