Pt. 2 of new things debuted last weekend, the weekend and some new projects

Woops

I forgot to follow up on this post, just got too busy with the NSDCC summer show that completely let it slip! I always think I’m ahead of the game till the last minute…

SO I’ve been working on some great new printed books ( meaning books with a specific purpose instead of blank books) that finally came together for last weekends craft show. The first is something I’ve gotten quite a few requests for which are wine journals. I love a good glass of wine as much as anyone and I usually end up buying the same bottle as good wine can get pretty pricey. But after a few bottles it does get pretty tough to tell which ones you really loved and why you liked them so much. To solve this little problem, I designed a nice little book where you can write all the specifics, paste on the actual label and give it your stamp of approval or a note to never buy it again.
I bound two different styles, a coptic version and a case bound version… I think they came out pretty classy if I do say so myself.

I’ve also gotten more than a few requests for lined books and specifically half lined and half blank. I thought this was genius so I designed a layout and people seem to be really into it! Here are a few of those covered in leather and book cloth:

The last product to debut over the weekend were these here pregnancy journals! I’ve kept one of my own 2 subject notebooks as a kind of “pregnancy journal” because I usually dig stream of consciousness kind of journalling and I tend to lump all of life’s events into the continuous stream rather than separating them all out into separate vessels (that’s kind of a lie, I actually have a book called “Pregnancy Journal” but it’s really more of a book that tells you what’s happening physiologically to you and the babe everyday of the pregnancy and leaves little spaces here and there to write notes and things. The bulk of my “pregnancy writing” (really just writing while being preggo) is done in my regular old journal…. very long explanation with not just one but TWO sets of parenthesis).

So, anyways I was pretty ignorant of the variety of pregnancy journal out there and when I started to have a look around I found that a lot of them were a bit kitschy and ‘pretty’ and very structured which lots of ladies dig, but I wasn’t really into. Many preggo journals have a lot of questions that leave tiny spaces to answer where I thought I would need pages and/or there were too many questions and/or they were super conventional and very gendered and/or they were just really flowery and overly feminine which is great for lots of ladies… But I couldn’t see myself using one. I figured there might be lots of pregnant women out there who just wanted some lines and spaces to fill in their thoughts while being pregnant, and that’s it. So I designed the Mule Mother Pregnancy Journal as a kind of bare bones, über simplified preggo journal for the gals who want just that. I added in a few questions at the beginning because I liked the idea of being prompted a bit. Being newly pregnant, it’s nice to have a few questions asked of you that make your gears start working. There are so many things that go through your head! It can be a little maddening at times… So I constructed the book with three thick signatures, sewn pamphlet style, and each signature is a new trimester. The layout is just like the lined book in that one side of the spread is lined and one is blank because I liked having the option of making doodles and pasting things in if you wanted to. I included a back pocket as well and a strap to keep it all closed and then left a few pages at the end to write in the birth story. (I’ve heard so many ladies tell me to write down what happened at the birth as soon as you can because you tend to forget what the hell just happened.)

So here are the first 5 that I made and I’m sure that after my own babe is born I might modify it a bit here and there. I thought I’d also make a baby book with some of the same considerations in mind and include some of my own visual art (because I also make art! It’s just taken a bit of a back seat since I started the book biz…), but I think I’ll have a better idea of a great baby book once I have my own babe and see what kinds of things I’d want to record.

Ok now the weekend! The NSDCC Summer Show was great, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the staff and volunteers were, as usual, were incredible and superhero-like. Here are a few shots I took:

So finally, just one last thing, these sketchbooks are getting so popular! I love making them and they are awesome sketchbooks, so meaty and satisfying, covered in leather and filled with lovely 140lb watercolour paper… Here are two in the works. If you’re interested in your very own custom sketchbook, they have 60 pages (120 sides), measure 8×8″ and are $90 plus shipping (taxes in) and you can pick two suede colours from my leather selection to cover the book. They usually take about a week/ week and a half for me to finish and send out to you. Send me a message if you’re interested or have any questions!

