Saturday, 31 October 2015

22 wonderful new books!

All these just listed in my shop - follow this link to peruse them thoroughly! The first stack is all medium size books with plain linen covers with or without brass labels & the second photo features a lovely collection of 14 mini notebooks with gold or copper leaf decorations.

I'm so happy to have more than met my personal bookbinding goals this month. My wrists are less than happy, but c'est la vie, and it's nothing that time and rest won't heal. While I do hope to add a few more items to the shop this coming month, I think it's time for me to focus on my writing a bit, and possibly maybe plan this year's totally non-Christmassy advent calendar. I'm not making any promises yet since the number of ideas is currently a firm zero, but I'd hate to break a tradition.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A bookish DIY wedding

With me as the bride and another poet as the groom there couldn't have been a wedding without some bookish things - table numbers folded out of miniature dictionaries, folded books holding escort cards, small tablemats for individual tables and a huge tablecloth for the buffet, unsurprisingly made of vintage book pages. Not yet three months has passed since our wedding but I still manage to feel I'm already a bit late sharing these photos with you. I know some of you would love a book folding tutorial, but you'll just have to settle for some inspirational photos (and a few practical tips) and a link to one tutorial in the sea of others. Do a search on book folding instructions if this post piques your interest - I'm far from a pro in this area of book arts, so I won't even try covering the basics here.

Like any good diy-bride I roamed Pinterest for hours on end (and mostly managed to find things I didn't want coming anywhere near my wedding). Folded books were featured on Pinterest in many forms and they ended up being the one thing I returned to time and time again. It was only after I remembered my mother having a couple of these teeny tiny dictionaries in her bookshelf that I really got inspired. You know how I am... I have a penchant for all things miniature. Make it small, make it more difficult. Sounds good to me. I had considered using regular size books but I thought them a bit clumsy, and, to be honest, a bit too ordinary. These 3" lilliput dictionaries are cute as heck, and I had fun hunting them down (and now I have a nice collection left over from the wedding crafts). Folding these ten books took a small eternity, but I watched several good films while at it, so no harm done.

The books need a rubber band or ribbon tied around them to keep the numbers from spreading out too much. I used pink and blue Petersham ribbon to match our wedding wear. I definitely recommend Petersham over grosgrain ribbon, since it's usually softer and easier to work with, but I only ended up with Petersham because I couldn't for the life of me find the right kind and colour silk ribbon in time. 

In case someone is interested in every detail: I used Housegrind font for the numbers and most wedding printables. My books / numbers were so small in height I didn't have to stretch out my numbers for the folding pattern at all, I simply placed a fold (or two, or three, depending on the shape of the number) every millimeter, or so, of the number's width, mostly eyeballing it as I went.

The buffet paper tablecloth (it's barely visible in the above photo) is made the same way I made my photo backdrop: vintage book pages just randomly glued together. The pedestal dishes I built out of wooden candlesticks and coasters and Ikea plates (which were stuck on at the last minute with double sided tape to make transportation easy).

Tablemats were put together by forming a hexagonal ring out of six book pages and filling in the center hole with an additional page. The easiest way to go about this is to first draw a 120 degree angle on a paper and use it as a template as you glue on a page after another until a ring is formed. Your pages are all the same height, so your end result should be accurate enough if you match the corners precisely and use the template to keep the angle constant.

The escort card / drink ticket holders were folded in possibly the simplest manner possible: I drew a groove straight across the head of the book block (a little less than half-way from the front edge) using a sharp knife and used the mark it left as the starting point for folding individual pages. Having that mark there makes for a much more even end result than folding the front edge of a page to the spine fold. Matching the top edge to itself while folding is enough; the fold automatically forms at a right angle. For a purpose like this you want your book to have something like 250+ pages (obviously depending on the thickness of the paper used for pages, you'll want to skip Bibles and other books with über thin pages altogether) or it won't form a nice semicircle once laid open on a table. I've seen folded books like these used as holders for Christmas cards and as jewelry displays (rings and brooches, mostly, I think), but as always, your imagination is the limit.

