The Fortress Of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Power And The Glory by Graham Greene
My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
A Visitation Of The Plague by Daniel Defoe
Design Diaries by Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright
Thickfreakness by The Black Keys
Ghost by The Third Eye Foundation
Bent Leg Fatima by Bent Leg Fatima
Overkill by Motörhead
360 Business/360 Bypass by Pan•American
Keep Your Cool by Brant Bjork
Two Phazed People by Horace Andy and Alpha
Lullabies For Big Babies by Rory Mcleod
Fragments Of Freedom by Morcheeba
Live From Mars by Ben Harper
Save The World, Get The Girl by The King Blues
Songs in A&E by Spiritualised
The final stretch (for one set of covers at least) as the covers and book block come together. The hairy twine needed a long twist of sticky tape on the ends in order to thread through the holes, where it was removed and the two loose ends threaded back on each side between the boards and book:
Using a hand clamp to keep the book squared up, I tied the twine in a simple double knot.
I did a little retouching on the inside of the boards where they had got scuffed.
And covered them with a square of oxblood vinyl (another gem from my oddments box) using PVA and a light pressure.
Which finished off the innards.
I frayed the hairy twine to add the finishing touch:
I have just figured out what I’m going to do with the second book, but I’ll leave that for another time…
After the relative success binding the two small samplers, I decided to make some more adventurous (for me) coverboards. I got stuck right in and forgot to take some photos of the construction. These first ones are simple pieces of 3mm greyboard, with cutouts of handmade textured paper and strips of leather, liberally painted over with red/black acrylic paint, globs of PVA and sprinkles of sugar and cracked pepper (for added textures)
The sugar dissolves into the PVA but remains crystalline around the edges. The pepper is just to add some looser bits onto the surface. The ideas is to layer more paint over and then distress the surfaces. The intention is to take off the looser material and reveal the layers below without causing too much damage to the surrounding material. I am hoping that this little experiment works – never tried this before, but thought that it would make this process a little more interesting.
The second boards are covered in a textured ‘dot’ paper in a swirly pattern, ripped off on one edge and given a splodging of straight yellow acrylic around the edges. Again with the sugar and pepper…
When this was dry I gave everything a good coat of black.
In some areas I over painted and allowed the paint to ‘sit’ on the surface. Elsewhere, I deliberately under painted to leave traces of the colours beneath.
So when the covers are dry (the next day – I make, write and post very much out of sequence) I set to work distressing them. The first stage is to rough them up a bit and take off some of the surface shine with a bit of sandpaper.
This also begins to reveal the colour layers beneath.All of the covers got a vigorous rub down with a damp cloth too which fetched off a little moe of the black and removed the dust from sanding.
I had the idea of attaching something a bit random to the centre part of cover. After a bit of a headscratch and a root through my odds and ends box, I came across these tiny ceramic tiles that were left over from a student experiment a year or so ago. There were about half a dozen left over that were going to be thrown away so I asked her if I could recycle them into something (She said yes – thanks Christina!) They are very slim, stamp-sized squares made from poured slip with a screen print of part of a dollar bill.
After choosing one I marked the holes and drilled through the coverboards with an Archimedes drill and cut a recess between the two holes on the back to hide the thread.
A few trial threadings led to this arrangement.
The loose ends were passed through each of the holes drilled into the cover where they were tightly knotted.
The little tile now sits firmly in the centre panel and adds an interesting contrast to the black and red, along with the difference in surface textures:
I need to work out how I’m going to fasten these boards to the books using the cords now. I haven’t thought that far ahead – this is very much an idea developing rather than a well planned process.
I was going to post up the results of the etchings I printed recently, but decided to put that off until later as I had made some improvements to my sewing techniques following the last attempt at sewing over cords.
I did much better this time, getting a tighter, more consistent loop around each cord. I used some black nylon woven cord this time, partly to make the binding more visible, but also to allow for the attaching of some weightier boards for the covers…
I was using up some paper stock leftovers and had enough mixed sheets to make two books at 90 x 102mm. The second book uses very hairy hemp twine, doubled over.
Again, I intend to make some fairly hefty covers for this one, and hope to be able to fray the ends of the twine to good effect.
I’ll post more on the covers another time, and I promise to show the etchings soon!
Oh boy, it is a while since I made any books – at least made any that I’ve blogged about. I still make books fairly regularly, but have been a bit obsessed with other things of late… So I am returning to sewing over cords, something I have done in the past occasionally but not particularly explored beyond the basic technique.
Probably the best example I have made of this type of binding is this one from last October:
I would like to do something a little more elaborate with the covers too, but first I want to improve on the binding; a more compacted and consistent wrapping around the cords giving a more solid appearance.
After cutting down the paper and collating the sections using a standard weight cartridge paper I decided to be a little more organised than I did before. As I don’t yet possess a sewing frame I decided to fashion one from my lying press, using nothing more sophisticated than masking tape:
This is not an elegant solution. Nor is it a terribly practical one either, as I really need to put some tension into the cords. This method allows me to hold them steady, but not very tight. I don’t think it would take me too long to make a more useable attachment to the lying press, but I’ll save that for another time.