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new custom work

I’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty fantastic custom books in the past few months. Wedding guest books and photo albums have been picking up big time which has been really great because I am finding that I am getting a lot of requests that really work with my aesthetic. And that’s always nice.

The last big custom job I did was a gift from someone I had as a customer at a cafe I used to work at. He, along with about 25 other fellows, were mentored by this one doctor (for whom the book was for) who seemed to have had a pretty profound impact on all of these peoples lives and careers. The book was comprised of pictures and stories from each of the fellows dating back to the 70’s and as recent as the late 90’s. The words and pictures in the book are really lovely and I was so honoured to have had a small part in the story of this remarkable guy.

Here’s the book finished:

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The book is covered with brown suede and linen book cloth. For the end papers I used my favourite St. Armand paper.

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I took a few photographs while I was making the book and I always mean to take more! I tend to get absorbed in what I’m doing and before I know it I missed capturing some integral step… Anywho…

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This image on the left is the suede attached to the covers before the linen cloth and spine are attached. The right image is measuring out the corner cloth and the bottom is the cover before it is used to case in the text block.

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tiny little books

The next project I have been working on is with this really awesome author I met at the Halifax Crafters Spring Fair. We’re working together to make some prototypes of tiny story books. The process has been unbelievably enjoyable as we are both in love with tiny things and just seem to click really well. Here’s a few shots of the books I have made for her so far.

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Sewn up •

2013-07-23 21.23.24 This kills me… It’s just so goddamn cute! Tiny text block with mull, spine strip and head bands.

2013-07-23 21.27.58-1All ready to be cased in while fat cat sleeps in background •

2013-07-27 19.01.33-1• And finally all done up in orange suede. Oh my. What a handsome little bugger.

I wanted to do another style of book so I printed the text out and made a miniature Japanese stab sewn binding version (below)

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from wanting a book made to getting it in the mail

binding styles• When I get a custom order for a book with printed matter, the first step is getting the material that the book will contain and formatting it on the computer. The book, depending on the type of binding style, needs to be formatted correctly so that after it’s printed, it will read in the right order.  I made this PDF (left) to send to folks who inquire about a custom book so I can get a better idea of what they have in mind.

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I use inDesign to lay out the book and I use a number of visual aids to help me format the book in the right order. Although it might seem/ look ridiculous, for books that will be sewn with signatures, I use this long scroll piece of paper (right) that I made a guide on to format the book on the computer. Since I’ve done this a few times, I’ve picked up on the formula that the pages go in, but I am very much a visual thinker and need to look at what I am working out in order for me to get it right, especially in this case…!

After I’ve formatted all the material I’ve been given, I send off a PDF version of the layout of the book. This way, you can run through it with a fine tooth comb and make any last changes. Once I get the OK, I send it off to be printed.

In terms of the colours and materials the book is covered with, I usually will ask for any favourites and with some ideas in mind, search through my ever changing material stash. If I don’t have just the right thing on me, then I hit the streets and search my go-to thrift shops, fabric spots and the leather stops and send off some pictures of the materials I’ve collected.  After that, I keep you in the loop with updates, insights and ideas until everything is finished and I send it off to you wrapped nice and spify- your own hand-bound, published work.

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Here’s a few other custom books I’ve finished up this past month:

D+T- the story of one young couples’ very long relationship. A wedding gift written by the bride to the groom.

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WHEAT- A book of poems written by one sister. A surprise gift from the other sister to the poet.

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These are custom wedding guest books, so they’re blank on the inside and sewn together with paper perfect for writing or drawing or attaching photographs.

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I am working on one more guest book for right now that is in a style I haven’t worked with a whole lot and it’s coming along really beautifully, so I’ll post that when it’s all finished.

Aside from this, I am in the midst of a really big project (probably the biggest and most involved project yet!) working with an old cook book. I am scanning each handwritten page, correcting them in Photoshop and then reprinting and binding the book. This such a huge project for Mule Mother and I am learning a ton from it. More on that later…

For now, I’ll leave you this pic of our plot in the North End community garden. Trying to soak up all that summer has left to offer but I have to admit, I did think for just a second about that cool crisp autumn air and smile just a bit… (This image is actually a few weeks old, so things are actually quite a bit more full…!)

enjoy!

garden

DIY book cloth

I had about 4 million yards of book cloth I wanted to make, so I thought I’d snap some photos and explain just how to make it… Or at least, how I make it.

