studio noise #3- doubt, youth, dedication

When I was about 18 or so (can’t remember… I wasn’t 21 I know that for sure) I went to go see one of my  favourite groups at the time- Stereolab, at the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton Mass. I forget who opened for them, but during the openers set, my friend Cassie and I went outside for a smoke because Massachusetts had just banned smoking inside bars the week before or something.

Here is Cassie and I somewhere around this time… (2002, 2003??)… just babies we were…

snaz y yo

So, being new to this system of having to leave the bar for a smoke and not thinking that I would have to leave my drink behind on a table sitting next to the bouncers, I placed my drink down ( half Jim Beam brought from home, half coke… Too young to drink in a bar, so I usually improvised ….) and walked out. Upon coming back into the bar, the big beefy bouncer asks me “This your drink?” and I reply with a cheeky “No” and start to walk back in the club. The bouncer, knowing full well that it was my drink, calls after me “I’m sorry but you’ve got to get the fuck out of here.” I argued with him for a while until finally his brute force won and I was thrown from Pearl Street… But not before I could throw Cassie my tape recorder, and through watery pathetic eyes yell “Tape the show for me! Bwa hahahah Waaaaah!” (I collected recordings from shows on the regular from that time…Only for personal use! No one would want these recordings anyways… they are half filled with me singing loudly, dancing and shuffling sounds or just I had the thing in my pocket to hide the red light and its just all muffled… I learned to tape the red light later on…)

I wanted to immediately throw up. Not even really because I was embarrassed or anything but because I had been waiting for this show for years and I couldn’t believe I was going to miss out. Also I couldn’t stand constantly sneaking into the shows I wanted to go to, or just not being able to buy a drink like a goddamn adult. It gave me so much anxiety and I resented everyone older than me (I know, that makes no sense…) and the bartender for not seeing that I could obviously handle my booze and I was obviously well beyond my years… : )

So, I sat outside the back door of Pearl Street, smoked a pack of cigarettes, cried like a loser and hoped Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab lead singer) would come out and take me in to help her sing my favourite song, while she mocked the arsehole bouncer…but that didn’t happen.

I did eventually end up seeing Stereolab, but sadly it was after the tragic death of Mary Hansen. And you know, I am having a hard time remembering the show…. Was it in Boston? Oh geez… If any of my Mass friends read this, can you help refresh my memory? Maybe had I not been DRINKING I would have remembered a little better…………..

This song, Doubt, was maybe my favourite Stereolab song at one time, but I would say that I really can’t pick a fave right now. I remember wanting the song to go on forever, and I still do. The song was on one of their first albums in 1991 and then appeared on “Switched On” which was a compilation of their first 3 releases. There is a really lovely version of the song on a BBC radio sessions album they did… It’s much more produced and clean sounding…But I prefer this version myself 🙂

Someone buy me a Moog…..

(If your wondering what this has to do with bookbinding… well it has nothing to do with bookbinding… THERE ARE NO RULES)

DIY Book Kit Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while now- Just in case the directions are not crystal clear in the DIY Book Kit or, if you don’t have a kit, were thinking about picking one up and you want to see exactly what your signing up for…. Here’s a little picture tutorial on how to put together your kit. I’ve also been having a hard time placing an appropriate age on these suckers… There are some pretty clever 6, 7, 8 year olds that could swing this no prob, but everyone is different and if you had a young’un in mind that might be into making books, you can see for yourself if you think they’re up for it! (I would say DIY Book Kits are good for anyone 12 and up to be on the safe side…)

Here goes.

THIS IS YOUR KIT (ruler and butter knife not included ) *I would suggest decorating the cover before binding! I left mine blank so you can see a bit clearer.

kit includes

So after you made yourself a pretty little cover, your going to start off by folding the cover and every page individually. Make sure the folds are as even as possible. Use that butter knife to really press the creases down. The better they’re creased, the better the book will stay closed.

