Tag Archives: how to design

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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Making a Jacob’s Ladder Book

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.



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Catching Up

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.







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Design vs. Doing


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.

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Back to Work

…. 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.

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