Eco journal tutorial

Recently I taught a class to make a journal using eco-dyed and printed papers, using a hybrid sewing (French link & Coptic) and wood veneer covers.

This is a really brief tutorial on how we did it!

We actually started by binding the pages as it was only a one day workshop, but I would recommend sewing after you dye your pages.

For more information on dyeing, check out this blog post or you could do a you tube search for boiled books, that’s how I got started!

After you have dyed your pages and they have completely dried, you need the following in order to make this binding, two pieces of tape, ribbon or bias binding, some linen thread, a book binding or crewel needle, an awl, scissors, pencil, ruler, and a scrap piece of paper the same height as your pages.

1. Make a template to use when punching your pages. To make mine I measured .5″ in from each end, then .5″ from that mark (so 1″ from the end). Next I laid my tape by those second marks, and made a third mark leaving a bit of space so I don’t catch the tape when sewing. Finally I divided the remaining space so there would be 3 more sewing stations.

2. Next fold all your pages in half, then punch each one, using the template, with the awl.

3. To begin the sewing, thread the needle with the linen thread. I like to use shorter lengths and add more thread, so I always start with an “arm’s length”. Enter the first signature at the head or the tail of the book.

4. Then from the inside come out at the second sewing station

5. On the outside sew across the tape and go down the 3rd sewing station

6. On the inside skip the next three sewing stations and come up through station 7.

7. Come out through station 7, see across the second tape and back inside the book at station 8. Then come back out to the outside through the final sewing station

8. Lay the next signature on top of this sewn signature, and take the needle down into the page through the corresponding station on the second signature

9. On the inside come out through the next sewing station next to the tape. Take the needle down through the stitch over the tape to make an x

10. Go down through the sewing station the other side of the tape. Then come up from the inside at the next station. Take the needle down through the corresponding station on the FIRST signature.

11. On the inside of this signature is a long stitch, take the needle around this stitch to anchor the sewing, and exit through the same sewing station you entered.

12. Take the needle up to signature 2, go into the signature through the same sewing station you exited. Travel to the next sewing station and repeat. Do this for all 3 center stations between the tapes.

13. Sew out the next station, next to the tape, take the needle down though the stitch over the tape to make an x then sew back in next to the tape. Finally sew back out through the final station. Tie the tail of the initial sewing to the thread on the needle using a square knot

14. Lay the next signature on top of the sewn ones, take the needle into the corresponding first station on the 3rd signature. Come out at the sewing station next to the tape. This time sew down through the longest side of the x over the tape. Sewn down into the page on the third station next to the tape.

15. Come out at the next sewing station, take the needle behind the pair of stitches between signatures 1 & 2. The sew back in the same station you exited. Repeat with the three central stitches.

16. Sew out through the station next to the tape, sew through the longest leg of the x over the tape. Sew down through the page on the other side of the tape.

17. Come out through the last station, lay the 4th signature on top of the sewn ones. Make a kettle stitch and sew into the corresponding station on signature 4.

Continue sewing until all your signatures are attached.

To finish the book you will also need, 2 pieces of book board the same size as your pages ( mine are 6×6″), two pieces of decorative paper slightly larger than these boards, some scrap paper the same depth as your tape, pva glue, and two pieces of wood veneer the same size as your boards.

1. Cover both boards with decorative paper. Make sure you mark the direction of the board’s grain!

2. Press the books under weights until the glue is completely dry. Attach the book block to the board’s using the tapes

3. Next you need to fill around the tapes using scrap paper. Sand this paper to get it level and smooth. This makes a nice flat surface to attach your veneer to.

4. Attach the veneer to the board. Make sure that the direction of the grain in the veneer and the board’s match or you covers will curl! You could use a double sided adhesive like gudy for this step, or a spray contact adhesive, or pva works fine.

5. Lastly, gently sand the edges of veneer, round off the corners, then varnish or oil the covers.

Please note: usually you would have the grain of the board running parallel with the spine, but if you don’t want the grain on the wood running that way you’ll have to break the rules!

If you found the sewing instructions hard to follow you could always use a different sewing you already know, or search for a good video tutorial for the two different styles online.

I just love the wood with the dyed paper pages, a wooden board Coptic or Ethiopian binding would be lovely too. I’ve dyed lots of paper and I plan on experimenting with some other bindings this winter once the semester ends.

Until then, enjoy, and comment below if you have any other ideas!

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Tale of a tooth

So, as I shared in my last post, on my way home from my workshop last week I broke a tooth, so my week started out at the dentists. I ended up needing a surgical extraction as the tooth had broken below the gum in my jaw. So my plans for this week we’re slowed to a snail’s pace while recuperating. I did start work on a project I have been thinking about for a couple of years after seeing Kevin Steele’s books at PBI.  

