Saturday, May 30, 2009


I dearly love making my leather journals, and will keep doing that, but lately I've been feeling an itch to try something new, as well.

One of the things I enjoy about other people's blogs is seeing how they develop new ideas for their work. When I'm thinking about a new project, thinking isn't really the right word for it. I'm a very visual/tactile sort, so, in a magpie-like manner, I usually just start gathering bits of things that interest me, photos, bits of rock, thread, you name it. Eventually, I pick out some things that seem to belong together, but it's still all very vague. I actually really enjoy that part -- maybe vagueness is my natural state. :)
I decided to try out FreeMind to do a little mind mapping and see if that would be helpful. I downloaded the program (it's free), and after a lot of sweating and mumbling, came up with this:

It's a little hard to read, because I couldn't figure out how to print it in landscape mode, so I had to squeeze it onto the page. Of course, I could have accomplished the same thing in about 10 minutes with a piece of paper and a pencil, but printed up like this, it looks so, I don't know, serious, or official, or something. Like something might really be going on here. Which may not actually be the case. But then again...

For those of you who don't feel like squinting, here is my unabridged list of items/concepts/whathaveyou that might or might not become part of this project:

-Easter Island
-clay tiles
-handmade paper

Make of that what you will. :)

Here is a quote from artist Chris Ofili, that sums up what I love about starting new projects:

"In the process of making art the mind wanders and gives way to instinct, which feeds off areas the intellect doesn’t. The process is one of distillation to the point where it’s just essence, just itself."
Chris Ofili

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Victorine Bound

I just completed a custom book order for artist Tricia Sellmer. She asked me to bind 24 copies of her work, Victorine Meurent Erased, which combines Tricia's artwork and writings about 19th century artist Victorine Meurent.

For this project, I used a handmade abaca and comfrey paper for the cover, and bound it using a Japanese stab binding.

Quite a lot of the work in doing a custom binding goes into planning and working out the dimensions of a design. Here, I've finished cutting and hand-tearing some of the covers:

And here, I'm getting ready to sew the cover and text together. At the top of the photo is an unbound copy of the text, showing some of Tricia's artwork.

And here are three of the finished books.

The covers were letterpress printed by Howard Glossop, and the text was printed by master printmaker Linda Jules. There weren't any extra copies, so I had to be very careful not to make any mistakes, like putting the text in upside down, or putting holes in the wrong places, or cutting the covers the wrong size, etc., etc., etc. Even with a seemingly simple binding like this, there are a surprising number of ways to mess it up, as there are so many little details to remember. Fortunately, there weren't any nasty surprises along the way.
I like how the cover of this book looks a bit like the face of a tombstone. Which fits, as Tricia's project was to unearth this forgotten artist.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Hippies

Great news--in June I will be heading off to Santa, Idaho to spend about a week in the woods with Jim Croft, bookbinder extraordinaire, taking his "Wooden Boards & Clasps" class.

Jim and his wife, Melody (who describe themselves as "hippies"), grow their own flax and make paper from it. Melody also spins flax to make thread to sew books with, and Jim cuts and cures his own boards to use for wooden book covers. Whew! Not only that, he also makes his own bookbinding tools. If you've ever dreamed of leaving it all behind and going off to the woods to devote yourself to your art, Jim is a real inspiration. You can read more about him and his work here:

Idaho Center for the Book Website (pdf file of article on Jim Croft)

University of Idaho website (article about an exhibition of Jim Croft's work)

I grew up on a farm in Northern Idaho, and it's an absolutely beautiful place (mountains, trees, fresh air, crickets chirping, horses (see photo above), etc. -- well, ok, lots of mosquitoes, too!), so I'm really looking forward to spending some time there. Plus it sounds like a great bookbinding class.

Jim describes the accommodations at his place as "civilized camping" so I'll be packing plenty of flannel and mosquito repellent -- hope it doesn't rain, as June in Northern Idaho can be a bit nippy. But really, even if it does, I'll be too happy to care!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yet More Buttons

It's been a while since I posted anything--where does the time go?. I've been busy frolicking about in the spring weather (well, actually I've been planting my garden, but that doesn't sound nearly as exciting).

In the meantime, I got a new order of handmade wooden buttons, from Etsy seller Hendywood, and they are really lovely, made from a variety of woods:

I'd been meaning to make more journals with wooden buttons on the covers, as people seem to like them, but the person I used to get my buttons from from stopped selling them. Now that I have a new stash, I made a new "button journal" today to put in my Etsy shop. The button you see here was made from a cherry burl, and is a nice match, I think, for the leather: