Thursday, July 21, 2011

June Pocket Book

I wouldn't want anyone to think I had fallen behind....yet.  My June books were finished well within June, but couldn't be posted as they were gifts for people who do read this blog.  It started with a friend mentioning she was several albums behind in documenting trips to England.  I offered to make her a pocket book, similar to the one I used for my 2007 trip so she could get at least one book behind her by simply putting photos and paper bits in the pockets and adding a minimum of decoration.

As mentioned, I was not completely happy with the pocket book I had made before, so I decided to try and create my own.  I used 12"x12" scrapbook paper - scored, folded, and punched - and rings for binding.  In laying out the folds, which included doubling the edges for strength, I wrote the steps and directions on my sample page and kept it with my other book templates.  While working on the first book, I decided to make similar books for both of her sisters for the gift exchange on our regular "All-England, All-Birthday, Whidbey Island Weekend".

My friend requested her book be in the Union Jack colors of red, white, and blue, so I alternated the colors and folded the pockets as deep as possible while still allowing enough height for the 5X7 photos.  I dug into my stash of England 'stuff' and started her off by loading the pockets with stickers, postage stamps, postcards, tags, and other paper bits. 

I made this with ten pages, which means twenty pockets, and used larger rings for binding.  I suspect when it is full of all the photos, cards and ticket stubs, it will be pretty fat.

The second sister had mentioned that postcards I had given her were kind of scattered around in various places (she is not a collector, just the recipient of cards I just 'know' she needs).  Amazingly I had a group of co-ordinated scrapbook papers that had the word 'postcard' printed in the design of one page so I used it as the cover. I made this book with a shallower pocket since she had no plans to do any decorating, this book was to be totally functional.

For the third sister I had no specific use in mind, but I knew she would put it to good use.  Since she is a crafter, I gave her the deeper pockets in case she chose to decorate the book and I made it in soft feminine colors - which suit her.

The grain of the paper dictated the direction of the design - I would have preferred the stripe be vertical.

The first thing I learned making this book was how important working with the grain was.  With all the creasing and folding, the only fold against the grain had to be the bottom edge, and I creased that rather gently by comparison.  The second thing, which should have been self-evident, was that all measurements had to be PERFECT.  This book allows for no trimming to even things up like blank books with signatures do.  My new pocket book was less bulky than the diagonal fold page, so I was successful in that.

I have at least one more of these to make, also a gift, another travel journal.  It will be taken along on the trip and serve as a repository for collected paper bits and notes during the holiday and then as soon as photos are ready, it will be done.  This one I will get to decorate as well...looking forward to that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

England 2007 Journal Part II

We are now about halfway through this book and it is starting to get pretty full...and that is the problem with this style, as nice as the pockets are, they really don't take as much as I am likely to want to save.  But then, I guess that is my problem.
Pretty much more of the same.  There is a story behind the photo of the performance artist in Winchester on my regular blog here
I took vintage postcards with me, most made into tags, and wrote on the backs.  I also purchased new postcards and wrote on them.  After I got home, I did prune back some of the paper, largely by only saving relevant parts or front pages.
I must make a confession here, I never did find anything suitable to put in the nifty pocket I attached to the inside back cover.  I am confidant something will come to me - it has only been four years after all.
And of course, the back cover had to have my beloved Tower Bridge, a wonderful rubber stamp by Claudine Hellmuth.
I think I have covered most of the various things I put in the pockets, but here are a few examples:

From the top: one of the vintage postcards made into a tag and embellished with a postage stamp; a rubbing from the church shown on the reverse of the postcard I glued it to; the bill from a hotel with a humorous exchange as we drove into the town; a cartoon I had saved before the trip.

