23 December 2007

Exterminate!

I got a cell phone recently. It's very shiny. Also, it has bluetooth. My Macbook also has bluetooth. Hmm . . . I thought, I bet I could make them talk to each other. Last night I managed to figure out how, though I couldn't think of anything useful to do with the ability. I've also been trying to figure out how to make my own ringtones. This phone can use mp3 ringtones, but you can't just transfer from a computer. Well, you can, and you can then listen to them, but you can't set them as ringtones. Some investigation online revealed sites that will convert mp3s to ringtone files and send them to you on your phone. But the file I wanted to use was already an mp3. Hey, I thought, what if I use bluetooth to send the file? Alas, it just saved it on the phone's memory card (sold separately ;) ). So I took the memory card out and re-sent the file. This time when I selected "store" it gave me the option to set the file as a ringtone. Yay! Now whenever someone phones me there will be Daleks exclaiming, "Exterminate! Exterminate!" Now I just need some people to phone me . . .

And here's a blurry cellphone photo of a weird thing I saw on the way home from my coffee date (drank a London Fog, had good conversation, saw cool photos):



Hmm . . . I don't know why that's sideways. It's not sideways on the phone and it's not sideways in Photoshop. Oh well, you'll just have to tilt your head. It's a snowbank on the side of the road with a big pile of shiny icecubes on top. It was very surreal in the weird night light.

21 December 2007

Crap

Had my last day of work at the VRC (aka slide library) today. Had my last day of printing the lithographic photoplate experiment today. Got some information today that made me cancel a date. I don't know if the information was good or not, but I thought it best to err on the side of caution and only have dates in public places for a while. Feelings ended up hurt on both sides. Oh well, I thought. I will drink tea and eat xmas chocolate and watch anime and things won't seem so bad. Maybe I will stop feeling guilty (I am very good at feeling guilty). Apologies didn't help. Apologies didn't seem to do anything except make me feel like I was apologising too much. And Naruto seems to have vanished off YTV's schedule, so I have to wait for anime. So tired. Shower now, then Bleach and Deathnote, and maybe it will help, but probably I'll go on feeling guilty for a while. Probably quite a while. I love words, but sometimes they don't communicate. Crap.

18 December 2007

Random Photo

Deva and Ryan in New Brunswick this past summer. I can't remember the name of the town, but they had sea caves and a really nice park with hiking trails.

Slippery Dog

I just got a spam mail with the subject "Dalmation lubrication." It had an attachment. I did not open it.

17 December 2007

Random Picture

Too many words, so here's a picture from the field trip we took to Gaspereau Press with my wood type class this summer. Old machinery is fascinating.

Free Paper!

(Yes, another update. You'd almost think I had some free time. Don't get too comfortable--my free time is still pretty minuscule until after Friday.)

So what I did today. I got up groggy and even more zombie-like than yesterday. With the weather having warmed up and the heat in the apartment not seeming to have adjusted, I was too hot to sleep, and the wind was whistling in the window and earplugs just got annoying. But then I drank tea and things weren't so bad.

I went in to school and just had time to make one lithographic photo plate (no pics, sorry, the plates are light sensitive; if I remember I'll take some when I start printing tomorrow). Then I dashed to work (approximately a minute and a half dash to the library from the printmaking studios, luckily). There was a lot of going through slides to get them back in their proper order after a semester of use. I'm working my way through Asia, and so did a lot of wrestling with the dynasties of China and trying to figure out exactly what principle was behind the cataloging of the art and architecture of India. Alas, no one who actually worked on setting it up is at the library any longer. The rare times when someone came in to return or sign out a video seemed like special treats. And when Joe phoned to let me know that they did indeed want to hire me at the Dawson Printshop it was better than xmas. So then I had to tell Victoria that I'm going to take the printshop job and not return to the VRC (aka slide library) next semester. And Friday will be my last day.

After work (which ended at four) I went back to printmaking, cut (or rather ripped) some paper, set up the middle press, and pre-stretched the paper (well, half of it--part of the experiment will be to see just how much not pre-stretching cocks up the registration on different papers). While I was setting up, the technician Murf (without whom the printshop would probably not run half so well) asked me what I was getting out of being the guinea pig who gets to try the new photo-transparencies. Well, I explained, I get to keep the plates after, and I get however many copies of the prints I make on my own paper. Bob keeps the prints on the paper he bought for me to print on. Murf seemed to think I ought to get more out of it, so he went to wherever it is he stashes things and came back with some paper he put away eons ago when the Printmaking Workshop part of NSCAD printmaking shut down (they used to make prints with big-name artists). I was expecting a few sheets; printmaking paper is expensive (which is probably why I am so poor this semester). Instead, he brought me a pile of perhaps 20 sheets of gorgeous thick greenish-tinged paper. It's a teensie bit yellowed around the edges, and curled from being so aged, but it's really , really nice. I can't wait to try some intaglio prints on it. Woo hoo! Free paper. Really nice paper.

Then I made three more photoplates (for the c, m, and k--made the y this morning), cleaned up and came home. I am thinking I should probably eat something, as my lunch was really more of an afternoon snack. I don't really feel that hungry, though. If I find some energy somewhere, maybe I'll make a little pizza. I have a couple of gf crusts in the freezer, and some sauce already made. Or maybe I'll just melt some cheese over a plate of blue tortillas and eat them with salsa.

So much wrongness

Add "guys who list anal sex in their interests wrong" to the list in the previous post. Shudder.

16 December 2007

It's alive!

Yeah, so, not dead. At least not literally. I look a bit like a zombie:


But anyway. I seem to have survived the semester. I also seem to have grown a few muscles and lost some fat. Printmaking is hard work.

