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Make a New Year’s Spinner Card


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I like to make spinner cards, and I find that people like receiving them. They are so fun and game-like.

I thought I’d show you how I made a New Year’s card for a select few friends. It’s a remake of one I made four years ago during another election cycle.

political spinner 2012
The last nightmare.

"Happy" New Year!

 

I’d thought back then that things couldn’t get any worse. Never say never!

First, I start in Adobe Illustrator. It has a handy polar grid tool that is perfect for making spinner templates. It is found nested under the Line Segment Tool.

Polar Grid Icon

If you double-click on the Polar Grid Tool Icon in the tool bar, it will bring up a dialogue box. For this purpose, 2 concentric dividers and 8 radial dividers are just about right. I skew the concentric divider so that it’s close to the center:

Polar Grid Box

I actually hadn’t put in those measurements on top: 6.66 inches. I just noticed them as I was taking the screenshot. Very interesting . . .

At any rate, once you have your parameters set, draw your template:

Spinner Template

 

You could, of course, continue to work in Illustrator. But I’m going to be doing the rest with photos and I’m more comfortable in Photoshop. So I close the file in Illustrator and re-open it in Photoshop as a Photoshop file. You also, of course, could just draw it by hand if you don’t use Illustrator.

With your template open in Photoshop, select one of the sections with the magic wand tool and create a new layer.

Spin

Then you can find a picture of something you’d like to put in the section. It might be something nice… or it might be something disturbing, as in my example. You can combine images too, of course:

layer one

 

Keep adding images, working in a new layer for each section. If things overlap, select inside the shape of the section you’re working on, then select inverse and delete to neaten things up. When you are done, you should have a wheel filled with pictures:

2016... UGH!

 

As you can see, I got rid of the lines in the middle and filled it in with white. This also has a bigger circle in the middle than our original example, because I made it earlier using a different template.

You could then cut it out and glue it to your card. Or you could create a document in your layout program of choice and insert it. I use InDesign.

I created a new InDesign document with three joined pages of equal size. This is going to be a rather small card, since the arrows I will be attaching are small, and I also want to print it out on my wide-format printer, which can handle a page that is up to 13″ wide. Three pages that are 4″ across will fit nicely, so I made each joined page 4″ wide and 6″ long.

I placed the image on the page to the left, and added some text on the page to the right. The middle was left blank. You’ll soon see why.

card layout

 

I then created a PDF of the document, being sure that it was saved as “spreads” with all of the correct pages lined up together and the pages at 100% scale. It is also helpful to make sure that the crop marks will be included.

PDF of card

I printed it out on matte card stock. I then scored at the appropriate markings and trimmed along the outside, following the crop marks. I then made a mountain fold at the first score line, and a valley fold at the second.

card folded

I then made a hole in the center of the spinner, at the dot in the middle. It should be just big enough to fit a tiny brad. To keep the arrow from scraping on the card, I sandwich a little nylon washer between the arrow and the card.

Spinner parts

 

To help the arrow spin more freely, I find it helps to stick something thin like a metal spatula underneath each prong as you press down on top of it with a bone folder.

Using spatula

When it was all assembled, I folded in the mountain fold and sealed the card up around the inside edges. You can use glue or double-sided tape. Now you see why the middle page was left blank — when fully assembled, it hides the back of the spinner.

Card Folded Over

Now it’s done! Although… come to think of it, this is so grim I think I’ll lose friends if I actually mail it to anyone.

Spinner Card Front

"Happy" New Year!

Happy New Year! And best of luck in 2016!

My San Francisco Week in Books: Part Two


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The book I made in the workshop.
The book I made in the workshop.

I like Drum Leaf and similar types of bindings. I’ve read as much as I could find about making them, and I’ve seen a video of Tim Ely making one, but mine sometimes have bumps where I don’t want them and other unintentional features that displease me. When I saw that John DeMerritt was going to be teaching a Drum Leaf workshop the week I was going to be at the San Francisco Center for the Book anyway, I jumped at the chance.