Once the cords are set, I cut some linen thread and waxed it with a small round of beeswax, to stiffen it a little and allow it maintain the tension as I bind. I simply pull the thread against the wax under my thumb both ways:
After laying the first section against the cords I tape off one end of the thread for now and enter the first section at the first station:
The first row is quite difficult as the paper moves around too much. This improves after a couple of sections are secured in place on the frame. I reached the end of the first section and realised that I had not ‘packed’ the cords; that is wrapping the thread around each cord before moving on to the next. I could have unpicked this and started again, but I had really struggled with every part of this and was unhappy with how I had started. I decided at this point that this was to be a practice run as I felt that I needed to gain more confidence and fluidity in the sewing.
At the end of the first section it is simply a matter of beginning again on the second which is placed directly upon the first:
Each pass through the stations also included a double wrap around the cord before re-entering:
On the return At the end of the second section, the thread is not passed back through the last station. Instead, the other end which I had taped off at the start is put into a needle and sewn into the last station:
Where it is tied off and trimmed, before the I continued out with the (longer sewing end of the) thread:
This continues back and forth along the spine, securing each end with a kettle stitch:
I really need to practice this. I missed several stations entirely and was not consistent in the packing. The end result looked pretty crummy when you looked at the details:
But didn’t look to bad generally. You can see from this image that once the book is removed from the frame the cords are much longer than will be required to secure the cover boards, but the cord I am using is not wound very tight and unravels very easily.
The cords are cut from a peice of thick string that I found on the floor in town a couple of years ago. I picked it up, had a good look, gave it a sniff (well, you have to check!) and thought “that might be useful” and so it is. I have dipped the cut ends of each piece in candlewax to stop it fraying whilst I am working with it.
So what next? I am going to cut the threads and re-use the cords and sections. I’ll have another go. I’ll plan some covers. I am a bit disappointed, but feel ready to make another attempt, improve my technique, and use this method to create a beautiful book. At least, and interesting one.
Thie thing about blogging is that there is a temptation to show off all the finished stuff and use it as a showcase. When I started this blog, the intention was to use it as vehicle to share my own newfound enthusiasm for creative exploration. It has certainly been that, but I have also done a fair amount of showing off too. I think that this post brings me back to my original intention. I am not a professional bookbinder, printmaker or ceramicist and don’t get everything right. I make mistakes, I reflect upon my process and intent, revise my approaches and try again. It’s what learning and improving is all about and none of us should be afraid of sharing that.
I headed out to Norwich today and got to see a great exhibition of work from the archives of The Design Research Unit, probably one of the first major design consultancies in the UK, but certainly the most influential.
The exhibition covers the period between 1942 to 1973; from it’s early conceptions and through it’s major corporate and urban projects.
There are a number of these beautiful corporate identity manuals included in the exhibition. I have a real fondness for these, as do many designers of a certain age, and was frustrated that I couldn’t flick through – I really enjoy taking in all the minutiae that these contain:
This ICI master logo was also available on sheets of Letraset too!
I baulked a bit at the hyphenation on this poster. Times change.
There are examples of work that reflect a very different era, from the arts and crafts inspired illustrations to this Bauhaus lookee-likee:
Details from a couple of DRU letterheads:
One of the most enduring designs DRU produced was for British Rail and although long since defunct, examples of this identity can still be found on old rolling stock and in forgotten corners of many stations across the country.
The examples of work for photographic company Ilford were interesting to me (I collect old cameras and stuff) and I couldn’t help capturing my own reflection in the image above.
Again, those of a certain age will have fond memories of Watneys - no Northern party was complete without a giant exploding can of Watneys Party Seven (seven pints in a single can!)
There are also a number of personal items produced by members of the team like this christmas card, which helped to give DRU a more human feel:
Here are scans of the brochure and exhibition guide:
It’s open until the end of November and I highly recommend a visit if you have any interest in the history of mid-twentieth century graphics and design. Many graphic design exhibitions seem rather small because the exhibits are largely paper based and quite small, and this exhibition is no different. There is a lot to see here though, and exhibitions like this are not staged as often as I’d like – go and support it – you won’t be disappointed.
Many thanks to NUCA for staging this exhibition and allowing me to take these photographs.
The press continues come apart – I now have most of the nuts and bolts undone, removed and have got the lower platen to raise up, although not by a method that was probably suggested in the manufacturers handbook!
Given how long this thing has been sat outside, I think that this is quite good progress! A regular squirt of penetrating oil and the occasional pull, twist or thwack did the job nicely!
As well as cleaning up the outside ready for a new coat of paint, I have also cleaned every nut, bold and washer!
After a few days soaking in penetrating oil, I scrubbed each with a wad of wire wool, sandpaper and wet & dry paper, along with a mixture of salt and vinegar for acidity and abrasion.
Once the lower platen was raised (and supported with a stout wooden block) I could take a good look at the shaft that will eventually lift the platen via a handle:
This shaft is currently not yielding to my gentle caresses and promises of a new lease of life, so I will need to resort to more drastic methods I think… I have just arranged for a lever to be made in order to get this moving. I am having it made much longer than I need for regular use, but will give me much more ‘leverage’ in order to get things turning. Once it’s moving freely, I’ll have it cut down to a more practical size.size
The lower platen sits in two ‘v’ shaped slots at either side, and was in desperate need of some lubrication. I will need to get some proper grease for this once were are cleaner.
It’s good to see things moving, albeit very slowly. The aim is to get the press into a useable condition – I am not in a rush and intend to do it reasonably well, although it is tempting to start painting it, but I want to have it in a working state before I start on the aesthetic restoration.