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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book 122 - De La Luna Loteria Coptic Bound Journal

Here's a couple more cards from the fantastic "loteria" set I found with calavera art by Mexican artist Erik de la Luna. This time, I've used larger postcards of a couple of the images. I glued them to the stiff cover of a notebook for extra strength and I've let the decorative pattern of the notebook cover serve as a design element on the inside, like an end sheet.

The cover image is a skeleton angel with flowing curly hair and holding a flaming sword. The back is a skeleton version of Sor Juana, a very famous Mexican writer and poet from the 17th century.

There are nine signatures of five folded sheets each, alternating red recycled paper with white text-weight bond paper. That gives this hand-made blank journal a total of 90 leaves and 180 pages (both sides). The book is hand bound with a single-needle coptic stitch (chain stitch binding) in white waxed linen thread. Since the coptic binding method leaves an exposed spine, the alternating red and white signatures makes a pretty design element on the spine.

Thanks to the gluing of the covers, this journal needs to go under weights now to flatten it out completely.

I do love this "loteria" set. I've got to find more fun stuff to do with these great images.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book 121 - La Tiznada - Screwpost Envelope Book

A hand-made screwpost book - I found these fabulous contemporary Day-of-the-Dead style Mexican "loteria" cards today in the "Mercado de Artesanias" here in San Miguel de Allende. It's a wonderful market with dozens of shops and stalls selling every kind of Mexican handicraft imaginable. It's a real treasure trove for artists looking for materials and inspiration.

The card I used on this book is a "calavera" or skeleton/skull with Frida Kahlo eyebrows and style. The name, "La Tiznada," comes from the Spanish verb "tiznar," which means to debase or stain the fame or reputation of another. Here it's used in the feminine, so it means a woman who has besmirched someone else's name--i.e. Frida's (At least that's my mid-level Spanish take on it. Someone else might know better, and I hope they'll tell me if I'm wrong.)

The pages of the book are made from manila money envelopes, the kind a lot of employers still use here to give employees their pay in cash. The hand-made book covers are made from mat board covered with light blue text paper. And the binding is a pair of aluminum screw posts.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Book 120 - A Recessed Skewer Binding Dos-a-Dos Journal - Amate Bark

I love the way this hand-made journal feels. It's a dos-a-dos, meaning it is two books that share one side. The cover is made from this gorgeous Mexican amate (or amatl) bark paper, made by the Otomi Indians. Each of the two sides has a single signature of luscious heavy hand-made paper.

In the recessed skewer binding, one bamboo skewer rests in the valley fold of the signature pages. Another skewer is on the outside of the spine. String, thread or ribbon goes from the outside, through a hole in the cover and into the center of the signature, wraps around the inner skewer then comes back out the same hole and ties around the outer skewer, securing the binding. The spiral wrap on the outer skewers of this book is merely decorative. It's not part of the stitching. The texture of this journal is just yummy, both inside and out.

This handbound bok measures approx. 8 1/2" x 6" Each of the two signatures has four sheets making eight pages in each half (16 counting both sides).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book 119 - That Which Makes the World Go 'Round - Stab-bound Booklet

More "loteria" cards! I''ve loved these Mexican game images ever since I first saw them more than 20years ago. And when I bought these loteria cards at the "tianguis" the other day. I also bought some Mexican play money--like Monopoly money but in pesos and with Mexican images. Although this play money mirrors the colors and styles of real Mexican money, and is made of the same slick plastic-like material, the images are not the same. I'd love to have Frida Kahlo on a bill, but she's not... at least not yet.

This is a really simple little project, more about the whimsy of the materials than the structure or anything else. It's a little Japanese stab binding book with the play money used for the pages and a couple of loteria cards on the covers.

On the front is "El Mundo," The World, and on the back is "El Diablito," the Little Devil... which I guess some people also associate with money.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book 118 - Mexican Loteria Coptic Bound Journal - La Sirena

Well, I finally got up to the "Tianguis," the weekly open-air market here in San Miguel de Allende. And I got the "Loteria" cards I went looking for. Then I turned some of them into a coptic bound blank journal.

