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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book 92 - Snickers Bar Coptic Bound Journal

Anybody hungry? Because here's a giant Snickers Bar for you, disguised as a coptic bound journal. Yep, another recycled bit of packaging from the store. It used to be the side of a  cardboard box holding 48 of these delicious little tasties. (They are our best selling candy bar.)

To make the coptic journal, I cut the sides off the box, with the label on the front of the journal and the nutrition information on the back. (Maybe that's really just a way to keep me on my diet.) I like the shape of  this book, very tall and narrow--it's over 10" tall but only 3" wide. It has seven signatures of alternating peach and beige paper (for the peanuts and nougat, of course).

One problem with this book is the answer to the question of why I don't often use corrugated cardboard for books (besides the non-archival quality). Just as I was finishing the stitching, the cover bent in a couple of places. Once you get that sort of bend/crease in cardboard, it's there to stay. They will never go away, but this book will benefit somewhat from being under weights for a day or so.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 91 - A Mini Biker Journal

This little journal is pretty typical of the leather journals I do, but with a sort of biker slant. It's a fat little mini-journal with 64 pages (128 both sides), measuring just 3 1/2" x 3 3/4". It's a pebbled leather with nice weight and a mid-weight chain stitched on to the spine over the longstitch binding. I can see a biker pulling this out of the pocket of his leathers to jot a mileage note.

I've been wanting to do some "biker journals" for awhile, so this one gave me a sense of accomplishment. This little book feels good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 90 - Gibson Girl - A Little Handbag Notepad

Today's book would be a handy little thing to carry around in your purse. It's a small notepad with a cardstock cover. The picture on the front is a Charles Dana Gibson illustration of a pretty girl writing a letter. In my photo editing program, I cut out the hand and pen part of the image and then printed that on the top of every page in the pad.

This a good example of "perfect binding," where the pages are stacked and one edge is glued with a special glue called a padding compound. In this kind of binding, it is crucial that the edge being glued is cut perfectly straight and very clean. Once the pad was glued, I simply printed the design onto cardstock, cut it to fit, folded it over the top, down over the back and up over the back bottom edge, then glued it to the chipboard backing the notepad. Done!

Simple, clean, handy. If I was in production mode, I could turn out a dozen or more of these in an hour.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 89 - A Blue Butterfly Book

Today we go pretty simple. The hardest part of this little butterfly book was cutting the pages. Oh, how I wished for a die-cutter! Cutting the butterflies out by hand took forever and it's far from perfect or uniform. The last was really not a problem, because I simply made the decision that I didn't WANT them perfect. I wanted them loose and fluttery and natural looking. Problem solved. But I still would have liked cutting them out to be faster.

The blue butterfly image is both the cover and the center leaf of the single signature book. But the one on the cover is printed on heavy card stock, the one inside on plain paper. The other pages are cut from colored and decorative papers in lavender, blue and cream. The signature is sewn to the cover with a pamphlet stitch and tied on the outside, with two tails left on the thread to represent the butterfly's antennae.

I think it's pretty. It would be fun to pull out of a purse and jot a note in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 88 - Haiku by Elizabeth Searle Lamb - An Origami Wallet Book

Once again, I was tired, bored and uninspired. I was thumbing through  Alisa Golden's book looking for something I could make that was easy, fast, and didn't need too many materials or any inspiration. I came across an Origami Wallet book that was interesting and, most importantly, looked easy. That's it, I cried (though silently).

And then I had to make it complicated.

I didn't want to make a blank book, so once again I began searching for appropriate content. The origami nature suggested something Asian. I knew I wanted small slips of paper with text tucked into the wallet pockets. Then I remembered that the mother of my old friend Carolyn Lamb had been a haiku poet. In fact, she was one of the finest American Haiku poets of her generation, much published and an Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives.

I googled her and found some of her work, printed it out on lovely gingko and flower print paper. About three hours after I started looking for a simple and fast project, I had my book.

There are three origami "wallets" for pages, each with pockets on all four leaves. A dark green poster-weight paper serves as a wrap-around cover, tucked into the end folds on the outermost wallet.

A very pretty and delicate little book. I like it a lot.

Here are a couple of the haiku tucked inside:

deep in the world
of Monet water lilies...
    no sound

the year turns--
on the harp's gold leaf
summer's dust

the apricot
in full bloom--O'Keefe's
black sculpture

I cross the courtyard--
shadow of ravens, flying
beneath my feet

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 87-"Bailamos" - A Venetian Blind Book

This Venetian Blind book came up unexpectedly. At about 10 pm, I still had no idea what book I was going to do tonight. My brain was like a piece of dry toast. Bleh!

So I pulled out my trusty  Alisa Golden--"Making Handmade Books: 100 Bindings, Structures & Forms," and looked for something quick and not too demanding. Found it, then proceeded to make it more complicated than it needed to be. Why do I always do that? The Venetian Blind structure is dead simple. But I wanted something in it. Turns out the math of trying to get the photo to fit right was disgusting.

I always assumed most bookmakers, unless making a blank journal, begin with the content then design a structure to fit it. I seem to go the other way. Perhaps it's because so many structures are new to me in this challenge and that's where my focus is. Once I'd decided on the Venetian Blind book, I spent ages trying to come up with an idea for the content. But once I hit on the idea of a photo and decided to scroll through some of the pictures I've taken in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, this was the first picture that jumped out. I knew it was the one.

I printed the photo to the size I wanted and sliced it into six pieces. I folded a piece of 9x12 card stock into an 8-fold accordion, pasted the slices onto the "pages," punched holes in the two ends, and threaded through a length of hemp cord. Tied it off at the ends so it won't come out, then closed the book and tied it shut.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 86 - Tootsie Pops for Earth Day - A Japanese Stab Binding

Here's a pretty little Japanese stab binding journal. It seemed pretty obvious that I needed to make a recycled book for Earth Day. Conveniently, that coincided with the need to get rid of an empty Tootsie Roll box. Handy how that works out, no?

