Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers! I hope your holiday is filled with books - books in any form. Like previous years, I had a little Christmas bookmaking project recently. This time, I made little books as tree decorations.

The covers have various Japanese papers, and some of my marbled paper. Inside, they each have a few bars of Jingle Bells printed on the pages.

Previous Christmas book projects: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Repairing some little books

This is what I started with last week. It's a set of 13 small books. Old, falling apart, dirty, uggh. The project is now well underway. They will have new covers and look fabulous in a few days!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Halifax Crafters Market - Dec 1 & 2

I'll be at this market on the weekend. This is a great show for Christmas shopping - always fabulous stuff. I'll be on hand with my work: journals, leather agendas, hand-marbled items, notebooks, photo albums, and more!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marbling demonstration

Just a couple pictures from a marbling demonstration that I did a while ago, for a local historical society. We did this right in the middle of the museum - I was careful to not splatter paint on any of the antiques. I even found a few examples of marbling in their library to show them marbled endpapers and fore-edge marbling on some of their antique ledgers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I didn't have a chance to make any exciting Halloween journals this year, unfortunately. I love making journals with a Halloween theme because there is so much fabulous imagery and folklore associated with the season and Halloween has the best colours of all the holidays!

There are some really cool Halloween books to see over on the BEST blog. In fact, they are looking for votes. So go over there and pick your favorite to win the BEST Zombie Award for 2012:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's just that time of year again

I've been so busy during the last couple months, that I haven't accomplished much at all. Apologies for not having exciting things to share here on my blog lately. First of all, I've started making my weekly planners for 2013, which always keeps me busy this time of year.

Second, it's Fall and holiday craft markets are coming up, starting about a month from now. And last weekend was Thanksgiving and in two weeks, it's Halloween!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Guest Blogger Mary Patton, Paper Sculpture

Mary Patton is a paper sculptor currently living and working in Chicago. By day she is a Math tutor with AUSL; by night a free-thinking, nose-to-the-grindstone paper making MacGyver. She is in the process of making a website, if you adore her work, email her for sales inquiries. Mary is also a burlesque dancer, gluten-free cookery queen, and all around nice gal. Visit Mary's tumblr page for updates from her. At PBI this year, Mary took a class with Lee Running and Mary has very kindly taken some time to share that class with us here on my blog.

At the intersection of pulp, tradition, and the avant-garde is where you will find Lee Running. At least, this is where I met her at PBI 2012-in the Clute on Oxbow campus, where I became her studio assistant for four days of pulpy bliss.

As a student, Lee was introduced to paper as a medium while working for Dieu Donne in NY. It is considered the gallery for papermakers -- both experimental and traditional. While at Donne, Lee had firsthand experience working with paper in non-traditional ways. After being bitten by the pulp-bug, she read Tim Barrett's book Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques that outline completely the traditional process of hand papermaking in Japan. This book, she says, "changed her life" in such a way that she wanted to "make paper that looked like paper."

So Lee Running set out to the University of Iowa to work with Tim Barrett. The rest is history -- as they say. Since that time, Lee has composed a body of work involving paper as the medium, nature as the message, and currently holds a position teaching sculpture at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa among other appointments. Please consult her website for more more information and to view her beautiful work:

One of the many things I learned from Lee was that all stages of fiber preparation are to be respected. Dried sheets of flax, cotton, and abaca came to us from Carriage House in New York. These sheets were soaked in buckets of water, measured to two pounds in each bucket and then completely hydrated to soak before going into the beater. After each fiber was beaten to the desired consistency the beater went through a thorough process of cleaning so as not to contaminate the next batch of fiber with the previous.

On the first day of class we met outside at two long tables butted against each other, dotted with buckets, each student quizzically carrying a hard-boiled egg from breakfast. We were to make plaster molds of the positive and negative spaces of the egg for paper casting. From these molds and eggs we would, that day, cast both cotton and abaca fiber sheets. The class learned the finer points of plaster sourcing, the proper consistency of plaster to cast, and mold building. The two most important points being that: A lubricant is very important in release, and plaster over the meridian line of your egg will cause a painful separation of positive and negative.

One of Mary's paper sculptures:

While our two-part molds were drying, Lee taught us the basics of sheet pulling, about molds and deckles, as well as the proper stance so as not to strain your shoulders while standing at the vat. Our first two days were instruction time and test making. By experimenting with restraint drying techniques students were able to see how temperature, and fiber type reacted to horizontal as well as vertical drying.