I really didn't take much other than the actual book on the trip.  I took some thin paper and soft pencil for tracing, a glue stick, a couple of fine line pens and as mentioned, blank tags and vintage postcards.  The most important thing is to keep the book with you and when something wonderful or clever or funny happens - write it down immediately, on a card or the bill or the back of a ticket stub.  You can never quite remember them perfectly later, and these are the things that make travel journals special.
Some sample jottings:
   Poetic...The Quiet, the absolute peace and quiet atop Dartmoor, a sheep bleating across the valley, a crow passing by, and occasionally a gust of wind ruffles the gorse.
   Amusing...After I left the shop I sat on the rockery in front and watched the world go by. Then I visited the PO and bought some stamps, then sat on the rockery again for a while.  A sweet old lady who had passed me coming and going stopped and asked me "Are you hatching something dear?  And isn't your bottom cold?"
   A B&B...Period Living & Traditional Homes Finalist - Best Tea Shop 2004-2005.  NO BIG SURPRISE THERE! So far, best pasty, best cream tea, best furnishings, best mattress, best full English breakfast and best host - that would be John - a real charmer.
   Food...Tomato & fresh orange soup with a great hunk of granary bread & plenty of pure Dorset butter - and not one drop spilled on my white blouse.

My June book, which will be posted soon, is a version of a pocket book which I worked up myself considering the things I didn't like about this one.  Like all such enterprises, I solved the problems with this book and wound up with some wholly new ones I hadn't anticipated.

Monday, June 20, 2011

England 2007 Journal, Part I

I learned to make this book at a workshop.  The pages are folded 12x12" scrapbook papers and at that time I only had a reasonable amount of 12"x12" paper to work with (as opposed to the very unreasonable amount I now have) so the color scheme was determined pretty much by what I had the most of.  Although I am very happy with the book in general, it turned out to be a bit thick, rather clunky.  The book was made and much of what eventually went in the pockets was prepared before the trip.  After we got home, I decorated the pages, copied over some of the jottings, and added some bits I had at home.

The pages had punched holes and were bound by some elastic ribbon I was lucky enough to find in the perfect colors.  I had been saving a couple of pewter Tudor Rose buttons for just such a project.  The bookplate is also metal.

I feel that I need to explain why the Journal is titled York 5x3, especially since we didn't go anywhere near York.  Our first trip to England, and the Journal from that trip was entitled 'The Great York Expedition - and we did go to York.  When we began planning the second trip, thinking we would go back to Yorkshire, I called it 'York 2'.  Understand that I probably had a dozen Excel spreadsheets preparatory to making the trip and so I needed an umbrella title.  Although we eventually didn't go to York on the second trip, the name stuck and we had started a tradition of sorts.  So the third trip was lazily called 'York 3'.  Then along came the fourth trip in 2000 - what a lark to be able to call it 'Y2K'.  The fifth trip included my son-in-law so there were three of us and it became York '5X3'.  Amazingly enough, the sixth and most recent trip actually included York and was largely centered around a group of old friends visiting all seven of the Betty's Tea Rooms in Yorkshire - so it was York4T...get it?  I am already working on an itinerary for the hoped for next trip - goodness knows when or how - and it does not include York, but I simply have nothing clever yet in the way of a title.

The Vintage postcard I decorated the inside cover with is by the photographer Fred Judge whose cards I collect.  Like everything else I do, the pages and pockets of this book were highly decorated with postage stamps.  I also used rubber stamping and some stickers.  Beer mats made great additions to the pockets.

I took along blank pieces of paper already stamped and tagged, and wrote on them as we traveled.  I tried to capture the little things that made us laugh or caught us by surprise, I wasn't worried about listing exactly where we went or what we did when.  These pockets have another beer mat (I'm awfully fond of cider) and a small brown paper envelope with a pressed oak leaf from the Cotswolds.
And here is a journaling hint for you.  Since customs looks down on bringing any flora or fauna back into the country, I always take a thick paperback for reading.  On the trip I tuck a few leaves, feathers and flowers into the pages and keep it closed tight with a heavy rubber band.  By the time I get home and unpacked, everything is nicely pressed.  No one has caught me yet.....

More notes, one of my best photos, and a notecard.  I used a teabag wrap as a pocket and managed to pull a price tag from one of my small purchases.  I had a small clear envelope that I filled with several small coins.

A playing card from a childrens game, the lid from clotted cream (don't knock it if you haven't tried it), a theatre ticket, and another plastic envelope with another oak leave and a car park ticket.

