Be Careful What You Take to Bed With You

Nearing completion.

How ironic that I started this book/object before the situation I mentioned in my last post. Next time I get the urge to portray sharks circling something, I will take note.

Before I go further, I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my legitimate readers and friends for their support and encouragement. I’ve been deeply moved by the kind comments, messages and emails that I’ve received since I last posted. It’s been a bright spot during an otherwise dark time, and has meant a lot to me. Thank you.

Lovely washi.

On a happier note, I have a book project to share. I’ve finally been able to get back in the studio a bit, and have been on a Japanese paper binge. If you dip pieces of it into paste (in this case, rice starch paste) and remove the excess, you can form the  paper into almost anything. Leave it on waxed paper to dry, and you can have, for instance, miniature billowing drapes.

And what’s especially lovely is that it is non-toxic. I wouldn’t want to dip my bare hands in acrylic medium or PVA, but rice starch and distilled water? I feel like a kindergartner with something really cool and slimy.

Sticky slime! Dip into the paste, then run the paper
through fingers to remove the excess. Then shape.
After drying.
Be Careful What You Take to Bed With You.

More on the Bed

Lest I get more credit than I should, I wanted to mention that I looked at several books on miniatures before constructing the bed. For the frame, I wound up largely using a design from Jane Harrop’s Thirties and Forties Miniatures in 1:12 Scale. More or less, I divided hers in half lengthwise. I also fiddled some details to allow for the fact that I was using paper-covered book board, rather than stained Obechi wood in various thicknesses as she had, but I was quite pleased with the direction her examples took me in. This is an illustration from her book:

I also wanted to share this interesting book design I found recently. It is shaped like a dolls’ house, and opens in the front like one. Possibilities there…

Bed Book Project

I’ve had an idea for a sculptural book running through my head. “Be careful what you take to bed with you” will be the only text it will contain.

I’ve also been looking at books about miniatures and dolls’ houses. So I built a miniature bed. Or rather, half a bed. It’s going to sit on the open book, looking as if it were sticking out of it. Or at least that’s the idea.

Here’s the bed frame, which is made from book board, paste and Washi:

Here’s the bed after a mattress, pillow and blanket molded from Washi, foam, quilt batting, thread and paste was added. It has a stiff, papier maché-like texture:

The book block has been sewn and is waiting to be cased in. The plan is to make a little paper sculpture monster or swimming sharks or something to put under the bed. I might also add walls or flooring from folded pieces of paper. I am allowing it to develop and let it suggest things to me.


The We Love Your Books “e-motive” exhibition of experimental and artists’ books is happening now in Milton Keynes. I’m pleased to have my small part in this (pictured below).

There’s more information and pictures of the entries at their website. Emma Powell, one of the organizers, has also put photos of the entries, as well as pictures of the show itself, on Flickr.

In addition, participants were asked to submit photos or scans from their sketchbooks as they worked through the process of creating their pieces for the show. These have also been posted as a set on Flickr.

Nice printed catalogues of both the exhibition and the sketchbook spreads are also available.

It makes me tired even contemplating the work that the organizers Emma Powell and Melanie Bush must put into arranging these shows each year. It truly does seem to be a labor of love. As I say, I’m pleased I can be a part of it in my small way (literally, since my laptop book is a miniature).

E-motives, my entry for e-motive

Daily Planners

My Daily Planner

I did a stupid thing last month. I discovered that if one takes life-sustaining meds, it’s a bad thing to forget a dose. A really bad thing. This little oversight, and then my trip south, put me out of commission worse than usual for a while. I guess I should’ve paid more attention to my own bookmark design from a few years ago. Alas.

I’d been planning to contribute something for an exhibition next month at Eureka Books that our local book arts guild is having. I was going to make something appropriately sellable and commercially pleasing, like my miniature cat ABC book. But it just wasn’t in me. So I finished My Daily Planner instead. It fit my mood better.

PS: I wrote earlier about how I waxed the papers to make the cover material for the little books.

E-motives Laptop, Finished

The cover has a little more wobble than I’d like, and there turned out to be problems with the Tyvek cover—it was wearing on the corners. So I did some touch-up and coated it in matte medium, which seems to have worked. It’s not the texture I would’ve preferred, but still, my little book about online depravity is done. 
(An earlier post about some of the inside pages is here.)

E-motives Laptop Project

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.


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

Tyvek For a Miniature Laptop

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

Waxing Paper

As I mentioned before, I wound up waxing inkjet-printed papers for use as covering material for my latest books. I’ve been quite pleased with the result. I thought I’d outline the process.

First, rub an even layer of wax over the paper. Since this is for a miniature and my block of beeswax is rather large, this is fairly easy. (This fantastic block of beeswax, by the way, was found in a local health food store for less than beeswax costs at an art supply place.)

I then experimented with different ways of sanding the waxed paper. Regular fine grit paper did not work–it rubbed off some of the ink. I found this rubber sanding pad at the hardware store, and it works well. I can also roll it up to make it a little easier to grasp. For some reason, a regular sanding block with the same grit number did not work.

Then smooth with a buffing pad, also from the hardware store.

Wiping with tack cloth helps smooth out the wax, but it can leave a little stickiness. I buff some more after this step. Repeat until the desired finish is obtained.

Even though this is a small area to do, this process was causing me problems. I have painful and not very strong hands. I got the idea to try a cheap electric toothbrush to do some of the buffing. It works…up to a point, although I found it actually was not that much easier. However, it is another option and does allow for some finer finishing. I discovered at the drugstore that the toothbrushes are not all equal. Some only vibrate, and others simply don’t feel nice in the hand when they’re turned on, and, on some, only a small portion of the head moves. If you like this idea, take advantage of the ones that allow you to turn them on in the package at the store. That way, you can get a better idea if it might work for you.

In spite of the hand thing, I’ve been excited about this. The finish is just perfect for this project. It’s smooth and glossy, and is far more durable than regular unfinished inkjet paper. It also deepens the colors of the printouts. I use an Epson with pigmented Dura-Brite inks. I’m not sure how others would hold up to this process, but I imagine they’d be similar.