John turned out to be funny and nice, and made the class a delight. By this day, I was so tired I glued some of the wrong pages together and even managed to … ugh … slice a finger and drip on my book. Fortunately, it was on the end page and was not going to be visible once the book was finished. But my classmates were going to see it. I was embarrassed. But John turned this into a light-hearted moment too. (Among other things, he told us he used to have a sign in his bindery that advised, “Don’t bleed on the work.”)

It was such an educational class. There were a few times when John would show us something or share a tip, and that one thing alone was, to me, worth the tuition in itself.

We made the spines out of Cave paper. John had us pare the paper along the sides, using our scalpels and sanding blocks. I must say, it had never occurred to me to pare paper before. He also taught us a handy trick for turning-in the cover papers over the board edges using a little squeegee tool, which creates a neater edge when gluing.

We also were given nice materials — aside from the Cave paper, we also got handmade Saint-Armand papers for the covers, and enough materials to make two books. Yum.

There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.
There are piano hinges in front of the wing that open out to reveal much more inside.

Immediately after the workshop, Paul Johnson was back to give a talk about his work. He showed us his amazing, big and long accordion-style sketchbook, which he invited people to spread out around the room (alas, I didn’t get any photos of it). He talked about his father, who’d been a talented amateur artist, and showed us slides of some of his father’s drawings. He talked about his own work and about how the environment in which he’d grown up — in the shadow of the nearby cathedral — had influenced his work throughout life. Afterwards, we were invited to go up to a display of his magnificent sculptural books. I did get a few snaps of these, but they barely convey the complexity and size of his wild, multi-layered creations (for one thing, most were so big when opened out that it was impossible to get more than detail shots in that crowded space). I noticed later, after downloading the pictures, the childlike looks of wonder and joy in the faces of my fellow adult attendees as they circled the display. As I say, the photos don’t do them justice.

Close-up of one of Paul Johnson's Books

Noah's ark (opened)
Noah’s Ark, unfolded.
Close-up of Noah's Ark
Close-up of Noah’s Ark.

PS: Twenty years ago, John DeMerritt and Dominic Riley made a video about the history of bookbinding that was shown on San Francisco’s Public Broadcasting Station. I thought I’d post a link in case you haven’t seen it. It’s a half-hour long, but is much fun. Around the six minute mark they transition into historical costume…

 

 

My San Francisco Week in Books: Part One


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Paul Johnson with his ark folded

A few months ago, I discovered that Paul Johnson, one of my all-time favorite paper artists, was going to be coming from England to teach a few workshops at the San Francisco Center for the Book. It was going to be in November, right around the time I was going to be in S.F. anyway for the usual medical reasons. Books are the best medicine, thought I! I signed up for two of the classes.

And then I discovered that John DeMerritt was going to be having a Drum Leaf binding workshop as well, during the same week and when Paul Johnson wouldn’t be teaching. Hmm… one of my favorite bindings with a master bookbinder…? I signed up for that too.

My first workshop day was foldable piano-hinge screens with Paul Johnson. I’d never thought of making piano-style hinges with paper beads before, which is essentially what these were. You roll the paper around a skewer to form the hinge in a bead-like fashion. When they’re done, you string them back on the skewer and attach to the screens. Very nifty.

This was mine:

foldable pianto-hinge screen with cat and bird designDay two was little toy theater-style pop-ups, along with some similar things. This was one of my projects from that day:

Pop-up Card

And that was supposed to have been the end of my time with Paul Johnson. I hadn’t signed up for the weekend workshop on pop-ups as well. But I was beginning to regret it. One of the lovely people at the workshop on the second day had signed up for all of the classes. As we were leaving, she told me that her hands were getting worse, and Paul Johnson was getting older. Who knew how many opportunities she’d ever have to do something like this again? Which, given my own circumstances, echoed what I was thinking inside.

As it turned out, there was still a slot left for the weekend. It became mine.

Next post: Drum Leaf bindings with John DeMerritt and a talk by Paul Johnson.

