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30 in 30: Days 11 through 15

This is a continuation of the challenge that started in this post.

Day 11. Piano Hinge with Skewers

This was a fun book to make. I’m not sure about leaving the points on the skewers. I like the look, but they are sharp! I wrapped every section with my marbled paper, which means that you have two facing marbled pages on the interior between the sections. It also means that the back of the marbled paper is visible. I used 70 lb. (104gsm) drawing paper for the pages which makes the spine rather chunky. I think even a lighter weight paper might be better.  One problem, which isn’t really visible in the photos, is that the skewers make the spine very wide so the shoulders are way out of proportion.

Day 12. Flag Book

I’ve been intrigued by this structure for a long time, but have never gotten around to making one, partly due to a lack of ideas about content. The text or flags in this book are cut from random pages I had printed when I was playing with adding text to my books. The spine is folded decorative paper and is quite weak. If I ever make another one of these, I would use a stiffer paper or card stock for the spine.  I think thinner flags are more interesting. These are a little too wide.  Like many of these books, the final structure is a bit wedge shaped due to extra material at the spine edge. The shape makes shelving a problem.  The more I play with these different structures, the more I appreciate the advantages of the traditional codex book.

Day 13. Pocket X-Book revisited

This is the same structure that I made on Day 2, just resized to hold business cards. This time I used a double-sided paper for the pockets so there isn’t a disconnect between the pocket and background. Filled with cards, it is much wider at the fore edge and needs some width in the spine to compensate and provide a flat profile.  I really like this format and think I may have another go at it using boards and a spine, but keeping the X-fold for the pockets.

Day 14. Jacob’s Ladder variation

This is a modification of the Jacob’s Ladder toy/book that I made several years ago. It is larger and has only three panels, but it still flips and flops like the original. This structure demands content and I can imagine some quite clever uses of the six panels which seem to interact, but never do. In spite of all their flips and flops, the two Victorian ladies never meet.

Day 15. Variation of my Jotter/Sketch book

This is a slight variation of my jotters and sketch books. This isn’t an experiment with structure, but with material. I have many odds and ends of very heavy paper that I have marbled, but have never found an appropriate structure. It tends to crack if creased, but I was hoping I could use it in a structure that can use a gentle fold. It didn’t crack along the spine, but another problem appeared immediately – the covers wouldn’t lay flat. I tried damp ironing and leaving it in a press for 48 hours, but they still spring.  As a last ditch effort I will try to hydrate the paper thoroughly and then press it again.  I hope it works.

Thoughts on the Challenge so far.

It’s been fun and I’ve learned some new ways of handling paper, but it has also reinforced my desire to get back to “real” books.  Making these 15 books has taken me 23 days just because ‘Life’ and I don’t think it’s realistic to think I can continue that pace as I move into more complex structures. I have no desire to make 15 more simple ones, but I would like to work on what I would call intermediate types – stab stitch, Coptic, long stitch, etc.  but all of these structures require extensive prep work, cutting paper and boards as well as design time.  Books 16 – 30 (if I do that many) may become two days per book or three books a week or some other measurement. We’ll see what happens after my vacation. I should be back at this around the end of October.

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30 in 30: Days 6 through Day 10

This is a continuation of my project started in this post.

Day 6.  Everlasting Fold Book

This book is called “everlasting” because the accordion-folded pages can be removed and replaced with with fresh pages when you are finished with them. It’s a clever idea, but I wish the spine were sturdier. I have a feeling that the pages will last longer than the case!  I used the plain yellow on the outside because I was confused by the instruction as to which paper would be seen.  If I were to make another one of these, I would try to figure out how to create a stronger spine, while retaining the ability to remove the pages.

Day 7. Foldout (map) Book

When I saw this design, I knew immediately I had to use one of my marbled maps for the text. It’s a good structure for any oversize piece that can be folded. If I make another one, I will marble the back side of the map with darker colors so the ads on the reverse aren’t quite so jarring. I might also add a ribbon tie or some other sort of fastening.

