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!
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.
Good luck and happy gluing!
Click below for a short video of a Jacob’s Ladder in motion.
For the last two weeks I’ve been on vacation, visiting my family. The first week I was house and pet sitting while they had a spring break vacation. Even though I had my laptop with me, I knew I would be bored with just a dog and a cat for company for a whole week. Before I left home, I was busy choosing papers and ribbons and then cutting the paper and board for a bunch of new Jacob’s Ladders. I’m very glad I did! Along with reading several books and the twice daily dog walking, the ladders kept me very busy. I commandeered a table in the kitchen that had good lighting, much to the dismay of the cat who thought she owned that spot. Every morning I played with my ladders.
Here’s the proof:
I had great fun in choosing the papers before I started. I have music, recipes, art prints and even the Bible. Here are some close-ups of some of the “steps”.
I have another music ladder completed except for the last step. I miscounted the number of boards. About half of these ladders will be for sale on Etsy.
I also visited the local art supply store, just to see. Of course I bought a bit of paper to play with. I made, or rather started some soft-cover books with long stitch bindings. I’ll save those for my next blog! I still am owning a blog on the process of masking marbling. I hope to get to that soon.
I was so pleased that I finally have the ribbons straightened out that I made a bunch more of the Ladders. I’m especially enjoying using pages from vintage books. The way the paper is cut, I rarely have complete paragraphs or even sentences. It is a mind stretcher to “read” some of them. They are not really just random words, but more like dream thoughts that never get quite completed. I’ve cut a bunch more from cookbooks, Shakespeare and even the Bible. I’m looking forward to putting them together.
In the meantime here are the ones I’ve finished.
All of these are for sale on Etsy. In other news, I’m still cleaning up from my last marbling session. Marbling is fun, but it does make a mess!
I’m still sorting out the papers and trying to decide which papers to use and which to sell. That’s always a fun enterprise. More on those papers later … I hope!
Just a quickie to show you what I’ve done with some of my “rainbow” paper. Yes, I know that the rainbow really has seven colors, not six. These are actually the primary and secondary colors on a color wheel, but rainbow sounds better. Anyway, here is my newest plaything.
I’ve already cut the paper for a second one and have been marbling a lot of interesting vintage paper to make more. Now that I’ve finally gotten the ribbons working, it’s fun. I admit, I still have the 28 step instructions right in front of me every time!
My plans for marbling this weekend didn’t quite work out – seems to be a theme going on here.
I did have a great weekend however, even if not as planned. As I mentioned in my last blog, I was playing with the ladders and getting a bit frustrated. I had made the blocks for two ladders, but my first attempt at the ribbons wasn’t right. I pulled them apart and tried again on one of the ladders and finally had the weaving right, but the ribbons were too loose, some blocks had gotten upside down, and it just wasn’t pretty!
I also had three books that I had started months ago, but had been too busy to get back to them. So I decided instead of creating more paper to join my stash and create more work, I would finish up some things, including mastering the ladders. So, here are the results!
I made four ladders this week, The bottom two in the first photo were my successful ones. One is made from pages of a 1947 book about Bozo the Clown that I marbled. The other is regular marbled paper. The top two are from an old copy of “The History of Western Art”. I was really excited about these as they would form a little “book” snapshot of art through the ages. Unfortunately they were the ones I messed up. I still like the idea and think I’ll have to marble some more pages and try again.
Here’s a close-up of two of the blocks from the the art book.
These are the books I finished. Unlike most batches I make, these are all the same size. It does make cutting the paper and boards easier, but it’s not as much fun!
I’m very pleased to have finished these and I’ll be putting them up on Etsy within the next week.
Maybe this week, I’ll get started on my new paints and all the marbling ideas that are floating through my head!
Why is it that when you really want spectacular results the souffle falls? At least it seems that way. I was hoping that the few overmarbles I did in the last batch would be good demonstrations of how the technique can work. Instead they are just some more examples of not-quite-hits. It happens. Next time …
Anyway I did promise to show you and here are the results, side by side.
The original paper is on the right, overmarbled on the left.
The original sheet either was missed in the alum process or was flipped and I tried to print on the wrong side. Most of the pigment and pattern washed off in the water bath. You can see a few traces of a nonpareil pattern on the left edge. The remaining pigments left a pale wash over the paper. The overmarbling used similar color in a wide, looping pattern that gained some resonance from the under pattern, but nothing outstanding. It’s a pleasant piece, but not what I hoped for.
This original piece was in pale, almost washed-out greens. This photo makes the piece look worse than it was. It was nice, just rather wishy-washy. I thought it might be a good candidate. I over marbled it with yellows, burnt sienna and oranges. Unfotunately, the burnt sienna granulated a bit and didn’t give the strong lines I was expecting. The undercoat gives interesting shadows and reflections, but not the “wow” factor.
This piece was quite successful in bringing a rather namby-pamby piece back to life. I’d had a problem with the yellow in the first piece pushing all the other colors and then disappearing when printed. For the over coat, I used the same colors in the same stone pattern without the yellow and obtained a very nice colorful piece. This one is the most interesting to try and trace the under and over patterns. If you focus on the black, almost triangular shape a little to the left and above center in the first piece, you can see the same shape in the middle of a large purple stone in the second. From there, you can trace many of the black veins and colored stones.
This was my most successful piece of these four. At least I think so! The original piece was nice with a little bit of a ripple going on, but it had some flaws that would have made it hard to use. For the overmarble, I used similar colors, but made them more intense. I tired to echo the under pattern, without the ripple. The ripple shows through and gives a very subtle motion to the piece. The flaws tend to blend into the new patterns and make the piece very usable,
I’m hoping to start another marbling session this weekend and I’m excited to have just received a shipment of lots of new colors in my new paint.
In the meantime, I’m frustrating myself making some more Jacob’s ladders. Preparing the blocks is a piece of cake. Threading the ribbons is a whole different matter! There always seems to be one that is not right – usually the broken rung is in the middle. Will post more pictures when (and if) I get them right. Doesn’t matter, I’m having fun.