Speaking of which, here are some more work-in-progress photos of printing, this time relief printmaking.

Here is a reductive linocut all ready to print the final colour. There isn't much left of it now. Behind the block is a newsprint proof of the one colour all by itself.


If I back up a bit, you can see more of the area where I'm working.


And here's the block on the press, waiting for me to add paper:


And backing up a bit from the press . . .


The print, covered with a tympan and blanket, as it comes out the other side of the press. Unlike lithography or intaglio printing, relief printing requires very little pressure so it's really easy to crank the bed through the press.


Here's the print from the back. I've used a thin Japanese paper, so all the colours show through.


The finished print alongside the block I just printed from. This was the final run, of dark blue over the other colours.


And finally, the print itself. I've titled it Kitsune Kaze, which means "fox shadow" in Japanese (which I do not speak, but I know a few words).



---

So, what else have I been doing . . .

I signed up for some stuff, like Facebook, which I tend to ignore until someone posts something on my page or sends me a message.

On a whim, when I was supposed to be writing a paper, I signed up on Plenty of Fish, which I am not going to link to here. Much to my surprise, I met a few interesting people (in real life, even!). One signed up on a dare, and another in a fit of madness. Or something. Even so, I have come to the conclusion that dating sites are strange and disturbing places. And while I am, at times, all for strange and disturbing, dating sites are really the wrong sort of strange and disturbing. Very, very wrong. Like old men with big mustaches and no beards who like country music wrong. Like men from Europe who proclaim you drive them crazy in obviously not first-language English wrong (not that not having English as a first language is itself wrong, that's silly). Even guys who, when you tell them that colour, size and shape are not important, tell you to spare them your liberal nonsense and inform you that skin colour is how we know our own kind wrong. But I'm sure these things are great for some people. For me, I'll be giving my real email to a select few people (well, one of my real emails, anyway) and getting the hell out of there.

I suppose there is more, but I should sleep before I have to get up for work and I still have a few people (non dating site people) to email before that. Probably, due to the hols, it'll be less than a month before I update again. Until then, here is an amusing picture of Poe:

20 October 2007

Milk Chocolate is . . . Meh

Yeah, so, yesterday I bought a bar of Swiss milk chocolate with hazelnuts in. It was the third time in as many weeks that I have eaten milk chocolate and thought I shouldn't have bothered. I mean it was all right, but it just wasn't as fantastic as chocolate is supposed to be. Maybe I just bought cheap, crappy chocolate. Or maybe I need to just get dark chocolate, which has never disappointed me. Now if only I could find some dark chocolate with hazelnuts in. It's easy to find dark chocolate with almonds. Even Hershey's makes reasonable dark chocolate with almonds (and Hershey's dark chocolate used to be grainy and horrible). But no one seems to make dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Or hedgehogs. Has anyone ever seen dark chocolate hedgehogs? Mmm . . .

14 October 2007

Airship Coat

Oh, won't someone get this for me for xmas . . . Warm wool coat (did I mention the weather has turned very chilly here), airship insignia. Airship insignia!! Anyway. I could use a coat. (I should probably measure myself and see if it would fit. I think it will. But I should measure.)

08 October 2007

Relief!

Relief printmaking, that is. I'd set aside the entire day of today to work on nothing but relief printmaking. I wanted to get a big linocut either done or well on its way. Alas, it's not even begun.

My idea was to do a sort of scroll-shaped (that is, long and narrow) image from Aesop's The Fox and the Grapes. But I just can't get the fox right in my sketches. So I've set that aside for now, to work on drawings for a woodcut (on plywood!). Here's a sketch I did sometime last year when my design class started to get really boring:



I rather like this character. I'm not entirely sure who she is or where she fits into my various stories, but I do know she's a test pilot and a courier for Frisland Airships. Anyway, I thought it would be kind of fun to try to do a black and white woodcut of her, so I did this sketch of her face, thinking I could surround it with a black oval, a la Victorian portraits:



Then I traced the image onto another sheet of paper, so I could fix a few things, like the goggles and gloved hand. I traced over the main lines with a sharpie so I could get a clearer idea of what I was doing. For some reason I decided to try to make it into a greyscale marker drawing, with rather dubious results:



Heh. Now try to picture what this will look like in high contrast black and white, without a whole lot (or any) fine detail, as a woodcut. Anyway, we'll see how it turns out . . .

06 October 2007

Time, I Need Time

Actually, I'm pretty sure Imperius said "Thyme. I need thyme," but anyway . . .

I think I may have taken on too much this semester. Scroll down to that post where I detailed my schedule. See anything wrong with it? Add in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday working 9-12:30 in the slide library. Now do you see? How about there's hardy any smegging time to do the bazillion assignments that come with fifteen credits of art school, twelve credits of which are studio courses? Oh yeah, and then there's my writing job, the one that actually pays the bills (which, alas, pays in US dollars which were worth less than Canadian dollars when I put my cheque in the bank earlier today!) But anyway. Somehow I thought I could do all this.

Sigh. I have asked to cut back on my slide library hours, so as of this past week, remove the Wednesday morning shift from the schedule. It's more manageable. Especially since my photo teacher said that any assignments except the final project can be resubmitted at any time up to the penultimate class. That's a huge relief, because my first two assignments were utter crap. And no, that's not just my perfectionist self speaking. Anyway. I feel I can breathe a little now, though I am still thinking of asking for another free morning. Especially since I looked at my courses to date and realized that if I do an Interdisciplinary degree (which fits better with my current plans of action A, B and C--which is to say, all of them) I can graduate a bit sooner. Even if I take on a much lighter course load next semester.