Day 8. Double Pamphlet Book

This is a nice sturdy little book that would be great for notes, grocery lists and other memos you still keep by hand and not on your phone. It it sewn with a pamphlet stitch through the two sections. The outside thread is hidden in the V fold made by the cover between the two sections. For the textblock, I used some letterhead paper that I liked, but could never use.  I have several more packs that you may see in future projects!  I like this variation on a very traditional structure. It is solid, compact and useful.

Day 9 & 10. Star Book.

This book gets two days because it was more intricate than I thought it would be. I worked on it for three days, but some of that was drying and pressing time so I decided to call it two. Hey, I’m making up the rules as I go along and there are no grades at the end.

This is an interesting structure that could be used in many different ways by adding text, graphics, cutouts and more.  Unlike many other star structures which are accordion folded, this uses individual pieces which are glued at the points.  That’s why it took more time than I expected. Each of the solid-colored papers was cut into seven different-sized rectangles, folded and glued.  More labor-intensive, but more stable. At some point in this challenge, I will try one of the folded star books for comparison. The darker blue pages are folded on the top edge, except where I messed up, and can be flipped open a page at a time.  I can see a graphic artist using those in all sorts of ways – to hide text or artwork, as pop-ups, for individual poems or as pages in a longer narrative. One could even have text or art on the purple pages that could only be seen through an opening in the blue page.  Unfortunately, as I said before, I’m a structure person.

 

I’m planning on going on until Day 15 is finished and then taking a break. I’m going back to the John C. Campbell Folk School for another course and need to take time before then to batten down the house, finish turning over the garden and generally prep for the cold weather that is coming. Life does interfere with art sometimes.  I hope to be back to 30 in 30 by the end of October and blogging about it soon after.

 

 

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Marbling Workshop: Results

In a previous blog, I talked about the marbling workshop on April 22nd.  It was a great success and I was pleased to have participants so excited about marbling.  In fact, everyone came back for an Open Studio session.  In spite of being able to produce a sheet of marbled paper in a 15 minute “make it and take it”,  marbling really does take a few days to begin to be in control. I love it when people enjoy something enough to be willing to put more time into learning the craft.  I also enjoy the Open Studio idea, where I can work with people  without a formal structure. What follows is a lot of photos and brief comments on the workshop. Photos are thanks to Julia Hardy, who became my assistant for this class.

In the few days before the workshop,  I stumbled through a bit of a nightmare of logistics.  In the space of three days, the class went from six participants to five to four, up to six again and then back to four.  Workshops are not like lectures where you can just add a couple of extra chairs.  Marbling stations have to be set up with tools, paint, trays and carrageenan.  Space is tight in my studio and six participants, plus a demonstration table for me was an interesting problem in spatial design.  I had everything set up for six, when I heard there would only be four.  This was just the day before the class and too late to unmake the paints or size.  Plenty of supplies for the following week of marbling!

In marbling, there are always alternative ways of doing most everything. I started by demonstrating how to put paint on the carrageenan size with a whisk and by using an eyedropper.  Just to confuse everyone, I also showed how to make the get-gel pattern with a stylus and then with rakes.  Each type of pattern was printed for reference. The class went right to work, preparing the paper, throwing paint, creating marbled patterns and printing them.

Before breaking for lunch, we examined all the wonderful paper that was drying, seeing what worked and where there were problems.  I was very pleased with what was accomplished in just a few hours. By the end of the day, great papers were being produced.

By mid-afternoon we needed a break and looked at different types of patterns, overmarbling and marbling on printed paper. I hope the students were inspired to keep thinking about new ways to look at marbling.

Great class, fun time, all supervised by my assistant, Lucy.

