Yearly Archives: 2013

Making Note Cards

Interruptions are constant for me, usually from myself.  My latest book project was interrupted when I noticed my stock of note cards was getting low.  So I decided to make some more before finishing the books.  I have lots of marbled card stock on hand from marbling sessions over the past years. I can make two cards from a perfect 8 1/2″ x 11″  sheet or  only one card if there are imperfections in the marbling.  I have also marbled lots of cards that my Mother printed from her artwork.  The cards with line drawings are especially nice with the marbling.

The first step is to cut the card stock into 5 1/2″x 8″ pieces,  These will make 5 1/2″ x 4″ notes that fit into A2 envelopes. The cards are folded in half and printed with the Losing Her Marbles logo on the back. I then take various colored writing paper for the insides.  The inside pieces are cut slightly smaller that the card stock.  These make a better writing surface for the cards, especially for the darker card stock.  At first I tried gluing the inside paper to the card stock, but I found that it didn’t work well.  I tried doing a simple pamphlet stitch and it is just right. Of course, by the time I’m finished, I’ve put much more time and effort into making the note cards than I can ever recoup, but I do enjoy it.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Craft design, Marbled Paper

Books, Step by Step

Sometimes I make books in almost a production mode, working on them every day till they are done.  Other times, I do it in fits and starts, leaving them half started for a while and coming back to them after many interruptions.  The last four books that I wrote about appear to fall into the latter class!  I did the design work, choosing papers and then put them aside.
This week, I went back to them for the next step – choosing paper for the text block and deciding on the size and shape of the book.  I didn’t do anything special with the papers this time.  I’m using my standard Strathmore and Canson drawing papers. I like the weight and feel of them.  I would love it if I could get them in colors, but the colored sheets tend to be heavier as well as much more expensive. I do use Pastel paper occasionally, but it has a definite “tooth” and is not right for some of my books.  I also like the Strathmore “Toned Tan” and “Toned Grey” for my earthier creations and have used a lot of that in the long-stitch books.
Back to the current four.  After cutting the text paper, I print a title page, verso and colophon.  Most blank books don’t have titles, but I like adding them.  I think it makes them more like real books. My titles range from the pedestrian My Journal, to the whymiscal Wish on a Fish. They tend to reflect the color, Purple Prose, or content, Purring Thoughts, of the book’s cover.  These titles were more of the pedestrian variety. Here the pages have been cut and folded and the titles printed.

The two larger books are almost the same size. The smaller one was cut to fit the tiger endpapers and the medium sized one was determined by the cover design. The pages are folded and gathered into sections or gatherings, ready to be punched and sewn.  I like to add an extra ornamental page of light weight paper around the even sections, just to add a little something special. Here are the papers I chose for the larger books.

I also added frontispieces to the two larger books.  These are illustrations that were taken from two different books from 1840-1850.  The books were badly damaged and had fallen apart, but I was able to rescue some of the engravings.  The illustrations are not copies, they are the real thing.  As you can see in the photo, they need to be trimmed down and tipped in.  I’ll do this by leaving a narrow edge that will fold around the back of the title page.  The flap will be glued in, but it will also be sewn into the first gathering, making it an integral part of the book.  Sometimes, when the paper is too brittle to fold or is smaller than the book, I just tip it in opposite the title.

My next steps will be to attach the frontispieces and sew all of the textblocks.  In the meantime, I have learned to put all parts of each book into a separate plastic bag!  Before I did this consistently, I would switch papers mid-stream and discover I had to cut paper all over again to match the new configurations!Bagged2

The reason I didn’t move on to sewing the textblocks was that I was sidetracked by note cards, which will be my next blog.  I hope to get to it soon.

I have written at length about all the processes in making a book on other pages on this site, starting here.



Leave a Comment

Filed under bookbinding, Craft design

Tigers by Design

Last blog I mentioned wanting to do a book cover from some tiger patterned paper that I had.  Here’s the paper:DSCN5377It’s a long, narrow piece and I was thinking about making a very small book with just one or two tigers on the cover. As soon as I started to think about size, I realized it would never work.  Even a small book needs at least 1/2 inch turn-in on both top and bottom.  This is what the cover would look like after a normal 3/4 inch turn-in. DSCN5378 Not really what I wanted.  I can use it for endpapers, so I revamped my thinking and started looking for paper to use as covers. I found a piece of my marbled paper that goes quite well with the purple, so even though it’s not at all what I’d planned, I’m happy with the combination.

