A Book a Day? What's Up With That?

Hi, and welcome to this year-long project. So what's this all about and how did it happen, you might ask. In mid 2007, artist Noah Scalin decided to make a skull out of anything he could find, every day for a year. It stretched him in ways he never imagined, as an artist, a writer and a person. His experience turned into a blog that went viral, and then a book.

Others have picked up on the idea: 365 Hearts, 365 Masks, 365 Bears drawn on a cellphone, 365 paper napkin mustaches.
I wanted to play, too, and I chose books. I love books, I know a bit about making books (thanks to my talented book-maker sister, Marilyn Worrix), and they're broad enough in definition to give me a lot of creative leeway.

The whole point is not really the books. The idea is to stretch myself in many ways as an artist and a person, to set up a discipline, stick with it and see what that teaches me.

I hope you'll join with me and follow along on the journey chronicled here, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I did it! This is book 365 in my year-long book-a-day challenge.

OK, I will admit right here that it took me just slightly longer than 365 days. I am 6 days over my exact year. But I am trying to be easy on myself here. I am celebrating anyway. I hope you will celebrate with me.

This final book is a leather journal for my friend Michael (because he called dibs), who I've known for over 40 years. The base leather for the book is a putty-colored cowhide. Around that, I have wrapped another piece of leather that I think is ostrich. I can't be sure because I pulled it unmarked from the scrap bin at the leather store. I saw it an pounced. It's a rich deep purple.

The pages are Neenah Sundance 70 lb paper in crushed cream, a lovely paper for writing or sketching with pencil, pen, ink, markers.

The journal is bound with a long stitch binding (also called a Medieval limp binding) with medium brown waxed cotton thread. It makes an interesting stitch pattern on the spine. The unusual closure is made from a found object I picked up at a flea market. I think it might be some type of faucet handle. A thong of the purple leather ties through it and around the journal to keep it closed.

This is a rich, elegant journal and I hope Michael lives it.

Book 364 - "She Works Hard For the Money" - Work Gloves Book of Working Women - Accordion Fold/Concertina

And now for something completely different.

I've had these work gloves sitting on my bench for a couple months now, waiting for me to make magic with them. Finally, I realized I wanted to use them to point out how much work in this world is done by women. According to a Report by Richard H. Robbins, called "Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism," women do two-thirds of the world's work, receive 10 percent of the world's income and own one percent of the means of production. I had a theme.

The book is an accordion fold/concertina fold book with 16 images of women working. From Rosie the Riveter, to seamtresses in a 19th-century sweat shop, from African women carrying baskets to soldiers, cops and crossing guards, Oprah Winfrey to Judy Garland, a Muslim Wal-Mart clerk to a doctor, PBX operators to Hilary Clinton, these women are the workers of the world.

To make the structure, I painted the insides of the gloves with several coats of acrylic medium to stiffen them and keep the fingers together. I left the thumbs unpainted for flexibility. I folded a long strip of Arches Text Wove paper into accordion sections and glued the printed photos to the pages. Then I glued the first and last pages to the palms of the gloves, under the thumbs.

I stitched the gloves together at two points with a chain stitch cord in two colors of cotton thread to match the color of the gloves.

OK, so I think this book is pretty damn cool.

Book 34 - "Ethan Allen" - Recycled Vintage Book as Journal - Coptic Binding

Book 34?? What's with that? Well, in the wind-up to posting the final couple of books in the year-long challenge, I thought I'd better look back over the whole past year and make sure I hadn't inadvertently skipped any days. And sure enough, way back in February, I just skipped right over a day. So, to be honest with you and myself, I needed to fill in that day.

So, Book 34. Here's another recycled vintage book made into a blank book/journal. I'm not sure of the exact date of this book since there was no copyright or publication date anywhere in the book. But from the cover illustration, I'd put it at about 1900-1910. The strange thing is that the illustration--two boys in sports outfits and gear--has nothing whatever to do with the content of the book, which is a history of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in the 18th century. Go figure. Maybe it was part of a series for boys and they all had that cover. The condition is pretty good, but there is one spot on the cover that is slightly blistered (where the book cloth has come loose from the board beneath. If I had a fine needle syringe, I could probably shoot a bit of glue underneath and glue it down again.

Since the bright red accents on the cover design stand out so much, I decided to play off that and use red thread for the binding. I also alternated green and red paper tape on the spine folds of the signatures for an attractive pattern on the exposed spine.

It came out looking pretty good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book 360-363 - "Four Dangerous Women" - Pulp Fiction Pocket Notebooks - Running Stitch Binding

These little pocket-sized notebooks feature some pulp fiction heroines you Do. Not. Want. To. Mess. With. You're not going to win. That's what I love about them.

After choosing the dangerous women images from my collection, I sized them to fit on 1/4 of a normal sized page. I printed the covers out two to a page, let them sit a few minutes to dry, then sprayed them with a light coat of acrylic sealer to protect the image from scratching. The matte finish photo paper I used is heavy weight and didn't really need a backing to work for the covers.