Loteria is a popular party and family game in Mexico. It's played just like Bingo, except instead of numbers the cards have pictures and the caller calls out the name of the character or item int he picture. The traditional images on the Loteria cards have become icons in Mexican popular culture. On the front of this book, I've used one of the most popular, "La Sirena," The Mermaid. On the back, you see another well-known character, "El Borracho," The Drunk.

This little blank journal is bound with a single-needle coptic stitch, which creates rows of chain stitches on the spine of the book. There are 9 signatures and a total of 126 leaves (252 pages both sides). As I was making the holes for the stitching, I realized that the mat board covers needed some kind of reinforcement or the stitching was going to pull through the edge. So I added a narrow slice of the red check plastic I used for an earlier book.

I took the photos as soon as I finished stitching it, so the book is not quite as flat as I'd like in the pctures. It is now under weights and will be better tomorrow.

I've got a lot more Loteria cards, so you'll be seeing some variations on this over the coming days.

Book 117 - Blue Suede Book - Fat Mini Journal

Another of my leather journals. This pretty little thing is a fat mini-journal from a piece of royal blue suede. The white text-weight pages are folded into ten signatures with a total of 80 pages (160 both sides).

I love this leather. I think this is the last piece of it I have... I've gone through every scrap.  The longstitch binding is done with waxed linen thread. I started with a different thread but half-way through the stitching, it broke. I hate when that happens. But what do you do? You start over, that's what you do.

Nice little journal with a leather thong wrap tie.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book 116 - Lucha Libre Screw Post Fan Book

This was another one of those "I want a die cutter!" books. I had to cut all the pages by hand with scissors--to the point that my scissors actually fell apart in my hand in protest!

Lucha Libre is HUGE here in Mexico. It's basically wrestling with masks on. The best known wrestlers are huge stars. I picked up these two lucha libre mask stickers in a little gift shop a few days ago. Then I, surprisingly, found some aluminum screw posts in Office Depot. Ahh, a match made in heaven.

This style is called a fan book becuase it opens up like one. The pages are all held together by the screw post and are loose enough to fan out... like a bunch of paint chip samples. There are about 100 or so pages, cut from several different papers, mostly scrap from other projects of the last couple of weeks.

The only real problem in making this book (besides the lack of a die-cutter to cut out all those pages) was the fact that I don't have a hole punch with me. I had to use my handy little hand-held drill bit to start the holes, then enlarge them with an awl, leaving some ragged looking holes that tended to ripple when I pushed them down over the post. Next time I do this, I'll have a hole punch.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book 115 - A Journal of Hand-Made Paper & Bamboo Beads

It seems that even when I'm exhausted and just want to make somkething quick and simple, I end up spending two hours and learning something new. Actually, it amazes me that I learn something new on every book I do. Of course, sometimes it's more a case of "relearning" than of initial learning. Seems like not only do I always learn something new; I remember it until JUST before I need to use it again.

Anyway, this started out to be a simple, pretty, quick pamphlet book. I had this pretty hand-made paper that I found in, of all places, Office Depot. It's made in Monterrey, Mex. and was cheaper than any hand-made paper I'd find in the States. I may have to go back for more.

I was just going to use it as a cover, fold up some recycled paper into a couple of signatures and stitch it with a pamphlet stitch. But then I thought it would be cool to interleave the recycled green paper with pages of medium-weight tracing vellum I found. And then I had these bamboo beads that would look so nice on the spine. And then the few thin signatures looked puny.

So here we are a couple of hours later with this pretty journal. It has 3 signatures and a total of 60 pages (120 both sides) of alternating papers.  Each stitch goes through the beads and back into the same hole so the threads run along the gutter of the signatures. Well, I got the pretty part right, I think, just not the simple and definitely not the quick.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book 114 - Posada Day of the Dead Journal - Mexican Kitsch

More Mexican kitsch!

Some books are complete in your head before you start. It's just a natter of putting the pieces together to create the reality that already exists in your mind. Others, like this one, evolve more slowly, the ideas coming into being as the hands make them real.

