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.


Sep 022011
 

Tip of the day: if one has difficulties with concentration, one should not watch TV while gluing together pages of a book. One might discover, after the books have dried, that some of them are missing pages. Just sayin’.

I’ve finally almost assembled (reassembled?) an edition of 15 petri dish books. The title is Mysophobia: Mainstream Culture. The pages are individual circles that were scored and glued together at the side.

I’ve discovered that scrapbooking toys have their uses. My 3″ circle punch is now my friend. And… I can’t believe I’m admitting this on the Internet… the Martha Stewart score thingie. I remember seeing this very item in a store a while back and sneering. Then came the need to score lots of circular book pages. I could’ve done it with a ruler or a jig. But then I read this blog post from Ginger Burrell. I have to agree; it’s a nifty tool. Who’d have thought…?

The book is about modern germ paranoia. The “cultures” are paste paint and acrylic paintings that I manipulated in Photoshop. I find it fascinating how behavior that is now seen as normal would’ve, not long ago, been seen as compulsive and disordered. I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but here in the US–at least where I live–every big store now seems to have disinfectant wipes at the door. Anti-bacterial soaps are big business. Yet, do we actually get fewer communicable illnesses these days? I doubt it. Outside of a health care context, all this disinfectant wiping and dousing comes across as some sort of quaint evil-repelling ritual.

Of course, ironically, all the evidence suggests this germ phobia is only creating more antibiotic-resistant germs.

   

Aug 082011
 

I think this is the longest I’ve ever disappeared from the blog. I’m still around. I’ve even been mildly productive, I am happy to report.

The Handbook of Model-making for Set Designers, a recent discovery, is filled with all kinds of fun tips and suggestions for making small stuff with card stock and paper. I’d originally been making a staircase out of book board (something I’m still working on), but wound up suddenly deciding to fashion a tree out of wire and cover it in lokta paper, giving rise to this little book object. I also had some tiny polymer clay eggs sitting around from some previous thing, and so added a nest.

The text in back is, more or less, a stream-of-conscious bit of nonsense that mentions, among other things, a cat climbing a tree. It ends with “And the cat will climb down by the tips of his claws.”

This was inspired by seeing my cat Dominic climb a redwood the other day. He’d spied a bird way high up (redwoods, you might remember, are tall), and decided to go up after it. He made it to the first limb — still impressively high off the ground — which creaked precariously under him as the bird watched safely from above. I don’t know what the cat was thinking — that the bird would hop down onto the branch with him?

At any rate, I had fun putting together this little book object. Nothing like a little productivity to lift one’s mood!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can one not like a book that has pages on scalpels and knives? It even has a sidebar (not shown) outlining the history of X-Actos in the U.S. and scalpels in the U.K. (it’s a British book).

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 292011
 

Our picnic with the gypsy wagon in the background.


Peter and Donna Thomas came wandering through Humboldt County in their gypsy wagon yesterday. It was a bit last minute and most of the local book arts folks were away at Focus on Book Arts north of the California border, but a small group of us met at the scenic Arcata Marsh for a little picnic. The weather had been pleasant and sunny for days. That ended just before the picnic.

Peter performing a song for us.

A window in the roof of the wagon. We made it inside just before the rain.

But heck, who needs coffee when there’s such a nice bracing wind off the bay. The conversation and food were so enjoyable it hardly made a difference, and the downpour, fortunately, held off until after we’d finished eating.

Afterward we took shelter in the wagon, which was especially atmospheric with the rain pattering on the roof. Peter sang us a book arts song with his ukelele and we perused a display of their and their daughter Suzanne’s wonderful books. It was a delightful afternoon.

 

 

Donna and Peter.

 

The view from our picnic.

May 142011
 

I’m teaching a workshop at the very nice Origin Design Lab in Eureka on Thursday, 19th May from 4-8pm. From the official description:

We will build upon the simple accordion fold to create various book forms. Learn the secret to making a perfectly folded book along with other tips and helpful tricks. You will leave the class with finished models and ideas for plenty more. The material fee will provide a basic kit to get you started, papers and printed instructions. No prior experience is necessary. These books require no special equipment aside from a few easily obtained tools and materials.

Fee: $70.00 + 15.00 materials fee ($5 for Book Arts Guild Members)

Level: Beginning

They’re at 426 3rd St in Eureka. 



Apr 062011
 

I’ve long liked the idea of books in vending machine capsules. I’ve been hoping to incorporate this into my next show, which will be in the fall. Acquiring an actual vending machine is probably more investment than I care to put in (although, to be honest, I was surprised to discover one can be had for not much more than, say, framing a piece of 2D art).

However, I also thought it would be appropriate to have the “vending machine” be a handmade piece of the art. I have built a box that would be the perfect size, although, through trial and error, the dispensing mechanism has become increasingly simple until, in the latest incarnation, it is not more than a sloped drop down to a hole with a swinging door on it. The problem is, the @#$%! capsules tend to get stuck on the way down. I’m imagining the visiting public having to shake the box and shove their fingers up into the chute to unjam the capsules. Not quite the right idea. Alas.

By last night I was ripping out most of the innards of the thing and growing panicky over the time I’ve let go by on this. (Due to the usual health considerations, I’ve already lost much precious preparation time.) Sigh… If I carry this out, I’ll also need to complete about 50 tiny books to go into the capsules. I have some one-of-a-kinds so far, and have some multiples in the making. They are actually kind of fun to do. Several have included found word texts. We’ll see….

By the way, miniature books in toy-style vending machines are not a new idea. After I started on this, I discovered they have them in Japan, where miniature books are popular. And there are places in the US with a similar idea.

(Thanks to artist Scott Blake for sending the last link. He, incidentally, helped bring an Art-o-mat vending machine to Omaha, Nebraska.)

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 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.