Paste Paper Workshop (Making Paste for a Crowd)

Last Saturday I taught a paste paper workshop for NORBAG, our local book arts guild. Happily, they are all nice people and most of them are used to my eccentricities. Even so, I barely arrived in time for my own workshop(!) after a little paste (among others) malfunction. It wasn’t that the paste didn’t cook well–it did–it was that I hadn’t realized that if you make 24 times the usual amount of something, it takes longer to come to a simmer and can be a bit unwieldy. Silly me. I’d never taught this big a paste painting class before.

Dominic watchingAt some point during the kitchen proceedings Dominic the cat hopped up onto the refrigerator to get a better view. He looked positively spooked. I was awake (well… maybe more animated than awake) much earlier than usual, stirring a vat of paste and muttering things under my breath. Maybe in his earlier days as a stray he’d heard stories about strange women, cauldrons and cats…

I had fun thinking of things to bring to the workshop, in terms of tools. I found some interesting rollers at an educational supply place and at a ceramics supplier. I wanted the workshop to provide more than the usual chipboard comb and cheap paper. And I wanted it to be a little eccentric. I wanted to convey the joy of being experimental and using unusual things to make marks in paint. So, along with the commercial rollers and rubber dog combs, etc., I assembled a kit for everyone with some weird, and not quite so weird, finds from the hardware and dollar stores. It looked like something kids might get for craft time at a somewhat deranged day camp. Perfect!

A glimpse of our work space

We were very fortunate that a church in town kindly allowed us to use their large facility. We not only had room to comfortably fit 24 and all their painting gear, but we also had yet another room in which to dry their output. Anyone who’s ever taken or taught a paste painting class knows how the amount of wet paper grows exponentially! This space was almost too good to be true.

Things were such a whirlwind that I neglected my bloggerly duties. I only remembered my camera after everyone was packing up and taking away their papers! Yike! So I hobbled around in a frenzy snapping pics of what was left. There were some really impressive papers there, far more than what I was able to get snaps of. I left with new ideas for patterns I’d like to try myself.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to identify the makers of all of the papers. If you were in the class and recognize yours and would like to be credited here, let me know.

Blue chains and combing
Great use of a patterned roller and combs.
magenta-and-ultramarine-stamped-grid
Combing and stamping by Dolores G.
brownish-comb-waves
Nice comb waves.
blue-comb-and-reen
A bit Art Deco-ish.
light-brown-roller
Grace M. did this with a patterned roller.
purple-combed
Grouting comb!
red-bursts-and-blue-roller-and-comb
So colorful. The blue one on the right was partly made with a roller.
red and purple combed
Different ways of using combs.
orange-chains-and-2-toned-combs
Neat.
Blue comb twists
Nice comb twists by Grace M.
green-duralar
We did a few on transparent Dura-Lar and Yupo, too. This one was done by Dolores G.
purple
Interesting comb pattern by Dolores G.

And an especially huge thank you to everyone there who helped set up, lug around heavy tables and unload and load my car! It went well beyond the call of helping out.

PS In case you were wondering, I discovered it takes 4- 5 cups of cornstarch to make paste for 24.

 

Publishing News

It's here!
The Blue Notebook, Vol 7 No. 2

Much to my surprise, a few months ago I was asked if I’d like to contribute an artist’s page to the next edition of The Blue Notebook.

Hmmm… did I want to be in the book arts journal The Blue Notebook? I was already designing the page in my head as I typed back that, yeah, I think I’d like to do that(!). I was told that I could do anything I wanted with my page. But they were also kind of hoping I might do something based around The Literary Cure.

The Literary Cure is what I call my prescription bottle of “Codex” capsules (there’s a photo of it in the gallery). Each capsule of “Codex” contains a miniature book. There are 20 capsules in each bottle. It was an edition of five.

Each copy of The Literary Cure also includes a patients’ informational insert (I wrote about the making of the insert here). For my artist’s page, I decided to show the text of an insert with a photo of a bottle of Codex.

My copy of the journal recently arrived. I was not expecting to to find my page right at the center fold. Oh my!

The center spread!

Coincidentally, in this same issue Emma Powell wrote an article about her work with We Love Your Books and about some some of the artists who’ve contributed to the WLYB exhibits over the years, including yours truly. I felt quite honored, especially since there are some others there whose work I have admired for quite a while.

Emma Powell's article about We Love Your Books.
Emma Powell’s article about We Love Your Books.
That name looks familiar...
Hmm… that name again.