I hope this post has at least been inspirational if not helpful. I promise a very unhelpful wedding blog post later, but right now I'm interested in what bookish thoughts roam your mind today?

(Last three photos by our fabulous wedding photographer Kirsi Salo)

Sunday, 25 October 2015


This was a huge week for me: lots of bookbinding, but more importantly my poetry book Mikado was shortlisted for the debut book award by the biggest newspaper in Finland. Today I was interviewed on a big stage at Helsinki book fair and I can't really remember much about it. Nerves are fascinating things... The winner will be announced on the 18th, so there's still plenty of time to be nervous. As the only poet amongst talented prose writers I'm not too optimistic about my chances, but just being on the shortlist is an honour in itself.

You can buy or download Mikado (Finnish only, sorry!) here.

(Photos by Olli-Pekka Tennilä & Ville Luoma-aho)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Stacks and stacks

Just last night I added these fourteen books to my shop. I can't believe how busy I've been for the past few weeks, but boy does being busy result in getting things done! My hands now refuse to work on anything book related, but in addition to these stacks of finished books there are stacks of half-finished ones I hope to finish by the end of the month. I'm really happy with how these books turned out and I'm so glad I finally got around to ordering more reindeer leather to use on these leather spined books.

This month is a very literary month - book fairs and poetry readings, lots of traveling, too. V and I also wrote a huge lot of poems for the shore route around lake Jyväsjärvi and this is their first month on display. An interesting project with a tight schedule - so strange to write for a completely different audience than I usually write for! On the shore route our poems are met by joggers, who may or may not have a soft spot for poetry, whereas poetry books are things you generally have to intentionally look for, so we wanted to write something fairly easy to approach and suitable for all seasons, since the poems will be up until next autumn or so. There was a story about us on the local paper, click here if you're interested (and know Finnish). I'm usually such a slow, slow writer I'm still baffled about how I put this together in two weeks. Maybe this experience will speed up my usual poetry writing process, once I finally can set time aside for it.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Fancy new books in the fancied up shop

I just finished listing a big lot of new books to my shop - fancy hardcover journals with handsewn silk endbands and rounded spines, some little less fancy (but still pretty great) basic case bound journals with and without vintage lace, and loads of long-stitch notebooks, both small and large, with watercolor paper covers you can paint yourself. For the pages of the larger long-stitch notebooks I used paper suitable for mixed media and allowed enough room at the spine for a collage option, too, so they're perfect for creative journaling (I'm thinking travel journal here, myself...) or just for basic always-with-you notebook needs.

I've been quietly building an actual website for Paperiaarre, and boy does that make me feel old. The last time I built a website was in 2003 and things have changed a bit since. Basic knowledge of html doesn't get you very far these days. Still, it's been fun (and very time consuming), very educating and character building. I seriously have to give up the idea of building my dream website; a website would be a good enough start. I won't be making any promises about when I'm launching the site, and I won't promise anything spectacular, but I promise a few galleries worth of photos and basic stuff like that I feel this blog is currently lacking. Related to the new site I've been taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of my books (older leather bindings and things currently for sale), and decided to try out a new background made of old book pages. What do you think? I know not everyone will be a big fan, but I like how it brings a little more interestingness to the photos without being too distracting (not all shots work great, I still need to learn how to take better photos ).

This year I'm trying to have enough stock in my shop throughout the holiday season (I sincerely apologize for mentioning the holidays in September, but that's when the things meant for holidays need to be planned and made - non-makers, feel free to not think about Christmas gifts until November), so there's maybe thirty books on my work desk in one stage or another, and I feel more needs to be made. There's also a familiar, terrifying feeling in my wrists letting me know I've been typing and folding and cutting and punching holes too much. I'm hoping a weekend away from home only reading or looking at books will put things on the mend. There's an annual book fair in Turku I haven't visited in years, so I'm planning to go there, visit my old hometown and meet some very dear girls.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Agnes Martin