Lucy, marbling supervisor

Lucy, marbling supervisor

Saturday and Sunday were Open Studio days and I marbled along with the students.  Since then, I’ve been trying to use up as much of the paint and carrageenan as possible and have been playing as well as cleaning up.  I can’t believe how long that takes!  My studio is slowly transforming itself back into a book workshop and my marbling space is getting back into its usual configuration.  I’ve already heard from people that want me to have another workshop,  maybe in July or August if my supervisor approves.

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Marbling in Red and Orange for Spring?

I haven’t done any marbling in a long time, not since last October and I was getting the itch.  I’m teaching a workshop in marbling later this month (April 22nd) and thought I’d better do some to make sure everything is working. There has also been a history of lots of mess-ups after a dry spell.  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this time.  In fact, I really got into the groove and pulled a lot of great pieces.

Before starting, I was thinking of spring, spring colors, soft pastels, greens, yellows and in general all those lovely Easter egg colors.  Didn’t work out that way.  In the morning as I started preparing the paint, I first pulled out some yellows, but then I grabbed a red. One of the few colors I’ve had success in mixing is orange, so I made a couple of oranges from the reds and yellows. I added the standards – black, white, brown, copper – to the array of paints and decided I had enough colors to start.  Maybe I’d add the makings of pastels later.  After seeing the first sheet of paper come alive with vibrant reds, yellows and oranges, I couldn’t stop.  I just kept throwing the same six or seven colors over and over again in a wide range of combinations and patterns.

On the second day, I added some greens to the paint choices but I still did a lot with the reds, oranges and yellows. I did one of my minimalist marblings with Nickel Azo Yellow, Zinc White and Van Dyke Brown. The white and brown were only dropped once, but the yellow was dropped numerous times.  That’s the second paper in the first photo.

And, of course, I had to play with a bunch of paper. First are some illustrations from a severely water-damaged book of Arthurian legends.

Then some illustrations from a fashion magazine from 1898.  I find the children’s clothing fascinating.  To imagine a six-year old wearing a dress with a train every day is really difficult for me as are the wasp waists on the adults!

Lastly, I found a pile of sketches my mother had done of tulips but had never really finished.  Had to marble them, of course and so ended up with some spring after all.  Think I’ll keep and frame the yellow one.

One the last three sets of photos, I dropped about half as much paint as usual, used a lot of white, added some clear and made a loose, lacy pattern.  I think that combination worked well.  What do you think?  I may try this technique when I start marbling maps again.

Don’t forget, marbling workshop coming up. You can register by calling the Arts Center of Yates County at 315-536-8226 or contact them through their website, http://artscenteryatescounty.org/

 

Happy Spring and Happy Marbling!

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Marbling Workshop on April 22, 2016

I will be teaching a basic, one-day workshop in marbling on paper on Friday, April 22nd from 9 am to 3 pm at my studio. I’ve had a few requests for this, so am finally getting my act together. I hope you’ll join us in the fun.  This is a great opportunity to dabble in a new art form, refresh your skills and produce wonderful papers to use in collages, on greeting cards, or other paper arts.

The workshop will include:

the preparation of paper with alum
preparation of acrylic paint for marbling
preparing the carrageenan or size
getting the paint to float on the size
manipulating the paint (the FUN part)
basic marbling patterns (stone, get-gel, nonpareil, plus more if time permits)
laying down paper to transfer the paint
washing and drying paper
time permitting, I’ll also demonstrate how to make low-cost marbling tools

Everyone will have bunches of beautiful paper to take home, even after just one day.  For those who become enamored with the art, want to try just one more or learn more patterns, I will have “Open Studio” days after the workshop.  On these days, you can come back and continue marbling and creating beautiful papers.  You can even try out some “over-marbling” with papers produced on Friday.  There won’t be any formal instruction, but I’ll be there to answer questions, provide help and offer suggestions. These open studio days will continue until the carrageenan or the paints give up.