I scored the spine fold, using three score lines with very small spaces between so I would get a slightly rounded spine to accommodate the thickness of the single signature. I folded the pages and trimmed the single signature to fit then rounded the corners at the fore edge. After nesting the pages inside the folded cover, I poked holes 1/2" apart the whole length of the notebook and sewed it in a running stitch, down the spine then back up again, with white waxed linen thread.

After boning the fold a bit more, I put the little notebook under weight so it would lay more or less flat and closed.

Done. I like these. I'm going to make more. They look good, they are fairly fast to make, the materials cost is low, and I'm certain they will sell.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book 359 - Recycled Children's Book Journal/Blank Book - Lemony Snicket-Coptic Binding

Have you read any of the Lemony Snicket books? They are a bit bizarre but really fun. And the covers are neat! So, of course, I had to recycled one into a journal/blank book.

This is Book the Second, The Reptile Room. This follows my usual construction procedure with these upcycled hard cover books. The covers were slit and bound, the pages folded and punched, some of the signature fold edges bound with colorful paper tape. This was bound with a single-needle coptic binding using maroon waxed cotton thread.

I included a couple of the original illustrations form the book into the pages. The book's spine became a bookmark.

I'll always be on the lookout for more Lemony Snicket books in good enough condition to recycle/upcycle into fun journals.

Book 358 - Vinyl Record Journal - "Cabaret" with Liza Minelli - Coptic Binding

I loved "Cabaret" and thought Liza Minelli was simply magic in it. I love the music, too. So I was delighted to find a vinyl album of the show in a thrift shop. It was perfect for one of my vinyl record journals.

I cut the record to size with a band saw and smoothed the edges on a belt sander. I also sanded the fore edge corners of the covers into curves. Then I cut two pieces of the cardboard record jacket for the back cover. On the back is a picture of Liza on top of the word "Cabaret" in red lights. The inside back lining is a black and white picture of her.

For the pages, I used a cream-colored paper with lint flecks, folded into eight signatures. I tipped in bright orange end papers to repeat the orange color from the record label. I also rounded the fore edge corners of the pages to mirror the corves of the covers.

I drilled the stitching holes in the covers and poked holes in the sigs with an awl. The book is bound with a single-needle coptic stitch, also called a chain stitch binding.

This is a great journal, clever and very well made, if I say it who shouldn't.

Book 357 - Western Pulp Fiction - Classic Images Reversible Notebook/Journal

This reversible notebook/journal uses some classic imagery from 1950s pulp western fiction.

I have long loved pulp fiction imagery. It's just so immediate. It pulls you right into the moment of action, like good writing should. So I love using this imagery in my books.

For this 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" notebook/journal, I used two images and I reversed the one on the "back" so that the journal essentially has two fronts. You can use it either way. After printing the double image on heavyweight matte photo paper, I sprayed it with an acrylic surface spray to protect the finish. I needed a slightly rounded spine fold to accommodate the thickness of the two signatures, so I scored the inside center of the cover three times, about 3/16th of an inch apart on each score. Then when I folded it without boning it down hard on the creases, it was a bit rounded

I folded two signatures of 70 lb cream paper and stitched them both through a single set of sewing stations in the spine with a five-hole pamphlet stitch using a heavy waxed linen cord that feels almost like leather. I left the ends of the cord long enough at the center hole that I could wrap it around the book and tie it shut.

Nice notebook for a man, I think.

Book 356 - "Motor Boys" Recycled 1906 Book Journal - Coptic Binding

This recycled book journal is made from a fabulous find--a 1906 novel for boys called "The Motor Boys in Mexico" by Clarence Young. It was part of a whole series of books about the Motor Boys, apparently playing off the idea of the then relatively new motor car as a source of adventure. Apparently there were a whole bunch of these series of boys' books--the back pages of this book had ads for many of them. In fact, I liked those pages so much, I incorporated several of the ad pages inside this journal.

As usual, the covers were sliced off the book, the spine carefully removed and the raw edges tape bound. I lightly waxed the cover to preserve and improve its finish--although it is in wonderful condition for being more than a century old. I punched holes for sewing stations, folded sigs and punched holes in those too and covered the spine fold with the same green tape as the spine edge, incorporating a few illustrations and other pages from the original book. The book was bound with a chain stitch binding--a single-needle coptic stitch--with white waxed linen thread.

I made a bookmark from the book's spine by folding back the cut edges and covering the entire backside with green paper tape.

This is really a lovely journal.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book 355 - "Women in Hats" - Single Sheet Folded X-Book with Pockets

This is another idea I lifted directly from Alisa Golden's book. It's what she calls an "X-book," because of the shape of the thing while you're folding it over. It is exactly the same structure as the Indian Wedding Prayer book I posted a few days ago except that there are pockets at the bottoms of the pages for stashing things in.

The book measures 2 3/4" square and is folded from a single sheet of paper. The folded up pockets hold small images of women in hats--with all their charm and silliness. The photos can be taken out of the pockets and moved around at will.

Unlike the Indian wedding prayer book, I made a separate cover for this one from a piece of decorative paper. Then I folded flaps from the cover over the first page and glued them down.

Kind of a silly thing, but I'd like to explore the idea of the hats a bit more.