So immediate plans are to make it through this semester working as hard as I can (and nine of my fifteen credits are litho and relief printing, which are more fun), then relax a bit school-wise. But first, survive the semester. And I thought last winter was hellish!

27 September 2007

What I Did Today (or, Manual Labour)

I actually hauled myself out of bed at 6:15 this morning, a non-school morning, to go print stuff in the lithography studios at school. I had a couple of assignments to work on for tomorrow's class and I wanted to get going before the hordes arrived. It's really nice to work in there first thing in the morning, even though I am not remotely a morning person. Here's one of the presses (not the one I was using today, but pretty much the same except a little smaller):


My first task was to print my aluminum plate, which I've had ready to go for about a week. Because it's just a thin sheet of aluminum, it has to sit on a plate support to go through the press. Here's the plate all inked up and ready to run a proof:


It came out really well, although there was one spelling error and one backwards "s" (it comes from writing backwards, which I'm actually pretty good at, but it's easier to make mistakes). I'll be able to correct the errors later, fortunately.


Once that was done, it was on to working on a colour reductive print, this time on a stone instead of a plate. The idea is to make an image and print it in one colour, then remove parts of the image, print in another colour, and so on. The assignment is to use at least three colours. My idea is to do the three colours, and then use my aluminum plate to print black over top (or maybe a very dark brown). Here's the stone inked up in the first colour, a mustardy yellow (it looks green because it's rather on the transparent side, and there's still black ink in the stone that refused to wash out, even with the stronger solvent):


It started out well, but then . . .

That black ink that was still in there? It stayed put all though the newsprint proofs. Then as soon as I started cover stock proofs, the black started to come out. Not a lot, just enough to make the yellow look a bit dirty, which doesn't really matter with the image in question, so I kept going. Then I noticed some weird embossing on the rag paper prints. I checked the stone. There had started to appear little areas where the surface of the stone seemed to be caving in slightly. Oh, that can't be good.

So I kept going through 5 rag paper copies. Then I was afraid to go any farther in case the stone broke or something. I had intended to do 6 and then if there was time move on to the next colour. Instead I rolled up the stone in black ink and gummed it down to save for later--after I show the weirdness to my teacher and find out if it's still okay to use.

19 September 2007

Busy Busy

Yes, I am alive. I did manage to get into Relief Printmaking, Tuesdays from 6-10 pm. So I am so very busy and kind of sleepy most of the time, but having a blast. I'm a bit behind where I need to be for Litho (and so will probably be spending most of tomorrow working in the litho studios), but am so far up to date on everything else.

And here's a glare-y snap of my lino block from my first relief assignment. It's darkened with Sharpie so I could see what I was doing. I'll post a pic of the final print once I actually finish it.

09 September 2007

Gothic Medieval Bookbinding Project

I was rummaging around in my files, looking for pictures I can post on my deviantART page (go, look, I added more stuff today). Anyway, I found the essay I wrote for Intermediate Book Arts last fall, and though it would be fun to post it here, diagrams and all. I'll forgive you non book-geeks if you don't want to read it all . . .



Gothic Medieval Bookbinding Project

The prospect of choosing a book arts final project was at first daunting. With so many possibilities, all of which I want to learn about, how could I choose just one? In the end, I decided on a time period that we hadn’t learned much about in class, but which was an important one for the development of book structure: the medieval period.

Even that decision didn’t narrow the possibilities that much, but realizing that I would not be able to acquire any parchment for an accurate reproduction of an early medieval book, I settled on Gothic bookbinding, when paper would have been more and more common in book production.

Paper

Paper was eventually the dominant material for textblocks in Gothic bindings, but was originally thought to be weaker than parchment. Paper was therefore often combined with parchment in a variety of ways, such as the addition of an inner or outer parchment bifolium to each paper section or to the end sections, or a narrow parchment guard to the inner fold of each section (Szirmai 176, Shailor 11-12).

Because of the expense of parchment (and also because I would have had to order it well ahead of time), I chose to use paper for this project. I found a very nice Italian mould-made paper made of cotton with wool fibres. It is quite a thick paper, and thus perhaps not ideal for a tight-backed Gothic binding, but I liked the feel of it.

There are a wide variety of possible endleaves for a Gothic binding – Szirmai provides diagrams of 19 – most of which combine paper and parchment. As mentioned, I did not have access to parchment, and so I stuck with the same paper as the bookblock. The style of endpaper I used is one not illustrated in the Gothic bindings chapter of Szirmai's book (it is, however, shown in the Romanesque chapter, page 147), but which J. Landry mentioned as fairly common in English medieval bindings (pers comm.). It consists of a single bifolium with the outermost leaf cut of short to serve as a waste leaf. Both the stub of the waste leaf and the second leaf would be pasted to the board.

Sewing

The holes for sewing a Gothic book could be either pierced or cut (Szirmai 176) – I chose to pierce them using a template to make sure I had them spaced and lined up properly.

According the J.A. Szirmai, Gothic books could have anywhere from two to nine sewing supports, with three to six being the most common (180). Because my book is small, I decided on three supports plus a kettlestitch at each end. The three supports are evenly spaced, as the optical illusion that necessitates a larger space between the bottom two supports on a raised-cord binding was either unknown, ignored, or of no concern at the time. Even as late as the 16th century it was common for books to be placed flat on a horizontal shelf, and when they were shelved vertically, it was as often as not with the fore-edge out (Petroski, 118-9).

