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, September 29, 2011

Book 232 - Small JOurnal from Recycled Wallpaper - Butterfly Binding

This little blank book/journal is also made from a recycled wallpaper sample and bound with a butterfly stitch. It's like a pamphlet binding but with five holes. The single signature has 26 pages (52 both sides).

This time I used a piece of wallpaper border with a pretty banana palm design. I laced a green ribbon through the spine and covered it with a palm leaf green piece as an accent. Again, the wallpaper was not heavy enough by itself to serve as a journal cover. Plus there was writing on the back. So I backed the wallpaper with a piece of maroon card stock for a clean finish inside.

A very simple little book but nice, I think. Good size for a purse.

Book 231 - Recycled Wallpaper Journal/Blank Book-2-Sewn-as-1 Binding

This blank book journal has a hidden 2-sewn-as-1 binding. And yes, it's another one of my recycled wallpaper wonders in a nice bamboo pattern.

Before we get to the book... I know I'm way behind on posting lately. Mom care-taking time that is more intensive than I expected combined with major computer problems have put the kabosh to my postings. But I HAVE been making books. I have 5 or 6 ready to post right now and will add them over the next couple days... if this stinking computer cooperates. My sister's old Mac is in serious need of some TLC. For a couple days it would not upload any photos from my camera's memory card (even erased about a dozen of them in the process of trying). I have to unplug it to reboot at least once a day when it freezes up. And last night there was no internet connection at all. Extremely frustrating.

BUT, less computer time meant more book-making time! And I scored another book of wallpaper samples this week. Funny, I almost didn't bother to pick it up when I saw the style. It is SO not me.. in terms of home decor. I'd likely never put any of this stuff on a wall in my home. But once I started really looking at it, I realized it had some tremendous book possibilities. It's been fun finding new ways to use it.

So today's book is the first from the new find... a really simple journal with two fat signatures bound with a 2-sewn-as-1" binding. That's what Alisa Golden calls it in her incredibly useful book, "Making Handmade Books: 100 Bindings and Structures." (If you don't have it, you can get it at the link in the top left column.)

Since the wallpaper by itself was a bit thin for a cover, and because it had some printing on the back, I glued it to a piece of coordinating wallpaper for a liner.

For this simple structure, basically, you fold your cover in half with a deep pleat in the center. You then open it up, lay your two signatures on either side of the pleat inside the cover, and stitch through all the layers with a single row of stitching. I used a simple three-hole pamphlet stitch for this one.

Then I decided to make the binding hidden, so I covered the spine with a strip of the same coordinated wallpaper as the liner. Stuck it in the book press for a couple hours and Aha! A nice, neat, simple little journal/blank book with 36 pages (72 both sides) of felt finish cream paper.

As they say at Staples... That was Easy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book 230 - A Long Stitch Bound Blank Journal from Cork Paper & Leather

This cork paper journal is so pretty. I'm having so much fun rooting around in all my sister's wonderful papers and leathers. This paper is really different. The paper backing is metallic gold. But then the top layer is pieces of cork bark bonded to the metallic paper. As pretty as it is, it can be hard to work with because when you crease it or even bend it too much, the cork cracks. So if I wanted to use it for a soft-cover journal--which I did--I knew I would have to cover the spine with something.

I decided on leather and found this piece of very soft dark maroon calfskin. Since the cork paper was pretty light, I lined it with a piece of textured cardstock. I also added a 3/4" wide strip of leather to the inside of the spine to help it keeps its shape. The book block is 48 sheets of Neenah Sundance 70 lb felt finish paper, making 96 pages. The end paper wrapping the block is a nice maroon with some grassy inclusions.

The blank book is bound with a long stitch binding with lavender waxed cotton thread. I really liked the "starburst" stitch pattern I devised the other day for the brown leather journal so I used it again with this one.

There's quite a lot of this nifty cork paper here in the studio. I think I need to figure out another use for it before I go home.