Among other things I like in this edition is an interview with Helen Douglas, who was commissioned to create a work in 2012 as part of Reflective Histories: Contemporary Art Interventions at Traquair House. She made a manuscript book echoing the small devotional books in the library at Traquair, which is the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. The pictures of the book that are included with the interview are exquisite (unfortunately, I couldn’t find any photos of it freely available online). As always with The Blue Notebook, it takes a while to get through all the interesting stuff in it. I’m really delighted to have been included in this last issue.

 

Delays… and the Help of a Page Folding Jig

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…!

Dang, I Love Photoshop


One of my favorite reads at the moment is Photoshop Masking and Compositing by Katrin Eismann et al. Partly, I want to improve my photos of books so they look professional for web and catalogues and that sort of thing. I also want to keep improving my photos and illustrations for use in my books. One of the things I love about Photoshop is that there is always something new to learn about Photoshop. Every time I start feeling a bit cocky, I realize I hardly know anything, really.

As one of those whose early design experiences date to before the computer era, I don’t think I’ll ever lose a vague sense of wonder as I watch my photos and digital art transform on the screen. And then to have the ability to do professional-level typesetting and layout in InDesign that can be printed out right here at home…! It’s just a part of life now, but when I think back to the world of pre-computer graphics and design, it’s like magic or science fiction or something. I know people just 10 years younger who barely remember film in cameras and don’t understand the lingering sense of amazement the computer brings, even now, to a middle-aged codger who finished her BA before the 90s (well, in 1990, to be precise).

I needed a picture of a clock for one of the BAO books I’m frantically trying to finish. I wanted it to look photographic and sort of old. I could have taken a photo of a clock or obtained a stock photo. But then I remembered the 60+ clock faces I’d put together for the Minute book earlier this year. However, they are flat, black and white and definitely not photographic-looking. But perhaps, I thought, with a little digital tinkering…? After a little fiddling, I began with this:Clock-first version

And after some playing around, I wound up with this:

Clock for Poison

I’m sure I could have done it with more authenticity, but for my tiny miniature, it works. Kids, I’m telling you, this is like sci-fi!

A Jig for Board Books

This is a belated P.S. for the post on making board books.

I knew as soon as I started making an edition of board books that I had to create a jig to keep the boards steady while gluing the page spreads on top. Even pushed up against a straight edge, the @#$% boards have a tendency to wiggle. This is not good. Accuracy is everything when making a board book. I also needed to speed up the gluing process.

The solution:

taped-in-place-with-boardsI began with my usual setup with an L-square taped to the table. Long ago at the hardware store, I found a thin metal bar that is exactly the width of my boards. The space between boards happens to be one board width, so I  taped the metal bar exactly in place between two boards. Then, to keep everything firmly in place, I taped a half-inch wide metal bar to the other side.

Here is what it looks like without the boards in place:

taped-in-place

After putting the boards in place, I trim the top of the page and line that up against the straight edge on top. I leave the other sides untrimmed for now. I line up the middle registration mark over the bar, so I know it’s centered right where it needs to be.

registration-mark

When it comes time to remove the freshly glued page spread, I tip up the bar on the side. The page spread easily pops out. (I loosened the tape over the bar just enough so that there’s room to do this.)
popping-out-of-jig

It becomes a little more tricky when it’s time to glue the double spreads to each other as the book progresses, but this arrangement still works. To make it easier, I taped two L-squares one on top of the other to create a space twice as deep.

The main thing to remember is that “removable” tape will cure after a while and become far less removable. So after a few days, it’s not a bad idea to pull up the tape and replace it, if necessary.

Happy New Year!

2013-Happy-Lucky-New-Year

This is the front of a postcard I concocted in Photoshop for a recent exchange with friends in my local book arts guild, NORBAG. The lucky black cat is Steve the kitten.

The actual item was inkjet printed on plain old Strathmore Bristol which, surprisingly to me, sometimes works quite well for this purpose. And the printouts don’t scratch easily, as they do with coated papers meant for inkjet. It’s not suitable for everything — graphic-type pieces like this tend to come out best.

Happy, lucky New Year everyone!

Happy . . . ?

Happy Hollidays

Now off to make some cranberry sauce and maybe glue a few BAO books. Whatever you’re all doing, I hope it’s happy. No matter how you spell it.

A Peek at the Mirror

Here’s a peek at one of the finished mirrors set in its board book page.

I’ve been discovering ways to make board books a little more efficiently. (One of the rewards of making an edition–by the time you’re done, you’ll really know how to make that structure! Not to mention you’ll also really know just about everything that can go wrong when making that structure. Alas.)

More on that soon… I’m going back to gluing pages. That is, assuming our electric stays on. We’re in the midst of a storm and the lights keep blinking. It might instead turn into a chilly night reading by flashlight. Ech.

(Lest anyone worry, we’re not in a flood zone.)