Tags, notes, pressings, postage stamps, rubber stamps, stickers, a vintage photo, and more postcards.
This is the first half of the book and I will finish in the next post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bookmarks - Series 1

Every good book needs a good bookmark.  In spite of the fact that I have a whole jar full of collected bookmarks of all sorts, I most often use an unloved antique postcard.  One of the joys of buying used books is that one sometimes finds a previous owner's bookmark remains - I've found train tickets, theatre tickets and sales slips from foreign countries - which tells me that I am not the only one loath to part with those little paper mementos.

While I am playing around with my photos - editing and enhancing, rearranging, uploading to any site that will take them - I find some that simply do not crop well into anything other than a bookmark shape.  And so I have been 'collecting' them and I have a flickr set devoted just to them:

So I finally converted a bunch of them into photos and spent a couple of afternoons using up paper bits, punching holes, and carefully coloring the cut edges of both photos and papers.

I made forty-four of them and have already given some of them away.  Pretty sure I'll be making another batch before the year is out.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May Ribbon Book

I have spent hours poring over my various books on books, sorting through the hundreds of variations on the scores of bindings, stitchings, and creative permutations.  Eventually a few rise to the top as ones you are a little afraid of, as well as the ones that you just have to try.  I am still avoiding the scary ones while trying to advance my education and skills.  So this month I made two 'ribbon books'. The instructions came from The Handmade Book by Angela James.

The cover and finishing is quite simple, but there is new stitching to learn for binding the signatures together.  I started with six signatures and sewed them together using a running stitch up and back down each signature.  As you add the third signature you begin going back and using a 'kettle stitch' to bind the signatures together.  Typically a proper book has stitching over two or three pieces of tape which are bound into the cover.  In the ribbon book, you use ribbon instead of tape, make slits in the folds of your cover paper and pull the ribbon ends out through the slits, tying them on the outside.  This keeps the book block safely attached to the cover.

For the first book I used lavender text weight paper with some darker sheets and some floral print sheets dropped in here and there.  The ribbon was a heavyweight gauze and I used a stitch pattern for three ribbon ties.  The only problem I had was that the book block didn't feel as snugly together as I would have liked.

Nevertheless, I was so pleased with this first one, I decided to make another one.  This time I used a natural shade paper - text weight but on the heavy side and I used a woven cotton ribbon with only two ties.  I have a friend who recently bought a very nifty little travel trailer and she asked me to keep a lookout for a book that would suit her for a travel journal.  I wasn't far into this book when I realized it was perfect for her.  So I finished this one with travel and nature quotes handwritten on a dozen pages, rubber stamped images in shadow shades on about every third page, and I pulled some of my best postage stamps of plants, animals and trees for another dozen pages.  Finally, I finished the cover with a feather from my precious stash of bits smuggled back from England and used a stamp pad to darken all the edges - both cover and text block.

The feather came from the Tithe Barn in Lacock in the Cotswolds.
I can say with confidence that my friend was pleased with the book and I have an idea for another one with a slightly different theme for someone that was quite envious, so this probably won't be my last ribbon book.

Monday, May 2, 2011

72 Booklets and Counting

In my rash of booklet making, I was able to almost completely use up a small stash of 8 1/2" x 11" art papers I had been saving for....who knows what.  The magazine Somerset Studios publishes several free pages of art paper in each issue and of course, I have saved them all.  Because I needed to cut around the credit printed on the back of each sheet, I wound up making a pair from each paper - one 5" tall and one 4" tall.  I finished them with beads and my regular postage stamp on the back.

As an added bonus, by the time I had used up all the pages that worked for me, I was able to let go of the remaining 8-10 pages and that is one little stash gone.  And just in case anybody is interested, you can easily make 45 booklets in the time it takes to watch four Premier League Soccer (football) games.

Although I have already moved on to my May books, there are about 3 weeks left in the Premier League season, so I will be making a few more booklets, including a couple of variations.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

And just a few more...

