Friday, February 29, 2008

Blanket Stitch

I tried a new exposed spine binding this week since Jackie's weekly challenge this week is "Exposed." This is an unsupported blanket stitch. It is my first attempt at this binding and the result is a rather floppy structure overall. I prefer when the sections and covers stay aligned better.

This book is only about 13cm high (5") so I thought four sewing stations would be sufficient; but, perhaps additional sewing stations would make it more stable. Any suggestions? I think adding supports would be the best solution - and I think I'll try that next.

I love to see books that other people are making - and of course Jackie's TJBookArts Flickr group and weekly challenge are open to all. It would be super to see more people sharing their book photos on there!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chains, Stars, and maybe Rockets

Although there are about a thousand more, these are the last two 3-section sewings that I wanted to try from Keith Smith's books.

This first one is called the triple chain. I think this one could be very pretty.

My fluffy blue suede book is sewn with the 'linked star' pattern although I do think mine look more like little rockets. Same ballpark, i suppose.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bookbinding 101 - Making Paste

I've had a few people ask me about paste so here is what I know about it. I often use wheat or wheat starch paste when I'm making books. For a long time, I used wheat starch exclusively since I was able to get the starch at a local health food store for a very reasonable price; but, they don't carry it any more. Perhaps I was the only person buying it. I have seen it at the art supply store too, but for some reason the price triples when it becomes an art supply. I could extract the starch from the flour, but that's a messy process. So now I just use wheat flour. It is my understanding that paste made from wheat starch is a slightly weaker adhesive than paste made with flour; but, paste made with starch is more archival than paste made with flour.

So here is how I make paste. It's really easy. For a small batch of paste, you need:

2/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons wheat starch or flour

For everyone who has switched to metric, that translates to:
160 ml water
30 ml flour

Some people recommend distilled water. Let the water saturate the starch for a few minutes and then whisk it until you have eliminated all the lumps.

Now put it into a pot and cook it. If you cook it on direct heat, it is important to be whisking or stirring constantly to prevent the paste from burning to the bottom of your pot.

To reduce the difficulties, I use a double-boiler to cook paste. When using a double-boiler, the paste is far less likely to burn (maybe impossible?) and it isn't necessary to stir constantly, just frequently.

Cook it for about 10 minutes. When it's hot it will be thick and runny like...glue! Let it cool completely. When it cools, it will be more gelatinous and too firm to spread around. The best way to make it smooth and easy to use, is to strain it through a cloth, like cheesecloth.

This kind of paste has a short shelf life - it will likely start to get watery and moldy within a week. It might live a bit longer if you keep it refrigerated and you can add a bit of water to your paste container - the water will just sit on top and create a seal to help delay the onset of mold. Just pour off the water when you're ready to use it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Album Problem

I have been contemplating the construction of an album for my postcards. I've been thinking about it for years, literally. Postcards present a couple of challenges: first, both sides should be visible and second, postcard size is not uniform. Jackie's challenge this week is exactly this - an album for postcards. I didn't come up with an album for postcards yet, but I did experiment a little bit.

So first, I made a Crown Book. When I first encountered the Blizzard Book a while ago, I thought it's structure might work for postcards. The Crown Book is a variation of the Blizzard Book. So that's the white and blue book shown here. This structure certainly does allow for viewing both sides and since the cards would be just slid into place with no sewing or adhesive, they could be removed and inserted anytime. This structure still expects each page/card to be the same size, though.

I also decided to try customizing the size of the book. So far when I've made this structure, I wasn't trying to produce any specific size; there is so much folding involved in the spine structure that the final size is quite different than the papers you start out with. So I decided to try making a Blizzard Book for MOO cards. I had a couple false starts, but did finally get the spine to be the correct size.

It's a fabulous structure, now I just need to figure out how to use it to accomodate pages/cards of different sizes then maybe I'll have the solution to my postcard album problem.

(That sultry lady peeking out of my MOO Card Album is a card from DangerousMezzo - a collage artist who has some fabulous work for sale on Etsy.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Houndstooth stitch

Keith Smith calls this a houndstooth stitch pattern. This was next on my list of 3-section sewings that I wanted to try. I did the grey book first and it seemed like the pattern wasn't spaced very well, so I did the pink one trying to improve the spacing of the stitches. The pink book is better but could still be improved to make the pattern pop out more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The Trans Canada Etsy Team is having a Pre-Spring Cleaning Sale for one week only, February 18th to 24th. In my own shop, I am offering a 20% discount on selected items. A full list of participating shops is available on the TCET blog:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

This is the book that I made and sent to Cathryn for the Valentine Book Swap over at the Book Arts Forum.

Two hearts made of binders board, covered with burgundy book cloth. The front cover was cut up so it is double-hinged in the middle, bound with the ribbon in the middle. There are about 50 pink heart-shaped pages. And the back cover is lined with a paper doily; i always associate paper doilies with handmade cards and decorations at valentines day, so i really wanted to incorporate it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


A little red-ish book, in response to the weekly challenge that Jackie issued this week. This is a hardcover pamphlet structure. There is red commercial book cloth on the spine, then i used the wide striped fabric for the covers...I've been backing fabric left and right...

The pages are a variety of handmade, textured, card stock, printed, and plain papers. Pale lime green handmade paper pasted down on the inside of the covers; a sheer green ribbon extends from the back cover to hook over the reclaimed button on the front.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More books and Snow

I'm still working on some of the 3-section bindings that I want to try. I really like both of these, they are so clean and tidy and simple! There are more pictures of the plum diamonds in my shop and more pictures of the distressed blue book here, the sewing pattern looks like a cityscape almost.