This workshop is being offered through the Arts Center of Yates County.  Here is their course description:

Paper Marbling with Nancy Langford                                            Friday, April 22nd      9 am – 3 pm               Losing Her Marbles Studio
Learn the basics of creating amazing designs through marbling – an ancient method of creating designs by floating inks or paints on an aqueous solution and then transferring the design to paper, cloth or other media.  This workshop will work on preparing paper and acrylic paints for marbling, creating basic patterns and transferring that design to paper.  No previous experience necessary!  Nancy will also have open studio hours over the weekend to enable students to continue to practice and create.

Please call 315-536-8226 to register or send an email to artscenter@ycac.org

$48 members, $60 not-yet-members for Friday workshop  + $25 materials / studio fee per day 

For further information please contact Nancy using the form below.

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Ten by Two: making a lot of gift notepads

Just before Thanksgiving I received a request to make some notepads for a customer to use as gifts.  She wanted ten sets of notepad covers containing a medium-size and small-size in coordinating colors. I have been making these notepads is four sizes from portfolio for an 8.5″ x 12″ pad to a mini, memo sized (1.5″ x 4″) pad. You can see all sizes here.  This request was challenging just because of the number of items, but the time frame made it even more complicated as I was planning a two-week trip to my son’s at Thanksgiving!

I rarely work on more than four or five pieces at a time just because parts tend to wander and get mixed up.  At least this time all the basic pieces would be the same size, but keeping tracking of forty different papers was a challenge!  Before leaving for vacation I was able to cut all the Davey board covers (outside) and mat board pieces (inside) and cover the inside panels.  This blog will go through many of the steps I took on this project with illustrations when I remembered the camera.

First step, and the most fun and frustrating, was choosing all the papers to be used.  The customer wanted each set to be coordinated and I didn’t want any to use the same papers.  Fortunately, the largest size I was making was for a 6″ x 9″ pad and that gave me more choices of paper.  When I make the portfolio size (8.5″x 12″) I’m very limited as the inside needs two pieces of paper that are roughly 8″ wide by 13″ tall. Since most of my hand-marbled paper is 14″x 17″, it’s tight and the sheet has to be perfect.  I don’t have any photos, but you can imagine me sorting through stacks of paper trying to find four that went together.  I was generally looking for two printed and two marbled.  To keep all my selection straight, I clipped all the matching sheets together with notes on the backs with a number 1 through 20, whether it was large or small and inside or outside.  This is much more organized than I usually am, but with 40 pieces of paper staring at me, I really needed it.  Cutting the boards took a whole day, but at least they were the same size, so didn’t have to be marked.

Stacks of cut Davey board for covers

Stacks of cut Davey board for covers

I decided to make the inside panels first so cut all that paper first before starting gluing out anything.  Once the papers were cut, I started the gluing out process using the mat board I’d already cut.

At this point I was off for Thanksgiving.  I tried to think how I could take some of the work with me, but it was just too complicated. When I came home, I had two weeks to finish everything.  I immediately started on the outside covers.  I had already cut the boards and chosen the paper, so first task was to pick the bookcloth.  This was when I realized that I’d found the element that would tie the sets together. Each set would have matching spines and I’d use each bookcloth on only one set. The bookcloth is next to all four papers, so the choice had to work with all.  By this time all four inside panels were in ten zipper bags and clipped to the larger outside papers. As I chose the bookcloth, a small piece was slipped into the bags.  Sounds easy, but I was swapping pieces in and out as I found better matches.  At times it seemed like total chaos.

All the spines were were attached to the boards a strip was glued into the center of the spine to stiffen it. Next step was to cut all the outside cover papers to size and glue them onto the covers. To finish the covers, I glued narrow strips of bookcloth to the outside edges of the boards.  This isn’t necessary, but I feel it makes a longer wearing edge than the paper alone and I want these notepads to be used and to last.

Next, adding the insides to the outsides, right? Not quite. The writing pad has to be held in place. I use a strap of heavy paper or cardstock to secure the pad and a foot pocket to keep it in place on the right side. On the left side, I make a pocket either on the side or bottom to hold a few extra sheets of paper. Placement of the pocket depends on the design of the paper, the size of the paper and my mood.  First step, as usual, is matching a heavy paper to the pieces already made. The paper is then cut and folded individually, matching the exact size and shape of its covers.

