Thursday, 30 August 2012

The shape of pears

One message that has stayed with me from my trainee bookbinder days is the importance of having the design details of a project resolved before you start cutting and pasting.  It makes sense, of course, and the risk of doing otherwise is that things will at some stage go pear-shaped.
On the other hand, if you find during the construction of your fully resolved project that what you are producing doesn't please you, then it is highly likely it won't please others and there is probably not much point in continuing.
This is about where I am with Curtains right now. I finished the first of the edition and it didn't feel quite right. I had a bit of a rethink and made a prototype of a second version, which also had its shortcomings. All the bits and pieces that had been carefully prepared and assembled over the last couple of weeks are now in the waste paper basket. This is obviously frustrating but I'm now far enough into version three to feel confident that scrapping version one was the right decision.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mental arithmetic

The forwarding part of many editions involves lots of repetitive, not-especially complex tasks that don't require a lot of concentration. The risk of error is relatively low and the challenge is to avoid becoming too bored. My mind inevitably wanders and I find myself making multiple mental calculations of how far into the task I am and how much remains to be done.
This edition of 10 will use a total of 180 paper covered and 180 cloth covered tiles. Two passes of the board cutter are needed to make each tile (720 passes); the paper and cloth covers are then cut with a craft knife or rotary cutter (360 cuts); the covers pasted on to the tiles (360 pastings); the corners of each cover trimmed for turning in (1440 trimmings); and each of the cover sides turned in  (1440 turn-ins). If I allow a 5% overrun for the inevitable mistakes I make and the flaws I find, I will have performed in excess of 4500 separate operations before I get to assembly and finishing.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


The annual roadshow that is Australia's travelling craft expo rolled into town last weekend. Part exhibition and part trade fair, it drew thousands of enthusiasts over four days. The expo's focus is clearly quilt making and other textile arts but there is enough of broader interest to make me feel it's worth checking out every couple of years. The purpose of this year's visit was to hunt down some fabrics that I could use as part of Curtains, my second BAO4 title. I came away with some delightful Japanese cottons from Wabi Sabi Designs and spent a satisfying afternoon trimming these to size with a new rotary cutter. The cottons are tightly woven and easy to work without any need for backing. Am looking forward to building them into my edition of ten.

Saturday, 11 August 2012


This week's piece, Gumballs - I want the whole jar, is mine only in the sense that it's a recent addition to my (modest) collection of artists' books. It's a work by Canberra book artist Linda Newbown that featured in Turning Over, a recent exhibition of artists books, printing and 3D paper works at Strathnairn Homestead Gallery. It was a fabulous exhibition - full of witty and inventive original pieces housed in superbly crafted 'containers'. Gumballs consists of 270 miniature cased-in concertina bindings (each with text). As Linda puts it: "For all of us there is something that we crave - something that we do not want to share, that we want to gather and hoard. For me, it's a greed for books."

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Rugrat in the bindery

I've been sharing my bindery with a two year old this week so not much progress on my own work but it is a delight to introduce young children to the world of books. Matilda has been engrossed, enthusiastic and proud of her developing fine motor skills.
Together, she and I made her first book - a simple concertina structure in which she then 'wrote' her story before using the book for scissors practice. Paper and boxboard offcuts have been retrieved from the waste basket and put to good use with a roll of sticky tape and a glue stick. She's now aware that her cousins have been allowed to use the nipping press and board cutter since they turned three and is counting down to her next birthday.