Like most everyone, I seem to be especially susceptable to sales pitches at 3: in the morning.  Although I readily admit to having a stock of 12"x12" printed paper that rivals most craft stores, only one batch came from one of those late night bouts of insomnia.  This collection was quite large with text weight and embossed cover weight papers - even a few flocked pieces.  There was zebra, leopard, snake, alligator, and ostrich skin as well as two shades of leather and a cowhide.  All of the above came in shades of brown, black, and white as well as, quite amazingly, a bright pink set and a rather chartreuse set.  Like most other things bought from one's TV in the middle of the night, the papers sat on my shelves, untouched, for at least two years.

So when I thought about making matched sets of booklets to use as gifts, they popped into mind.  If I do say so myself, they were just perfect.  So far, I have made six sets of three.  Each set has a 8 1/2 x 5 1/2, a 4 1/4 x 5 1/2, and a 3 x 4 1/2 three-hole bound booklet.  They have a printed lining paper inside the cover and the large one has beads attached to the waxed linen binding thread.  They all have appropriate postage stamps on the back cover.

I can easily finish three sets of three in the time it takes to watch two English  Premier League Football (Soccer) games.  Unless Liverpool is playing, then I spend too much time actually watching the game.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More April Booklets

After I made the small blank booklets it was time to make some larger ones.  These were to be single signature using 8 pieces of 8x11 1/2 paper.  Given that one of my goals is to use up materials I already have stashed, I have made it a general practice to use a decorative text weight or lighter page inside the cover paper.  I am also putting a subject or color matched (hopefully both) postage stamp on the back of each booklet. For these four booklets I also dipped into my stash of paper bits, which included a couple of 'Cinderellas' - stamps that are not actual postage stamps but were made as advertising, or to commemorate something.  I used the five hole booklet binding and waxed linen thread where the thread is tied on the outside and cut to about 1".

These went together very nicely and quite quickly so I plan on making quite a few more.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Booklets

On my 2007 trip to England, in Winchester,  I bought a pad of paper placemats with maps of London, Paris, New York and Tokyo - lovely paper with pleasant green, blue and tan colors.  I have used a couple sheets in the last four years, but going along with the goal of 'using up' I started this month with five booklets using the sheets as covers.  I used blank white paper for a single signature pamplet with a three-hole binding.  These were made for my book group, inveterate travelers all, just the right size for dropping in your purse and taking notes while traveling or dreaming about traveling.  In keeping with what seems to be becoming a theme with me, I used postage stamps on the inside front page and low on the back cover.

Of course, I kept the one showing the Tower Bridge for myself.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Starbucks ATC Book

Back in 2002-2003 I participated in quite a few ATC (Artist Trading Card) swaps through an online site called Nervousness - now just a sad shadow of its former self.  One of my favorite themes was 'coffee' facilitated by my daughter coming into possession of a bag full of Starbucks stickers.  You will note that I changed cups from the original challenge photo, simply because the ATC's wouldn't fit in the smaller cup, I couldn't figure out how to hinge it, and having a transparent 'binding' seemed like a very good idea.

I put beans in the bottom (smells really good when you open it up)
I had a great poem I had saved relevant to coffee, and I can only assume Seattle, which I printed and stuck in the back of the cup.  The ATC's were put in cut-down plastic sleeves and I bound them into an old promo booklet emptied of inside pages.  I used linen thread, the perforations in the sleeves, and the original staple holes to bind the book.  Then I glued the book to a straw, secured it with an empty sugar packet, and for good measure to keep the back page flat I glued in a Starbucks gift card.
The two ATCs shown are mine, you may recognize the stickers. The rubber stamp was hand cut by my daughter.  Altogether there are 7 ATCs in the book.
 Here is the poem:

A New Lifestyle
People in this town drink too much
coffee. They're jumpy all the time. You
see them drinking out of their big plastic
mugs while they're driving. They cut in
front of you, they steal your parking places.
Teenagers in the cemeteries knocking over
tombstones are slurping café au lait.
Recycling men hanging onto their trucks are
sipping espresso. Dogcatchers running down
the street with their nets are savoring
their cups of mocha java. The holdup man
entering a convenience store first pours
himself a nice warm cup of coffee. Down
the funeral parlor driveway a boy on a
skateboard is spilling his. They're so
serious about their coffee, it's all they
can think about, nothing else matters.
Everyone's wide awake but looks incredibly
tired.                -James Tate

I have so many wonderful poems saved from my daily Writer's Almanac email, I hope I can find a way to use more of them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

I was thinking books and pages and bindings and I should have been thinking engineering.  This turned out so much harder than I imagined it would, but here is my progress report: 1) the hard drive book is still in my head 2) the camera book is still in my head 3) the pear has been cut, gessoed and badly hinged so I cannot go farther until I solve the hinge (I can't count a book that can't be safely handled!) 4) the Starbucks ATC book will be finished tomorrow, it has changed to a clear venti cup 5) the teapot lid is finished.