Completed notepads! All finished and delivered on time.

This entire project was really fun, although frustrating at times. It was a challenge to find just the right papers, but in the end I’m very pleased with the results.

I always have notebooks and portfolios for sale on Etsy. If you need different colors or amounts than are available, just send a message: 

or leave a comment here.

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Update on “How to Marble Paper” page

Three years age I wrote a “How to Marble Paper” page. Since then I have had lots of questions and and I have changed several of my methods. I am currently updating the page. Here’s the first part. You can see the whole thing HERE.

Update to How to Marble

The most frequent questions I am asked are about the basic physical components of marbling – alum, carrageenan, paint and paper.  I haven’t changed the first two at all. Marbling carrageenan (not the food variety) mixed at 2.5 Tablespoons per Gallon of water (I use distilled, bottled) and marbling alum (again, not the food kind) mixed at 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of water. I mix my alum a bit stronger than some recommendations just because I find it works better for me. The carrageenan is mixed in a high-speed blender and allowed to sit overnight.  I usually mix the alum at the same time just because it’s one less step to do in the morning! The alum just needs to be stirred a bit to dissolve.

Paint
Paints can be tricky and you need to be willing to play a bit to find the brand and type that suits you purposes best. I have been converted to Golden’s Fluid Arcylics. I think they are easier to balance, have great pigment integration and provide intense colors. However, like all paint, they can be highly individual in the way you mix them. I start my paints with 1 part paint to about  1/2 part water and add water gradually to find the right balance. Colors vary a lot – blues & greens need more water, reds and yellows need less.  Unlike the paints I used to use, even the toughest of the Golden colors needs only 20 to 30 stirs to create a good suspension and most need way less.  I took a class where the paints had been pre-mixed and even though they were the same base paint that I use all the time, the water ratios were very different and it took a few papers for me to adjust my style to the paint. The moral is play, test, try and play some more until you find what suits you and how you plan to use your paper.

I use a piece of dowel to mix the paint.  It’s tempting to just use the eyedropper, but not wise.  I used to use plastic spoons, but find that the dowel provides a better surface for reintegrating pigment that has fallen out of suspension. Some paints, especially yellows and reds, rarely fall, but blues and ultramarines have to be stirred frequently.  Metallics need stirring before almost every drop and the dowel provides a pestle-like action that works well. I much prefer using cups to leaving the paint in the bottles. Bottles will develop a thick sludge of pigment on the bottom, but with the cups you can see and control the sludge formation. I’ve used both snap lid and twist on cups and prefer the twist closure. It gives a tighter seal and avoids the splash episodes when I try to open a stuck snap-on lid! You do have to take care that the twist is fully sealed if you are leaving the paint for any period of time.

Paper

What paper you use depends entirely on what you plan to do with your marbled paper.  Always keep end use in mind.  Most of my paper ends up in my books; that’s why I started marbling in the first place.  Therefore, I use a lot of drawing weight paper (70-80lbs, 100 – 130gsm). I also use a lot of card stock (65lb., 167 gsm.) for cards and for some book uses, but it is too heavy for endpapers.  I have some beautifully marbled sheets of very heavy weight paper and even watercolor paper (400 lb.) that I love, but have yet to figure out what to do with them.  Many marblers love Texoprint paper, but I am not a fan, partially because I don’t like the way it pastes down.  I have tried marbling everything from paper napkins to mat board. So try, experiment, play!  If you are just beginning, I suggest either a 70lb. drawing paper or card stock as they are both easy to handle and have many uses.

Fun sources of marbling paper are everywhere – discarded books, maps, old magazines, sheet music,  junk mail, community flyers.  Just look around.  Slick and glossy papers are harder to marble since both the alum and paint tend to slide off, but you can have fun trying!

…. Continued on THIS PAGE

 

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