working with paper

I have work in a new exhibit which opens this Friday (Working with paper, Center Gallery in Olean, NY, 6-8pm). Regular readers have been sharing my struggle to get this work completed, so I thought I would share this moment of resolution with you too.

This is that monigami scroll which almost ended up in the bin

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And here are all those little tea bags I saved obsessively and then printed on

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It would be wonderful to see some of you at the opening, but I will also try to post some better pictures once the show is finished and properly lighted.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me through the dark days and helped me reach this moment.

Snowflake

First time back in the studio really getting down to work. A while ago I started a series of snowflake inspired bindings. Yesterday I finally started another in the series.

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I start out drawing on graph paper. All the snowflakes are being adapted from some illustrations of black work borders.

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Next I copy that design onto a piece of graph paper mounted on some card stock.

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Then I start sewing. As I go I write out the steps. Once I have figured out how to sew the pattern I make a book block. Cutting, folding and punching the signatures always seems to take forever! This design has 21 signatures! I draw a scale pattern of the binding to help punch the right holes in the right signature.

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I bind the top and bottom to hold the tension even as I sew the design. Here I used a french link with a kettle on either side over a translucent ribbon with a little sparkle. Sometimes I use coloured thread for this stage, but I wanted to keep the focus on the snowflake for this one.

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Here’s the sewing finished.

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I have been trying to make bolder choices with my colours and patterns, to make things less “matchy”. The last step is glueing the covers and ribbons down.
About 8 hours later it is all done!
Feels good to add a new pattern to my repertoire. My goal is to draw them all up and publish them for others to use over summer break this year.

Keeping my head above water!

This semester I have a crazy teaching schedule, 5 classes at 3 different schools. It hasn’t left much studio time! I did finally wrap up the Berehinia book, I ended up hand dyeing some paper using tea and rust and making new covers.

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She shipped out this week, along with “maple” and “women’s work” for this exhibit. I am so excited to have work included in this exhibit again! Can’t wait for the opening.

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I am also working on a guest book commission, and a book for a DNA embroidery related exhibit. The binding was pretty easy to work out. But I had a crazy idea to hand stamp a human genome sequence inside. Where do these crazy ideas come from?  Why do they come to me?!

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Thankfully fall break is coming up this week at all 3 colleges, so I might get to play with some new ideas in the next few days.

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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Maple binding tutorial.

This weekend I am at SMU in Dallas teaching at the DeGolyer Bookbinding Conference. I was very surprised to be asked to come and share my “embroidery as binding” technique with this wonderful group of fine art binders. Please follow the link – their work is amazing!

I have been teaching a maple binding pattern in workshops for about a year, but this event is a challenge because the workshops are quite short at 2.5 hours, so I modified the pattern to a smaller, single leaf version for this group.

I am trying to put together a book of my binding patterns and so I have not put any of them online yet, but now I have taught this particular pattern several times, so it is already loose in the world and I thought now might be the moment to post a free tutorial.

If you’d like to give it a try you will need:

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A text block, 88 sheets of 80lb text weight paper sized 7.5″ h x 9″ w, folded and collated into 11 signatures
2 boards 7.5″ x 4.75-5″
Decorative paper to cover each board
Paste or glue and a glue brush
Decorative ribbon or tapes for sewing
Colored linen thread or embroidery cotton
An awl
2 blunt sewing needles
This downloadable PDF: small maple pattern

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Step 1: use the decorative paper to cover the boards.

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Step 2: cut the punching template from the handout. You will need to add two stations based on the width of your ribbons or tapes. Lay the ribbon next to the second mark at the head and tail. Mark a sewing station next to the tape\ribbon and another .25″ from that mark.

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Step 3: punch all the signatures!

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Step 4: sewing on the bench, using two needles to sew the head and tail simultaneously, attach the ribbons using a French link stitch and two kettles on the 4 sewing stations at the head and tail.

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Step 4: beginning on the one inside of signature 2, station B follow the sewing diagram, according to the handout.

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The version I created had room to sew the pattern twice, but the finished sewing should look like this! If you’d like to try the double pattern – this is the sewing pattern: maple binding but you will need  to create your own template for punching the signatures.

Finally to attach the covers you can glue down the decorative ribbons to the cover, and if you like you can trim the front page down and glue it down like an end sheet.

And you are done!!

Happy Birthday to me!!

Today is my birthday – another year gone by – but FINALLY I can say – she is finished – yes! A Woman’s Work is finally done! I finished the sewing earlier this week, but was stumped on the covers – I opted for a textured but plain paper, as there is already a lot going on with this book. I snapped some quick pictures with my phone – she has a date with a real photographer later this week. Really, I can’t believe this two year project has finally ended, (unless I change my mind about those covers – it could happen).

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

and then I started collecting the LISTS

and then I started collecting the LISTS

poor book - still in progress - will I ever finish?

poor book – still in progress – will I ever finish?

the book block ready to sew

the book block ready to sew

and FINALLY all done!

and FINALLY all done!

except - a woman's work is NEVER done

except – a woman’s work is NEVER done

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

and the cover - hmmm still not sure

and the cover – hmmm still not sure

I want to give a huge thank you to Turkey Land Cove for the residency where this project was born, and to all the brave women who shared their to-do lists with me. This project had a LOT of help, and much encouragement from many of my readers & friends – THANK YOU everyone! Next up – snowflake bindings & a serious windfall of maple leaves!