The abaca fiber was "over beaten", that is to say it was beaten in a fiber beater for 5 hours, and had considerable strength. Upon drying, a flat sheet pinned on three of its corners to the wall would pull out the third corner causing it to stand out by an inch from the wall. By comparison the cotton fiber merely loosed the pin, and had a fluffy texture, as it was not restraint dried flat.

Lee brought along with the fibers, a double boiler and beeswax. With this the class was able to coat its papers and sculptures producing some interesting effects. The paper takes on a luminescence, and weight; appearing less like paper and more as plastic. This is a technique I am excited to incorporate into my own work.

Another paper sculpture by Mary:

Students were able to create exciting new experiments without fear of failure such as Shifu, the twisted paper threads native to Japan; wax dipped papers; pulp cast from wire and fabric molds; sewn, glued, and various cast constructions as well. Fibers were combined such as cotton and abaca to produce texture and tension. Hats, masks, baskets, and sculptural books were all made with joy.

Paper sculptures from various members of the class,
including some of Mary's work.

The effects of the class, for me have been life changing. I am no longer considering an MFA in book arts but one in sculpture; sculpture centered on the merits and potential of paper. Indeed, I am running headlong into a world where paper looks a bit unlike paper and that is just fine by me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Leafy paste papers

Just for fun, the next time you're making paste paper, use some leaves! Here's one that I did, pressing a leaf into the paint. I think it turned out great!

I used a small leaf on this paper. I just used the same leaf over and over, until I covered the whole sheet. It was quite a large sheet of paper, this is just one corner of it.

I did another sheet with a large fern too, that also worked well. I know it's been done before, but it was new for me!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest Blogger Sandra Anible, Decorating Handmade Paper

Sandra Anible is a book artist living in Madison, Wisconsin. I met her at PBI in May 2011, when she was a PBI participant and one of the lucky scholarship students who was on hand to help keep PBI running smoothly. Sandra also wrote for my blog about one of the other PBI 2011 classes, making conservation enclosures with Denise Carbone. This time she has written a review of Bridget O'Malley's paper-making class, also from PBI 2011. Thanks for sharing your class experiences with us, Sandra!

At the 2011 Paper Book Intensive, Bridget O'Malley taught a class that featured several creative methods for decorating freshly couched handmade paper. O'Malley is co-partner with Amanda Degener of Cave Paper ( in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She first taught us how to create sheets of handmade paper using both cotton and abaca fibers. After we became comfortable with the Western method of pulling sheets, she provided instruction on how to screen-print pulp onto the handmade paper.

Some of the papers made in this class:

The method entailed painting a piece of stretched polyester fabric using Speedball drawing fluid. After flooding the fabric with Speedball screen filler, the water soluble drawing fluid resisted the non-water soluble screen filler, and the painted image was washed away with water after the screen filler dried. This created a means by which the imagery would be screen-printed onto the newly made paper using a finely beaten, pigmented pulp.

We then used our xacto knives to cut pieces of mylar film in order to create stencils. A mylar stencil could be placed over a freshly couched sheet of paper, and pigmented pulp could be applied over the stencil in order to make creative, editionable papers.

Blocks of Easy Cut were made available, as were relief cutting tools. We were encouraged to cut designs into the blocks for impressing into the handmade paper during the pressing and drying processes.

A few more papers made in this class:

These and other techniques were all employed for the grande finale--a class-wide portfolio exchange. Each member of the class was given the creative freedom to make an edition of papers using any combination of the techniques that had been taught. For a celebration of the anniversary of Hand Papermaking, an exhibit of one of these portfolios was later displayed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Throughout the class, Andrea Peterson ( was on hand for management of the studio space and work flow among the students - necessary because our class was highly prolific, churning out collections of paper that kept Andrea busy, and kept the dryer full for the duration of the class. Our collections overflowed the show-and-tell table at the end of the week!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Blogger Erin Sweeney, In Emulation of Books

Erin Sweeney is an artist living and working in New Hampshire. Her current work combines fibers, text, and the book form. She is interested in all forms of building, be it conceptual or physical. Making handmade objects, manipulating space, and utilizing printmaking processes in non-traditional ways are all a part of Sweeney’s vocabulary. Be sure to visit her website: I had the great fortune of meeting Erin at PBI this year and she graciously agreed to share a little report on one of her classes.

“Follow your instruction sheets!” Mindy Dubansky’s mantra to us during In Emulation of Books: The History of Objects in Book Form class at PBI this past May. I’m here to vouch for those instructions. I did this project again recently with the fine conservation department at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and the instruction sheets were working quite well.