So that Tootsie Roll box turned into this colorful little hand-bound journal. The pages are a beige recycled paper. The spine edges and the wrap-around front tab are wrapped in bright red duct tape and the stitching is done with red satin ribbon in a herringbone pattern. The narrow wrap-around is secured with a tiny piece of Velcro. The finished book measures approx. 5 " x 5 1/2".

I'm getting quite a collection of these "found-in-the-store" books! At least the materials are cheap.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 85 - Belly Up to the Bar - A Bar Coaster Book

Here's another in my series of "found" books -- books I've made from odds and ends I come across in my daily life, packages from our store, things like that. Tonight, we went to dinner at Chili's. As soon as we sat down, I noticed there were the usual pressed paper bar coasters on the table. Ahhh, book covers, obviously.

These play on the Chili's chain reputation for great margaritas. I simply cut the text paper into pages, folded them and nested them into eight signatures. The signatures are sewn together and attached to the covers with a single-needle coptic stitch with beige thread. I'm still having a bit of a challenge with the coptic stitch. I find it tricky to get the tension on the stitching right and my books often tend to not lie completely closed. Apparently, I'm pulling the thread too tight, but when I try to loosen it up, it gets sloppy/floppy. Guess I just need to keep at it until I get the feel for it.

Not much more to say about this particular book. A nice, simple little book with found covers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 84 - Going Small - Book in a Matchbox

We're going miniature again today. Pawing through supplies in my studio (I have boxes, piles, masses of stuff in there), I found a matchbox. It was another "Aha!" moment, handing me today's book on a platter.

First I wrapped the outside of the matchbox in some wonderful Mexican bark paper and embellished it with leopard-pattern ribbon. Then I made a little cross-structure book with a cardstock cover to fit inside the box. It's a little blank book journal, maybe just for small thoughts? Or maybe you reserve it for just the really BIG important thoughts, the ones that can usually be stated in a few well-chosen words.

Anyway, it's a nifty little book.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 83 - A Tape-Bound Journal

This is a binding I'd never heard of until today when I noticed a very brief reference to it in Shereen LaPlante's book "Cover to Cover," which was the first book on making books I ever owned. She describes the process as using paper bookmaker's tape to tape one page to the next, then tape the next one to that, and so on until you have a block.

Well, not only do I not own any paper bookmaker's tape, I'm not even sure I know what it is. But then I remembered that I DO have some very pretty Japanese decorative masking tape I bought last year on etsy. So I hauled out that envelope and set to work.

This is basically a variation on a perfect binding, but with tape instead of glue. The taping can be a little tricky to keep all the pages perfectly lined up. Since the tape shows inside each pair of pages, I varied the color and design of the tape from page to page, then added decorative elements with the tape to the cover and another piece of tape over the spine. Throughout the process, I burnished the tape very well with a steel burnisher, so I do think it would hold together for quite a while.

. It looks a little like a Christmas package, but I like it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 82 - John Muir - A Flag Book

I've been wanting to make a flag book for a very long time. I think I was intimidated. It looks so complicated. Actually, it's not all that hard, just a little picky about lining things up just right.

A flag book is basically just an accordion book, one of the easiest books to make, with "flags" pasted onto the folds going in alternate directions. If you look closely at the photos you can see quite clearly how it goes together.

I knew I wanted to use a page from a topographical atlas of northern California for some of the flags. That got me thinking about what would be a logical accompaniment for a contrasting paper or text for the opposing flags. Looking closely at the map, I saw the John Muir Wilderness marked. I found a few wonderful quotes by Muir and used a short one for the front/title, another short one for the back, and a longer one cut up for the flags.

The inside quote reads:
God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But He cannot save them from fools.

I'm looking forward to making more flag books!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 81 - "Carousel" - A Star Tassel Book

We have something a little more complicated today, though it turned out not to be as hard as I thought it might be. I've never made a star book before but always loved the way they look. So guess how pleased I was to learn it's basically just a 16-panel accordion or concertina fold pulled into a circle. Then the end panels are glued together and a tie of some sort is passed through the center to pull it all into the star shape and hold it there.

As I was thinking about the structure and how to make it, I knew I wanted some content, something on the pages. I thought about the form--a circle, a cylinder, a wheel. Then the idea of a carousel struck. I found a wonderful passage from J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. It seemed to be the perfect text. I printed it out and glued it into the valley folds of the book. 

Here's the passage:
Then the carousel started and I watched her go round and round...
All the kids tried to grab for the brass ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything.
The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything.
If they fall, they fall."

I actually love this book and want to make more star books now. (And now I've got that song, Jacques Brel, I think, running round and round in my head.  "... We're on a carousel, a crazy carousel, and now we go around, again we go around, and now we spin around, we're high above the ground..."  So now you can go around humming it too. You're welcome!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 80 - Spiral Bound, Pamphlet Bound, Envelope Whatever Book

This book is sort of a mutt--a bit of this and a bit of that. I wanted to practice another spiral bound with wire, but that can make for really boring books. So I made the pages of the spiral book out of manila envelopes cut down. These pages then formed pockets. Into each of the six pockets, I tucked a little 2" x 2 1/2" pamphlet bound booklet.

For a cover, I wrapped a piece of sturdy paper around the notebook and glued it onto the last page. I stitched the 6 booklets with 100% cotton embroidery floss and also tied a piece of floss around the book to hold it closed.

Interesting experiment, but this is not a book I'll be selling any time soon. But I learned some things, and that's part of what this challenge is all about.