I started with this accordion book form, those are Kevin’s PBI handouts under the book

Then I bound it to look like this

I want to add a black work binding to the spine, so next up was adapting a black work design from a period painting by Holbein

And then testing the pattern on some scrap paper

So now I am ready to translate all these sketches into the finished book, although I am going to wait to cut into the fancy paper until I am feeling more the thing. 

On Monday I am starting a big restoration project, and teaching a kids workshop. I can’t believe it is almost time to go to the UK. Time flies!!

Summer

This summer it final feels as if I am getting this work/life balance thing down, okay honestly I am still a bit heavy on the work side, but this summer I am managing much more studio time for projects I want to be working on. There are still not enough hours in the day, but I am balancing out production work for clients and festivals like these lovely things

All of which will be making their debut at the Miller’s Park art fair at Chautauqua Institution on July 2nd and Bookfest in Buffalo on July 8th.

I’m also finding time to squeeze in work on a huge new installation and experimental new things, here’s a peek at the installation, women hold up half the sky

More to come on this soon!

I’m also hoping to check in here more often. I miss writing about my work, and I really feel that loss when I look back. Writing here helps me understand the cyclical nature of making, the natural ebb and flow of my year. It also helps me to see, I have been here before, this too shall pass, and most of all encourages me to find growth, change and renewal in my studio life. 

And now back to work!

Busy making books

Summer = festivals. I have been busy making lots of blank journals to take to some festivals next month. And I’ve been posting pictures on my Facebook and Instagram as I finish things up. Here’s a few samples.

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And these woven bindings

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Which sparked some interest in how they were constructed. I haven’t made any of these in years so I had to think about where I first learned how to make them. I finally tracked it down to an Alissa Golden book, making handmade books. She calls it a cross structure binding.
To make it you need two soft covers twice the width of the signatures plus the width of the spine. I used two pieces of cardstock here.

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You need an odd number of tabs cut out from each cover and spine, leaving just the front and back covers intact. Then I cut the slits in the front and back to coincide with the tabs.

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To prepare the signatures mark where the two tabs cross the spine and add an additional station at each end for a kettle stitch

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Then sew over the tabs and add a kettle at each end to secure the signatures

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Then you just weave the tabs through the covers

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And done!
If you want more detailed instructions I’d recommend the book, it has over 100 bindings.
Well back to work. Maybe I will see you at a festival later this summer.

Botanical inspiration

I have a show coming up in November. Trying to come up with a new body of work can be terrifying! I keep reminding myself that if I go into the studio and keep working then something will show up. So I have been trying hard to safeguard my studio time, and stop my teaching from eating up all my spare time. I have been setting a timer and when time is up I set my school work aside and get back to my “real” work. It’s working in terms of getting something done, but until this past weekend nothing terribly new or exciting was really happening. Things were feeling forced.
Then this past weekend, as part of our anniversary celebrations, hubby and I went to the Buffalo and Erie Botanical gardens. Not our usual kind of outing, but wow! First the building itself is magnificent.

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And then just a few minutes in the cactus room, I was smitten with the sculptural shapes and textures. Instant inspiration!
Yesterday I pulled out some paper I made earlier in the year with my students, a combination of hosta, day lily and abaca. It smelled fresh and green and summery. I folded half sheets into accordions and bound them using a Coptic stitch on the valley ends to make this barrel like structure.

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Then I embroidered the folded outer edges in red.

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Then I sewed the loose ends of the accordions and folded back the raw edges

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For a first crack at a cactus book, it’s not so bad! And like all interesting beginnings it just sparked many more ideas. It feels good to be working sculpturally and letting the materials speak and shape the object.

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Looking forward to playing around with these ideas some more.

Summer, day 5.

I had a hard time getting started today, the general anxiety of family worries hung over me. Eventually I sewed the binding for half a dozen more little brown lunch bag journals before starting the project I really wanted to work on, the finished incarnation of the Berehinia binding.
It took most of the afternoon to very carefully punch all the holes, and more time to set the tension with a double row of kettles at each end of the book block – slow going. I was using some beautiful antique Irish linen thread, but it had been wound tightly for a long time, so sewing with 4 needles involved several tangles!
By dinner time I was ready to start the fun part, sewing the exposed embroidered design. I designed the pattern and sewed the model 2 years ago, so even deciphering my decisions has been slow going. By late evening I am about a third of the way through the pattern.
Hopefully I will finish it up tomorrow.

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book of hours

a tiny book with embroidered covers and pages

Many of you may remember the map of hours I have been working on for AGES now, well here is a baby version – a tiny book of hours, each little page embroidered in the same way as the larger work by listening to the paper and following its lead, sometimes in circles, sometimes in completely new patterns. Here’s a little glimpse inside…

tiny embroidered page made of kozo paper IMAG1448

Want to own this little gem? It is headed off as a donation to the Morgan Conservancy for their annual benefit.

back view of the tiny book

I am especially pleased with the beetroot dyed silk covers.

So glad to have finally finished something! And now back to grading and housework with a sense of accomplishment!