Category Archives: Craft design

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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Smushed Cups

Sam Castner comes through again!  I recently asked Sam to flatten a small, incised, brass coaster.  I knew it would be easy for him since he has a press that will smash anything by putting a gazillion pounds of pressure on it.  At the same time, I gave him some brass drinking cups that had split their sides.  These had been brought home from India by my mother in the 1970s.  I gave him carte blanche with the cups – just saying to do something with them.  Since he was smushing (is too a word) my coaster, he decided to smush the cups also.  Brilliant. Here is the result:

All of these will be used as ornaments for books or boxes.  If you have a special desire for one, let me know and I can work to order.  When Sam delivered these, he also brought some other goodies.  I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities.

I’ve also been back at cleaning out junk and treasures that I’ve collected or inherited over the years and always keep an eye out for anything I can use on my books or boxes. Last week, I was really on a tear and besides getting rid of piles of stuff, rescued these for reuse.

The last of my finds came from my aunt who lived in French Morocco (now Morocco) in the early 1950s.

These cases or wraps seem to have been made to protect books or hold papers. I’m not sure what the large one was for. It’s much to big for a book.  I’m thinking about using the leather in some way to create covers for my blank books, but I may change my mind.  The vellum prayer was with the leather, but I think that was just happenstance.  It looks to me like modern English work. It is on parchment, but not old.  Maybe something my mother bought when she was studying illumination in England in the late 1950s, but I really don’t know.  Not a clue how to use it, but it’s neat.

Moral is it pays to clear out the junk!

Even if it does add to the “have to make” pile.

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Filed under Art, bookbinding, Craft design, Other crafts

Unfinished Matters

I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been moving forward on several fronts.  In fact, I seem to have too many half-finished projects so thought I’d give you a glimpse of some of them.  Ever since Labor Day, I’ve been trying to set up a marbling session, but something always seems to interfere.  I think it’s called Life. To marble, I really have to have at least three days clear when I can concentrate just on that – four or five is even better – and it’s just not happening.

So on to what has been happening!  About a month ago,  I  wrote about some books I was starting using some of Sam’s metal.  Those books are not all finished, but progress has been made.

Metal books, memo pads and more.

This is the book and matching box I made for the brass pieces.  The brass had originally meant to be covers for a very small book, but I wanted to show them off more than that so I made this elegant book and box set.  I’m really pleased with how they turned out and can’t wait to put them in the Christmas Exhibit at our local gallery.

I’m not as happy with the Coptic book.  Love the covers, but I have never been a fan of Coptic binding. It is not very stable and doesn’t wear well.  I’m especially concerned that the metal will eventually cut through the binding cord.  If I do any more of these, I’ll have to find a way to put padding between the sewing cord and the metal, perhaps with a grommet.

While finishing the first two books, I started working on two other metal covers, but these are sewn over leather thongs.

I  haven’t finished these as I’m not sure about how I’m going to attach the spines. I don’t want an open spine, so I’ll have to attach the leather spine to the metal covers. Right now, I’m planning on a hollow spine with the thongs laced through the leather spine into the metal covers and using an adhesive to adhere the leather to the covers.  I still have to shape and pare the leather before I attach it.  Not sure how well it will work, but it’s fun trying!

Last was the book I am making from the leftover paper from the metal books.  It’s only 3″ high and isn’t finished yet.  I was going to call it “Mousings”, but  thought that might be a bit cutesy.

Next projects:

No idea what these will turn into, but I love these combinations!

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Design Decisions = Fun and Frustration

During the last week or so, I’ve been mulling over what to do with all the metal goodies

I have. If you don’t remember, this is the pile.

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I’m concerned about adhering anything, leather, cloth, tapes, etc., to the metal as it will need a strong bonding agent.  The ability of any material to withstand constant contact with metal may be another problem. For example, in a Coptic binding, how quickly will the metal cut through the binding thread? I’ve smoothed and rounded the edges and corners, but will it be enough? Will I have to cover the edges with a softer material?  So far lots of questions, no answers. This is what I have planned out, now to try to find out what will work.

These two have already been finished.  The book cover was made by creating a “sandwich” of two pieces of binders’ board with the copper plate in the middle.  The center of the top board was cut out, exposing the copper. This is one of the easiest and most secure methods of using metal, but it is essentially just decorative, not an integral part of the structure of the book. For the small notepad, I glued the metal directly to the leather spine using a metal adhesive. There were remnants of adhesive webbing on the reverse of this aluminium, so I just used PVA on the marbled paper.  This is a prototype and it will take some testing in use to see if the leather needs reinforcing or if other adhesives are needed.  I decided to do this one as simply as possible to test the strength of the bonding.

Now for what’s in planning stages:

These two lovely brass plates were originally intended to be front and back covers, but while playing, I changed my mind. I tried them with a dark brown leather, but much preferred the look against a black Italian bookcloth.  Sam Castner textured these for me and I really like the edges, so instead of making a sandwich as I did for the copper, I’m going to inset one into a book cover.  To inset, I’ll carve a piece out of the top board just slightly larger than the brass. The boards are then covered with bookcloth, which is pressed into the depression, and the brass is adhered as the final step.  The green decorative paper will be used for endpapers and the lacy tissue makes section dividers.  The other brass piece will be inset into a clamshell box that will be made to fit the finished book.

Although I don’t care for Coptic bindings in general, I thought I would try at least one and the holes were punched on these plates for Coptic sewing.  I’ve added a leather lacing just for decoration.  I’m going to sew this with a heavy waxed thread, but really expect the metal to cut through it.  It’s worth trying on a prototype anyway.  Sewing on cords that are laced into the cover will probably be a better technique.

I’m completely undecided about this last piece.  I love the copper plates and want to use them as the boards for a book, but I have no clue as to how I’ll construct the spine.  At the moment, I’m thinking about a leather covering over wrapped cords. Maybe using rawhide or leather thongs for the cords and lacing them into the copper.  The holes in the copper can be used structurally or just for decoration.  They could be covered with leather or bookcloth or left exposed. Not sure of anything, just know I love this copper and will have to find an appropriate venue for it.

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Scrapbook Construction

In the past few years, several people have asked if they could use my blank books as  scrapbooks.  My answer has always been an emphatic, “No!” Inserting extra thickness into any tightly bound book will sooner or later break the spine. With a Coptic or long-stitch binding there is a bit of leeway, but as soon as the boards or covers move beyond being parallel, the hinges are put under stress and will break.

The goal in building this type of book is to accommodate extra thickness between the pages while using a strong binding structure that will support extra weight.  I, personally, don’t like making scrapbooks: they tend to be large and I like small. The pages are difficult to sew and the endpapers can be a pain, I am documenting my progress on the page “Building a Scrapbook” if you are interested in the nitty gritty.  I’m still working on the books and will be updating the page as I progress.

On another matter entirely, I recently stopped by Sam Castner’s workshop and came away with some fabulous ideas and these:DSCN0001

Now I have to get to work designing and making!

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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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