31 July 2009

More on the D250 Project

I know I said I was going to go backwards in time with my updates, but I wanted to post some pictures of the Democracy 250 project that I shot yesterday and today.

I spent all of yesterday and part of today trimming out the turn-ins on the books and filling the boards in with thin card, so that when the endpapers are put down, the inside covers will be even.

You can see in the photo above that the leather around the edges is uneven. To make the book look neat, it needs to be trimmed so that the turn-ins are the same all the way around. Here's one in progress.

Yes, I got to take a knife to $600 worth of leather. Twelve times in a row. Fortunately, I didn't mess it up.

Sometimes it's not really possible to make all three sides equal, depending on how the leather stretched when it went on, and the kind of paper was used for the endpapers. The paper in the D250 books is handmade, so it won't stretch very much, which means that the turn-ins may have to be left wider at the side. In that case, we just make the top and bottom the same, and the edge as close as we can while still leaving enough to overlap with the endpapers.

Occasionally, the leather goes on so unevenly that there are small gaps where the boards will show once the endpapers are down. They might stretch enough to cover, but just in case, those spaces get filled in with scraps from the leather that was trimmed off.

Once the leather is trimmed, the boards are lined with card to bring them level with the leather.

This isn't something that's always done in bookbinding. In fact, more often than not, it's not done. There's something to be said for the tactility of the ridges on the boards from the covering material. But it does make the book sleeker and neater, and is used mostly for very expensive, special books, which these are.

None of the books are quite finished yet. There are still spine labels to apply, plus blind tooling on the covers and gold tooling on the spines. Here's Joe doing some of the blind tooling.

The rest of today Chris and I spent making some of the lining pieces for the boxes. If I go in tomorrow, I'll be working more on lining the boxes, and possibly on putting down endpapers while Joe finishes the tooling.

And just for fun, here's a shot of the apple I had with my lunch. If you look closely, you can see that the seed on the left is about to sprout into a tiny apple tree. I felt a little bad eating it. Perhaps I should have saved the seed and tried to grow it. It could keep the tiny oak sapling I stole from the graveyard company.

30 July 2009

Teensy Tiny Bookses

Well, so much for a good night's sleep. I've obviously got too many things on my mind. Oh well, after a full day's work with books, I might actually sleep tonight. Especially as several of the things I'm anxious about should be more or less resolved after today. Or maybe after tomorrow. Blarg.

Anyway. Way back when I had only been making books a short time, I used to make miniature book earrings and necklaces. They weren't too bad, but I wasn't really that good at bookbinding yet. Then I didn't make any for a long time. When I started at the printshop, one of the things we sold was tiny book jewelry that Joe made, which was naturally much nicer that the stuff I used to make. And because Joe had neither the time or the inclination to keep making them, I took over.

Since, then, I've added a few changes of my own. I accidentally cut a bunch of leather too small last time I was assembling the bits to make a batch, but decided I liked the smaller size, at least for the earrings. I might go back to the larger ones for necklaces after this batch. Then, because I have a big stash of glass and wood and horn and bone beads (I had some metal ones, too, but can't find them), I decided to fancy them up a little.

Obviously, I still need to work on the photography. I'm trying to decide if I want to do them as proper product shots on white, or if I prefer the more organic in-context shots. Or I guess I could do both. It would be nice to have an actual space where I can set up a product photo table, instead of shooting on my desk or on the back porch. No wonder the photos are iffy. Also a macro lens would help. The lens I have isn't too bad, but close-in shots work best when I stand back and zoom in, which means more light.

Joe also used to teach a continuing studies class on book jewelry, which he no longer has time for, since NSCAD has him teaching two credit classes and at least one other con ed class a semester. So he suggested I could teach the workshop, but that I could have it in his studio, thus avoiding having to give NSCAD a cut. That'll happen in the fall, probably closer to the holidays, to tempt people to take the class in order to make a gift for someone. Or something.

Anyway, book earrings are for sale on my Etsy and ArtFire shops. Necklaces will follow as soon as I find clasps I can live with.

29 July 2009

So Sleepy

I was going to post a bunch of pictures, but then I looked at the clock and discovered the reason my vision was getting blurry. I have someplace to be tomorrow and I haven't been sleeping well for a couple of weeks (boy on vacation + beer = boy snoring and flailing in sleep = girl not sleeping very well), so I really should get into bed. But before I go, here's a handsome fellow I ran into in front of Superstore this afternoon:

He's a little out of focus--it was really hard to see the screen on my phone in the miraculous bright sunlight we had today. Still, I was able to get nice and close thanks to the little built-in macro lens on my iPhone case. Woo hoo! I love gadgets.

Edit: Warning: If you click on the photo it goes giant-sized. That's what I get for assuming a cellphone photo would be small. Too sleepy to fix it now, but I'll take care of it tomorrow. In the morning, maybe. Good night. It's resized now, so click away.

Updating and All That

Man, I really need to get my ass in gear. About the only thing I've been keeping up with is my deviantArt page. And Facebook. Evil, evil Facebook.

I ran across the very spiffy blog of an old friend (and ex-boyfriend) Tim Rast, and it looks like he's doing really well. I started making books around the same time as he started flintknapping, and his business is so far ahead of mine it's . . . um, I don't want to say "it's not even funny" but I can't think of a better phrase at the moment. I really need to do some real writing. I'm out of practice. Anyway, he always was way more focused than me. I've often wondered where I'd be now if I weren't so easily distracted. But whatever. Go look at his blog and be amazed. Fine work, that.

And it occurs to me that I really haven't been keeping those of my friends and family that still happen by here very up to date, and the whole purpose of this blog was to let everyone (mostly those of you far far away) know what I was up to. That and make a public record of my writing and art so I'd be shamed into working hard. I'm not sure that's worked.