The most common sewing supports on Gothic bindings were double cords and split thongs (Szirmai 183, Shailor 56), and since I wanted raised cords showing on the spine, I went with double cords and chose linen over hemp for strength. I sewed with a straight stitch rather than herringbone, because I wanted to pack the sewing which would help stabilize the rounded shape of the spine and create wider opening arch when the book is opened (Szirmai 272). I did the packing of the sewing after the bookblock was sewn and chose to pack each cord separately rather than doing each pair of cords together. It is possible to create a decorative effect by emphasizing the separate cords in this way (Landry, pers comm.).

The thread I used was 12/3, fairly thick to compensate for the relative softness of the paper and the thick sections.

Endbands

I had originally approached this project wanting to investigate endbands that were sewn at the same time as the sections were sewn. I had read about this in a number of bookbinding books (for examples see Burdett 143 and Johnson 85) but had been unable to find out how they were done or to find any examples. As I researched endbands, I did eventually find diagrams of integral endbands (Cockerell 110, Young 112). Szirmai describes a number of examples of this type of endband, but mentions that it was almost unknown on earlier medieval bindings (203). Integral endbands became more common on Gothic bindings (but still only account for 4.3% of the Gothic endbands Szirmai studied), indicating that they are a later innovation and not the original method of making endbands, as many writers would have it. Landry's experience with English bindings also indicated that integral endbands are the exception, and may have come from very few (or even just one) workshops (Email).

Although I am still curious about integral endbands and the origin of the misconception about their antiquity, I finally chose to use primary wound endbands with a back bead – Szirmai's Type II (206) – sewn with the same thread as the rest of the book. The endbands were tied down through the centre of each section.


Boards

The most common woods for the boards of medieval books are oak and beech, with oak being almost the only wood used in England (Szirmai 217). The boards were usually quartersawn, partly because that was the usual way of making planks for a long time, and also because quartersawn wood is less likely to warp, which is an important consideration for book covers (Landry, pers comm.).

To make the book boards, I used oak and cut it with a Japanese saw to almost the final size, then planed down the edges. Szirmai illustrates sixteen different ways to shape the outer edges of Gothic book boards (219). I chose to gradually round, or cushion, the outer edges – the rounding at the spine provides for a smooth path for the cords to travel, and the gradual rounding feels nice in the hand on the other three edges. The inner spine edge of the board is more strongly rounded to help force the spine of the book into a rounded and somewhat backed shape (Landry, pers comm.), and the other three edges are beveled.



There are a number of ways of lacing the cords into the boards (Szirmai shows several on page 223). I used one of the more common ones, with the double cords of the sewing supports laced in from the outside and back out from the inside, and the single cords of the endbands simply laced in from the outside. A channel for the cords is cut from the spine edge to the first hole on the outside, and between the two holes on the inside of the boards.



Once the cords are pasted and laced into the boards, they are pegged in with dowelling (Shailor 57) while the cover is at a 45ยบ angle to the bookblock. Then the dowels and cords are cut off flush with the boards and the covers are forced closed which creates the rounded and backed shape of the spine (Landry, pers comm.). Szirmai has presented evidence that at least some workshops used a hammer to round and back books (194), but I decided to follow the my teacher's experience and besides, I had backed with a hammer before, but had not yet tried backing by forcing the spine into shape with the boards.



Once the boards were on and closed, the book was measured for making a template from which to cut the leather, and then put in a finishing press to keep it closed while the leather was prepared.

Covering

Leather was the most common covering material in medieval bindings, with vegetable-tanned calf and alum-tawed pigskin becoming more prevalent on Gothic books (Szirmai 225). Since I hadn't had a chance to work with it before, except as sewing supports on a sewing sample book, I originally chose to use alum-tawed pigskin. It became apparent, however, that the leather I had chosen was not going to work.

Because the book has laced-in endbands, the leather needed to be cut to have more-or-less V-shaped cutouts on the top and bottom edges. The resulting central tab would fold over to create the headcaps and the area at the point of the V would be molded around the endband cords and board edges. I wanted to leave most of the wood exposed.

This kind of leather was stiffer than the vegetable-tanned leathers I had used before, and has a tendency to chip. Even with very sharp knives, I found paring the alum-tawed pigskin very difficult. In fact, after pasting and applying the leather to the spine, it was still quite stiff. Even after removing the leather, paring it some more and re-pasting, it was still quite difficult to get it to adhere to the spine and boards. PVA on the turn-ins helped it stay, but after a night in the press the covering was still too stiff to open the book properly.



It was apparent that the alum-tawed pigskin would have to be removed and another leather chosen. I moistened the leather and carefully peeled it off, then scraped off some PVA that had remained stuck to the boards. For my second try, I used calfskin, which we dyed brown. It was much easier to pare and mould around the endbands than the alum-tawed leather.

Once the leather covering was on, the book was placed back in the finishing press and tied up with string on each side of the raised bands as well as on each side of the kettlestitches. This was to help shape the bands as band nippers were unknown in medieval times (Landry, pers comm.). Tying up would also help adhere the leather to the spine.

The final step in making this Gothic medieval style book was to paste down the endpapers.

References

Burdett, Eric. The Craft of Bookbinding: A Practical Handbook. 1975. London: David & Charles, 1978.

Cockerell, Douglas. Bookbinding, and The Care of Books: A Text-Book for Book-Binders and Librarians. (1953). Revised edition. London: Sir Isaac Pitman, 1962.

Johnson, Arthur W. The Practical Guide to Craft Bookbinding. 1985. London: Thames and Hudson, 1990.

Landry, J. Personal communication, November and December, 2006.

-----. Email. November 30, 2006.

Petroski, Henry. The Book on the Book Shelf. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.

Shailor, Barbara A. The Medieval Book, Illustrated from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 1991. Rpt of The Medieval Book: Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. New Haven: The Library, 1988.