This hand-made journal began with a greeting card. I love all the old Day of the Dead/calaca prints by the great Mexican political cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada. He put skeleton figures in all sorts of whimsical and satirical poses and situations, using the illustrations to comment on Mexican society, human nature and the politics of his time--the early 20th century. I loved this card and knew I wanted to use it as the cover for a handbound journal.

I cut the card up and glued it to a baacking of manila card stock for added strength. Then I started going through my stash of paper to find the pages. I had this cool red and white graph paper (in millimeters) and also some translucent white vellum I've been eager to use. I cut the papers to size and folded the pages into signatures. I still wasn't sure at that point how the book would go together.

I needed something sturdy for the spine. I found a scrap of red-and-clear checked plastic left over from book 104. I glued it to a piece of the manila cardstock and added a red paper liner for the book's end papers. Then I realized I could sew the signatures to the spine first and add the Posada covers afterward.

I stitched them in a longstitch binding with white waxed linen thread. Then I glued on the covers. I had to keep going over all the folds with my bone folder because the plastic didn't want to bend cleanly and stay bent.

This hand-made journal measures 4 3/4" x 6 1/2". It has 36 sheets folded into 6 signatures for 72 leaves (144 pages). It's a nice little handful and would be fun to carry around in your purse.

This hand-made journal measures 4 3/4" x 6 1/2". It has 36 sheets folded into 6 signatures for 72 leaves (144 pages). It's a nice little handful and would be fun to carry around in your purse.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book 113 - Spiral Staircase "Book"

I've been thinking about this one for a while. It's really just a prototype. I want to make one that's bigger and more elaborate sometime after I get home to my own sudio.

This one is going to be extremely tricky to get home in a suitcase! On an airplane!

The book is basically a single strip of paper, folded into a spiral. For this one, I cut a base and top from mat board and covered them with red paper, inserted a stick made from three very thin bamboo sticks (from a placemat I cut apart) glued together. I inserted the ends of the stick into the two mat board pieces, glued one end of spiral to one of the boards, twined it around the stick and glued the other end to the other board.

I think it looks way cool!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book 112 - A Leather-Hinged Journal

I saw a picture of a journal with leather hinges for the spine online yesterday that was just so pretty I had to try to make it. No instructions with it. But I stared at the photos (a few different angles) and tried to picture how it would be stitched. Then I did that.

The front and back are mat board covered with a lovely  hand-made paper with leaf inclusions that I found, at all places, in Office Depot. (Yes, they are all over Mexico.) Instead of a spine, there are two leather "hinges" stitched to the front and back. The stitching, a variation of the longstitch binding, is done over the leather hinge straps.

When I do this book again, I'll make a few changes in the way the ends are stitched. The other problem with it is that it really does not want to lie flat when closed. I have fussed with getting the stitching centered on the leather straps and it helps. Perhaps, like yesterday's cracker box book (which is now beautifully flat), all it needs is a few hours under weights. I'll try that.

The book has 10 signatures of 6 sheets each, making 120 book leaves, 240 pages both sides, of hand-torn text-weight paper.  Stitching is with waxed linen thread.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book 111 - A Ricanela's Cracker Box Hand-Made Book/Journal

The other day I introduced you to "Marias con Cajeta," delicious cookies I always buy when I am here in Mexico. So now here's my second favorite Mexican cookie/cracker. "Ricanelas" are basically graham crackers with a whole lot of cinnamon sugar on them. Yum!

And of course, they come in a bright, colorful box, which, of course, had to become a book. This hand-made blank book/journal is approx. 8" square, its covers cut from the front and back of the box, with a bit of the sides at the spine. To make the cardboard both more attractive and sturdier, I glued recycled red paper on the inside. The glue has caused the cardboard to warp a bit--you can see the bow in the second picture--but the book is now under weights, and after a day or so, it should be nice and flat. I also used the same red paper for decorative end papers.

The pages are regular bond paper, folded into 6 signatures of 6 sheets each, giving 72 leaves (144 pages counting both sides).The longstitch binding is done with whitewaxed linen t hread in an "x" pattern.