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…!

Sep 182011

Some projects turn out to be a bit more challenging than others. I originally conceived this as a long accordion book. Each page is composed of a thick paper base that is then layered with three different transparencies. Dry mount adhesive between each layer holds them all together.

But then I discovered that layering transparencies with dry adhesive can be, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. I decided, actually, I didn’t really want to make that many pages. I also was going through a fair number of transparencies, and they are not all that cheap. And so plans for the book changed.

I discovered, much to my surprise, that these built-up, thick plastic pages could actually be bent. I mounted metallic silver paper on the back of each and then folded it around an accordion pleat. I decided I liked this effect.


Along the way during construction, I managed to drop my scalpel. Twice. Once on the finished cover, putting a large slash through the hinge. Then, after making a new cover, on my finger. Fortunately, the flow was stopped without medical intervention and nothing dripped on the book. But it was annoying.

I wish the pictures could convey how tactile this book is. The pages lie flat, and turn with a satisfying movement. Overall, I’m pleased with the way it came out. The title is Radio Waves and Birdsong. It was meant to be a visual interpretation of . . . well, radio waves and birdsong.

Jul 012011

Some of my blogging friends have been doing things like Worktable Wednesdays or finding other thematic days to highlight their studios. I thought I’d join in. Muddled Monday came to mind, but it’s not Monday. Disarray Daily is more all-purpose. Although Freaked Out Friday might’ve worked as well.

I need to get stuff done. I have a show headed toward me. Thanks to my various maladies, I feel muddled and very, very tired. Pretty much all the time. I have been doing things, but not finishing much of anything. I have quite a few half-made prototypes and projects. I keep telling myself this is good — better than no projects at all! Still.

I decided that I need to pick one thing and focus on it as best as I can. Just start working through the list. First up is a flag book called You’re Not Paranoid. I made one similar to it a couple of years ago, and decided to make a more polished small edition. This is my prototype copy. I took Karen Hanmer’s advice and used a heavier weight paper for the flags than the spine. This ensures a satisfying tactile experience when opened.

A few other things in the pipeline: a small edition foldout book about germs with petri dish covers; a Board Book for Bored Children that will require a disclaimer that, no, I’m not really suggesting children play with matches or bleach etc; a book about memory made with a dollhouse window in a box (still being assembled); and an accordion consisting of layers of transparencies. Still not started, but being contemplated, is something with a skeletons in the closet theme. And I haven’t forgotten the vending machine minis, although I haven’t been able to do much with them at the moment. I feel overwhelmed.

The pages will actually all be connected, accordion-like and attached to the petri dish.

Transparencies layered with dry mount adhesive. This is becoming more complicated than anticipated.

Really kids, don’t try this at home.

Most of these projects keep winding up piled on my table. Often all at the same time.

Reminds me . . . years ago a friend came to visit. He was a sculptor whose work emphasized open space and clean lines. After sitting down in my studio, he began to look noticeably uncomfortable. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. He needed to go outside.

My workspace gave him a panic attack.

Jun 172011

Papers drying.

Yesterday was my first time teaching a paste painting class, held at Origin Design Lab in Eureka. I hope the afternoon passed as quickly for them as it did for me. In addition to painting on paper, we also did some Tyvek and Wet Media Dura-Lar. Perhaps not traditional, but strangely satisfying.

Painting on Tyvek.

Trying out some Dura-lar. We decided that if you're going to work with clear plastic on a colored backdrop, it might be wise to stick a plain piece of paper underneath!

More papers drying.

More finished papers and the odd couple of pieces of Dura-lar.

Admiring another's Dura-lar comb design.

Mar 012011

I discovered that the paste-painted Wet Media Dura-Lar that I mentioned in the last post can be cut, folded and stitched. I made a miniature book with it. The only problem was that it didn’t stay shut. The pages insisted on staying open.

However, magnets in the covers solved that problem.

And the magnets can keep the book open in a circle too. (My favorite source for these is K&J Magnetics.)

The bits of colored plastic visible in the top picture are vending machine capsules. They will be explained soon.

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.