Category Archives: Boxes and Towers

Addendum: More Mini Books from Folk School Class

I knew I had more pictures of the mini-books and boxes made by others in the class I talked about in my last blog.  Here they are:  Enjoy the variety and colors. All of these are 3″ x 3″

Great books,  great class.  Fun times.

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Designing Boxes

I haven’t blogged in over a month, so it’s about time.  This winter has been unusual in many ways – first, all the snow!  Yes, I’m in an area that gets a lot of snow normally, but this winter has been especially persistent with neither the cold nor the snow ever letting up.  It’s almost April and I still have half my yard covered with snow.  It’s not from a sudden snow, but has been there since January. There’s still a high berm of snow around the driveway from plowing and two foot drifts in places out back.  One hopeful sign is that I’ve seen some snowdrops poking through.  They are not blooming yet, but soon.  Of course they usually bloom in February. Enough about the weather.

I occasionally have people ask if I can make them a special book or marble paper in specific colors.  I take these requests with mixed emotions. It’s fun having the challenge of working to someone else’s vision, but there’s the stress of knowing it could be an epic fail, like the carrageenan disaster I had. In February, I had four special requests and two of them involved making preservation boxes. To have them all come at once was unusual and messed up my hibernation plans. Everything was finished on time, but it took some juggling.

First request was for a wedding guest book with an engraved plate on the cover and endpapers to match the wedding colors.  We added a preservation box for the book and then complicated the box by adding a drawer to keep the printed ephemera from the wedding. Here’s a brief look at the process.

The drawer had to be larger than the book due to the size of the invitation, so I used the extra space on top to provide a place for a pen. All of the measurements have to be exact so that the contents are protected and won’t move around as the box is handled. I cut the binder’s board first, but find I often have to make slight adjustments as I’m working. Since the tolerances are small, I always am amazed that everything fits perfectly at the end.

The second request was for a preservation box to act as a portfolio for a student’s artwork.  This was a challenge as the colors and feel of the box had to complement work that I hadn’t seen and fit smoothly into someone else’s artistic vision. Plus there was time pressure.

We went through many different designs and finally settled on the combination of a black outside, gray sides, black and white paste paper interior and lined with a black and white photo.

The easiest special I did was from a customer who had bought several of my jotters in the past.  She wanted the same thing in a larger size to use in a sketching class.  I thought it was a fun idea and made some extras for sale on Etsy and at the Arts Center of Yates County.

The sketchers only have ten pages so they are perfect for day trips or to keep in a car or purse.  They are easier to organize than loose sheets of paper and keep sketches done at the same time together. I’ve used a nice drawing weight paper for the pages, so I hope people like them.

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Finished the Boxes!

I finished the boxes from my last post!  These are fun boxes to make, less complicated than the clamshell boxes and much more forgiving. The clamshells are a more durable and professional box and they require very precise cutting. I like making those if I am creating them for a specific item.  Then I know that the fussing and precision has a reason. For either box, most of the fun is in the designing. A few pictures of the construction process, then on to the finished boxes.

All of the boxes are lined with black velvet.  I didn’t get a good side view of the Brass Cup box. You can just see the marbled paper I used, but there’s a good shot of it in my last post.  Just one last decision, to sell them online at Etsy or take them to my local gallery.  Maybe I’ll do both.

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Lidded Boxes with Fun Stuff

In my last blog, I showed a bunch of odds & ends of things that I was thinking about using for who knows what.  Since then, I’ve been busy with plumbers, snow and real life. A few days ago I started playing with one of the smushed cups and, since I always make things in fours, pulled out at random three other treasures. Yesterday and today I started making lidded boxes for all of them.  I decided on the lidded boxes rather than clamshell just because they are faster and I have a lot of other stuff that needs to be done.

Here is where things are now, papers and bookcloth chosen, sizes determined, Davey board cut, bottom trays made and tops covered.

I didn’t have a paper chosen for the horseman when I took the pictures and I changed the paper for the dancers at the last minute.  I hope to finish all of them on Saturday.  If I do, I’ll post the finished creations here. Think I’ll try to sell them on Etsy first, as winter is very slow at local galleries here in snow country.

 

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

About ten years ago, shortly after I moved into this house, I started an herb garden in the middle of my side lawn.  I’m not quite sure why I put it there. As it has grown over the years it has become difficult to mow around.  Not planned well at all!  It is, however, convenient to the kitchen and, since planning doesn’t seem to be my strong point, close enough to run out and grab some parsley or chives on those rare occasions when I actually cook.  I love growing herbs, but I really don’t use them much, especially ones like borage and horehound and fennel.  They are pretty and smell good too!

My care of this garden has been very hit-and-miss.  I usually put in a few annuals like parsley and basil in the spring and see what comes up from the previous year.  I hate weeding, so by July, the patch is overgrown with the more invasive herbs as well as weeds and grass.  The last few years, I’ve been particularly lax and I had half sage bushes and half chives.  Several years ago, I did tear out all the tarragon which threatened to take over everything.  The past winter was so cold and so long that it spelled doom for most of the plants.  Only a few meager sage stems survived along with a tiny bit of thyme and, of course the chives.