Since it’s easier to do several books at a time, I had to go on a hunt for more papers that I could become excited about.  As I sifted through stacks of paper, I came up with the following pairings.  For a change, I found good matches quite quickly.  Only the airplanes gave me a hard time, but I like the final choice.

It feels a bit strange to reverse the normal place of cover papers and marbled paper.  I like to emphasize my marbling and give it pride of place and covers use less paper than the endpapers, so I can use pieces that are too small to be inside.

I don’t know what size these books will be.  I’m thinking of trying some larger sizes for the gray-toned papers.  The largest size I make on a regular basis are 7 1/2″ x 5″, so maybe I’ll try 8″ or 8 1/2″.  I can’t do anything taller than that because of the size of my printer.  It depends also on the size of the text paper.  The sheets I start with are roughly 18″x 24″, direction short, making great 6″x 6″ pages.  I’m tired of square books though.  I frequently change my mind once faced with the text paper and having to study the cover paper to see exactly which pattern would fall on the front center.  All over patterns are so much easier than larger, poster type papers.

I may even start cutting tomorrow, I may not though!  I’m sitting watching the snow fall – very gently, but it is getting deeper.  I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere farther than my studio!

Leave a Comment

Filed under bookbinding, Craft design, Marbled Paper

How Does One Recharge?

Ever since I came back from the Folk School and my exciting classes there described in my previous blogs, I’ve been trying to get started again.  Not very successfully!  I put the finishing touches on a few books right away, but my snakeskin book languishes on my work table, untouched.  I go into my studio every day, look at the leather, look at the enameled pieces and end up sorting some marbled paper or rearranging stuff.  I spend some time there and then go upstairs to play Civilization or Solitaire on the computer.  Not much accomplished.

One thing I have done is to buy some large bins so I can sort my papers.  I had them in drawers and boxes and had to go through everything to find what I needed.  Having them in smaller groups by type and size should make life a bit easier. Now I just have to decide where to put everything!

Today was the first time that I have been inspired. While sorting the printed papers I found a long, narrow strip of purple Lokta printed with gold tigers.  It really called to be made into a book.  Maybe there’s hope for me!

In the meantime, this is what I seem to be doing most of the time.

Lucy with fire

Leave a Comment

Filed under etc., Life

Corners, Double Boards, and Gothic Bindings

Finally, back to my books from the Folk School.  My first two books are shown here.  I have always said that I don’t work in leather. It’s too fussy, too expensive and too time consuming.  This week I ended up four leather bound books!  The most complicated is a variation on a traditional Gothic structure.  I cheated and used a textblock sewn over tapes rather than lacing in the boards, so it is more like a cased rather than a bound book.

Many important Gothic and Victorian psuedo-Gothic books were made with double boards, allowing many different types of ornamentation. While thinking about what I could do with double boards, the idea of windows kept running through my mind.  I had a piece of very thin copper that I had tried to torch fire. It didn’t come out very well.  It was bumpy and uneven and generally a bit of a mess.  I had no idea if it would just crack when placed between the boards.  I was able to trim the copper to a suitable size, so the first problem was overcome.  Here are some photos of the process.

Fortunately, the enamel hasn’t cracked and the bumpiness gives an interesting texture to the piece.

The other book I made with an enameled piece was an easy one.  I used the same technique I had used before with coins.  I cut a recess in the top board, tucking the bookcloth into the recess and glued the piece in place. I used this same technique with a black cloth book after I returned.

The last technique we used was working with metal – brass, copper, bronze and pewter – as corners, bosses and latches. This was the first time I had ever worked with metal and was a bit of a challenge.  Metal has to be exact.  You can’t nudge it, pinch it or approximate. I’d love to have more time to work with metal and hope I can in the coming year.  For this time I just made some brass corners. Not much for a metal worker, but exciting for me.  There’s a lip that fits around the edges of the boards and then the corner is fastened to the boards with a rivet. I also gave a brass a bit of texture. As a final touch, this book has a line of blind tooling parallel to the spine.

So that finishes all five books I made during my week.  Since I’ve been home, I’ve been finishing up odds and ends, trying to put together stock for the shopping season.

You can always find my books and paper on Etsy via my page or by going to

Leave a Comment

Filed under bookbinding, Craft design

Books, Metal and Magic

It has taken me a long time to get around to this blog about my last week at the Campbell Folk School.  I’m not sure why – the press of catching up, my tiredness from the week or just the difficulty of encapsulating seven very busy and eventful days.

I think I’ll start backwards and show the books I finished during the week first and go into detail later.

