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, November 29, 2011

Book 285 - "Katie" - A Recycled Young Adult Book as a Journal/Blank Book - Single Needle Coptic Stitch Binding

We're actually moving up today... from recycled children's books to recycled young adult novels. Next thing you know, I'll be cutting up a copy of "War & Peace."

I like doing these recycled books-into-journals, just like I enjoy doing the recycled packaging books, but lately I've been feeling like I'm getting stale... boring. The whole project doesn't seem as creative as it did in the beginning. I'm playing it too safe, just "get the book done for the day." I've got a couple of new ideas brewing and, in fact, designed an entire book/sculpture in my dreams last night... and actually remembered it when I woke up. I spent part of the day rummaging around in the woodpile in the back yard for some pieces for it. So look for some different things in the days ahead, (though I'll probably throw in a recycled kids' book or two and some packaging. And, of course, colored duct tape).

"Katie" is a vintage book from the 1960s. I really liked the cover design and the vintage look. As usual, I cut out the book block and slit the cover down the middle of the spine. I wrapped the cut edge with some green and brown washi tape. I also covered the exposed spine edge of the signatures with the same washi tape, alternating green and brown.

The journal is bound with a single-needle coptic stitch with doubled gray cotton thread. I've never really liked the look of the end rows of stitches in the single-needle coptic stitch, so lately I've been wrapping the thread around the stitch an extra time and it seems to make a difference. The stitching looks more substantial.

This is a cute little book I'd be happy to carry around myself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Books 282-284 - Black Forest Trio, or "What There is a Fruit Snacks Box" - 3 Blank Books

There is just so much cool design on packaging these days. I can't resist it.

I found these Black Forest Fruit Snacks on sale at the supermarket the other day (which are delicious, BTW) and realized we could sell the small packets sell individually for a decent profit. It was a good idea because they sell well. I've already had to buy more. And look what I got from the first box.

Book 282 is an oval book with a ring binding. I cut the logo from both sides of the box and backed it with raspberry colored textured pearlescent card stock for strength. I then cut about 50 oval pages from a variety of papers--white text, purple text, blue speckled card stock, white translucent vellum, pale blue cloud print, and purple granite scrapbooking paper.  I punched holes in the two covers and in all the pages, stacked them up and bound them with a double ring I made from 20 gauge copper wire.

This is obviously a dead simple little book to make but it was actually very time intensive because of the unusual shape. I had to hand-cut all 50 oval pages. But it was OK. I called up the Dancing With the Stars finals on the computer and watched while I cut. (Way to go, J.R.! I was rooting for you!)

I will make lots more of these simple little books, because I know they will sell quickly. But I'll make them in shapes I can cut in piles, with straight lines, or ones I can punch out quickly with a paper punch. Fast, we like fast!

Book 283 was made from the sides of the box. The covers were lined with a nice silver-blue metallic textured card stock. I folded and trimmed nine signatures and then wrapped the fold edge of each one with colored japanese washi tape in three different colors. I stitched the book with a single-needle coptic stitch with black waxed linen thread.

Perfect size for a purse or pocket.

Book 284 - This one came out kind of cool because I was able to cut off all the type on the cover. It simply looks like a little blank journal with a fruit design cover. It doesn't look like recycled packaging.  These fruit designs were also from the box front and back. I used the same silver-blue card stock to line the covers. Ten signatures were bound with a single-needle coptic stitch with red Irish linen thread, but it is slightly different this time. Using a trick from Shereen LaPlantz, I carried my thread down TWO signatures instead of one before wrapping it around the stitch to form the chain. This gives the chain stitching on the spine a little more substance.

The squared off shape makes for bigger pages and more room to write, but this is still a good purse size. I'd carry this notebook around with me.

And that's what there is in a box of fruit snacks... if you're a bookmaker.

Book 281 - Mmmm, M&Ms Recycled Packaging Journal-Slit Spine Long Stitch Binding

It was candy restocking time in the store, and there was this empty M&M's Peanut box.... I guess you can imagine what came next.

