Monday, 23 July 2012

Little Handmade Notebooks

Here are my first efforts in the world of book binding, small A7 sized notebooks, and I have to say I am pretty pleased with them as an initial attempt, which is unusual for me. Many years ago I wanted to learn book binding, but never actually started – in the last couple of weeks the fancy took me again and so I had a go with the materials around me and some nice cartridge paper I got from the local auction & market. Eventually I want to be able to make notebooks for my own use and presents, rebind existing books in interesting covers, print out my own books and bind them, as well as printing off and binding books downloaded from the internet.

I don’t have any book cloth and it is quite expensive, so I made my own using some old cotton twill trousers. I simply cut out a piece of fabric, laid it on a thick piece of glass, and then overlaid it with a larger piece of tracing paper coated with PVA. I then gently (don’t press too hard) rolled over it with a printing roller and allowed it to dry. After a few goes I kind of got the knack, and being able to make my own certainly widens the range of clothes available as well as allowing me to recycle fabric and save money. I could even weave my own fabric and then use that…

I had already made some paper folding bones (blog post to follow) and did french sewing so that I didn’t need book tape or a sewing frame. For the mull I used cheese cloth (muslin) and as I don’t (yet) have a book press, I wrapped two heavy engineering bricks in paper. And actually they did the job very nicely.

The cover card was just ordinary card that again came from market, it was quite thin, but that did allow me to double it up and create the recess for the Orfordness Lighthouse print I had made using one of my friend’s own design print blocks.

Inside I used cartridge paper and an assortment of coloured paper we had left over from various projects. I was particularly pleased with the fold out centre section, although this did cause a little trouble with the cutting of the pages. In fact I would say that is the one weakness of them; cutting the edges with a craft knife does sort of work, but I am sure that a much, much better finish could be obtained by having a book plane. Surely they cannot be that hard to make…

My guides on this little creative adventure were Arthur W.Johnson and the excellent youtube videos by Aran Galligan.

Friday, 6 July 2012

T'ao Ch'ien (Tao Yuanming):
Shady, shady the wood
in front of the Hall

Shady, shady the wood in front of the Hall:
At midsummer full of calm shadows.
The south wind follows summer's train :
With its eddying puffs it blows open my coat.
I am free from ties and can live a life of retirement.
When I rise from sleep, I play with books and harp.
The lettuce in the garden still grows moist:
Of last year's grain there is always plenty left.
Self-support should maintain strict limits:
More than enough is not what I want.
I grind millet and make good wine :
When the wine is heated, I pour it out for myself.
My little children are playing at my side,
Learning to talk, they babble unformed sounds.
These things have made me happy again
And I forget my lost cap of office.
Distant, distant I gaze at the white clouds:
With a deep yearning I think of the Sages of Antiquity. 

T'ao Ch'ien (365–427)

As translated by Arthur Waley (1919) in One Hundred 
& Seventy Chinese Poems  London: Constable & Co