Apr 072013
 
Superstition Prototype.

Superstition prototype.

My anxiety has been rising over my two Book Art Object Edition 4 contributions. They should have been finished long ago. Every time I start making progress, something happens to slow everything down. Let’s just say, in terms of productivity, a couple of weeks of dizziness and vertigo, capped off by an ER visit for something else, isn’t the most efficient way to go. (The ER was two days ago, and, I’m happy to say, what prompted that is now back under control.)

Alas. Books do not get made when the maker is in bed.

However, I have managed to carve out a little studio time here and there. I’ve finished prototypes for both of my editions. Here is the first one, a board book called Superstition. It will be an edition of 13.

The first page spread is a foldout. The secret to these is that they do not get folded straight down the middle and across for both top and bottom portions. There won’t be enough room for the thickness of the paper and the page won’t fold together neatly if you don’t allow a bit of an offset. It’s easier to show a diagram than for my inarticulate brain to attempt an explanation. This is from a commercial book with a similar style page that folds out:

Foldout Diagram

In diagram form, it looks like this:

Foldout Diagram

For 13 books, it’s impractical to measure and fold each one without some kind of jig. But how to easily construct a jig with so many fussy score lines? There are different ways to do this, but the solution I like is to use a piece of Mylar. I marked the one large and one tiny cut lines and the three fold lines, then carefully cut or scored and folded them, just as I would for the finished page. The transparent material makes it easy to line it up correctly with the paper underneath.

Mylar Jig

As I score each section, I fold the Mylar down to reveal the next appropriate edge to score against.

Mylar Jig, First Score

Scoring against jig

I save the lines to be cut, rather than folded, for last. I carefully mark the end of each with a pin prick, and use a real straight edge for that. This works very well.

The platform/object you see me folding on is a corner jig a friend made for me. I have a small cutting mat that fits perfectly on top of it, if needed.

Corner Jig with Mat

However–at least with this mildly awkward foldout page–I’ve been experimenting with using my light box for the actual assembly (the part where it gets glued to the boards underneath).

Assembling page on lightbox

And now… to finish putting together the 13 books…!

Feb 142013
 


One of my favorite reads at the moment is Photoshop Masking and Compositing by Katrin Eismann et al. Partly, I want to improve my photos of books so they look professional for web and catalogues and that sort of thing. I also want to keep improving my photos and illustrations for use in my books. One of the things I love about Photoshop is that there is always something new to learn about Photoshop. Every time I start feeling a bit cocky, I realize I hardly know anything, really.

As one of those whose early design experiences date to before the computer era, I don’t think I’ll ever lose a vague sense of wonder as I watch my photos and digital art transform on the screen. And then to have the ability to do professional-level typesetting and layout in InDesign that can be printed out right here at home…! It’s just a part of life now, but when I think back to the world of pre-computer graphics and design, it’s like magic or science fiction or something. I know people just 10 years younger who barely remember film in cameras and don’t understand the lingering sense of amazement the computer brings, even now, to a middle-aged codger who finished her BA before the 90s (well, in 1990, to be precise).

I needed a picture of a clock for one of the BAO books I’m frantically trying to finish. I wanted it to look photographic and sort of old. I could have taken a photo of a clock or obtained a stock photo. But then I remembered the 60+ clock faces I’d put together for the Minute book earlier this year. However, they are flat, black and white and definitely not photographic-looking. But perhaps, I thought, with a little digital tinkering…? After a little fiddling, I began with this:Clock-first version

And after some playing around, I wound up with this:

Clock for Poison

I’m sure I could have done it with more authenticity, but for my tiny miniature, it works. Kids, I’m telling you, this is like sci-fi!

Feb 042013
 

This is a belated P.S. for the post on making board books.

I knew as soon as I started making an edition of board books that I had to create a jig to keep the boards steady while gluing the page spreads on top. Even pushed up against a straight edge, the @#$% boards have a tendency to wiggle. This is not good. Accuracy is everything when making a board book. I also needed to speed up the gluing process.

The solution:

taped-in-place-with-boardsI began with my usual setup with an L-square taped to the table. Long ago at the hardware store, I found a thin metal bar that is exactly the width of my boards. The space between boards happens to be one board width, so I  taped the metal bar exactly in place between two boards. Then, to keep everything firmly in place, I taped a half-inch wide metal bar to the other side.

