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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 62 - I Will Not Be Afraid

Today is one of those days when we stretch the definition of a book. It has a cover; it has "pages," though they are not bound. It certainly has a point of view.

In today's world, we are bombarded from all sides with warnings of every kind -- travel advisories, political fearmongering, food warnings, caution, warning, look out. The world constantly seems to be telling us "Be afraid; be very afraid."

I don't buy it. I lived in New York City in the 1970s, when it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the country. One day some friends and I asked ourselves: "If we never read the newspaper or watched TV and if our perception of danger in New York was based ONLY on our personal experience here and that of our friends and neighbors, would we be afraid? And the answer, of course, was No. We had never been attacked, mugged, raped, killed, beaten up, attacked or the victims of any kind of violent crime at all. Yet we were expected to live in fear, because "they" said we should.

It's still happening. Governments, bosses, and others in authority often try to rule by fear, but I have made a clear decision. The only thing I am really afraid of is not living my life. So I'm just going to tune out all the warnings of danger and horror to come and get on with living my life.

For this "book," I covered a small box with red duct tape and yellow vinyl caution tape. Inside are dozens of cut-outs of various kinds of "caution" and "danger" signs. I hope they make the point.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 61 - A Hand-Made School Notebook

So there I was, walking through the office supplies section of Wal-Mart and thinking, "What the hell am I going to do for a book today?" I stopped and stared at a few things that didn't set any bells ringing. Then I came to the notebooks section. Most were just plain old spiral notebooks, but then I saw this classic little school notebook, the kind with the black and white cover. As I looked at it more closely, I saw that it was really just a single signature book, machine stitched up the middle, the stitching covered on the outside with a piece of bookcloth.

I had my book for the day.

Of course, I had to make mine prettier, with a lovely pearlescent gold cover stock and some bright red Duck tape over the spine instead of plain old black bookcloth.  I used graph paper for the pages and instead of machine stitching, I hand stitched with a long running stitch down and then back up, knotted at the top.

It makes a pretty little notebook. Because of the thickness of the single signature, this is going to have to go under weights for a day or so to lie flat. I had to tape it shut to photograph it. And when I shot it open, I was shocked at how old my hand looks! Oh well, they serve me well, those hands, and have earned every wrinkle and age spot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 60 - Mini "Booklaces" - Book Necklaces

Time for something both fun and commercial. These tee-tiny books are real, hand-bound books that will be hung on chains for "booklaces" -- or book necklaces. I've done many of these books before with quotations on various subjects. These three all have quotes about mothers--since Mother's Day is coming and that means these will be salable at the show I have coming up in a couple of weeks. I'll be making more of them for the show.

Each book  has two signatures with a total of 20 leaves (40 pages) with 18 quotations printed only on the right side pages. I think my favorite is "Dear Mother: I'm all right. Stop worrying about me." ~From an Egyptian letter dating from 2000 B.C.  Seems like some things never change.

I'll put some of these on chains, maybe with other beads; some will go on leather or hemp cords, depending on the style of the book. These have always sold well for me in the past. I expect they will again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 59 - Stick Binding Journal/Album

Because the stick binding on this journal/album features a real stick--a small tree branch I found in the yard--this one is for nature lovers. It also has covers made of heavy hand-made paper (which I bought; I'm not a papermaker... yet). The paper has a lovely texture and small confetti-like flecks of pastel colors.

The stick binding is similar to the Japanese stab binding, since both are end bindings with simple stacked pages rather than sewn signatures. With a stick binding, you simply bring your thread (or in this case raffia) up through the holes, wrap it around the twig and then sew back down through the same hole, snugging it tight around the stick or twig. When I finished stitching this, I tied a few more strands of the raffia around the top knot and shredded it for embellishment.

This kind of book makes a nice photo album or guest book. Measures 6 1/2" x 8 1/2".

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 58 - A suede Fat Dos-a-Dos Journal

I like Dos-a-Dos bound books. They help keep thoughts straight by offering two different areas for different kinds of ideas.