Jumping immediately into our Shaped Boxes, as it was imperative to have the first layers dry for the next day, there was no time for introductions or other bothersome chatting. Working from the inside of the box out, we started with marbled (or other decorative paper) and cut it to size, based on the size of our form. After wrapping our custom shaped length of 2’ x 4’ form (sanded on one side to imitate a book spine) with wax paper, we wrapped our marbled paper around, facing in. (The author struggled with paring paper edges, but that’s another story.) Next, we took strips of Bugra, made by Hahnemühle, and dampened and pasted these strips. We wrapped and wrapped our forms, slowly and carefully.

Erin's finished book-shaped container:

It was a mental mind-bender to understand we were working from the inside out, so the next steps needed to just be done and not over-analyzed—and we successfully planned where our lids would be, making jigs so we’d remember later. After adding spacer layers, more decorative paper to line the inside of the case, and the little gap that would let us know where to stop cutting later, we wrapped more Bugra around the form, for a total of 12 wraps.

After setting our forms in a hot room to dry more quickly overnight, the next morning we were ready to cut. We trimmed the tops and bottoms and cut the whole box down to that little gap that we left (gasp!), slid them off our forms, sanded, and got ready to make the tops and bottoms—very simple, it turns out, as we traced our tops and bottoms onto Museum board, cut them out, and then cut out two more small pieces to be glued on for insets. I was expecting a monumental feat of measuring with complicated tools, and was relieved to find that we were simply tracing!

Finishing these cases took the most time—and I discovered first-hand the delightful camouflaging qualities of marbled paper. More sanding, gluing on strips of leather on the spine to imitate bands, applying the leather spine over the bands, and finishing the outside and top and bottom of the case came next.

Several of the 'blooks' made in this class:

The highly finished look of this piece is marvelous, as is the delight in imagining all of the things you could wrap paper around to make your own shaped objects—when trying this again at Dartmouth, I made the Scroll Case instead of the Shaped Box. It is slightly easier to wrap, and less finicky to finish. We used heavy cardboard tubes instead of PVC pipe, and they worked well.

Mindy’s passion is “blooks”—book shaped objects and their history. Her personal collection and depth of knowledge is impressive and she was more than ready to share. Her slide show reflected well the depth and breadth of her knowledge. Additionally, Mindy’s extensive materials list, tool hints and tricks of the trade were most appreciated. Recently on the Book Arts listserv, she sent out instructions on how to make “A Successful Ball Point Water Pen, Recycled.” Perfect! She lists in succinct detail exactly how to do this. I want to make one just because she sent out the instructions, and I don’t even need a Successful Water Pen.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guest Blogger Margaret Braun, Printing with natural dyes

Time for another guest writer and another PBI class. Margaret Braun is an artist in Edmonton, Alberta who has been to PBI three times, and last year was my roommate. This year she was in a class that I think would have been really fun, making dyes with natural and easily obtainable materials. Margaret has agreed to share a little bit about it here on my blog.

Stirring and Stirring and Stirring the Brew...

You may wonder, why bother using natural dyes?

Well, in a course at Paper & Book Intensive (PBI) 2012 entitled, "DIY Screen Printing with Natural Dyes and Materials" with Denise Bookwalter we found out! What fun it was!

Seemingly alive, the organic inks reflect the light in interesting ways. The subtle colours seem to harmonize with each other. One-of-a-kind colours become more mellow, softer, and more beautiful with the passage of time. There is something primitively satisfying about picking weeds and re-routing them into your dye pot to make something useful.

A couple of Margaret's prints from the class:

Concerns for the well-being of our planet can promote avenues for an alternative resource to printing. Vegetable-sourced colours do represent a realistic alternative -- using berries, leaves, flowers, fruits, roots, bark and insects. A mordant (we used alum) can help the dye colour become permanent.

The screen-printing process offers artists a way to produce multiples without the investment of a press and other large apparatus. The basic equipment consists of the screen (a wooden frame with a fine-mesh fabric stretched over it) and the squeegee. This is a rubber blade set in a handle with which the organic ink is pulled across a prepared photo-based screen. The mesh transmits an even coat of ink which adheres to the paper below the screen.

Basic Ink Recipe:
  • bring water to a boil in a pot over a stove burner
  • add plant matter of your choice (chop or break apart plant fibres) and stir occasionally
  • turn down the burner to simmer until you get the desired strength of colour - stir
  • strain
  • add mordant into the coloured liquid until dissolved - of course, stirring
  • sprinkle starch into the pot as you would when making gravy - more stirring
  • continue simmering until ink becomes the consistency of a thick gravy - continue stirring
  • remove from stove and let ink cool - stop stirring
Remember: Not all natural plant materials are safe to use. Search your local library for books or the internet for advice.