Book cloth is the nice textured fabric material you see on lots of hard cover books. You can make your own with some wheat paste, some mulberry paper, and an iron (among other things which I will get into in a sec). Making your own book cloth is awesome because you can make any natural fiber  fabric into book cloth. DIY book cloth is also awesome because commercial book cloth is crazy expensive and you can make so much for very little money.

Making book cloth takes a bit of time (depending on how much your looking to make), is a bit messy and can be slightly frustrating. Despite all this, I find it well worth my time and once you get into the groove time just flies on by and all of the sudden you’re like “whoa, check out all this totally sweet, one of a kind book cloth I just made.”

You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • wheat flour
  • water
  • double-boiler (you can just rig one up with a big vessel to hold water and something to sit inside on top of the water)
  • mulberry paper
  • brush
  • newspaper
  • iron
  • towel
  • brayer

First you’ll have to whip up the wheat paste. I hear wheat starch makes a more archival paste, but I think wheat starch is a bit hard to find.  Wheat paste is works like a dream though and is still pretty archival as far as I know.

I made 2 cups -ish initially which was ridiculous because I ended up needing 4 times that.. :/  Thats a pretty fair amount though, so I’ll stick with that recipe. First heat up your double boiler and get ready 2 cups warm water and 1/2 cup  of wheat flour.

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Put that 1/2 cup of flour in the top part of your double boiler and add about half a cup of water. Using a whisk break up the flour and mix it together until its smooth. Sifting the flour before you add the water usually works best, but I don’t have a sifter.

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Stir in the rest of the water to the flour/water mix when the boiler starts boiling, place it over the water and stir pretty regularly with a spoon.

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Eventually it will start to thicken up and you can pull it off the boiler when it starts to stick to the sides like in the picture. When it cools, it gets a little thicker too, so keep that in mind.

And your done! Making the wheat paste…

For the book cloth you’ll need the fabric you want to use,  mulberry paper*, an iron, some newspaper, a towel, a brush, a brayer and all that fresh wheat paste you just made.

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You’ll want to pre-cut all the fabric your using sized to pieces of mulberry paper first. If the fabric is odd sized, or even if not, it’s good to trace the fabric on the mulberry paper. It will save you from glueing more than you need to.

With it laid in front of you, gently pull up half the fabric and fold it over the other half. Starting from the middle, lay the glue down horizontally with your brush all the way to bottom corners of where the fabric will be. Try to avoid bubbles on the mulberry paper but don’t freak out if you get them.

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Lay the fabric down over the glued part gently. Smooth from the middle down and out to the sides with your hands and/or a brayer.

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Now do the same thing to the other side.

Flip the cloth and mulberry paper over so the mulberry paper side is up, on top of a towel.

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Use a pretty big piece of newspaper to cover the parts you are ironing. I usually turn my iron to maximum heat and make sure there is no moisture in the little spray/steam nozzles on some irons.

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When the paper turns opaque white you know it’s dry.

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When I’ve dried the majority of the back I usually flip it over and iron the front as well. Don’t worry if it’s a bit crinkly. When you glue it onto binder’s board it will flatten out (but only if its crinkly due to thin fabric and not if there are air bubbles between the fabric and paper… I’m afraid you’re stuck with those.)

And voila! Book cloth.

Here’s all the cloth I made!

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*note on mulberry paper..

I’ve heard ‘mulberry’ paper used interchangeably with ‘rice’ paper but I believe they are different. Mulberry paper is made from the bark fibers of a paper mulberry tree but I have read of some mulberry papers being made from rice straw…? Mulberry paper is what you’re after for this project, although I’m going to do a bit more paper research and get back to this…

Repair- The French Pastry Book- Part Two

Now that I have the end papers all flattened and ready to go, I’m going to re-attach those pages that fell off when I removed the end papers, reshape the textblock in a press, pop on some fancy headband (the small colourful stripey bits on the top and bottom of the spine) and prepare the spine with some super and a strip of paper. (Super is like starched cheesecloth… it helps to connect the text block to the covers and strengthens the hinge on the front and back cover.)