So for now, let us talk about the teapot lid.  I cut a pattern for the base of the lid and covered both sides with cut down teabag boxes while attaching it to the pottery with a linen framing tape hinge and inserting the end of the accordion book pages.  At this point I realized that everything revolved around the hinge, and what I had was not going to be sufficient.  For one thing, it wanted to pull off of the pottery, for another, it didn't want to close flat.  Amazingly, I found some old book tape (I have no idea where it even came from) that matched the painted rim of the lid so I made a narrow tape hinge that works very well. 
I took the tag end of several tea bags and made a small tassel to attach to the handle.  Not incidentally, all the bags and boxes used have an English connection: Yorkshire, Chelsea, Harrods, etc.

This is the bottom and you can see the tassel and the tape hinge on the left side.

It is anybody's guess where this book begins, but when you open it this is what you see.  I glued some tea bags into the lid and attached the end page with the quote with a bit of folded tape.  Right now, it smells delightfully of tea when you open it, but I know that won't last.
When you open the book it sits nicely on its own thanks to the handle on the lid and you can flip through the pages very easily.  I filled the pages with empty tea bag packets and added a quote at the end: The pleasures of afternoon tea run like a trickle of honey through English literature from Rupert Brooke's wistful lines on the Old Vicarage at Grantchester to Miss Marple, calmly dissecting a case over tea cakes at a seaside hotel.  - Stan Hey  I have used all of the well known quotes about the pleasures of tea for one project or another and so chose one less well known with a book reference.

It sounds pretty simple as I describe the process - it was anything but.  Each step had to be thought out carefully, looking ahead and anticipating the next step.  With the exception of folding paper to make the pages, it was all a matter of drawing on past experiences and crossing my fingers.  Thank God for gel medium!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Challenge

Do you see what I see?
It’s the middle of March, and I’ve just lost an hour, but I’m setting myself a pretty high challenge for the March book(s).

When you look at this picture you see a Starbucks paper cup, a teapot lid, a paper mache pear, a cheap camera, and some computer hard drive parts.  When I look at it, I see five books….well, I don’t actually see them, but I have some good ideas……..let’s see how it works out.  (This may be the month when I have to be very honest about my failures)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cousin Convention Book

I almost forgot about this book, it might actually be the first one I made.  It was done for what we call our Cousin Convention in 2001.  There are seven of us left on my Mom’s side and thanks to the brilliant idea of my cousin-in-law Dick, we have been meeting every two years for a long weekend.  It has not only kept us all in touch, but has given the next generation a chance to get to know each other.  We have met in Seattle, Charleston, and all over Montana.  I made one of these little booklets for each of my cousins – and for once, I thought to make one for myself.

This is the front and back covers - the booklet consists of a single sheet folded into five panels.  The front includes a basic family tree and a scan of a postcard sent to my grandmother in 1949.  As usual, I used postage stamps and rubber stamps and a quote, pretty standard items for me.

This two-fold includes grandparents wedding photo, scan from a baby book, another postcard scan (from 1919) and a photo of the old homestead with a yellow rose that has grown to cover yards of ground around the building remains.