Szirmai, J.A. The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1999.

Young, Laura S. Bookbinding & Conservation by Hand: A Working Guide. New York and London: R.R. Bowker Company, 1981.

07 September 2007

deviantART

I added a link to my deviantART page in the sidebar. If you read this blog regularly, you'll have seen most of the things there (though I can think of at least one thing I put there that hasn't appeared here, plus I'll be adding more both old and new). It's all part of my plan to finally start getting some of my work out where people can see it, even if I'm not as good an artist yet as I'd like to be.

06 September 2007

Little Journals

Rowena commented in an earlier post that I have a lot of energy. I don't really, except for bookbinding. Making books seems to energize me, so I'm trying to keep making lots of quick little projects so I can use some of that energy for other things, like work and school.

Anyway, on the previously-mentioned bookbinding blog My Handbound Books, I found a link to Carmencho Arregui's website, where there are instuctions for the Arregui-invented Crossed-Structure Binding (CSB) (of which there are multiple verisons). Of course, I had to try these. I did three sewing variations of the CSB Basic, using some book pages I had cut and folded eons ago (several years, believe it or not). I'd folded the pages way back before I knew anything about paper grain direction, so the grain actually runs the wrong way on the pages. Since you don't need much, if any, adhesive for this binding structure, I figured it wouldn't matter too much, especially since it's just an experiment. Anyway, I'm not unhappy with the results.


Even though it was my favourite colour, I think the dark green one is the least successful. I didn't have anything on hand that I wanted to use as a fancy closure, but I might add something later on (I'm wondering what I did with those sea-creature shaped charms I bought a couple of years ago).


Even from the back, the blue one's my favourite. I remembered, when stitching the brown one, how much of a pain in the butt sewing leather is. Especially when you don't have the right needle. Also, next time I think I'll glue the straps in place first, then sew, to make sure they stay where they're supposed to be.


So I think it was a reasonably successful experiment--and a good way to use up the various leathers and suedes I've collected that can't be used in "proper" leather bookbindings. I'll definitely be revisiting this structure again, though first I think I'll try some of the small projects in the two bookbinding books I was given for christmas. Or was it my birthday? At some point, I'm going to work on some more elaborate medieval books, but I'll need to buy more supplies first.

05 September 2007

Mail Day

Well, yesterday was a good mail day (except for the credit card bill). Today is still too new to tell.

There were two packages from the US via FedEx and one from the UK via regular slow mail. They contained:
  • Preview material for Jackass: The Game. I am to write a preview. I strongly suspect I am really, really not the target audience for this game, but I shall do my best to write a fair preview.
  • Review material for Dead Head Fred. This is the retail version of the game, which I will review in-depth. I already did a preview and enjoyed it very much. I think it appealed to the mad scientist side of me.
  • All four volumes of the 1975 run of The Book Collector, which I bought primarily for the Spring issue, as it has a fabulous article by Graham Pollard on Anglo-Saxon bookbinding structures. Plus they were listed on ABE at around the same price as some sellers listed single issues.

So, all-in-all, a very good mail day (except that bill).

03 September 2007

Cats!

Wait, three posts in one day?! Indeed. I found these photos on my digital camera when I was loading the little book ones for the last post, and I had to share them. You'd think the cats were content or something.


Bast really likes warm, fresh laundry.


Poe's not really that fat, but he's big and tends to spread out sideways when he lays down.

T-Shirt

I really, really want a t-shirt that says "Will Work for Books." I might just have to find some way to make one.

Back to School

Yes, back to school week is here again. So, am I spending my Labour Day running around finding pens and pencils and paper and the appropriate art supplies? Of course not.

Today, I'm blogging. I did a couple of short news posts for work. I blogged a game review (Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer, the game so obviously not a rip-off that they had to put a disclaimer on the box.) (But I liked it, actually.) for my Gamer Advisory Panel blog, which is so neglected that they don't send me demo disks anymore. Pout. And I am blogging here.

Later, I'll work on finishing a couple of small book projects. And I'll get in some video gaming. I'm working on the first Untold Legends for PSP right now. It's an RPG, and my character is an alchemist. Oh, and perhaps later I and the roommates will watch Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, since Doctor Who appears to have been booted off today's schedule in favour of a football game. (Really, a football game!) (Football!)

The other day I found a bookbinding blog done by someone in Nova Scotia: My Handbound Books. I should probably drop her a line. Anyway, on said blog I found some interesting projects. One was a simple little book using origami waterlilies as the book block (aka pages). So of course, I made one.



I had to add some text, though--old haikus about water written in pencil crayon on the inside of each lily.



Yes, it's pink. I wanted to use colours I don't like for the first try, in case something went wrong. I might make some more of these. They could be nice stocking stuffers, or even holiday tree decorations. Hmmm . . .

As for the rest of the week, I don't actually have class until Friday. Class officially starts Thursday, but that's my off day. I work 9-12 Tues, Weds and Fri (usually Mon, also, but today's a holiday). I'm hoping to switch this to 9:30 to 12:30, since I don't need a whole hour for lunch, and that extra half hour in the morning makes a big difference. Tuesday after work I'll take in my student loan papers (I meant to do that Friday, but I forgot to take a voided cheque) and get my U-pass (yay, we have U-pass this year; no need to buy bus passes every month).

So yeah. Work three days, a few errands, and then Intermediate Lithography on Friday. Bob will no doubt leap right into the lectures and demos. Printmaking classes seem to be much more intense than just about anything else I've taken.