I'm not getting as much catching up done here as I'd hoped. Caring for my mom takes much more energy and time than it did a year ago. She's got an infection that makes her a little disoriented and needy and every time I'm out of her sight for more than five minutes, she rings the buzzer that hangs around her neck. So most of today was spent sitting beside her watching about 6 episodes of "Planet Earth" and three or four more of "The Human Planet." Gotta love those koalas and narwhals. Tonight I'll be sleeping in a lounge chair beside her bed. I think tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book 229-Cased-in Codex Blank Book/Journal in Black Satin Bookcloth

I wanted to make another nice cased-in codex book since I have access to all my sister's presses and other equipment, not to mention her incredible stash of gorgeous papers and bookcloth.

The front and back covers of this blank journal are cut from Davey board (bookbinders board). I used a beautiful black slub satin-finish bookcloth and then an amazing paper for the spine and end papers. The full beauty of the paper doesn't really shine in the photos. The interlocking circle pattern is in metallic gold. The pages are folded from a mottled beige text weight paper, sewn over tapes, then cut into a nice clean block on the hydraulic cutter. I then put it in the gluing press. The spine was coated with glue and a piece of mull was glued over the spine as well. That served as a hinge for gluing the book block in place. The headbands are very dark blue--almost black--with gold threads.

After it was completely together, it was wrapped in waxed paper and put into the book press for several hours to ensure it would close nice and flat.

I could have cut the book block just a bit bigger but it doesn't bother me too much. What looks like extra glue on the black bookcloth in the photos is not. It's just in the photo--probably from the flash.

All in all, this is a very clean, well-made book. I really like it. It would make a lovely journal, sketchbook or travel diary.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Book 228 - Brown Leather Blank Journal w/ Obsidian

Here's another of my long stitch binding leather journals. (This binding is also called the medieval limp binding.) I found this nice piece of leather in my sister's stash. Then I found a box of polished chunks of mahogany obsidian that I knew would look great with the heavy pebbled brown leather.

I used the natural shape of the leather skin for most of the right side wrap-over and cut the cover fore edge clean. For the stitching, I used a light moss green waxed hemp thread. I wanted to try a new pattern. I planned to leave all the exposed stitching straight, but when it was done, the very long stitches worried me. It seemed inevitable that they would catch on something and pull--or even break. So I added a center stitch that brought all four rows together and created the sort of elongated starburst design. And I decided I really liked it.

After I cut a long thong to tie the book shut, I covered the top of the roughly teardrop-shaped chunk of beautiful mahogany obsidian with epoxy, then wrapped the end of the thong around it and tied a knot. Then I added a bit more epoxy. This baby is not coming off.

The paper is a really nice 70 lb. felt finish cream paper. A very nice journal, definitely good for a man.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book 227 - Cased-in Codex Book with Front Flap and Clasp Closure

I think this cased-in codex book may be my favorite book so far. It was certainly the most labor and time intensive. I've been working on it for a few days. (Ah, the luxury of having a big studio, lots of materials and no customers to wait on in the store!)

The book block is made up of nine signatures stitched over tapes. I then put the book in the gluing press and glued the spine, then stretched a piece of mull over it and glued that down well. When the block was completely dry, I trimmed it on the hydraulic paper cutter for a clean edge. Finally, I glued on some pretty red-and-gray headbands.

The cover is made of Davey board. The outer case wraps all the way around the book with a closure at the front right. It is covered with royal purple bookcloth. Under the front cover is another board covered with a floral bookcloth with an Asian feel. The spine is covered with dark purple mulberry paper with a decorative edging of the floral bookcloth. The cover went under weights, and when it was completely dry and perfectly flat, I cased the book block in with a gorgeous end paper of deep purple with copper and gold embossed gingko leaves.

Finally, I glued an Asian-style metal clasp to the front closure and made a tiny bead-topped wooden stick to hold it closed.

I do love this book and--credit where credit is due--the basic design is a direct rip-off from one my sister did recently, but with different papers and bookcloths. Thanks, Sis.

Books 223-226 - Mini "Scrap" Books from Wallpaper - Butterfly Binding

Here's a collection of hand-bound mini-journals I call "scrap" books because they are made entirely from scraps. They measure 3 1/2"x4 1/2".

