i can be pretty unobservant….

Gah!

I made a pretty silly mistake on the workshop poster… The date is wrong… Well, wrong in the sense that Thursday the 21st of Feb. in the year 2014 does not exist…. it is supposed to say FRIDAY the 21st.

Oy vey…. Here is the updated poster……….

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flute practice book repair

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a bit now! Finally getting to it…

I did this repair recently for a fellow named Henri I met at a craft sale in the summertime. The book was used for practicing the flute and was getting a bit difficult to use since the pages were coming out. From just looking at it, I assumed the book was sewn, but it was actually perfect bound (not sewn, just glued together) ! Derp…which makes it quicker to fix but is a binding that just doesn’t last as long as a sewn binding (10’s of years as opposed to 100’s I’d say…)

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For some reason, when I see a hard cover and headband, I immediately think it’s a sewn binding… But if you look really close you’ll see that the pages aren’t arranged into signatures. Sneaky….

Anywho, I snapped a few images in the process. I love this kind of repair because Henri was interested in having the whole book be redone with a bit of leather and book cloth.

So here is the book before the repair.

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That last image is the sticker of the last bindery who repaired the book a few years ago. When I got to taking the book apart, I started to wonder what kind of glue they used because it was really easy to pull some parts off, like the strip that covered the spine. Once I realized it was actually perfect bound, I decided I’d gently tear all the pages out, one by one, and then re-bind it it from scratch. The pages were also really easy to just pull off…

So I started initially by pulling the text block away from the cover by cutting the end papers close to the spine and detaching it.

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Then I pulled that strip off the spine and started detaching the pages one by one…

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Here is where I frustratingly stopped taking process shots… But my next step was to arrange the pages together as evenly as possible into a clamp and re-glued it. I gave it a good 3 layers of glue before glueing some mull and then a strip of mulberry paper on top. Next I used the handiest of little tools, a micro spatula  (which I just broke!) to scrape all the excess paper off the covers and the sanded down what I couldn’t scrape so that it would be flush when I attached the new end papers.

Henri chose some really great materials and left me to surprise him with the end papers. Here’s what I came up with…

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Should give him at least another decade of use! (and hopefully more than that)

After this, Henri commissioned me to make some paper portfolios with some GORGEOUS marble papers he found and some really amazing leather.  Will make a post about it once I’ve finished them!

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.

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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!

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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…