Natural dyestuffs produce unique colours that may vary widely from dye lot to dye lot. The temperature, growing soil, cooking times, volume of matter and other elements will cause variations. Most natural dyes are soft shades that reflect the natural world around us -- greens, yellows, blue, browns, grey, soft rose, peach, deep burgundies and a range of violets. Whether it is from the garden, grocery store or the other side of the road you will be sure to discover amazing colours! Most of all, experiment and enjoy your journey of your own personal discovery on a road of many colours!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Nova Scotia, book of photographs

I have always called it an "open edition" but this is the last available copy. I made ten of these, with the intention of making more at some time. I suppose that time is now, but I'm not going to make any more like this.

This is a small book, with official Nova Scotia tartan on the cover and it contains a set of my photographs taken of Nova Scotia's rural and coastal areas. It is a hardcover pamphlet structure.

This last copy is now available on Etsy.

I continue to save my favorite photographs of Nova Scotia landscapes so I have a whole new batch of photos that could be used for something like this. Perhaps I'll have to consider designing "Volume 2" of the Nova Scotia book.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Japanese Account Book

The very first bookbinding book that I got, was the "Japanese Bookbinding" book by Ikegami. I was entirely impressed with all the history included in this book and I read every word and made every project. One of my favorite notebook structures from this book is this simple account book structure. This structure is called daifuku chō and it was used during the Edo period (1603-1868) for travel diaries, guest registers, and primarily as merchant account books (Ikegami p.68). Ikegami includes a photograph of an account book from the mid-1800s and that always catches my attention when I go through his book.

So a while back, I decided that I would try to replicate the "look" of that mid-1800s current-accounts book. The first thing I had to do, was figure out how to recreate the Japanese calligraphy. Since I'm not a calligrapher, and know nothing of Japanese writing at all, I had to figure out something that I could manage. So I carved some rubber stamps to recreate the Japanese characters on the cover.

I really don't know what they mean. Ikegami's text suggests that they would embellish the cover with the characters for "great fortune" but I don't know if this example follows that trend. I did speak to someone who knew a bit more than I, and she believed that the character on the bottom was the character for "account book." If any of my readers can enlighten me about the others, I'd love to hear from you!

Once I had my Japanese character stamps ready, I stamped them onto some cream handmade paper and added some little hand-drawn characters as well. The cover paper and the pages were then aged, and then I bound the books together using linen twine.

There is a long braided piece extending from the spine at the top of the book. Ikegami writes that completed ledgers might have been strung together and tied to a long cord so that in case of an emergency, such as a fire, the merchant could easily grab all his account books at once and toss them to safety.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Blogger Laura Martin, Alternative Album Structures

Laura Martin retired in 2006 after a long career in academia and has been exploring the "other side of books" ever since. She has exhibited with Art Books Cleveland and is one of the founders of Octavofest, a month-long celebration of book and paper arts that takes place every October across Northeast Ohio. She has recently been cutting paper obsessively, but, in spite of that, Ann Frellsen thinks she has "the sensibility of a conservator." This was her second PBI and she is already looking forward to the next one. Laura has agreed to tell us about one of her PBI classes this year, alternative album structures.

Album Alternatives, a class taught in the first PBI 2012 session by bookbinding legend Betsy Palmer Eldridge, was an introduction to a variety of methods for attaching stuff to pages. Each participant ended up with a “sampler album” that included two different cover types and a dozen different attachment structures, ranging from simple to demonic (at least for me!). In addition, Betsy taught some further binding styles, including the amazing Flexible Chain Back Binding!

In the sampler, we began with simple direct attachment with adhesive but quickly moved on to various historical methods, some now seldom used but still pertinent – in fact invaluable! – for handling certain kinds of objects that a person making artist books might want to incorporate into a work. Several of the most interesting structures are based on mid-19th century albums that held cartes de visites and albumen silver print photographs. These structures involve attachments with double and triple pages and slot-entry points for inserting the object. We were able to handle historical examples of these bindings and admire the decorative elements they exhibited as well as the structure itself.