"More and more I excluded from my paintings all curved lines, until finally my compositions consisted only of vertical and horizontal lines" 
- Agnes Martin, 1967
We were really lucky to have several great exhibitions coinciding with our honeymoon (okay, so we planned the trip first to coincide with the Cornell exhibition, before V proposed, and before we decided to get married before the already planned trip, so we could have all these great things happening on our honeymoon). I actually have a long history as an admirer of Agnes Martin, which is a bit random because her work isn't very well known in Finland and I got acquainted with her art back in upper secondary school/high school/the Finnish equivalent when Internet was used mainly for school work and irc, and less so for viewing interesting art. The local library had a copy of Hiljaisuus taloni lattialla (links to a review in Finnish), a book of translated essays and art by Agnes Martin, and that book was possibly the prettiest book I'd held in my hands by that time. I can't remember much about the book, other than it was aesthetically most pleasing, though I must have read it a lot, since I remember having it on loan for really long periods of time. After moving away I haven't even thought about the book until this spring when the news of Agnes Martin's exhibition at Tate Modern reached me. All these years Agnes Martin was one of those artists whose name I couldn't remember (just like most other artists; I'm useless with names), and whose work I tried describing to people in hopes of someone recognising the artist and being as thrilled about her as I was.

I was a bit worried beforehand that the exhibition might be boring (if not for me, for V at least), since Agnes Martin mainly painted and drew stripes and grids, and a lifetime's worth of stripes and grids can be a bit of a daunting thought. It turned out I was concerned for no reason at all and we both enjoyed it heaps. Repetition ≠ boring, repetition, more often = meditation. There's actually a quote on the exhibition leaflet from critic Lucy Lippard describing Martin's work: "legendary examples of and unrepetitive use of a repetitive medium", and I think she really hit the nail on the head there.

Most paintings on display at the Tate are 72" (183cm) squares, the ones painted later in life - when Martin had become older and more fragile - 60" (152cm) squares, which I can imagine being very much easier to handle, but there are some small drawings on paper there, too. I liked how the repetition spreads from the canvas to the size of canvases, it was a lovely constant to have Viewing the exhibition was a very different experience from any other exhibition I've seen; I just went into this strange mode where you suddenly have a connection with all these grids and stripes, and grids are suddenly the best thing in life. So, yeah, I definitely prefer grids to stripes, and I found out I have a favourite type of grid, too. The postcard at the bottom right corner in the above photo features a nice grid, but I'd prefer it sideways. Horizontal rectangles with very thin lines, approx. 1:2,5 - that's the perfect grid to me.

One painting really stood out, most obviously because of its uniqueness and materials. Friendship (incised gold leaf and gesso on canvas, 1963) has a gorgeous dim glow about it (and a great grid pattern) in real life; the above photo nor the postcard in the photo do it no justice at all. No surprise, I'm a big fan of gold leaf - it's just wonderful to have a material that seems to illuminate itself from within. Well, that's how it works at its best, when the gold leaf is not polished to a perfect mirror finish but has some character.

Naturally I'm terribly interested in the creative processes of other artists, and Agnes Martin's was really relatable to me. Agnes Martin had schizophrenia, so maybe the lines were a way of bringing order into her world, maybe they were something totally unrelated to her mental status. I'm not really all that interested in her personal history, it's sort of irrelevant, but I personally find my Aspergers has something a lot to do with the way I create and view art (and how could anyone's personality not affect the things that, basically, form the core of their personality... I just stepped into a weird vortex. Let's just forget it and continue, okay?). I find the thought of drawing hundreds and maybe thousands of lines with a ruler comforting as well as meaningful. I, too, think it odd to feel there's meaning in straight pencil lines, but why not? I'm not always quite right in the head, either. I just find it interesting that someone spent decades perfecting their spectacularly straight lines and created so wonderfully beautiful artworks in the process.

"My paintings have neither objects nor space nor time nor anything - no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form."
- Agnes Martin, 1966

The Agnes Martin exhibition at Tate Modern is still open until October 11th. Do go and let me know what's your favourite type of grid (or stripe)!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Joseph Cornell's Wanderlust - Final Days!