That said, here are some updates, starting from now and working backwards. More or less.

Okay, actually starting from the future, because the first thing I'm going to write about is tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'm off to work in the studio of my former teacher and mentor, Joe Landry. I've been helping out off and on for a big government project called "Democracy 250" which is a celebration of 250 years of democracy in Nova Scotia. To commemorate the event, they put together a big volume of reproductions of documents relating to the history of democracy in the province. And I do mean big. If I remember, I'll write down the dimensions tomorrow, but it's something in the range of 12 inches by 18 inches. Maybe? I'm not very good at estimating measurements. And about an inch and a half thick or thereabouts. So big. And heavy.

I'm not sure who did the compiling and note-making and design and all that for the book, but the 12 copies (plus one extra "proof" copy) were all printed by Image House using special water-based inkjet inks. The scanning is top-notch and the printing looks fantastic. Okay, it would look better if it was letterpress, but I'm a little biased. Inkjet printing always has that slight fuzziness around the edges where the ink seeps into the paper. I think the technical term is "dot gain" but I could be confusing my jargon. Anyway.

The paper was handmade by Papeterie Saint-Armand in Montreal. It's based on their Old Masters line (one of my favorite lightweight papers for both intaglio and letterpress), but it was actually made especially for this project, because the paper needed to be a little more opaque than their usual.

Once the printing was done, the sheets came to us. We had to fold and collate (actually, I missed out on most of that since at the time I was madly trying to finish Dawson Printshop jobs before they shut us down). Then we had to trim them to size, which only meant slicing off a little from three sides on the board cutter. Then collating again, because we were paranoid about something being out of order, which happened in the proof copy due to a printer error. Then I spent a rather long time poking the sewing holes. Then sewing.

I'm afraid I'm getting a little tedious here, and I wasn't even going to go into this much detail. But it's too late now.

Because the books were so large, we had to sew them on a sewing frame. It's just too hard to handle big books with six million tapes (actually, I think there were maybe seven tapes) without the support of a frame. I ended up doing almost all of the sewing, but I got to use Joe's conservation frame, which is designed to make it a whole lot easier to get your arm around the uprights and the text block than a conventional frame, which hasn't changed much since Victorian times. If I were any good at woodworking, I'd make up plans and build my own. It's not a complicated design. Alas, I make books, not tools. If I could make it out of eska board, it would be no problem.

After the sewing, Joe rounded and backed them all and began lining the spines. Joe did all the rounding and backing because he can do it at lightspeed. It would probably have taken me as long to do one as it took him to do six. Or more. After that, Chris (Dunnett) and I sewed the endbands. We used a three-colour pattern, which requires one to have three hands. Or so it seems. Luckily, endbands is something I'm actually pretty good at, so I managed with just the two hands I've got.

After that, Joe glued on the false bands and I cut and sanded them into a nice curve. Then I disappeared into some other work for a while and Chris stained the leather. Joe did the paring--each book took a whole calfskin, and each calfskin costs several hundred dollars. While my paring skills have improved considerably, there's no way I was going to put a knife to those skins.

Again, I was off doing something else when the books were covered and sprinkled. The binding style is Cambridge Panel Binding (click on that and you'll see a photo--the different tones in the leather are achieved by sprinkling more or less or no dye on different parts of the book). Today, Joe was planning to finish up the gold tooling.

Which is a really long-winded way of coming around to what I'm doing tomorrow. I'll be lining the insides of the boards with thin card to fill in the area not covered by the turn-ins of the cover leather. That way, you won't see the usual ridge when the endpapers are put down. Once the boards are all lined, then we'll put down the endpapers. After that, we've got to finish the boxes, as each very expensive book is being housed in its own protective box. The boxes are all done, but they need to be built up inside to custom-fit each book and lined with soft felt. Then they need to dry. I think the goal is to get the bulk of the work done by the end of Friday, so things can dry over the weekend. Then they'll take the books away Monday. Then we can get paid. Which, since the Dawson Printshop is closed and I'm out a job, is a very welcome thing indeed.

Because, of course, this is the month the car insurance is due. And the month I'm supposed to start repaying my student loans (if I believed in god, I'd be thanking him for interest relief right now). Also, there's next month's car payment, and the house insurance (or, rather, the tenant's insurace), credit card bills, etc etc etc. So getting paid is good.

But now I've gone on much longer that I intended and I didn't even include any pictures. So I'll stop now. But I think I'll immediately post again with some images of new work.

08 July 2009

Wood Type (Article Published!)

So for the three (or fewer) of you still reading along . . .

I just had an article published at Handmade News: "Wood Type: A 19th Century Innovation Inspires 21st Century Design." It's an unpaid "guest columnist" article, but I've applied to be an actual paid columnist. If lots of people read my guest article, it just might make a difference when the editor is weeding through the huge pile of submissions she no doubt has in her inbox. So please read. If you know anyone interested in type or craft or the history of books, get them to read too. Pretty please? I really *really* want this job.

And for the sharp-eyed and sharp-brained, I do know that wood type isn't exactly a 19th century innovation. Or at least not a 19th century invention. In fact, some of the earliest type was wood (it just doesn't work that well at small sizes). What the real innovation in the 19th century was was a way of producing wood type quickly and easily in many sizes. And with the rise of consumer culture happening at the same time, advertising with big giant type exploded. Whoo!

The absolute hardest part of writing that article was keeping it web-short. There was soooo much I had to leave out. But I think I pulled it off. If you disagree (or even if you agree) do leave a comment, either here or (even better) on the article itself.

Now I'm off to write about PSPs. From super-old technology to super new technology. Technology is so cool. I love it all! Niko the techno-geek.