On the left, a photo of Grandma and chickens at the 'new house' (this side of the Baldy) and pheasant feathers.  The right page was personalized with family photos for each branch of the family - my Mom on the chair and four generations showing me on Grandma's lap.
I worked very hard to make everything on this book meaningful - all the postage stamps related to us in one way or another, pheasant is standard fare in Montana - but I must admit, the joss paper was a bit of a disconnect. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Books that sound more interesting with the last letter left off:
    Of Mice and Me
    Far From the Madding Crow
    Dance to the Music of Tim
    The DaVinci Cod
    Three Men and a Boa

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February - Flag Book

As my January books were all very conservative and traditional, I decided to go for color in February and chose a flag book. Flag books use an accordion binding with rows of pages (the flags) glued to both sides of the folded spine.  When you open it as you would a regular book, with the pleats still fairly close together, the pages - or should I say rows of pages - turn as you would expect.  As the pleats are pulled open some of the flags face the cover and some the back, depending on which side of the folds they were attached to.  Then when you pull the book out flat you see only one side of each flag.

If this all sounds confusing, try putting one of these together.  It is one of those things that sound simple, and in fact is simple, but when you are doing it there is a contant state of panic that you have glued something to the wrong side of something...and I only did that once. 

I had some wonderfully colorful paper and rather thought I would start on the book without knowing for sure what would go in it.  It doesn't make much sense to make one of these blank and I soon saw that the art or attachments really needed to be put on the flags before they were assembled.  So, I fell back on my tried and true postage stamps.  I pulled the page that had all the canceled stamps to match my colors - yes, I sort my stamps by color, doesn't everyone?

When barely opened, you can see it looks quite normal. I made a paper band to keep the book closed which simply slides off and on and covers the decoration on the front cover.

Partially opened you can see both sides of the flags.  I used more of the paper from my old stampcollecting book for the endpapers - ones with matching colors of course.

And here we are fully opened, with flags going in opposite directions.  I used only stamps with faces on the sides which would show when opened.  The other side of each flag had a stamp with a heraldic device of some sort, mostly lions.
I would like to do another flag book, but I am waiting for inspiration to strike.  As I worked on the book I realized it was the sort of book that is absolutely perfect for a few applications, but not really appropriate for most.  One of the best things about it is that is was finished on the 17th of February, so my goal of making a new book every month is so far intact.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Leaves Book: Part Two

I have to laugh at the amount of leaves I pressed that year.  It was lovely to have so many to choose from when I made this book, and I did use some in ATC's, but I must have pressed hundreds - really, several hundred - and I couldn't possibly have used more than fifty altogether at the time.  I still have a drawer full of them, sadly fading, and probably destined to fade away to brittle bits.  When that happens, I'll just go out collecting and press a couple hundred more.

Gold envelope for rubber stamped tag, maple leaves.

Pocket for tag, postage stamp, tassel, rubber stamps.
This page was another clear envelope with additional transparent pocket and vintage photo.
Handmade paper with leaves embedded. Blackberry on the left.

Postage stamp, and the same leaves as in the envelope.

I edged this page and the next with latin names of my favorite trees.
Postage stamp, rubber stamps, small envelope
It was surprising how some of the prettiest leaves when pressed were quite unimpressive.  The biggest surprise was how blackberry leaves kept a dainty red border.  I found a laceleaf maple in glorious red and orange outside a Starbucks with very tiny leaves and I think I used every one of them in one project or another.

When I conceived this book, I went through all my materials and scraps to pull everything leaf-related.  The process itself was great fun, but more importantly it reminded me what else I had waiting tucked away for other projects.  It is often a joke among my friends how I continuously organize, sort, and arrange all my materials, but just going through them is an enormous inspiration - every bit as much as books and magazines.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Leaves Book: Part One

 About the same time I made the Copper Book for my daughter, I made a Leaves Book for myself.  Having spent the fall pressing leaves I was well supplied.  The book was made the same way as the Copper Book: hard covers with accordion spine and individual pages glued in.

The tassel made from yarn, threads, beads, and a copper tag. 
The covers were made with a handmade paper with natural bits in it and the back stamped with gingko rubber stamps.  The pressed gingko leaf has lost its stem I am afraid. 
Postage stamps and maple leaves.
A piece of handmade paper with a leaf embedded and two skeleton leaves.
This page was a clear envelope with the largest leaf inside the envelope.  I used clear embossing powder on the leaf and it has cracked a bit with use.
This leaf was embossed with a very granular rusty powder.

The other two Canadian postage stamps, joss paper, plastic leaves and rubber stamped leaves.

There are so many lovely quotations about leaves I was hard put to choose.