Monthly Archives: June 2013

Back to Basics – Marbling and Book making

For the past few months, I’ve been consumed with the idea of making “different” books.  I’ve tried some soft covers, some Coptic bindings, some upcycling which were all fun stuff, but last week I felt the need to get back to the traditional, case-bound hard covered book. I started a batch of five and it proved to me several things.  As much fun as the other books are, I don’t feel as if they are Real books and I get more satisfaction out of making a book I know will last than the novelties.  They are fun, but transient. I can’t imagine that my hanging books or the floppy diskette books will be around in fifty years; the hard covers could be.  That said, I know I’ll still make both kinds.

These are last week’s books.

June Hard Bound

June Hard Bound

These aren’t actually finished.  They still need casing in.  The fifth book has a leather spine, so it is taking a bit longer.

As much as I enjoyed the marbling class, I felt a bit frustrated by it.  Since I was demonstrating, teaching and helping everyone, I didn’t have time to do any real work myself.  I hadn’t expected to, but still  … When I finally finished cleaning up everything and reorganizing my basement, I wanted to spend some time doing some real marbling.  Here again, I have been playing with a lot of different techniques (over-marbling, masking, figures) and wanted to go back to form and color.  One of the best things about marbling is that it’s so easy even a child can do it, yet it can take years to truly master different techniques.  Maybe like playing a drum!

Again, my last few marbling sessions have been caught up in special effects.  This time I was determined to slow down and enjoy exploring color and pattern.  Turned out to be a great idea.  I’ve had a marvelous week, in spite of the usual frustrations! Tuesday and Wednesday were unusually productive and so far I’ve produced over 50 pieces.  And that’s not counting the “tray fillers”.

Again, my basement becomes my Studio and some of the papers.

Lots of things going on here!  As you may be able to see, I tried to stay with a single color palette for several sheets, making small change in color and design from sheet to sheet.  It’s hard to tell from the pile, but there are probably five or six sheets of each colorway.  You can see it most clearly in the black set.  I used only black, grey, white and one accent color for each sheet.  I used the same pattern, but changed the size of the comb and the rake.  The feel of the piece becomes quite different.  The Dark blue set was on a very stiff card stock and is generally a mess.  I haven’t used anything that heavy in a while and it takes getting used to!  Since it doesn’t bend easily, it is very easy to catch air bubbles and the technique used to lay the paper on the marbling tray is a bit different.  As you can see from the closeup, I was also having some problems with contamination in the tray about that time.  With marbling, there is always something to keep me on my toes.

I love doing maps and did a batch from atlases, road maps and street directories.  I also cut a Pennsylvania highway map into  strips that would fill the tray when I was doing smaller pieces. Not sure what I’ll do with them, but they’ll come in useful some day.  If not, I know a number of collage artists who will use them.  My favorite map was the one of Turkey done in browns and yellows.  It reminds me so much of the time I spent there many eons ago, travelling across from Afghanistan.  Couldn’t do that now.

Marbling is always interesting and always a bit of a surprise.  The colors are never quite what I expect, sometimes better, sometimes not.  And there’s always that dreaded air bubble just waiting to spoil the perfect piece!

Now that summer is really here, my marbling trays will probably remained packed up.  I just have to start using up or selling all this wonderful paper so I can make more!

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Filed under bookbinding, Craft design, Marbled Paper

Books on a Theme: Face to Face

As soon as I finished the Marbling Class, I changed my focus to the next exhibit being hung by my local gallery. The theme is Face to Face and the drop-off day for artwork was this past Monday.  Not much time!  I already had a few of the soft-cover books I had made in North Carolina, but I didn’t really have much that spoke to the theme. I had been thinking about a Dos à Dos book.  Back to back is almost like face to face.  I also was eager to play with some of my “scraps” to upcycle.

Here is what I came up with and was able to finish last week.

June "Face to Face" books

June “Face to Face” books

The upcycled (fancy way of saying recycled) diskettes were great fun and I had the perfect paper for the yellow one. They are bound with a simple Coptic stitch.

The Dos à dos took a little more thought. I couldn’t decide quit how to cover the middle board.  I could cover it completely with one paper and use the same paper for the front and back covers, but that seemed boring.  I decided I definitely wanted a different, but coordinated, front and back. As I was going through my paper, I found I had three different versions of crane patterns in the Chiyogami.  Problem solved!  I used the blue crane for the front, the white crane for the back and the tan crane for the center board.  Again, I used a simple Coptic stitch binding for the spines.  I was even able to play with the color of the waxed thread: blue for the front and red for the back.  I enjoyed making this and can see myself exploring this format again.

I’m sorry that I didn’t take a better picture of the center board.  Maybe I can drop by the Gallery and take one.

After finishing the crane book, I kept thinking about how to make two books facing each other.  I had seen something like that done in a stab stitch binding, but couldn’t locate it. So I started playing and came up with this.

I started with a piece of mat board I had marbled in blues. I then added two different sized textblocks, one to each end of the board with simple stab stitch patterns.  The covers of the textblocks overlap, but the pages don’t.  Since you usually write with the spine on the left, I made the two books upside down to each other.

As a last hurrah, I took the case for a single floppy disk and put two tiny stab stitched books in it with a tiny pencil. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures, but if I do get down to the gallery, I’ll take some and post them!

Added on 6/15:  Some poor quality pictures of “Just in Case.”

All-in-all, a very busy and productive and FUN week!

A last picture of my items on display at the gallery; just a bit crowded.


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Basic Marbling Workshop: Fun & Colorful

I had a great, fun marbling workshop last week.  Back in October, I had given a hands-on demonstration for the local Art Guild.  It lasted only an hour, so I had to do all the prep work for the participants to be able to do any marbling.  Several people wanted to do more and I scheduled a three-day workshop to share the basics, plus a glimpse at some advanced techniques.  This time the students had to prep, including mixing the paints, aluming the paper, setting up the trays, etc.  Because of the time factor, I did mix the carrageenan the night before.  After a brief demonstration, everyone set to work, splattering and dropping paint, playing with rakes and combs and generally, messing about.  I was very pleased with the outcomes and I think everyone learned a lot while having fun.

Photos of the class:

The participants were quite diverse, one was a book artist, one was just having fun, one was an experimental artist and the last was a collage artist who wanted to be able to make her own papers.  It was pretty intensive, but everyone had a stack of papers by the end.

I even had time to do a few pieces during class and the next day.

Now it’s on to using some of the stacks of paper and trying out some new books.




Filed under Marbled Paper

It Works! My Jacob’s Ladder in Action!

I’ve finally gotten a video of one of my Jacob’s ladders in action.  Yes, it really does work.


(click to see video)

Not the greatest photography, but you can see how it works! Mesmerizing!

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