Nov 092011
 

I’ve been a bit more quiet than usual, as you might’ve noticed. Mostly I’ve been recovering and trying to get things back together after last month’s show. The current decorative motif in the studio is Hoarder Nouveau. I’ve been attempting to shovel out. For a while I thought I was making good progress. I now don’t feel like I’m making good progress. It’s pretty hard to do anything in there at the moment.

However, last week I decided @#$% it, and managed to move enough piles aside to make room for a little paste painting. I’d come across an interesting set of scraper/spatula things at a store that were, the package said, for the kitchen. (Really–are you going to scrape dough and not paint with something that looks like that?) I also recently found some interestingly shaped toothbrushes and a square wire whisk. I’ve been wanting to try out my new toys tools.

 (Clean and unused) cat litter pans of water are great for wetting sheets of paper.

I like to work on a sheet of plexiglass. The white surface you see underneath is a super absorbent incontinence pad. It was a gift from a friend, who told me they’re wonderful for when her kids paint and do messy things. She’s right–it makes cleanup easier and keeps all the nasty stuff off my cutting mat underneath. This has been a very thoughtful gift.


A square wire whisk was new for me. This definitely has possibilities. This is painted on Tyvek.

 

Toothbrushes.

 

This one was made with miscellaneously shaped cut-outs of sticky-backed fun foam mounted on a rolling pin. After it was dry, a second layer with a comb was added.

 

This was originally done with a fat grouting comb and a golden color that I didn’t like so much (nothing against the tool–I just didn’t like the paper). Then I went over it again with a different color, and liked the result even less. So most recently I went at it a third time with a thin rubber comb pattern and a different color. Now I like it.

I added some more to a paste paper set on Flickr.
Feb 222011
 
I experimented the other day with non-paper materials for paste painting. One of my more interesting discoveries was that you can paste paint on Wet Media Dura-lar. It won’t curl, and the paint doesn’t flick off (although I haven’t yet tried to fold it…).
I’ve paste painted on Tyvek before, but I thought I’d try some texturing tools I hadn’t used much yet. In general, results on Tyvek often seem more textured than on paper, and it usually doesn’t curl. Here, I twisted a square cookie cutter in various directions:
This was done on Tyvek with foam letter stamps, stamped in all directions until the letters themselves became mostly illegible :
This is on Tyvek again. The paste was brushed on and then dabbed at with a towel:
And then I played around with the scans in Photoshop, to see how the textures could be further altered:
This was a paper that I’d begun a while ago. I first made a faux-wood pattern in a greenish-blue color. I then later went back and added a fresh blue layer on top and dabbed at it with a rag:
And then played around with the scan a bit in Photoshop:
I discovered that you can paste paint on synthetic Yupo as well. I thought the result was rather interesting, although I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with it.

It occurred to me that a long time ago I said I was going to add a paste painting tutorial on here. It seems I never got around to it. Someday… However, there are many tutorials online, easily found with a search.
I just discovered this good recent one from Lili’s Bookbinding blog. I’d never prepared cornstarch paste using her method before (my method is mentioned here), so I decided to give it a try. She doesn’t simmer the paste on the stove. She makes a slurry and adds boiling water to it while mixing well with an electric mixer. It was fun to watch the paste suddenly whoosh up into form in the bowl this way. I found this paste differed from my usual version. Not bad. Just different. I thought it tended to form a skin more quickly, but otherwise it had a nice consistency. I’d like to use it again. The recipe is on her post at the above link.
Another tutorial I’ve liked is at Buechertiger’s blog (here and here). She also provides links to further resources.
If you know of any other good paste painting tutorials or resources, please feel free to recommend them.
Feb 132011
 
My stats say that a few people landed here recently after Googling “how to make a volvelle.” I guess volvelles are gaining in popularity. I’ve mentioned them before, but not how to make them.

However, I have taught a workshop on making one without a brad or other hardware. Google suggests, and I will offer.

It looks long and intimidating, but this is actually pretty easy once you get the idea. I’m just wordy.

You’ll need:

  • Heavy paper or card stock.
  • A compass.
  • Pencil.
  • X-acto knife or scalpel with sharp blade and cutting mat.
  • Optional: tracing paper, large hole punch or circle template, Tyvek. A ruler or straight edge can be helpful.
  • Small amount of PVA or double-sided tape such as 3M 415
1. Fold your paper.
For our example, we’ll use a piece of heavy paper or card stock folded into 3 panels to make a card, and a separate piece of card stock for the wheel and turning mechanism.