Paul with ark open

Media Recommendation


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Front Row: The Art of Book Cover Design

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row just had a half-hour program “The Art of Book Cover Design.” I suspect many of you will find it as interesting as I did. From the official description:

John Wilson explores the art of book cover design and meets artist Suzanne Dean, who has been responsible for more Booker-winning covers than any other designer. Writers Ian McEwan, Tom McCarthy and Audrey Niffenegger discuss the art that represents their words and Telegraph books editor Gaby Wood provides a reader’s perspective on what makes a book stand out in a bookshop. As more of us than ever read books on e-readers, is beautiful design the key to the survival of the physical book?

Follow the link above to listen on their website.

Victorian Pleasures


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Scrapbook cover

My friend Shirl is an ephemera magnet. I don’t know where she finds what she does! We’re talking seriously good ephemera. And she’s also extremely generous, much to my good fortune.

She recently gifted me with a scrapbook from the 1880s. The binding has completely come apart and the spine covering is gone, which, for me, is a large part of its attraction.

Victorian scrapbook spine

Its spine was formed by layers of paper that were folded, accordion-like, to form guards. The folios were inserted into the valleys. It was all sewn together over tapes.

There is only one folio still (barely) attached. It’s a bit hard to make out in the photo, but, if you look carefully, you can see that it had been sewn into the valley.

Spine sewing

There is also a single fabric endband still attached.

Endband

Dang, I just love looking at old deconstructed bindings.

The actual content is marvelous too. It’s a fairly typical Victorian scrapbook filled with advertising cards and whatnot. I plan to photograph or scan some of it later.

Advertising cards in scrapbook

Sweet 16

Advertising ephemera

And, by coincidence, I also recently acquired another Victorian-era treasure. A Webster’s dictionary from 1859! It was being sold in two pieces with a few pages missing, which made it affordable. Aside from that, the pages themselves are in good shape.

dictionary

1859!

In the front there is a section of illustrations (some of which I am later planning to photograph more properly). As you can see in the photo below, some of the “birds” are a bit… interesting… to our modern eyes. (The “fishes” are similarly a bit surreal  — apparently, for example, seals were considered a type of fish.)

The Birds

All the latest in science is here too:

Phrenology

And some botany:

Poppy

Among other things, I was surprised to discover that as relatively recently as 1859, the word “weird” still solely meant something to do with witchcraft.

Weird

It has a handy usage guide too.See Insanity

I also have been enjoying Webster’s essay detailing why, for instance, he has taken the “u” out of words like “colour.” “That Johnson,” you can almost imagine Webster sighing and shaking his head as he wrote.

We took the u out of colour

 

Ground Squirrel

The Paper Ground Squirrel somehow doesn’t have quite the same ring…

Note: if you want a close-up look of any of these, click on the photo. It will take you to another page where it won’t look any bigger. However, if you click on it again from the other page, it will then display a larger version. Sorry for the inconvenience of having to click twice. It’s the native WordPress way, apparently.

Nice (free) things to print


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Thanks everyone for your kind support during my last and latest IT crisis. Much appreciated. It’s fixed now. I tried to thank my web host, InMotion Hosting, for finally figuring it out. Alas, the last message I sent them bounced back to me. From what I could tell, their own server (or spam program) thought their own address was spam. Hmm…

And good luck to those of you still suffering from the update to WordPress 4.0. I know I wasn’t the only one. I wish I knew what my web host did to fix it, but it’s honestly incomprehensible to me. Sigh…

At any rate, I’ve started to collect new materials to make pages for my next sketchbook/plaything. As part of that, I’ve been browsing some favorite online places for high-quality, public domain printable stuff. These are listed under “Free Picture Resources” on my links page, but I thought I’d explain a little.

You'll be busy for a while…

The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr account will keep you very busy if you like vintage images of nature and the physical world. All of their images are provided under under a Creative Commons license. I find that I usually need to touch them up in Lightroom/Photoshop to make them more to my liking, but you could probably also just download and print if you don’t care as much about such things. If nothing else, it’s a great visual reference resource.

Speaking of downloading, it came to my attention recently that not everyone I know is familiar with how to download images from Flickr (on accounts that allow it). It can vary by browser, but I think with most current and supported browsers, it now works like this:

 Click the arrow symbol on the bottom right:

Click here

This will make a little menu appear…

Click here next

Almost always, choosing “original size” will ensure the highest quality for printing. You can always shrink it down later. Click on that, and the picture will be downloaded to your computer.