In between classes and work, I'll be making books. I'm waiting for some paper to come in now for one of the big book projects I'm working on. Then it'll be ready to actually bind. At some point I'll need leather for the cover. The other big project still needs some intaglio printing done, but now that they have the paper in at the student store, I can do that any time. I plan on finishing it in the second week of class, before the printmaking studios get too busy. Then I can start binding that one. But I need to find some wood, and someone who can take one 1/2 inch board and make it into two 1/4 inch (approximately) boards. I'm hoping to find someone in one of my classes who took Wood and Metal and is thus allowed to use the wood shop, which I am not. I will bribe them with candy. Or a handbound blank journal.

25 August 2007

Counting Foxes

I only just now finished word processing chapter 16 of White Foxes, Full Moon (or whatever it's going to end up being called). It now stands at 47, 425 words, plus chapter 17 and the beginning of chapter 18 in longhand. Perhaps I'll get more done tomorrow. We'll see.

I also did something I meant to do ages ago and sent a nice letter and chapter one of The Coming of the Fairies (the YA novel formerly known as Taken, 1941) to a literary agent. I don't expect this particular agent is even accepting new clients, but I figured I might as well begin at the top and work my way down. Whatever transpires, I will report it here.

And in a little less than two weeks, the new school semester begins. Damn, but this summer has gone by so fast! As usual, I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped. I will try to get a few more small projects finished in the next couple weeks, plus working away at my print book projects and at getting my little printing press up and running (much cleaning of cast iron with steel wool shall ensue).

Here's what my school week will look like as of the second week of September:

  • Monday 13:00 to 15:00 AHIS3200 History of Photography
  • Tuesday & Friday 13:00 to 17:30 PRTM3106 Intermediate Lithography
  • Wednesday 13:00 to 17:00 PHOT2500 Lighting Workshop
I'll have Thursdays free, and I'm hoping to add Relief Printmaking to Tuesday nights (18:00 to 22:00), but it's currently full with a long waiting list. I'll still be working at the VRC, and I hope to get my hours in Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings (well, maybe not Tuesday if I end up getting into Relief). It leaves me Wednesday mornings for either working on About stuff at home, or continuing to help organize in the printshop. That depends on a variety of things.

13 August 2007

For Anyone Counting

I've started working on White Foxes, Full Moon again, though I've come to the conclusion that only the first section will have that title; I'm going to need something else for the whole thing. Maybe. I have 44,043 words so far, plus a final chapter I may or may not use when I get that far, and a chapter that is so far only in longhand.

It has been really really weird, and rather distressing to have not written anything besides school things and work things for something like a year. I imagine it must be something like a musician unable to play music. But then, I'm not a musician, so I really have no idea. Anyway, it's a relief to be writing again, though I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up. I'm actually thinking of trying to do NaNoWriMo this year, if it turns out (as it well might) that I only have 12 instead of 15 credits of classes this fall. But that remains to be seen.

Now if only I could get working on Fey again. I actually have a couple of pages drawn but not inked.

LEGO! Indy!

Your must-watch video of the week (unless you've never seen Indiana Jones or Star Wars or don't know who Harrison Ford is or even what LEGO is): Lego Indiana Jones. (Warning: you will laugh.) (Unless there's something wrong with you.)

09 August 2007

Arr!

For all your piratey needs: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

05 August 2007

What Have I Been Doing?

Funny how, when I theoretically have all this time to blog, I still don't get around to it very often.

So, what have I been up to . . . I already wrote about the one class I took this summer. Now that that's over, I'm working 10 or so hours a week at the Visual Resources Collection (aka the Slide Library, alias the Non-Print Collection) at school. Though it's not exactly an exciting job, the necessary tasks are varied and my co-workers are fun, so I really, really like working there.

I'm still doing my About online job, though feeling guilty for not working on it as much as I had planned over the summer. It's still fun, too, even though I haven't received any free review games lately. Exciting things are happening with a redesigned PSP model due out in September. I'm probably going to wait until October, though, and see if I can snag one of the Star Wars bundles in which the PSP is white with Darth Vader's head on the back. I'm not nearly as big a SW geek as I used to be, but Darth Vader. Of course, I'd really like one of the Japanese ones with the Final Fantasy design on, but I'm not going to pay extra to import one.

The other thing keeping me occupied is helping my book arts teacher tidy, sort and organize the Dawson Print Shop at school, one morning a week. Last week we sorted out ink and threw out a lot that was too dried up to be of use. I came home with six cans of black ink that are dried up on top, but salvageable if I dig out the dried bits. I figure probably close to half of each can is salvageable, and since one only uses small amounts of ink at a time, it should probably keep me going for a while.

And that ink will some in handy because this summer I splurged on a printing press. It's a little Kelsey Excelsior. I'm not sure of the date, but it's an oldish model. The chase is only 5x8 (inches), but any bigger and I wouldn't have been able to afford the shipping (assuming I could find one with a seller willing to ship). It's only little, so it doesn't take up a lot of room (it's currently occupying the top of a tv stand), but along with the two nipping presses, the sewing frame, board cutter and various other bookish equipment, I'm starting to think that a studio would be really, really nice. I'm working on cleaning the rust off (it's old and cast iron, so there is rust), and waiting for new rollers to arrive. Now I just need some type.