folding bkt

bonefolding bkt

Next your going to awl the cover and pages so you have a guide for your sewing. Start with one of the inside pages and the cover paper. Place the inner paper inside the cover paper and line them up evenly. The cover paper is a bit bigger than the inside paper, so make sure the paper is tucked in nice and evenly, leaving the same amount of room on each side like the picture:

preawl bkt

Now, using your ruler, measure to the middle of the inside paper and poke a hole. (It’s good to have a cut mat or something underneath like a piece of cardboard to protect your table!) Then measure halfway between the middle hole and the edge of the inside paper and poke another hole. Do the same on the other side making sure the t-pin goes right through both sheets.

awling bkt

Using that first piece of inside paper with the poked holes as a template, individually poke holes in each sheet then stack together so the holes are lined up.

awlingpages bkt

book kit tut

Now place the stacked inside pages in the cover paper, lining up the awl-ed holes and get your needle and thread ready.

Your going to start from inside the book coming out the centre hole and pulling the thread through leaving about 3 inches. Hold onto that with your thumb so it doesn’t fall through when your tightening the thread.

sewing one

sewing two

Now, from the outside of the book, go down through the right hand hole back inside the book.

sewing three

Passing the middle hole inside the book, go out the left hand hole.

sewing four

Pull nice and taught (remembering to keep your thumb on the bit hanging out in the middle). Now from the outside of the book, go in through the middle hole. It’s very important that the string running along the middle of the spine lays in between where you initially came in and where the end is coming out (see pic).

sewing five

sewing six

Now for the knot. Just remember left over right, right over left.

tying knot bkt

1. Pulling nice and taught (not too hard or you’ll rip the paper!)

2. Left thread over right

3. Over and under and pull tight

4. Right over left

5. Over and under and pull tight

6. Trim ends

Remember if your kit has 2 books, keep that needle threaded and repeat on the next book.

Place the finished books under some heavy books or blocks over night and your done!

finished bkt

If you’ve got yourself a DIY Book Kit and you’ve finished your masterpieces, I would love love love to see them! Please do post them to the Mule Mother facebook page for all the world to see and admire.

feliz año nuevo/ a note on book repair!

tree down

We threw our tiny tree out last weekend and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad to see it there on the curb in the snow.  It was my first real X-mas tree and though I have honestly never had the desire to get one, I was unbelievably comforted by its smell and its presence and the tiny heads and lights that decorated it and mostly the fact that it made me feel like some kind of new tradition took place and it felt so lovely. (ruuuuuunnnn onnn sentence)

The transition to into this new year has been heavily marked with the presence of family and friends, too many movies and eating things I am allergic to, and of ice skating on the Commons here in Halifax. Although I have found it incredibly hard to get myself re- motivated as of late (which the yucky cold/cough I’ve had for the past week was not helping), my mind is always buzzing with new ideas (that I dont write down and forget immediately upon working) and plans for the year to come.

Something I feel like I have gotten away from a bit in the past few months is the repairing of books. It seems once something like a craft show comes around, everything else goes to hell and I concentrate on producing and nothing else. But really, one of my favourite things is to take an old book and make it new again. I think I have taken a unique stance on book repair in that, although I can make a book completely usable and sturdy again, I do not restore the book back to it’s original state. Here is an example:

Example Repair

This is one of many hymn books I have repaired for a friends church. The spines have mostly just started to deteriorate over time but the covers are overall in OK shape. Basically, what I try to do is to re-use as much of the old book as possible while adding in some new elements to make the book look new and unique. Generally I use the type of separated spine binding that I use a lot in my hand made books. I like this binding because you can add in a lot of different materials and it works well for what I do. It’s also a pretty unique look and adds a bit more dimension to a book. Here is the finished product:


My partner and I were talking the other day about this 19th century architect named Eugene Vilolet-le-Duc and how he viewed the process of restoration. He said “To restore a building is not to repair it, nor to do maintenance nor to rebuild, it is to reestablish it in an ultimate state that has never existed before”. This is exactly my take on book repair (*and also why I only repair books of practical use or sentimental value!). Rather than taking a broken book and making it exactly as it once was, I am adding to the history of the book, marking it’s restoration with a contemporary look and adding to the overall story of the book.

In case you were wondering 🙂

Basically what I am trying to tell you is that I want to fix all your broken books…

*why I don’t repair books worth tons of money- this kind of repair will significantly de-value the book! But it will only make your sentimental book/ practical use book even cooler