Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nag Hammadi Book Swap

Over at the Book Arts Forum, a group of us have swapped handmade books and all the books were to be based upon the structure of the Nag Hammadi codicies. I have written about the Nag Hammadi codicies here before. I was fascinated by these books the first time I heard about them so the opportunity to participate in this swap was exciting.

Of course, the most exciting part of a book swap, is that I get a new book that somebody else has made! Yesterday I received a package from Hilke - with two books! The main book is this truly up-to-date modern iterpretation of the Nag Hammadi codices.

The cover is, obvioulsy, made using a combination of computer parts and leather. And Hilke was also interested in exploring the content of the Nag Hammadi books. The original texts contained religious writings and a small excerpt has been included in this book here. But to juxtapose the old and new again, Hilke created a cuneiform-type alphabet using small wedges, and printed the passage using this invented alphabet! Holy macaroni, Batman.

And the cherry on top, was this second Nag Hammadi style book. This contains a description of the main book, the materials, the process, etc as well as an explanation of the alphabet that was created and how it was stamped, etc.

Fabulous work, thank you so much, Hilke.

When I made my book for the swap, I stuck with the conventions and did more of a replica than a modern interpretation... but I wanted to stick with what I knew best. So I sent this book to Astrid and she has documented it quite nicely on her blog if you want to see better photos.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twined Binding

The "twinded binding" was devised by Roberta Lavadour and she explains it in detail in The Bonefolder, Vol 4 No 2. This image to the right, shows a stack of Roberta's twined spines. Using multiple thread colours, the twining can make whatever grid pattern you have the patience to create.

Twining is a basket weaving technique and as Roberta states in her article, "the basic twining technique itself was and is used by many cultures in North and Central America, the Middle East and New Zealand in the fabrication of everything from tapestries to sandals." She incorporated the technique into her work and created this binding for the 2007 Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellance Conference. She has done some incredibly intricate and gorgeous books using this technique.

The following is my first attempt at the twined binding, resulting in quite a plain checkerboard pattern, which seemed quite complicated for my first go! I used limp leather for the cover material rather than making a hardcover as she suggests in her article. But I do really like how the back cover is woven, which allowed me to continue the twining on the fore edge wrap-around, and two of the long straps are long enough to be used as a closure, extending around to the buttons on the front cover. This technique definitely requires some practice!

This type of binding was included in the 2008 Bind-o-rama, so you can see some better examples and more of Roberta's books in The Bonefolder, Vol 4 No 2.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A week in review

I have the great honour of being the first featured in a series of Shop Local articles being reported by the Trans Canada Etsy Team and published on the team's blog. Brandi, known on Etsy as Enthral (and a fellow Nova Scotian), put this together and did a wonderful job of tying together my work and my locale, thank you Brandi! This week I have been able to finish a group of recycled journals which have all my scrap papers for the pages, and the covers are mostly leather scraps as well, pieces that were discarded previously for various reasons. These three stab bindings came next (which could also be considered recycled since the pages were cut offs from larger projects, and the back covers are scraps of mat board). Simple 4-hole yotsume toji notebooks in teal, grey, and chartreuse.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Some boxes

One of the courses I took at the Dawson Print Shop was a full term of boxes and portfolios and I did many boxes in many forms... a lot of small decorative boxes that were never photographed. But when I was sorting my digital photos, I found some that actually were photographed and decided to share them here as well. A couple of "magic boxes". The cover can be lifted from both sides, revealing either one or two of the three interior compartments: A drop back box, custom made for housing a set of journals: And a couple of Japanese boxes. I skipped a step when I was making this red box, and had to fashion an inferior closure as a result. But it works for storing my thread. The blue and gold box is one that I made by request for someone who wanted it for a collection of wrist watches. I've been uploading some of these older photos to Flickr as well. You can see these and a few other boxes in the "box making" set. I've also added several photos of leather journals and other early work like the things from my last blog post here. And by "early work" I mean, well, anywhere from 2 to 6 years ago. I took a lot of photos but I rarely dated the photos or the books so often I'm unsure exactly when something was done... I am trying to be better about that now... Trying to get better photos now too, some of these older photos are terrible!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Some firsts

My tiny 40 GB hard drive was down to 200 MB of free space and it was causing problems! So recently I sorted through a ton of digital photos on my hard drive, moving them to external storage. This hugantanormous collection of digital photos can be divided into two simple categories: photos of my son and photos of my books. I selected a bunch of the early book pictures to share here.

The first hardcover book I ever made is the brown one in the middle, and it is a hardcover pamphlet binding. And if my memory is working for me tonight, it would have been 2002 when I made this. I still have this brown book, but of course I did not sign or date it!

The first weekly planner that I rebound to make a custom planner. This was probably made in 2002 - I think that is a 2003 calendar although I can't tell for sure from this old photo and I do not have the book now. My mother might have been the final owner of this book, so she likely still has it. Edit: Apparently my mother did have a date book made by me at that time, but not this particular one.

I went through a phase of making cases to use as folders and such things and I found photos of a couple examples, both from 2002 or 2003.

This first one, I made for myself and used it quite extensively while working on my Masters degree and it proved very functional and practical. The paper tablet slides into a slot on the back so it could be replaced, and I had a pocket in the center for a pen, and a pocket for loose papers, and it had the attached elastic as well.

Another folder example, smaller overall, but with 3 sections to roll up together. I do not have this anymore and I do not remember where it went. Do you have it? Edit: My mother does have this one!

The first two fully bound, sewn on tapes, backed, and cased books that I made at home. These are blank journals sewn onto linen tapes, library-style binding with split boards, and hand sewn endbands. I did one in this style previously in a class, and these were the first attempt to make similar books at home with no proper equipment. These were likely made in 2003. (Sheesh, I really should keep better records. But I can narrow it down quite well by remembering where I was living and/or working when the books were made...)

The first limp leather longstitch journal that I made, also 2003. It has a short wrap-around flap with two buttons as a closure. I gave this to a friend and I think he is still using it because I saw it somewhere around his place not too long ago!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

I am Courier

For most of us, fonts are just fonts, and haven't they always just been there? You can get lots of them, many are free like those at Then there are the classic fonts like Arial or Times New Roman that we all know and love to use with our basic word processing software. At the other extreme, some have their own unique fonts that are specially designed and copyrighted and nobody else is allowed to use them (for example, here's a bit about the process of developing a special font for Google's Android cell phone).

"Independent Lens: Helvetica" is a film showing on PBS, about the font...helvetica, of course. Developed in 1957 in Switzerland and "at a time when many European countries were recovering from the ravages of war, Helvetica presented a way to express newness and modernity". You had no idea Helvetica had such a rich history, rich enough for film! (check their program guide to see when the film airs on your local stations.)

What Font are you?
I don't often bother with personality quizzes to tell me what kind of person I am, but this one was worth my time (and thanks to Clara for sharing the link to this quiz and the film). So I took the quiz, and apparently, I am Courier. Which is nice. I am pretty happy with this analysis. The courier personality is described thus: like a typewriter-style font on a computer, you go proudly against the grain. You're not afraid to let your opinions be known, and for you, anything is better than being known as conventional.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

Thank you to everyone who visited throughout 2008. It is so nice that you keep coming back, time after time, reading about my little projects and leaving me your encouraging comments and support. So I will try to keep it interesting for you again this year! I had fun recently making dodecahedron calendars for 2009. I got a printable file from Paper2Rock2Scissors and made these kewl 12-sided calendars. The files are nicely prepared and easy to use with clear instructions. And the finished product is such a great shape!