 

2. Make your wheel.
Open the card. Using a compass, measure a circle that will be just a bit smaller than the width of the page (one of the sections)–but don’t draw a circle here. Lift up your compass and draw this circle on the piece of card stock that you would like to use for your turning wheel.

 

Now shorten the distance between the legs on the compass so that you can make another circle that will be roughly around .75″ (2 cm) or so in diameter. This doesn’t have to be an exact measurement and can be smaller or larger (when this circle is too small, it’s more difficult to work with, but if it’s too big, it leaves less room for your outside window and the pictures or text that you will put on the wheel.)

 

Place the point of the compass in the indentation left in the middle from making the bigger circle and draw this smaller circle in the center. You are making a small circle centered inside a big circle–a donut shape.
If you’d like you can use something like decorative edge scissors around the outer edge of your donut/wheel. This will make the wheel easier to grasp when your are trying to turn it.

 

3. Make the turning mechanism/hub.
Keeping the compass measurement exactly the same as from the inner, small circle on the donut, draw another little circle elsewhere on another sheet of card stock. (Or, cheater’s method: simply trace the small hole from your wheel.

 

Now increase the compass size to make another circle roughly .5″ larger than the little circle you just made. Draw this around the smaller circle. You should wind up with two nested circles.

 

Cut out around the outside edge of the larger, outside circle. What you are creating is the hub that is going to hold your turning wheel in place and allow it to spin–sort of a big paper version of a brad.

 

Now make an X across your nested circles to create a guide. Cut 4 slits from the outside circle just to the inner circle (see photo at left). This will allow you to form two tabs on either side. If the slits you cut are too big, your volvelle will wobble. If too tight, it won’t spin.

 

Now fold up two opposite ends to make tabs, as shown. Rolling these tabs a bit as needed, slip them through the hole in the center of the wheel, then flatten down. Check to make sure the wheel spins properly.
4. Make a space at the edge of your card so you can turn the wheel.
You need to make a little space at the edge of the card (or page) for your fingers. You can use the edge of a large circle punch or stencil. Or you can center a little cut out section at the edge of the card. The photo below is the idea. Don’t make the opening too deep, or the pictures or text that you add to the wheel will be visible in this opening as you turn it. You want enough room to allow you to grasp the wheel, but no more.

5. Position the wheel.
Position the wheel on your card stock. It won’t be exactly centered, but will overlap the edge a bit, matching up inside the slit/opening you made. Lightly mark around the wheel so you will know where it will be attached. Now remove it and put a small amount of PVA or strong double-sided tape on the back of the hub only (don’t get glue on the wheel itself or it won’t turn). Position into place.

 

6. Make the window on the front of the card.
There are many ways to make a window. You can use a stencil or a hole punch, measure an opening where you’d like it, or even make an irregularly shaped window. You just want to make sure–very important–that the hub tabs or edge of the wheel won’t show through where you make your opening.

 

Keep in mind that this can also be a two-sided structure if you also put a window (or windows) on the other side of the card or book page.

 

Here is a method for making an arched window.
Take a piece of tracing paper the size of your card. Open the card and place the tracing paper on the wheel, carefully lining it up with card edges, like this:

 

Keeping in mind the position of the wheel and hub and tabs (so you can be careful to avoid having them show through), mark where you’d like your window. Follow the contour of the wheel edge as a guide. You can use the compass as an aid.

 

Remember doing this in school? Turn the tracing paper over and trace in pencil over the window you just made. Turn this back over onto the front of the card and rub with a pencil or burnisher to transfer the markings.
With the card open, cut out the window.

 

7. Finish.
It helps a lot if you lightly trace around the window opening onto your blank wheel as you turn it, showing where you’d like to add your pictures or text.

 

 

 

Once completed, seal the card using a small amount of glue or double-sided tape along the edges. Be very careful not to get any glue or tape on the wheel. If you do, you will have a stationary wheel, rather than a turning one.

The dotted lines show where you can put the adhesive.

If I was planning to make anything fancier than a casual card, I’d lay out the wheel pictures on the computer and print them out directly on the wheel. Even when doing this, it sometimes makes it easier to use a wheel with window tracings as a template to scan and work over. You can erase the window markings in your photo or graphics program before printing.

 

This was solely a mock-up for demo purposes. Which was a good thing. When I was done sealing up this 2-sided wheel (you can see both sides below), I realized the side with the writing displays through the window upside down (I turned it around for the photos below). But that’s why we make mock-ups, no? (And why I consider coffee an art supply.)

 

8. Variations.
If you’d like a volvelle that is simply a turning disk (or other shape) on top of a page, without a window, simply make a hole the size of the “donut hole” in the card front. Thread the tabs of a hub through, and glue your disk or shape onto the tabs, on top of the card.