In the face of such devastation, I decided I had to go back to the beginning, dig almost everything up and start fresh.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.  Winter stayed and stayed and stayed.  The ground didn’t really thaw until April, followed by cold, raw weather and topped off by a huge storm and a flood that wiped out roads, basements and a house or two.  I’m on the side of a hill, so only lost part of my driveway, but the county highway crews estimate it will take months to repair all the damage.

Last week was the first opportunity for me to dig, plant, and redo the border.  I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Since retiring more than ten years ago, I’ve found I can work at hard physical tasks for shorter and shorter lengths of time.  If I pace myself, I can do one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Working around weather that was either too hot or too cold, also provided a challenge.  Here are some photos of my recreation of my herb garden.  These were taken before I really finished, but just this morning, I placed the last of the border stones, planted the last few herbs and finished mulching. Yes, I know the chives need to be cut back, but they are so pretty!  I’ll do it next week.

There’s a border of thyme all around the garden and I’ve used a couple of different varieties.  At a college where I once worked they had a “thyme clock”. It was a circular planting, like a sundial, with twelve divisions and a different kind of thyme in each.  I’ve forgotten what was used as the gnomon, but I always liked the idea and would love to be able to recreate it.

In the meantime, in the back yard, I was able to quickly put in my standard garden of tomatoes and cucumbers. Earlier, I had gotten from NYS Forestry Service some bare root crab-apple trees and had planted them near an apple tree that I had grown from seed.  I think it’s a Pink Lady, but not sure.

It still needs a lot of work, but at least everything is in the ground.

Meanwhile, in the basement, I was finishing up three more boxes. Two with detached lids and one clamshell.

The two lidded boxes have leather tops.  Leather had always been difficult for me to work, but I’m finally beginning to get it and enjoy working with it.

It’s really nice to have a week of finishing, instead of treading water.  Of course, without the previous prep work and first steps, there wouldn’t be any finishing!  This week, I hope to relax, mulch the garden and think about what’s next.

 

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Boxes with Steel by Sam Castner

In the summer of 2012, I started making portfolios and since then I’ve added three more sizes of notepad covers.  Back when I started making them, I had a conversation with myself trying to decide whether to make those or boxes.  This winter I’ve come back to the boxes.  I started with some clamshell ones with a piece of my enameling inserted in the top. You can see one here, if you scroll to the bottom.

In December, before the deep freeze set in, I enlisted the help of Sam Caster, an accomplished metal artist, for ideas, encouragement and scraps. To my delight, Sam was very supportive and even willing to add his artistic touch in finishing my pieces.  For the past few months, I’ve been making more boxes to work with Sam’s designs.  We are finally ready to put some on the market! First are the ones with my enameling:

Then Sam’s work on stainless steel:

I’m planning on making these boxes to order to exactly fit people’s heirloom treasures, jewelry or wedding memories.  I think it will be a fun diversion from my books and a great use for all my paper!

I will be putting a few up on Etsy in the coming week and they will be available at the Arts Center.

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There Are Days Like This

Two weeks ago it warmed up enough for me to contemplate descending into my basement, standing on a cement floor and putting my hands into water.  In other words, to do some marbling. I made my carrageenan the night before, set up all the trays, paints and paraphernalia, alummed my paper and dove in. I was planning on doing some large monochromatic sheets, like I had done last year with smaller pieces. Yellow and red were the colors I chose and planned to mix orange. Orange is the only secondary color that I have had consistently good results mixing for marbling.  Those were the plans, anyway!

The first sheet I pulled had some line problems, the second caught a big air bubble, the third developed alum striping — and on and on it went.  I know it had been a long time since I had marbled, but this was ridiculous. Of the eight or ten sheets I pulled that first day, only one or two were good.  On top of that, I wasn’t really happy with the color combinations.  The second day was a bit better, but still way too many sheets that had major flaws so on the third day I threw in the towel on my plans, moved to a smaller tray with smaller paper and grabbed the metallic paints and colored paper.  A background color can disguise a lot of problems!  Things started going more smoothly and I began connecting to the marbling, but I was still frustrated.  What I need right now are large perfect sheets, not more small ones. At the end of the session, I started playing.  Maybe that’s where I should have started.  Here are some pictures of the good, the bad and the ugly!

It’s turned really cold (0* to 10* above) again, so I’ll have to wait for another attempt.  Here’s hoping I’ll be right in the grove and pulling perfect sheets every time!

In the meantime, I’ve been playing with some boxes.  They are based on the clamshell box used for rare books and for archival storage. This is the first one I’ve finished.  I’ve inlaid one of the pieces I enameled last year on the cover. The inside is a four-sided box (book boxes only have three sides) lined with black velvet.

I’m planning a lot more of these as I have quite a few enameled pieces and other treasures for the covers.  I just hope people like them!

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Filed under Boxes and Towers, Craft design, Marbled Paper