The idea with any dos-a-dos book is that it is really two books sharing a common side, like a duplex house. The backs of each book are the same and to switch from one book to the other you simply flip the book over.

It's easier to show than to describe with words, so just see the photos. I used split cowhide suede for the covers, Arches text-wove art paper for the pages and purple mulberry paper for the end papers. The whole book ties together with a thin thong of supple black leather.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 57-Accordion Book - From My Desk - "Sticky Side Up"

Tonight I decided to make a book using only materials and tools I could find on my desk. (Luckily for me, my desk is more than a little cluttered.) Some of the items I considered using:
* a spool of copper wire
* a copy of "The Week" magazine
* supermarket receipts
* a roll of waxed linen thread
* an orphan earring
* a paperback book (but I hadn't finished it yet)
* bills (better than paying them, right?)
* a carved pine bark tortoise
* a wooden ruler

What I finally ended up using was actually pretty mundane by comparison: some purple Post-it notes, pictures cut from a brochure on Arizona's scenic byways, a glue stick, scissors, a black marking pen, and a piece of red nylon thread. The brochure actually makes sense when you consider that we have an official Arizona Tourist Information Center connected to our store and my desk in IN that visitor center.

I tore off the Post-It notes, turned them sticky side up and alternated sticking them to each other in an accordion pattern. I cut a couple of pretty pictures from the brochure, doubled them over for extra stability, edged them with black marker and glued them to the Post-its with the glue stick. I sandwiched the red thread  between the back cover and the last Post-it for a tie closure.

There you have it, a pretty little accordion book that is neither archival nor very sturdy but it's today's book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 56-Little Strawberries Origami Book

Here's a simple little folded book, an origami-type structure made from a single sheet of paper. I came across this structure just today on the extreme cards & papercrafting blog. You can find the complete step-by-step instructions there.

I used a square sheet of scrap booking paper with a cheerful strawberry pattern on one side. The finished book is not quite 3" square. It was fun to make and I plan to try it again some day but with computer-generated text on the inside pages. I'll have to fold up a sample, then write numbers on each of the pages, also indicating top and bottom, to figure out what text goes where and in what direction.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do another leather book. Or.... who knows?

Day 55-Peppermint Pattie

Another "found in the store" book, cut up pieces of a case of York Peppermint Pattie Candy Bars (one of my favorites). I just really liked the look of that big round logo and wanted to use it.

I cut the logo out and added a "handle" on the left for the hinge, cut the back board from the part of the box with the nutrition info. I cut regular text paper pages in the same circle shape with hinge and sewed the book in a Japanese stab binding technique with red waxed thread. The finished book measures 5 1/2" by 4 1/4".

I should have started the stitching in the back or inside the book. I started at the top in front because I thought I would add some sort of tassel or bookmark with the leftover red thread. But there wasn't any left over. I barely had enough to tie the knot. I'd be happier with this is the knot was a little less visible. Other than that, I'm fine with the book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 54-A Perfect Victorian Lady

Here's another "perfect bound" book, which features all the pages lined up at the spine and glued with padding compound, the way a mass market paperback bock is bound.

For this one, I used a pretty scrapbooking paper for the cover and a piece of mat board for the back. The pages are text paper. A simple but pretty and handy notebook/notepad.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 53-A Little Chinese Notebook

Yesterday's book, "From the Hungry i," was stitched with the single needle coptic binding. I've done this a few times, but I still don't really "own" this binding, so I decided to do it again today.

This is just a simple little notebook. Th covers are a couple of playing cards from a particularly lovely set with Chinese characters. I cut the pages from plain text paper--7 signatures of 5 sheets each--punched the holes and stitched the book with a waxed red thread. It's a handy size for dropping in a purse or pocket and feels nice in the hand.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 52-Live From the Hungry i

This book is a not-quite-cheat for the challenge, since I actually started it last year. But it's been sitting unfinished in a box for months and today I finished it. In my book, that counts.