Out came the scissors and the x-acto knife. I cut one large piece from the top of the box, glued on some heavy raspberry pink perlescent card stock to the back for looks and strength, scored it well with the bone folder and folded it at the spine. I then covered the spine with bright red duct tape and cut slits across the spine for the sewing stations.

I folded six signatures of white text paper, poked the holes and stitched them with a long-stitch binding through the slits I had cut in the spine.

Unfortunately, when the spine was folded I realized I had scored it a bit too narrow, which made the journal not want to close flat. So I made the strap from a double layer of the red duct tape to wrap around the book and closed it with a piece of industrial strength Velcro.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books 279-280 - Two Pocket Notebooks with Quotes - 2-Sewn-as-1 Binding

You know, sometimes the most interesting results come from making a mistake--or at least from something unexpected and unintended.

I planned to have the quotations/statements on the front of these little pocket notebooks/journal a lot more bold. But I wanted to use some pearlescent metallic finish card stock I bought recently for the covers and the truth is that it's not very absorbent. When I put it through the printer, the ink just sort of sat on the surface. I set it aside, thinking I'd have to start over. But after awhile, once the ink had actually dried, I liked the shadowy effect of the print. Dry, it seemed permanent enough, so I decided to go ahead and use it.

These little pocket-sized notebooks us what Alisa Golden calls the "2-sewn-as-1" binding. The cover is a single sheet, folded back on itself at the center of the spine, then folded forward again, so there is a folded flap, of sorts, inside at the center. I folded text paper into two signatures, opened the sigs so the two folds were on either side of the flap and then stitched through all the layers at once with a pamphlet stitch.

Hmmm, I'm finding it is far harder to describe than it is to do (really, it's dead simple). I guess I need to work on my technical writing skills. Miss Fowler, my high school English teacher, would be ashamed. Hopefully, you can get an idea from the photos how this fold works.

I'll probably end up making a whole slew of these to sell, maybe for the holidays, because they are fast and easy and don't need a lot of materials. I've got literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of quotations I can use on the front covers.

Book 278 - Hair on Cowhide Journal - Long Stitch Binding

Here's one of my great stand-by books - a long-stitch bound leather journal. And not just leather, but hair-on leather. This is from a full cowhide I bought and cut up, in a wonderful brindle color.

I probably shouldn't tell you (though if you've been following me awhile, you've surely dropped to this already) but these leather journals/blank books are my fall back position. When I just can't seem to be very creative, don't have a single idea what to make, am too tired to think much, am sick, distracted or just plain being lazy, I can always make a leather journal and fulfill my commitment to make a book that day. I've made so many of these that they are almost automatic. The only real creativity is in picking the leather, the thread and the end papers.

For this journal, I picked a soft-focus camo design end paper. I wanted to make it more masculine, since so many of my books appeal more to women. The long-stitch binding is sewn with black waxed Irish linen thread. The pages are 70 lb Neenah Sundance paper in ivory with a felt finish. Very nice paper.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Books 276 & 277 - Grand Canyon Suite - Recycled Beer Box Books/Journals - Single-Needle Coptic Binding

Ah... more recycled packaging books, and very cool packaging it is.

We recently started selling beer in our store, and one of the beers we carry is from a small brewery in Williams, Arizona, called Grand Canyon Brewery. Both the cans and the boxes they come in have great graphics, so of course the cases screamed "Books!" at me.

Here are two journals from the same case of beer. The first is a long, narrow book. I used one side of the case and cut it in half lengthwise to balance the graphic in an attractive way. I backed the two pieces with heavy brown card stock for added stiffness and strength and punched holes for the stitching stations for a coptic binding.

I wanted something on the pages for added interest, so I found a nice photo of the Grand Canyon, sized it and reduced the opacity so it would print very faintly, then printed enough pages for six signatures. I trimmed the pages, folded them into signatures and punched the holes for the stitching stations. The book is bound with beige linen thread in a single-needle coptic stitch or chain stitch binding. When you open the book, the faintly printed image of the Grand Canyon is on the left side and the right side is blank for writing.

The graphics are what make this book.

The second book in this series was made from the top part of the box, the one with shaped cutouts that make a sort of handle to make the case easier to carry. Again, I backed the cardboard with heavy card stock, this time in a canvas-textured moss green. With an Xacto knife, I carefully cut away the card stock from the hand holes and creased the cover at the center of the cut-outs for the spine.