Betsy’s hands near her teaching drawing and a Victorian photo album:

Any method of attaching additional paper material to book pages requires attention to the issue of compensating at the spine for the extra width of the inserted material. Another matter is the frequent need to accommodate an object that is larger than the page it is attached to. One particularly appealing series of structures were those that allow a spread holding an image to open across the fold without losing part of the image in the gutter. Betsy called this the “Polar Bear” structure – mostly because her model contained several images of polar bears cut from a calendar! This structure was especially interesting to me because of its potential use in accordion format artist books that involve cut text and image. Now I know how to make the image larger than the page.

The Polar Bear Structure:

The most engaging structure of all was the Flexible Chain Back Album, patented in 1865 by William W. Harding in Pennsylvania. It is a variant of the stiff leaf binding, and everyone at PBI received a copy of its history and the instructions for making it in their PBI Folder. Even though it has almost been lost, Betsy is anxious to see it reintroduced and I certainly hope other people will try making it. It is a great structure that allows pages to open flat and is very durable. In fact, in Betsy’s examples, the spine structure had survived the rest of the binding altogether

A demonstration of the Chain Back Binding:

By far the most wonderful aspect of this session was just the chance to be taught by a person with such a breadth of experience and knowledge. It seemed as if every couple of minutes I had to stop what I was doing and write down another one of the invaluable insights that Betsy was tossing off in her casual way. (I think I’ll claim that is what accounts for how late I was finishing up all the models!) Besides all the information about specific structures, we were treated to better ways of tying knots, better ways to remove adhesives, and better ways to smooth and soften paper by using the Japanese beading technique. As my journal notes say: “Beading is amazing! The shoemaker’s knot is amazing! Betsy is amazing!”

Having studied in Germany and France, and knowledgeable about binding traditions from around the world, Betsy Eldridge is a living encyclopedia of conservation techniques and book history. It was a special privilege for me, only a recent entrant into the world of the “book as object,” to meet and learn from her. And to add to my sense of good fortune, Hedi Kyle was a participant in my session as well. The opportunity to hear their discussions and debates over the history or advantages of one structure or another really underscored for me the great sense of being another small link in the great long chain that connects bookmakers, binders, and conservators throughout history. It is one of the great gifts of PBI to make such moments possible.

Julie Chen, Maria Fredericks and Betsy Eldridge at the Album Alternatives table at Show and Tell:

There are a couple more photos of the albums made in this class in my Flickr pool.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Blogger Ann Frellsen, Italian Paper Bindings

Ann Frellsen is the Collections Conservator for the Emory University Libraries in Atlanta, Georgia. She has attended several PBI’s and she never gets tired of them. Last year she was an instructor - teaching the book repair class that I took. Ann has kindly agreed to share with us, one of the classes she took this year, taught by Maria Fredericks.

Maria Fredericks, book conservator at the Morgan Library and Museum taught the PBI class on Italian Paper Bindings from 1500-1800. Maria has done extensive research in this area, and has looked at these bindings in collections in the US, UK, and Italy. In this class we looked at a range of covering methodologies, variations in endsheet structures and sewing patterns via the samples Maria brought, her slides, and the numerous binding models that she had made during her investigation of this genre.

During this time period books had to get from printers to the binders in larger and larger editions and out to the booksellers in shorter and shorter time frames. The need to produce books faster to meet the increased demand resulted in an evolution from elaborate binding structures to the simpler, faster sewing and bindings that were the focus of our class.

Stacks of books created by the participants in this class.
Photo by Fran Kovac.

The earliest historic examples of sewing we made were long-stitched through the thick paper (cartonnage) covers. Our models of the 17th C. styles were sewn all-along on alum-tawed thongs – a supported sewing. Models from the early 18th C. show a variety of abbreviated sewing patterns. No supports were used. Skipping sewing stations or jumping from one signature to the next without using kettle stitches seemed sacrilegious, but many examples of these bindings survive today, so they must be fairly strong. The sewing patterns were fun to learn and really did speed up production. In the class most of us completed at least five different books, and some completed many more.

Our cases were made of very heavy papers; we used the wonderful Iowa Case Paper from the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book and an exquisite piece of Moulin du Verger, a case paper developed to replicate the historic Italian case papers. We also created stiffer laminated covers by layering on slightly thinner Khadi paper. Sometimes the endpapers were pasted to the covers—attaching the textblock to the case – other times we laced on the cases with the alum-tawed thongs we had sewn onto – a reference to the limp vellum binding style that had been popular but was more expensive for the 16th C. bookbinder to make.

Paper case, laced on. Photo by Fran Kovac.

For the laced-on cases we also created small tackets of either vellum or thin strips of the case paper twisted into cords and threaded through the covers. These simple tackets added strength to the case and its attachment to the textblock.