As you can see from the outside of these books, I was playing with lots of different ideas.  What you can’t see, is that the  internal structures on these are quite different.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my camera for the first few days, so I have no pictures of some of the books in progress.  I’m hoping some of my classmates will share a few of their pictures.  There were only four students in the class and we were all working on very different projects, but there were some commonalities.

The first book I made was the 12th century account book.  I love the shape and size of the book. It’s only 3 1/2″ wide by 10″ tall.  This type of book was used for accounts and also for reading aloud. Since most of the population was illiterate, recitation and reading aloud were very important social and cultural activities.  I can imagine Chaucer holding a book like this and reading his poetry in the English Court.

The instructor, Gian Frontini, had made a book like this from vellum. I had found some old rolls of rawhide in my basement and had brought them with me on the chance I could find something to do with them.  The match was perfect! My rawhide had been cured and scraped rather crudely which left some interesting texture and markings on the book.  I used a slightly rough Fabriano paper for the textblock. It was sewn over narrow strips of the cover rawhide which were later laced into the boards.  You can see the lacing in the photos. I made the headbands with embroidery floss, sewing them into the textblock. The book was then finished off anachronistically with some of my marbled paper.  Even though it is not correct for the period of the binding, I felt it was a wonderful match for the organic feel of the book.  Traditionally, all the edges of the book would have been painted, usually red, but I decided not to.  A laced thong of rawhide was added to the back board of the book. The thong helps to keep the book closed and was also used as a “leash” for the book.  I added a small silver bauble to help in grabbing the book.

I had also found in my basement ( yes, it is a bit like Aladdin’s cave) a long, narrow roll of snakeskin.  I threw it into my box at the last minute intending to ask Gian if I could use it for something in binding. The answer was yes and I decided to make a very small book.  The snakeskin at it’s broadest was less than 4″ wide, so I settled on a book that’s only 3 inches square. Because it’s so small, I made it thick. Lots of pages with few words on each!  Like the rawhide, the snakeskin had to have Japanese paper pasted to the reverse side to give flexibility and durability to the piece. I sewed this textblock with a running Coptic stitch that was used in many Gothic books.  This stitch is not as stable as sewing over tapes, but it is more appropriate to the materials.  I cheated here on the headbands and use the paste on variety, mainly because I was afraid of running out of time. The spine was not glued down, but left as an open tube.  Again, I used my marbled paper as endpapers – a very snaky match.  I was amazed that I had brought just the right papers with me.  I only brought four or five sheets with no plan of how I would use them.  To find I had two that were such great matches was miraculous.  If you have read any of my blogs, you know how I agonize over finding just the right papers.

Next blog I’ll talk about my metal corners, enameled insets and unfinished business.


1 Comment

Filed under bookbinding, Craft design

Learning to Torch Fire Enamels

As promised, here’s a blog about the quick weekend course on using hand-held torches to fire enamels on copper. Last summer my granddaughter and I had taken a week-long workshop that covered both kiln and torch firing. I had enjoyed that and have already used a few of my pieces in my books, so I was looking forward to being able to learn some new techniques and make more pieces.  I was not disappointed.

For the basic procedures we used, see the page on Enameling.

The trickest problem with torch firing is that the copper can’t have a counter-enamel on the back.  Without a counter, the enamel is more fragile and if it is put on too heavily, will crack or warp easily. I cheated on some pieces and countered them in a kiln.

Texture was the first thing we worked on. The copper we were using as a base was rather thin and was easy to texture with crimpers, rollers and corrugaters as well as hammers. I found that putting a heavy texture into the copper made it sturdier and less likely to warp.  Because I need flat pieces for my books, I was very aware of warping.  Some examples:

If you want the texture to show, the enamel has to be transparent, not opaque.  On the pinky-rose piece, even with transparent enamels, the underlying texture was lost because of the amount on enamel I put on the right side.  You can see the texture on the reverse. I really enjoyed playing with the various textures and could have spent a lot more time on it.  Unfortunately on the weekend courses you really have only one day of work.  The entire class spent Saturday from 9:00am to 9:00pm torching in spite of cold, wind and dark.  We used the torches outside, so light was a problem.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the torch table, but there were 6 or 8 torches set up around a table outside.  After putting the enamel on a piece, it had to be carried outside to be fired. One advantage was that it was cold enough to cool the metal quickly afer firing.

The instructor, Steve Artz, made boxes for all of the students as a way for us to display the pieces of enamelling we completed.  Here are some pictures of the boxes as well as some close-ups of my pieces.

Lastly, here are two completed books. The black one has a piece I made in the summer.  The red book was made with a torch-fired piece in the Book Embellishment workshop, which will be my next blog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Art, Craft design, Other crafts