 

The hub mechanism forms the basis for many animated paper engineering structures. Books and websites on paper engineering can lead you to more.

 

Alisa Golden shows a similar volvelle in her new Making Handmade Books. She suggests using Tyvek for the hub. I haven’t tried this yet. She also uses a much smaller hole. I can see how Tyvek, being stronger and more pliable than heavy paper, would make using a smaller hole feasible. This sounds like something to experiment with.

 

 

May 182010
 

The miniature laptop, my recreational amusement of the moment, is coming along. The basic form is assembled. The keyboard will be resized and added soon. For a while it wouldn’t close properly, but that problem was solved with the use of a smaller diameter hinging wire. And the pages for the book, which will be housed in the “screen” and are meant to look like parody web pages, are just waiting to be put together (the mock ups are shown here). 

“How to stalk someone” turns out to actually be a popular search item on Google. I was thinking in terms of parody, outrageousness (although you’d think I’d know better, seeing as I’ve been harassed myself). After typing only a little bit of it, the rest of the phrase quickly pops up, suggested by the search engine itself. This is presumably based upon this term’s 5,190,000 hits. Um…..interesting. I think.




Etc…

(Ok–perhaps it’ll make more sense once it’s finished…?)

May 142010
 

I’ve had an idea that I’ve been hoping to turn into into a book before the We Love Your Books submission deadline in less than a month. The theme for their next show is “e-motive,” to be interpreted widely. The book will be about unsavory things people do online–“not everybody’s e-motives are as nice as yours and mine” will be part of the text.

I decided on a sculptural cover designed to look like a laptop. It’s made of bookboard and a little bit of basswood. For the keyboard and overall look of it, I scanned all the various sides of an actual old grey laptop and manipulated them in Photoshop. Even so, what could I use for a covering material that would suggest a laptop in looks and texture?

I had a hunch that Tyvek might just work. In Photoshop, I made a sheet-sized area to print from the scan of the laptop’s outer top cover. It’s a slightly textured-looking grey. I printed this onto the Tyvek with my pigment inkjet. Only it came out green, not grey. So I tried it again only using black ink. Not bad.

To hinge it together, I cut a plastic cotton swab handle into sections and fashioned them into a hinge attached to alternating parts of the cover’s inner edges. Through this I will thread a wire to hold it together. It’s still not assembled, but it looks as though it’s going to work. The reason the bottom half looks blue and streaky in the photo is that I had to rip the Tyvek off. It’s waiting to be re-covered. The keyboard will be added on top of that.

It doesn’t exactly feel like a plastic laptop cover, but it suggests a plastic-like texture, and is definitely not like paper. And the variations in the Tyvek add to a look of beat-up old laptop. We’ll see…

The book’s pages are going to fit into the screen area on top. Along with all the rest of it, I’m still working on those.

Background on Tyvek
Mar 272010
 

Tyvek is so versatile. I’ve been trying to find the right cover material for a set of miniature books (more on them later). I decided Tyvek might be the way to go.

My favorite way of decorating Tyvek is to use a foam cosmetic sponge dipped in acrylic ink. I evenly smooth the color over the Tyvek, rubbing it in with the foam sponge.

It’s best to work on top of some scrap paper and to wear vinyl or rubber gloves (I like the close-fitting kind, not the dishwashing kind).

Rubbing an even layer of the ink into the Tyvek brings out the patterns of its non-woven fibers. And one of the nicest things about acrylic ink is that it doesn’t leave any discernible texture or tackiness–perfect for book pages. It just soaks into the Tyvek.

Once the Tyvek is decorated, it can be used for all sorts of things. Cut into strips, it can be used as decorative tapes to sew signatures onto. Keith Smith, in Non-adhesive Binding Books Without Paste or Glue, says of it: “Archival, flexible and strong, Tyvek seems perfect for pages in a book. It can be sewn…and since it is strong, it can be a substitute for book cloth. PVA must be used for the adhesive…”

I’ve used it for accordion pages and small book covers. Most of what I’ve read claims it’s archival, although I think nobody will know for certain until it has been used for more decades. Keith Smith cautions that some binders are skeptical, warning that the plasticizer in it may eventually dry out and shatter. That said, the stuff is used to wrap houses and it’s a popular art material. I just use it and enjoy.

This shows a little gift book I made a while ago. The cover material and the pages are paste-painted Tyvek. I wish the photo could convey its tactile quality — very sturdy, yet people seem to like to pet the covers and pages.