Several people have asked me how to make the Jaccob’s Ladders. I’ll try to explain a bit, but it’s really too complicated to describe just in words. I used the instructions in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings by Alisa Golden. It’s available through Amazon.com or other booksellers.
Here’s my brief explanation.
The “steps” of the ladder are made from “sandwiches” of two boards. I covered my boards with my marbled paper. The sandwiches are joined together by ribbons and that’s the tricky part. The ribbons weave in and out of the sandwiches and are glued on the inside but not on the outside. The weaving is not straight down the ladder as the ribbons must loop around the step so that the ladder can move. If you open the ladder slowly, you can see that the ribbons form an X between the steps, with the outside ribbons staying parallel to each other and the center ribbon “X-ing” them.
In Golden’s book, she lays out the process in 28 steps with diagrams. Even with that help, it took me several tries to get the weaving completely correct. Once figured out it is a lot of fun!
Good luck and happy gluing!
Click below for a short video of a Jacob’s Ladder in motion.
This week I’ve been working on the four books that I’ve been documenting on the Design and Making a Book step two & step three pages. However, working on the books has meant less time for writing about them. Tonight I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures, but haven’t had time to explain what they are. Will do that tomorrow, I hope.
What fascinates me is how the books change during the process. I have a picture in my mind of what the finished product will look like, but it seldom is totally accurate. Materials sometimes seem to have a mind of their own! Papers that I plan on using magically shrink or get cut in the wrong direction forcing me to use alternatives. Sometimes I just don’t like something on the sixth or seventh try. One of the advantages of working on several pieces at once is that I have time to step away from one choice and come back to it later. Sometimes a paper I am considering for one book, will end up in a totally different place.
The Black Palm book is a good example. My first thoughts on the endpapers were just wrong. The second (the tigers) put William Blake into my head and I have been quoting “Tyger!, Tyger!” all week – mainly to myself. I’m very pleased with the outcome. I had no plan to use leather on any of these books. It involves a lot of work to pare it down and I have been preoccupied with a lot of other stuff. When I was trying to decide what to use as the spine for this book, nothing was working — until I noticed a piece of black leather. It was just the right size and worked beautifully. The result is that this is probably my favorite book in the batch and not at all as planned.
If you’ve read my pages on Designing a Book, you’ll know that I’ve started working on a new set of books this week. The design decisions have almost all been made, so next week I’ll be moving on to the more mechanical aspects of making books – the sewing, the pasting, the cutting. I think the enjoyment I find in creating books, or my towers, comes from the duality of the process. There’s a lot of thought and creativity that goes into the design phase, but that is followed by rote work. To do it properly, one has to be careful and precise, but the sewing and pasting doesn’t take much thought. Attention, yes, but not thought. I can relax and daydream a bit. Not too much or the textblock goes into the covers upside down!
It would be boring to just do the making part and it would be frustrating to just design with no product. Combining design and execution makes a very fulfilling whole. I’m sure there are hundreds of hobbies and skills that would yield equal satisfaction, but this works for me!
In case you missed them, these are the books I’m currently making.
…. or rather Back to Play.
The past week has been spent with insurance claims, car salesmen, doctors, etc., etc. It’s a relief to be able to go back to the fun parts.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time designing my next set of books and I’ll be sharing the results here. I’ve also started a page on How to Design a Book, or at least the way I usually do it. This week I’ve been starting by choosing the outside covers first, but at other times I’ve started with a title, an illustration, endpapers or even the paper I wanted to use as the textblock. Flexibility is a good thing!
I’ll give you a spoiler here. These are the papers I’ve chosen for my next batch of books. If you want to see the choices I made, just follow this link.