I finally got a PS3 last month. The price dropped and Future Shop had a deal where you got a free Blu-Ray movie (I got the second Pirates, since I didn't have it on DVD yet). And there's a mail-in on Blu-Ray players, including the PS3, for 5 free movies. Of course, I looked a day or two ago, and for the same price you could get a bundle with a vertical stand and a game, which would have been nice, but I'm not unhappy with what I did get. Of course, now I need a decent tv. My cheapo 13" lowest-possible-resolution just doesn't do it. I can barely make out the text on the screen (sometimes I have to guess at words from their context). A small flat-screen should do nicely . . . I still have my birthday FS gift card from Dad & Cat, which I meant to use on the PS3, but the sales guy was talking so fast and also mumbling that I had to use all my concentration to figure out what he was saying and I completely forgot about the gift card. I had thought I'd go and get the new animated Hellboy and maybe Final Fantasy I for PSP, or maybe series two of the new Doctor Who, but if I use it and the $25 off coupon I got for getting a FS credit card, and wait until August 19 at 5pm when all tvs are 10% off, and buy the less expensive brand, I think I can afford a 19" HD tv. But we'll see. The one I'm considering can also be used as a computer monitor, so I'll probably also sell my flat screen monitor when I sell my desktop Mac. Then, if I really need a big monitor, I can hook my laptop up to the tv.

Yes, well. I plan.

27 July 2007

Beowulf!

Seen the trailer for Neil Gaiman's version of Beowulf? No? See it now . . .

15 June 2007

More Books -- Help McSweeney's

McSweeney's needs help, so they've put all their books (and t-shirts, too) on sale. You know you need a t-shirt with squid on. Who doesn't? I do. Also, a book with a Neil Gaiman story in. Plus magazines (I have a couple issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern--good stories, fabulous design, and really way too thick and hardcoverish to be a mere "magazine"), lots of other books, strange stationery and more. Go, buy if you can, browse if you can't.

Oh, The Books

While looking online for a copy of Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking, which sells for absurd prices on ABE, I came across the David Brown/Oxbow Books website. Oh, so many books I would love to have in my library. They distribute for a lot of academic publishers, so they have a fantastic selection of books on illuminated manuscripts, swords, textiles, archaeology, and all sorts of other wonderful technical and fascinating things. Alas, the book I wanted is long out of print, but I found lots of other books to want. Perhaps it's time to get together the materials to revise my old sword papers and write those other sword articles I've been thinking about, and put them together into a book I can "publish" through Lulu. Hmmm . . .

Type Specimens

Yesterday my wood type class installed our group projects in various places around NSCAD. Two of the groups (including mine) installed in windows off the Granville Mall/courtyard--one in the Seeds building and one in the building right next door if you're looking for it. The third group put theirs in the display case in the Duke building elevator.

I'm not normally enthusiastic about group projects, but this one was fun. The main idea for the project was mine, and I kind of felt like maybe I was too much of a control freak, but everyone kept agreeing with me . . .


(Apologies for the shadows; click photos to embiggen.) It didn't turn out quite as fabulous as I'd imagined--we had problems getting the letters to hang right, and I would have liked the book to be propped up a bit, and the backdrop is obviously a white bedsheet--but considering the time constraints and the somewhat ambitious nature of the project, I think it came out pretty well.

Here's the project from the adjacent window:


And one of the elevator:


After the installation, we walked around and did a critique, then went back to the classroom and had food. We were sort of calling it our "opening," even though our class were the only people there, so I wore my tailcoat and pinned a leftover blue N to my lapel. It was fun.

Here are a couple of closeups of my group's project.


It's hard to see, but the letters in the books are loose, and pinned in like butterfly specimens. When I made the book, I had intended to do a quick case binding that wouldn't do much other than look good in the window, but I ended up staying up late one night making a nice solid proper binding with the tapes laced into the boards, and a hollow back, and everything. It's the biggest book I've ever made, and even though the pages are only cartridge paper, it'll make a fine sketchbook (or, I'm thinking, a book for practicing calligraphy in). Assuming the rest of my group lets me keep it.


All of the letters we used were printed on a Vandercook proofing press from old wood type, then carefully cut out. (If anyone ever has a surplus of money they don't know what to do with, I'd like a Vandercook, please.)


I think ours was the only piece of the three with a title. Oh, and I didn't put my name first because I'm an egotist; my group members insisted.

10 June 2007

Blog News

Right, so my archives disappeared from the sidebar a while back, which I figured was probably due to my blog using an older template. Therefore, I decided to finally upgrade to a new template. Alas, the choices are slim, and the one that was in similar colours to my old template wasn't one I especially liked. I actually really like this new one, except it's the very same one that Ryan (of Halifax) and Deva both chose for theirs.

And speaking of Ryan's and Deva's blogs, I bugged them until they gave in and started them, though Ryan hasn't yet posted all his interesting responses to various "proofs" for the existence of god, and other odds and ends I keep telling him would be good blog posts. You'll find his blog here (also in the sidebar). Deva's blog is full of all the interesting and wonderful things she has been exploring through her reading lately. I wanted her to blog about them so I could vicariously experience the research she's doing. Yay! Read her blog here (or click in sidebar).

Sometimes we have involved conversations about stuff like this too, so reading Deva's and Ryan's blogs is a bit like eavesdropping through the window of our apartment.

09 June 2007

The Wilds of Nova Scotia. With Books!

Yesterday, Deva and I had planned to go to Frenchy's, a secondhand place I've heard much about since moving here but never visited (I should clarify, Frenchy's is actually a chain, not a single store). We thought we might also make a quick stop at Value Village and perhaps Chapters, and then grab some groceries on the way home. After visiting the Frenchy's in Sackville, where I got a gorgeous velvet scarf for $1.50 and a couple of tops for work, we got back on the road and the conversation turned, as it often does when Deva and I are in the same place, to books. Somehow Wolfville (home of Acadia University) also came up, and I mentioned a bookstore I'd seen in the phone book that looked intriguing. Deva thought it might be a shop she remembered, and so we decided, what the hell, and drove out to Wolfville (in a car borrowed from Judy, Deva's mom).