I folded ten signatures of text paper trimmed to the size of the book and stitched them to the spine with a modified button-hole stitch from Alisa Golden's book. The stitching was done with linen thread in a goldenrod color.

To close the book, I added a length of braided linen thread and a brass button for it to wrap around.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book 275 - "Dogopoly" Game Board Album - Screw Post Binding

This is too cute! It's another game board book, a photo album this time, but it's the game that makes it really fun. I found this game of "Dogopoly" in a thrift store and grabbed it so fast my shopping cart spun around. It's set up like a Monopoly board but with everything to do with dogs. Instead of streets, you buy breeds, from the cheapest  Chihuahua to the most expensive Great Dane. Instead of houses and hotels, you build fire hydrants and doghouses.

I cut the board so that the original center fold was intact and used that for the hinged cover for a side binding. I originally planned to do a Japanese stab binding but then remembered I had some screw posts (bookbinders' posts) that would work well.

The album pages are heavy card stock, alternating black and brown and folded double at the hinge for extra volume at the spine, so the album can still take the thickness of photos.  The screw posts mean you can add or remove pages.

In the middle of the front cover was a rectangular box marked "Good Dog." It's where you put game cards like the Chance and Community Chest cards in Monopoly. I used a piece of black mat board to make a small frame inside the box and slid in a photo of my own sweet little dachshund, "Star."

This is Allen's favorite book I've made for a while (I think it's the picture of Star, who is his baby.)  I like it too.

Book 274 - Sorry" Board Game Notebook/Journal - Single Needle Coptic Stitch Binding

This notebook made from a recycled board game was fin to make. I love making books from old game boards, and I especially love this board from the game "Sorry." I love the symbolism of the "Start" and "Home" graphics. I often find these games at thrift stores, and I don't feel terribly guilty about cutting them up because the games are often missing parts.

For this one, I cut the large pieces from the game board and used them for the front and back covers. Because there were raw edges where the board was cut, I needed to cover those with something. I used washi tape, a kind of decorative masking tape from Japan. It comes in lots of colors and patterns and is a perfect solution for this kind of situation. Since the board back and edges were a light blue, I covered the cut edges with a medium blue washi tape and burnished it down very well.

This is a large notebook-sized journal. I folded signatures from 11"x17" paper and trimmed it down slightly to fit the boards. I poked holes in the sigs and drilled corresponding holes in the boards, then bound it with a single-needle coptic stitch.

I'm finally beginning to feel quite confident with this stitch. Guess I finally "own" it.

This is a nice notebook, quite sturdy, it lies completely flat and would be handy for all sorts of things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book 273 - "The Little Engine That Could" - Recycled Children's Book Journal

I think I can... I think I can... I think I can  ... continue this challenge all the way to Day 365.

And working toward that goal, here's another recycled kids book journal using the classic "The Little Engine That Could," one of my favorite stories when I was could (and likely one of yours, too).

Cut the book in half, pull out the book block, saving any good illustrations that are intact for reuse. Fold the cut edges over and tape down with duct tape (blue this time). Fold text paper into signatures. Punch holes in the sigs and cover, stitch with a single-needle coptic stitch with linen thread. Tip in the saved illustrations.

Call it a recycled blank book/journal. Sell it (well, that comes later, but it's in the plan).

Book 272- "Little Black" - Recycled Children's Book Journal

I recently came up with a huge pile of "pre-loved" kids' books that provided a lot of material for recycled book journals. Here's a 1960s vintage book, "Little Black Goes to the Circus," by the writer of "Black Beauty."

Many of you already know the process, but in brief:
I sliced the book down the center of the spine and removed the somewhat tattered book block. I folded the cut edges over of the front and back covers and taped them down with red duct tape. The end papers of bright red-and-white striped paper was in good shape so I was able to keep it. The pages are white text-weight paper. I stitched the signatures with a single-needle coptic stitch with gray linen thread. I tipped in one of the charming vintage illustrations on the first page of the blank book/journal.

And so it was done.