All the while we learned the different binding and sewing structures we also made paste papers using cooked flour colored with watercolors and stamped onto thin text weight Barcham Green papers with beautifully carved blocks. These paste papers became simple wrappers around the thick paper covers (also secured with tackets), adding color and lovely historically reminiscent pattern to the later models we had created.

Ann's Paste Papers. Photo by Fran Kovac.

Maria was a great teacher. She provided extensive information discussing Italian paper bindings and meticulous drawings of the abbreviated sewing variations she had encountered in her research. She kept us historically accurate, discussed conservation concerns, and at the same time allowed us freedom to be creative with our models. It was another wonderful and memorable PBI class.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Springback Binding with Larry Yerkes

The third class that I had at PBI last month, was the Springback binding with Larry Yerkes. The springback binding was develped as a binding for account books which were used daily, needed to open flat to facilitate the keeping of accounts, and might often be left lying open all day long. Most books don't see that much use. So these account bindings are hefty, over-built, and durable.

After the textblock is ready, a tube is made for the spine. We made the tube by layering paper to make a thick card, then wrapping that card around a wooden dowel until it was dry. When it was removed from the dowel, it was a very solid tube that we then forced onto the spine of our textblocks.

A blurry Larry making a tube.

The tube, now on the spine.

So that makes the "spring" part of this binding. This binding has split board covers, so once the tube was ready on the spine, we made the covers and put them in place. Then we proceeded with the half leather covering; here's my lovely endcap:

We used fabric on the cover, and then did some blind tooling on the leather.

This is my finished book:

Now if you aren't familiar with the springback binding, this talk of a tube and springs etc might just leave you wondering, "why?", "how is this better or different"? Ah! I have a little video to show you that will make everything clear - hopefully - although watching the action isn't as fun as performing the action yourself. Nonetheless, I have tried to show the magic in this little video. So, here I am opening and closing a springback book to show you how the tube creates a springy action when the book is opened and closed:

Thanks Larry, for a great class. I learned a million things.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Paper Marbling with Steve Pit­telkow

This year at PBI, I also took a marbling class with Steve Pit­telkow. I've been marbling on my own for a while, after taking a class from Nancy Morains a few years ago. But I still learned a lot in this class; as always, there is no end to what can be learned!

Steve, demonstrating:

Fellow classmate, marbling:

Many marbled sheets from the class, drying in the paper studio:

So what did I learn? Firstly, Steve made me use eye droppers! I thought, what is this madness with eye dropers? How can it be done!? I struggled and wished and wished for whisks; but I persevered and at some point I got used to them. I also learned a lot about working with acrylic paint. My first class was taught using watercolours, and evidently one needs to treat them differently! Steve also had a lot of good tips for solving the myriad of problems that inevitably occur. It was a great class, thanks Steve.

A few of the papers that I made in the class...

I practiced the moiré a lot.

One of my favorites made during this class, a nice Spanish wave on a stone pattern.

And for the first time ever, I actually tried some traditional ebru marbling.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Making Tools with Shanna Leino

I just spent nearly 12 days at Paper and Book Intensive without posting to my blog even once. My reliability decreases every year. But do not despair, I intend to share lots of information about PBI now that I am back home. One of the classes I was taking, was tool making with Shanna Leino. My first introduction to tool making! Shanna makes stunning tools, both bone and steel. Check out her tools (and her books too) at Here is Shanna, cutting something in class last week.
We were using elk bones to make the bone folders. The bones have to be chopped up a bit, into long narrow slabs. Shanna had a box full of bone slabs that we could pick through and select ones that appealed to us for our own tools.
Starting with a hatchet to hack away any large pieces, then using rasps and files, the slabs can be shaped and refined into useable tools. Here are the first bone tools that I started - nearly finished:
After all the rasping and filing, the bone tools were also decorated and then sanded and polished. By the end of the session, I made these four bone tools and one chunky bone needle.
Shanna also had us make a steel tool. Starting with a plain steel rod, the ends were shaped and then the rod was decorated. We also tempered the steel to make it hard and durable (red hot into water - my first taste of blacksmithing). These kinds of tools can have different shapes on the points like hearts or squares or stars etc. After a false start, the one I made turned into a simple round point, with some decoration on the rod. The little brass star in this photo has been punched with my newly made tool.
Thanks to Shanna and PBI, now I have this selection of beautiful new tools to use. And as Fran so wisely pointed out, they fit my hands because my hands made them.