Here is what it looks like without the boards in place:

taped-in-place

After putting the boards in place, I trim the top of the page and line that up against the straight edge on top. I leave the other sides untrimmed for now. I line up the middle registration mark over the bar, so I know it’s centered right where it needs to be.

registration-mark

When it comes time to remove the freshly glued page spread, I tip up the bar on the side. The page spread easily pops out. (I loosened the tape over the bar just enough so that there’s room to do this.)
popping-out-of-jig

It becomes a little more tricky when it’s time to glue the double spreads to each other as the book progresses, but this arrangement still works. To make it easier, I taped two L-squares one on top of the other to create a space twice as deep.

The main thing to remember is that “removable” tape will cure after a while and become far less removable. So after a few days, it’s not a bad idea to pull up the tape and replace it, if necessary.

Dec 022012
 

Here’s a peek at one of the finished mirrors set in its board book page.

I’ve been discovering ways to make board books a little more efficiently. (One of the rewards of making an edition–by the time you’re done, you’ll really know how to make that structure! Not to mention you’ll also really know just about everything that can go wrong when making that structure. Alas.)

More on that soon… I’m going back to gluing pages. That is, assuming our electric stays on. We’re in the midst of a storm and the lights keep blinking. It might instead turn into a chilly night reading by flashlight. Ech.

(Lest anyone worry, we’re not in a flood zone.)

Jan 282012
 

They are bad luck to climb on as well.

Heavens. I’m feeling superstitious about my last post mentioning ladders and superstition. Shortly afterwards, I fell off a stepladder. Remarkably little damage was done, considering. I’m ok. Still, a bit unnerving. I’ve been trying to tidy up the studio a bit (which sounds so tame–actually, I can’t work in there at the moment. It’s utter chaos). Perhaps there should be superstitious beliefs about high shelves.

I’d sworn I was not going to commit myself to anything this year. Then I signed up with Book Art Object … and now I just signed up to also do a second 10-book edition for Book Art Object. My second title will be Poison. I’m wondering how strict the definition of “book” is over there. I was originally thinking of another “children’s” board book, but then I started contemplating the medicine bottles filled with capsules I did several years ago. I also recently came into possession of a bunch of discarded psychiatry journals. Possibilities there, somehow? Perhaps not straight capsules, but something similar that provides texts and pictures. Or perhaps something completely different–say, a book about how some people are poison? Just dreaming up ideas at this point. I like this part of the creative process–mad scribbling of ideas and playing around with things to see what might work. And it’s much more enjoyable if I start now, rather than waiting 8 months into the project.

Jan 152012
 

A bit of old news for a few of you, but I’ve joined the international collective Book Art Object for their next edition. It’s rather ambitious this time around. Last I heard, about 50 people have signed up. We are being placed in groups of 8 each.

Each Book Art Object edition uses a literary piece as a starting point. The inspiration for Edition 4 is Sarah Bodman’s artist’s book An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen. More is explained at the BAO site and by Sarah, but the gist is that Johannessen, in his artist’s book Exercises, had suggested a task: write 100 short stories and bury them in a forest. So Sarah did. All that remains are the titles of her stories. Using this as our starting point, we each chose one for our own artist’s book. I chose title #87–Superstition.

We will each make an edition of at least 10 books–one for each in our group, plus one for Sarah Bodman, and an extra (or more, if we desire) for exhibiting.

My good luck charm Larry. He always sleeps with me.

I picked Superstition because the line “One should not dance around ladders nor sleep with black cats” popped into my head as I was looking at the list of titles. I thought it might have potential. After I signed up, it occurred to me that black cats are actually good luck in the UK, where at least one of these books is going to wind up. And I had no idea what sort of luck they are in Australia or Norway, where some of the others will be headed. Hmmm . . .

I posed this question on the BAO blog, and my fellow bookies have offered input. It turns out they are indeed bad luck in Norway (if one crosses your path, you should quickly spit 3 times to ward off the bad luck). But the opinions from Australia seem to be a bit ambivalent. Theoretically, I think they’re supposed to be good luck in Australia, but I’ve been told that traditionally they are known to be bad luck as well. So… either this will turn into a treatise on the nature of black cats and the fortunes they bring depending upon country of origin, or I’ll have to come up with something else. I suspect I’d better come up with something else. I’m still jotting down ideas in my sketchbook.

At any rate, seeing as we recently survived a Friday 13th, this seemed like an appropriate time to mention Superstition. I hope you all had a relatively lucky 13th. Mine was mostly peaceful, aside from a large van backing into my car while I was sitting in it (fortunately, and surprisingly, no damage to me or the car). Perhaps the two black cats waiting for me at home have distant British relations, thus bringing me good luck and improving the outcome.

My other good luck charm, Lila.