Another fun browse is brought to us by a professor of the History of the Book at the University of Amsterdam. This account, found at http://www.flickr.com/bookhistorian is filled with detailed scans of fancy initials, ornaments and fragments from manuscripts.

History of the Book on Flickr

Of course, there are plenty of other Creative Commons resources on Flickr and the wider web. Photos from the US government, for instance, are generally not under copyright. So… looking for a nice NASA space image or something from the Library of Congress? You might want to start here.

And, thanks to Amy, I recently discovered some terrific, high-quality maps (among other things) at The Old Design Shop. It is claimed that all of the images here are in the public domain. These are, in my so-far limited experience, unusually excellent quality and ready to print without any digital fussing. I printed out some maps on plain Strathmore 400 Drawing paper and they look great.

Another site popular around the web is The Graphics Fairy, which leans heavily toward Victorian and Edwardian-style imagery.

What favorite sources for printable public domain imagery have you found?

Where Oh Where Has My Blog Gone…


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[Update: Restoration of the blog has been underway. Things are not nearly as dire now as originally reported. If it still is missing things when you look at it, please try refreshing the page.]

Some surprises are not very nice.

If you are a regular reader, you might’ve noticed the blog is looking rather strange at the moment, and a bunch of things are missing. Little things, such as all of the styling, fonts, colors, my banner, menus… (!) It just suddenly appeared this way today. Two calls to my domain/web host later, and they claim there’s no evidence it was hacked, although that would be the most sensible answer. They thought they might be able to restore it to its former state… but then couldn’t. After the last tech support call, they say they will make another attempt at opening the database that seems to be at the heart of this, um, hair-pulling moment.

I keep reminding myself that it’s only the styling, menus, banner, etc. I still have posts and photos. It could be worse.

But then my inner depressive cries out, “Don’t you remember how many hours it took to put in all those settings, colors, menus, banner….?!”

Alas. I just thought I’d post an explanation for the weird look and lack of some things on the blog. It will return in something resembling its usual state. Either it will be restored by my host… or I’ll be spending several hours clenching my teeth doing it the slow and frustrating way.

I’m curious — has anything like this ever happened to any of you who use WordPress?

And the Giveaway Winner is…


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Everyone who left a comment on the last post! I couldn’t just pick one. I like all of you! The hard part now is picking out which big philatelic surprises to send…

Postmark
I promise — I will actually put enough postage on your mail.

They’ll be mailed on Monday here in California. If I don’t know your address, I’ll be contacting you over the weekend.


Filling Time Philatelically


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Plus: A giveaway!

Things have been getting “interesting” again, alas, in the dual-degenerative disease household realm. I’ll spare you the details. I haven’t been able to be in the studio much. It’s making me grumpy, and unfinished books are still sitting… unfinished. Along with other projects I @#$% want to get to. But what can one do.

Notebooks full of postage stamps.
Notebooks full of postage stamps.

I have, however, been finding solace in, of all things, the piles of postage stamps I’ve been gathering and hoarding for years. I decided to finally sort them out so I know what I have. Sorting stamps is mindless and can be done sitting on the couch. It’s also strangely relaxing.

Stamps in slide sleeves
Stamps in slide sleeves.

I’m putting them in slide sleeves in notebooks, arranged by subject matter and, for some subjects that fill many sleeves, by color as well. That makes a lot more sense for finding stamps to use in art and craft projects than, say, sorting them strictly by country (although there are some pages of that sort too, when no other category seems to fit).

Dominic eyeing some yellow-themed postal cats.
Dominic eyeing some yellow/orange-themed postal cats.

Even my most recent plaything-sketchbook of the past few months seems to have a postal theme. Themes happen. I just follow along. (More on this latest plaything later.)

The cover of the latest plaything.
The cover of the latest plaything.

I realized recently that my 5th blogiversary came and went in March during my extended blog absence. Since time seems to pass in a blur lately anyway, what’s a measly four months? Let’s have a belated celebration!