Said bookstore, The Odd Book, turned out to be as wonderful as I'd hoped (though the "books about books" section was a bit of a disappointment). They had a lot of obscure old stuff for reasonable prices (plus a few things I though were priced a little on the high side). When we pried ourselves away from the books, we each had a substantial stack and had decided that semi-regular trips to book shop might be a good idea. Here's what I ended up with:
  • Edwin Mulhouse by Stephen Millhauser -- fiction by the fellow who wrote the short story that the movie The Illusionist was based on (fine movie, too)
  • Martin Dressler by Stephen Millhauser -- yeah, same guy; I've been devouring his short stories, and so decided to tackle his novels
  • The End of Faith by Sam Harris -- one to add to my atheist library; it was on my list of things to look for specifically
  • The Great Houdini by Williams and Epstein -- for my research on the history of magic that will eventually result in a novel
  • Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World by Jeremiah Curtin -- for the fairy library; I'm not sure if I used this one in my thesis--if not, I should have
  • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin -- finally my own copy; I've been reading Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones, which is sort of an updated version
  • Issues in Science and Religion by Ian G. Barbour
  • The Death of Adam: Evolution and its impact on Western thought by John C. Greene
So, lots of fabulous things to read.

And I have much more to write about, such as Sue's visit, my birthday (plus thanks to gift-givers), and my thoughts on the two new blogs listed to the left (Deva's and Ryan's, for which I am sort of responsible), and the change in appearance of this very blog.

Rare Typo

The class I've been taking for the past week and will be taking for two more weeks is called Rare Typographic Mixed Media Printing. I didn't really know what to expect from it except that we'd be using the wood type in the Dawson Printshop (anything to play with type, I thought, and the Dawson room is quickly become the home of my heart at NSCAD). Anyway, despite the intensity of the three week, four-days-a-week format, I'm having a blast. I've just finished up project one this weekend. We were put in groups of three to set up a galley of type (and despite my usual aversion to group projects, I had fun). Our project was then to each use the same galley to make our own individual prints. I've ended up with two editions of three prints made from various bits of paper assembled into a sort of collage (or something), plus an accordion book (also in an edition of three). I'll try to get some pics up, as these brief descriptions don't really say much.

Tomorrow I've got to do a mock up for part of our project two--a group project to somehow use type to express contrast in an installation that makes use of three-dimensional space. More on that when I see if my ideas will work.

So that, besides work at the VRC and online stuff at About PSP, is what I've been doing on a regular basis.

24 May 2007

Damn, Now I Need to Go to Disneyland Again

Pirates. Nintendo DS. Free downloads. Sigh.

18 May 2007

RIP Lloyd Alexander

Yesterday.

17 May 2007

Erm . . . Yeah

I suspect there may be a few people out there wondering why I haven't been blogging. There is a good reason. Sort of.

Last semester was the proverbial semester from hell, except that most of my courses were actually really good. What was hellish was constantly having way too many things to do and not enough time to get them done, let alone get them done to the standards I wanted them to reach. The reason for this hellish semester? I had the usual course load of 15 credits plus my job. The problem was that one course (typography) was a 3-credit course that should have been worth 6 credits, and another (intro printmaking) was a 6-credit course that should have been worth 9. This was only partly alleviated by also having an art history (craft and design history) -- art history courses usually only involve reading things and showing up for class (this one did have a short paper, too, though). My other class was basic colour photo, which I really would have like to have more time for, as it kind of became a refuge from my other classes.

Anyway, I got my grades in the mail yesterday. Not as good as I hoped for one class, better than I feared for another, so I suppose it balances out. My GPA has now dropped below 4, though. Sigh. Here's what I ended up with:

  • AHIS2120 Craft and Design History 1750-1850 -- A+

  • CMDS2500 Typography -- B+

  • PHOT2600 Basic Colour Photography -- A

  • PRTM2000 Introduction to Printmaking -- A-


For comparison's sake, the lowest mark I've had since starting at NSCAD is B+, which is what I ended up with in both of my Foundation drawing classes. And now typography. Sigh.

Anyway. My reasons for not blogging since the semester ended . . . about a month ago are not so good. Mostly I had simply got out of the habit. And also bringing everything up to date just seemed too monumental a task.

My summer will be a little more relaxed. I got a very part time job at the Visual Resources Collection (the facility formerly known as the slide library) at school, where I spend my time filing slides, remounting slides, checking in and out slides and videos, and other library-ish tasks. My boss and the other assistants are great people, so it should not be an unpleasant employment experience. I'll keep the job into the fall, as well, unless my course load becomes as crazy as last semester. This does not seem likely, as due to an error in the online timetable, I apparently signed up for a course that doesn't exist, and may have to drop another due to not being able to take the prerequisite in the summer (cancellations of summer courses mean not being able to get student loan, which means not being able to take summer courses, except for one that I am paying for by getting a job at the VRC, which requires me to be taking a summer class to qualify). Anyway. Summer will consist of 10-15 hours a week of work at the VRC, something like that many hours or more working for About PSP, plus three weeks of 4-days-a-week, 4-hours a day class from the end of May to late June. Also lots of bookmaking. I've already been to Joe's studio a couple of times to ask advice and use tools and generally hang around being bookish.

Also, Sue and Selena are coming to town in just over a week, so I'll be hanging out with them as much as I can.

And, it'll be my birthday soon. Aaah! 35. Yep. Older than I look. Heh.

04 January 2007

New Manuscript

Or, well, actually a really old manuscript: 8th century, in fact. It's very exciting, though they (not unexpectedly) fail to say anything about the structure of the book. The illuminations and calligraphy, naturally, steal the show. I guess it's hard to make structure exciting to the general public.