In 1959-'60, folk music was just hitting the mainstream. And one of the first folk groups to go mainstream was the Kingston Trio. Their break-out hit album was "Live From the Hungry i," recorded at a folk club in southern California. It was also the first LP my sister and I ever bought.

So I was pleased to come across a copy of this 50+-year-old album in a thrift store. Scooped it up for a whole quarter. Then I took it to the band saw and cut it into a rectangle for a book cover. I made the back out of book board covered with a pretty red & metallic gold marbled paper and lined the inside with part of the album cover with a photo of the guys. The end papers were cut from the tissue-like envelope that held the record.

I made 10 signatures from a nice 60-lb. cream-colored paper and embellished the folded edge of each signature with another piece of the red-gold paper, since it would show at the spine. Finally, I bound it with a coptic stitch in red thread.

I love this book. I'm going to hit the thrift shops for more vintage LPs to make more of these.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 51 - Ride 'Em Cowboy

So there I was at the end of not-particularly-fine day (which is a polite way of saying a bloody stinking day), thinking "Oh God, I still have to make a book." I told my guy I did not have one single freakin' idea in my head.

So being the ever-helpful soul that he is, he wandered off into our store, came back in about two minutes with a kid's straw cowboy hat, tossed it on the table and said, "A hatband book." I have to say, the man may sometimes try to pretend he's dumb as a box of rocks, but actually he's a genius.

I've always loved the graphics used in the old pulp fiction covers and already had quite a few in my computer. I googled a few more and put them together into an accordion fold book.

And so without further ado... "Ride "Em Cowboy," a pulp western cowboy hatband book. (Wonder what he'll think of tomorrow.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 50-Hair-on Cowhide Journal & Photo Book

Another of my favorite hair-on cowhide journals. This one has 6 black photo pages spread through the book as well.

I love the feel of this kind of leather. I always find myself stroking the hair, like petting a short-haired dog. This one is a brindle, black/brown/beige mix. Bone beads decorate the longstitch binding on the spine and a nice dark brown mulberry paper wraps the pages as an end paper.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 49 - Chili Peppers - A "Telephone" Book

This is yesterday's book, but I didn't have time to photograph and post it. Yesterday was one of those awful "working on store taxes" days. Can you spell h-a-t-e-f-u-l?  So I needed to do a book that was basically "quick-and-dirty" simple. And this was. But it also turned out to be more fun than I thought. And it's one of those ideas that stretches the idea of "what is a book?"

Remember when you were a kid and used to make a "telephone" out of a couple of paper cups or tin cans and a string? And then you put one can to your ear and listened fascinated as your friend talked into the can on the other end and the sound actually traveled down the string? Well, this is a "telephone" book.

I took two empty Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles cans--great chili fixin's--and a piece of good nylon cord. Drilled holes in the can and tied the cord through on one end. I printed out a great chili quotation from the novelist Margaret Cousins. I punched the words out with a tag punch, cut out a few chile pepper shapes from red and green paper and threaded them all onto the cord then tied on the other can. And now it's a book.

The quotation reads, "Chili is not so much food as a state of mind. Addictions to it are formed early in life and the victims never recover. On blue days in October, I get this passionate yearning for a bowl of chili, and I nearly lose my mind."  ~Margaret Cousins

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 48 - Words Are...

As a writer, I love the power of words. And the precision. They can be tools of healing or weapons of destruction. They can caress, wound, tease, kill, give hope, and leave despair.

This little book is about the power of words. The structure is an X-book with pockets, a simple folded structure made of one sheet of paper for the inside and another small piece for the cover. In the pockets, I've placed slips of paper with words... each about an aspect of what words are and can do, words like silky, pointed, far-reaching, liquid, angry, shackles, magic.

I like this book even more than I expected to. I plan to make this exact book again, but larger, with better paper and a bit more care and precision. And with more time to think about exactly what will go inside.