Leave a comment, and I’ll send you a little philatelic surprise. I will also randomly draw one of you to get a somewhat bigger philatelic surprise as well (see this post for a hint). Deadline to leave a comment for the giveaway and drawing is Wednesday, July 16.

Steve is always quick to help.
Steve is always quick to help.

PS Thank you all for the outpouring of compassion after my cat Larry’s death last month. I was, and am, so touched by the heartfelt messages I’ve received, both here and privately, even from friends I’d had no idea subscribed to this blog. Thank you. It means more than you know.

Heartbreak


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Young Larry circa 1999.
Young Larry circa 1999.

One day in January in 1999 I looked out the window and saw a black cat running across the yard toward the house. At that time, we had four cats, including a semi-feral stray who’d suddenly appeared a month before and had moved in with us. She was a black cat with a round and compact sort of build. We’d named her Lila.

Lila
Lila

However, this black cat was long and sleek, with big ears and lanky limbs. This was definitely not Lila. I went out to investigate. The long black cat ran up to me and began to frantically rub against my legs, over and over again. (A friend who’d dealt with abandoned animals in his job later told me that dumped cats will do this. He was hungry and scared.)

My husband Victor appeared, saw the cat and exclaimed, “What is this? Lila’s cousin Larry?!” The name stuck. And so did the cat.

We weren’t really excited at the prospect of 5 cats, but what could we do? Larry would position himself at the back door and wail pathetically in a soulful voice that could be heard throughout the house. He had chosen us.

Lila never cared much for Larry.
Lila never cared much for Larry.

I think the moment I fell in love with him was when, a few days after his arrival, I saw him wetting his paw in the water bowl in the kitchen, then reaching up behind his ear to wash himself. I’d never seen a cat wet his paw for a bath before. He was adorable, this gangly, yet elegant-looking cat, dunking his paw and washing up after dinner.

Larry-looking-back
Larry circa 2011.

There were quite a few things about Larry that weren’t like most other cats. He was so smart and had such an expressive voice, it was sometimes almost eery. He would talk at me and I to him. If I asked “Do you want to take a nap?” he would sprint to the bedroom and hop up to his spot on the bed, waiting for me.

Larry is featured in Superstition
Larry is featured in the artist’s book Superstiion.

Larry has been mentioned and given credit in at least a couple of my artist’s books, including A Cat’s ABC and Superstition, an edition I’m still assembling for Book Art Object. He was my feline muse.

He had beautiful eyes that changed color from green to yellow, depending on the setting. Through the years I used to tell him that it wasn’t fair, what he’d done to me. Someday he was going to cause my heart to be ripped from me, and I hadn’t gone out looking for that. He’d just appeared and made me fall in love with him.

Larry's Green Eyes
Larry’s Green Eyes

The other cats who’d already been in residence before the arrival of Lila and Larry were older. Over the following years they passed on, and eventually we were left with the two black cats. Or, rather, we had his ‘n her black cats. Lila barely tolerated me but adored Victor. Larry barely tolerated Victor, but he and I were a bonded pair.

My kitty.
My kitty.

Four years ago, Dominic showed up in the yard, just as Larry and Lila once had. And then came Steve, a moment of kitten madness on my part two years ago. Larry grew old and was afraid of the vigorous and playful Steve. I felt guilty for doing that to Larry, the cat who was more a soulmate to me than a cat. But we still managed to all coexist.

Dominic and Larry
Dominic and Larry

Lila grew ill and passed away roughly a year and a half ago. We spent our 20th anniversary that December burying her in the garden. I realized that almost every photo I had of her was either of her with Victor, or of her sitting vigil waiting for him. Such sadness.

Larry’s sleek black whiskers all turned white. His heart began to fail and he grew frail. He was taking almost as many medications as we do. The last time we saw his regular vet, her face grew grim as she listened to his chest. “It won’t be long… months, not a year.” And she warned us to prepare for the likelihood of a sudden death.

Three days before he died.
A few days before he died.

I discovered that “sudden” is a relative term. A blood clot, it turns out, is not a particularly peaceful way for a cat to leave this world. My beautiful, smart and devoted Larry has died of a broken heart, and he has taken a piece of mine with him.


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