A couple of days ago, I picked up a free small vinyl wallpaper sample book from a local paint store. That became my starting point. I trimmed each sample to size and glued it to a piece of decorative lining paper. I then added a second piece of decorative paper at the spine. From paper scrap, I folded 16 sheets into two signatures, for a total of 32 pages (64 w/ both sides).  I stitched each little hand-bound mini-journal with a butterfly stitch -- like a pamphlet stitch with five holes. I left a tail on the thread at the top of the spine and added a pretty bead to coordinate with the colors of each book.

I made this a group of books because I wanted to experiment with some production techniques and see how long it took me to make each book. It worked out to just under 30 minutes each. If I were making more of them and set up a real production line, I could probably get that down to 20 minutes or even less.

If I can make them quickly enough and price them right, I think these little mini-journals will be salable. I'll probably make some more.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book 222 -A Blank JOurnal with Wooden Covers and Leather Spine - Longstitch Binding

Scrounging around the studio, I found these pieces of birch plywood and decided they'd be great covers for a leather-spined blank journal. I sanded the edges smooth and slightly beveled the edges and rounded the fore edge corners. Then it was time to play with the surface.

First I watered down some mossy green acrylic paint and applied it with a piece of old T-shirt fabric, then rubbed most of it off. The color was OK but it needed some punch. So I mixed up some coppery-bronze Pearl-X powder with acrylic medium and sponged some of that on, wiping most of it off. It took more color than I expected, but that turned out to be OK. I could still see the grain, which I wanted, and the color was livelier.

For the spine, I glued on a piece of really nice green leather. I wrapped the book block in a piece of gorgeous green decorative paper with a fern pattern embedded in it. The pages are Arches Text Wove paper, hand torn to size. I stitched them through the leather spine with a longstitch binding with a diamond pattern in the center.

As a final touch, I epoxied a small door knocker-style embellishment at the front edge.

This is really a lovely journal. Since it opens flat, it would also be a great guest book.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book 221-Heavy Hand-Made Grass Paper journal - Double Needle Coptic Binding

When I found this very heavy hand-made grass paper in Marilyn's studio I could not resist it. I wanted a very rustic looking journal, so I started pawing through the stacks of paper looking for something equally wonderful for the pages. I found some sheets of deeply textured but still light white hand-made paper that was perfect. It felt positively cottony.

I tore the pages to size and smoothed them hard with the bone folder to flatten a bit of the texture. I wanted a thick book, and by the time I had enough pages, the book was "spongy" from the springiness of the paper. I knew the covers would need some reinforcement to hold up to the pages. So I cut some pieces of chip board and lined them, then covered the lining with pieces of burnt orange unryu paper, also hand-torn to maintain the rough edges of the covers.

The binding is a double-needle coptic stitch with black waxed linen thread.

The sponginess of the thick book block still kept the book from lying closed so I needed some kind of a wrap or closure, I used the same waxed linen thread to make a looped cord to wrap around the book and then around a carved bone button that looks like a wheat sheaf. I think it's the perfect accent for the grassiness of the thick cover paper.

The book is small, only 3" X 4" but a full 1 1/2" thick. It feels wonderful to hold, very lightweight yet substantial at the same time, with that delightful cushiness when you squeeze it shut.

Just yummy paper.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book 220 - A Recycled Necktie Journal/Blank Book - Coptic Binding

I really am starting to think I can make about out of anything! This blank book/journal is made with a pair of recycled neckties I found at the Salvation Army store. I had to do a bit of rummaging to find two pretty ones that were the same width. I used a lightweight chip board cut to size and slid inside the tie to give the covers more substance. The small part of the chipboard that showed on the inside I covered with decorative paper (actually a piece of a pretty cocktail napkin).

I then folded regular text paper longways and cut the pages in the shape of the tie covers. Put them into six signatures and bound the journal with a single-needle coptic stitch in red waxed hemp cord. Both the front and back ties are silk, so the journal feels really nice to hold.

I like it, but I think it still needs something. I think I'm going back to the Salvation Army or Goodwill to look for a vintage tie pin, preferably the bar kind. I could attach it permanently at the back then clip it onto the front as a neat closure. If I find what I want, I'll take new pix and post them here.

Got a couple more ties to play with too.