This is the prepared spine …

While that was drying, I worked on the cover cloth. First I had to remove the old card from the cloth, careful not to rip it all up. It’s almsot as frail as the end pages. For some reason the front and spine of the book are significantly more worn than the back. Must have been the way the book was kept.

After scraping the excess paper off, I cut new card for the cover and rounded the corners like the old card.

Now comes the tricky part of attaching the old cloth to the new… To start I cut the new book cloth to the same size as the old and taped it face down. I marked out where the card should go and glued those down so that its nice and square.

Should have taken a few more shots here (!) but, after this I glued the sides in and then went to glue the old cloth onto the new. The trick is to apply the glue to the back of the old cloth rather than to the front of the new (although this is so much easier). Because the old cloth has a lot of parts missing along the spine and the new cloth will show through, I want to have those parts looking nice and clean rather than all gluey… PVA dries clear but it’s really noticeable when you get it on the book cloth.

So then I had to do something about those pesky tears in the end papers. I started off by mixing up some watercolours to match the discoloured paper . The paper I used to reinforce the older paper is a bit brighter so I want to tone it down a bit.

Matching colours spot on is a huge pain in the ass. Especially in this case because the papers are mottled with age and multi-coloured. It is something I think I am great at but in reality it’s actually pretty hard to match something perfectly. The front end paper turned out great because there wasn’t too much damage, but the back one had a big hole in it and I couldn’t make it look great . So I thought I’d make a label that says when the book was rebound and cover the hole up with it. It’s nice to have something in the book that says when it was fixed so I guess it was meant to be : )

SO, of course I took no pictures of actually putting the book together!! … But after the cover and text block have been pressed overnight, I basically just glued down the end papers to the cover… (Will post another time on how to do this!…Sorry folks.)

Here’s the finished product…

-please excuse creepy band-aid finger… –

Any questions, comments? Have a book you need fixed up? Let me know!

Repair- The French Pastry Book- Part One

A previous repair client recently came to me with this beautiful little pastry book in need of some help.

The book came from his father who used it in the 40’s while learning to become a pastry chef. It’s a great little momento with some pretty delish recipes inside – definitely worth helping stick around for another long while. Here’s a few shots of what it looked like before I started to take it apart:


So as you can see this little book is in pretty rough shape…

The plan is to first remove the end papers as carefully as possible. Since they are so frail, I’ll have to reinforce them with some similar paper . The end papers are integral to the structure of the book, so if they are frail and falling apart, the book wont last very long.

Next I’ll take the book cloth off the card it’s glued around, reinforce the book cloth with some new stuff and cut some new card to wrap it all around. Then finally I’ll put it all back together, hopefully with no big problems…

So, as planned, I carefully took off the end papers using my trusty micro-spatula (MEEcro spatula)… this was pretty easy because the paper is so old that they just kind of fell off. I really want to keep this original paper in the book because it has a really tiny and intricate tiled print on it. There’s a bit of that reddish paper left behind on the back of the end papers so I’ll take an emory board to it and ] lightly file some of that stuff off to make it flush when I glue it onto the new paper.


The first and last pages inevitably came off with the end papers so I will glue those back on before I go and re-prepare the spine.

So now I have these very beautiful but super frail end pages that need to be able to be strong enough to keep the cover on the book.

I found some creamy coloured paper and cut it to the size of the end papers making sure the grain is running long. It’s good to pay attention to the grain direction, your folds will be much smoother if you make creases along the grain instead of against the grain. This is especially important here because the frail paper could crumble if the fold is really messy and against the grain.

The picture below is of the new endpapers glued to the old ones after being pressed overnight. Also I rounded the corners to match the text block. (I use a corner rounder, I don’t do that by hand… would not look so good)

So next post I will re-prepare the spine, fold those end papers, address some of the rips and tears, reinforce the cover with some new card and new book cloth, do some fancy letra-setting and put the whole thing back together.