And this is what I'm looking at through the window of the bookbinding room this morning. No signs of spring around here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Blogging Friends

I've recently found myself getting tagged and awarded by some fellow bloggers. Sarah, of the littlepaperbird blog has passed along the "you make my day award"! That just made my day :-)

The award rules:
  1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs (i'm only doing 4!) that make your day
  2. Acknowledge the post of the award giver
  3. Tell the award winners that they've won by commenting on their blogs

Diane, Much of a Muchness
Diane makes books too and I love checking her blog to see what she is doing. Her books always look wonderful and pretty and so well done! She also tends toward humour in her posts so reading her blog can be very entertaining and often makes my day :-)

Nat, WireBeadsCreations
Nat is a jewelry designer who has just starting making some pieces using scrap leather (leftover from my books!) and she recently posted on her blog about this and included a super nice bit about me and my books. That really made my day!

Kiley, Kiley's Handmade Books
Kiley is a bookbinder and does a fabulous array of book structures. She made my day recently too when I was reading an interview with her where she mentioned how much she liked my work! How nice, thanks Kiley =D

Pegg, Five Forty at Home
Pegg is a weaver and a jewlery designer and a great cook. She posts fabulous recipes on her blog - like the sweet and spicy chicken recently, that made my day too!

And I've been tagged...

Carol, of Barnacle Goose paperworks recently tagged me and i am supposed to post here seven things about me. These are the rules:
  1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Post 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
  4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
  5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

So let's see if I can come up with seven interesting things to tell you.
  1. I'm a stay-at-home mommy; I have a little boy who is 3.
  2. My favorite colour, actually I don't have a favorite colour.
  3. I have a masters degree in library and information science but haven't worked in a library since I graduated.
  4. I grew up on a Dairy farm.
  5. I like cooking, but I don't really like baking.
  6. I've had grey hair since high school!
  7. My bookbinding studio has wood paneling on the walls.

I'm going to tag the following bloggers to keep this going:
  1. Carol, String me along
  2. Eva, Lady Artisan
  3. Guylaine & Isabelle, tomate d'epingles
  4. Cathy, 4Paws & tangente
  5. Maiko, Flurrsprite's Nook
  6. Dre, Willow Cat Studio
  7. Jay, Loopy 4 Ewe

Friday, February 08, 2008

Olive and Sage Double Album

I started making this book last year. I had finished a different project that had resulted in many many square pieces of black cardstock leftovers, so I designed this book so I could use the card stock as its pages. In fact, I had enough of these squares for 3 of these books. So at that time, I made front covers for 3 books but only completed one of them and it has been for sale in my Etsy shop for a while.

The theme for this week's TJBookarts challenge is "album" so that prompted me to finished another one...about a year later. And I still have front covers and pages ready for a be completed...someday.

The covers are made with inlaid strips of leather. Both front covers have a hinge joint and the back cover has hinge joints at each end so it is quite flexible. And of course, a classic yotsume toji binding.

There is a little hasp on the front covers, attached with little tiny screws. I sometimes wish I could also be a metalsmith and make my own closures...that would be so much better than being restricted to the notions and accessories that are available commercially. I might just have to look into that...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hardcover Pamphlets

Last week when I made that book cloth for the little winter book, I also did a bunch of other cloth at the same time. I've now finished a couple more hardcover pamphlet books using those fabrics.

I used an orange bandanna for this one. Orange pages inside and yellow handmade paper pasted down on the inside of the covers. A strip torn from the edge of the bandanna is tied around it.

This one has a geometric navy fabric on the covers. I found it in the bin of remnants at the fabric store. The pages are super nice Mohawk Super Fine paper. On the inside of the covers, I pasted some Argali handmade paper from India. The Knot of Eternity is printed on the inside of the front cover. In Tibetan Buddhism, this knot represents life in balance where everything is in harmony. It also represents the teachings of the Buddha, which are considered eternal, no beginning and no end.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More 3-section sewings

I'm still working on my list of 3-section sewings from the Smith books. These vary greatly in complexity. The first photo here shows the staggered dashes and it looks simple and it is simple to sew. The other two shown below, were more complex to sew but Smith's instructions and diagrams are really quite clear so long as you are able to stay focused and don't loose your spot.

I like all of these, the braided spine was fun, but none are new favorites. I am trying a bunch of these because I am curious about them but as with most of these sewings, they probably should only be used when the book design calls for them...if that makes sense.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book Repair

Book repair is something I haven't focused on very much. A bunch of years ago, I did some book repair in a class with Joe Landry; since then, it hasn't come up too often. But a friend of mine asked if I could fix this book for her daughter. The textblock was intact, so I didn't have to sew it. The hinge area of both covers was torn so the spine part of the cover was almost entirely detached.


So I replaced the spine part of the cover and used book cloth to cover the spine. I used some Japanese repair paper on the inside of the hinge areas as you can see in this close up photo. Then I covered up that stuff with some new pasted endpapers.

I think I should have attempted to get the book cloth in between the paper and board...rather than pasting it on top of the cover paper. That would have solved the issue of covering up part of the title on the front cover. But when I tried to separate the paper and the board on the covers it was just tearing too easily. I think there were a couple issues: the paper on the covers of this book is brittle, likely low grade, maybe acidic... and I was probably using the wrong tools for the job since I haven't acquired tools for this kind of work, making me "all thumbs" while doing this.