Apparently wedding planning, having a wedding and going to honeymoon made me abandon my blog for a good while, but let's not dwell on it. I'll tell you more about everything later, but first things first: Joseph Cornell's fabulous Wanderlust exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Arts is coming to an end on Sunday. If you're in the neighbourhood or even in the UK, you must go! This exhibition was obviously the highlight of our honeymoon to me, and I do believe V was pretty impressed, too (and he's quite picky).

It may come as a surprise, but I wasn't terribly familiar with Cornell's work before this exhibition. I've had people mention Cornell numerous times when they've seen my matchboxes and mixed media work, and I've naturally googled his work a few times and run into it on Pinterest, but I haven't really studied it - maybe I've feared finding too much common ground and feeling like an unoriginal idiot who simply repeats things done a million times better over half a century ago. That's pretty much how I roll; I avoid reading poems, too, worrying about being too easily influenced by the work of others. And of course, there are so very many similarities between my work and Cornell's, but, honestly, there are few mixed media artists creating boxes who can say there's no connection between their work and Cornell's. Going through the exhibition I kept realising, more and more, that the connection is not on a material level, after all, but on the intellectual level. We share a way of thinking, of seeing the world around us, of finding that world in our tattered old hoards of raw material, as well as the need to tell stories (and the key element of all good stories is often familiarity/timelessness), and it's only natural mixed media artists end up playing together in the same neighbourhood. Let me tell you, there were some freakish moments of recognition there.

My absolute favourite piece at Wanderlust was this Untitled (Compartmented Box), 1954-1956, which is on loan from Moderna Museet. (Sadly, photography wasn't allowed in the exhibition (but the Royal Academy building was pretty and waiting for me to snap a few shots), so I just added a link here and suggest you open Google and get to know more about Cornell, who was quite the character, as soon as you're done with this post.) The photo on Moderna Museet's site does not do the artwork any justice - it was vertiginous in real life. There's a sheet of blue glass on top of the compartmented box and it gives everything a magical tinge, and looking at the box was like staring into an abyss - I mean it in the best way possible. There simply was a sense of depth that's impossible to describe any better. Naturally I'm a big fan of repeated elements (ooh, I should write about Agnes Martin's exhibition, too), and twenty-five is a good number of repeats. This was the one piece I kept coming back to in an exhibition full of fascinating collages and assemblages. Cobalt blue was actually a repeating element I gravitated towards during this visit to London - there were fabulous cobalt gowns on Pre-Raphaelite ladies at Tate Britain, and I'm sure there was something else cobalt, too...

We left Royal Academy in a strangest state of mind that was a combination of excitement, dizziness and confusion, but we had a stack of postcards, a Wanderlust paperback and a copy of Dime-Store Alchemy to help us come to terms with wishing to go back to the exhibition the moment we stepped out.

I have yet to read the books, since there's been other books needing to be read after returning home as well as a big joint poetry project with V (deadline today! luckily we finished on time without major stress) that took a massive chunk of both my September and my stamina for literature. I'm hoping to share something about that project with you later this autumn, even though it's strictly in Finnish and Finnish readers are a huge minority here on my blog. There's actually so much to write about I don't know where to start. Time management issues make themselves known, painfully. Anyway, there are new books - finished, in the works as well as planned. I just got some reindeer leather again, so leather-spined Coptic books are definitely on their way. I have some wedding stories, some bookish wedding stories and some London stories for you too. Here's to hoping I get to tell at least 50% of the things I've been meaning to tell you <3

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How to successfully glue different types of lace

I just finished listing these four on Etsy and I thought I'd share a few lace related tricks with you tonight, in case you want to add some lace to one thing or another (maybe not on a book cover, though, especially if you're planning to sell that book, because that would be kind of a bad thing for you to do after I took the time to write down these instructions). I've been making books with vintage lace covers for I have no idea how many several years* and I'd like to think I've pretty much perfected my lace glueing methods. When I first had the idea of using some of my/my mother's vintage lace in book covers I honestly didn't think it could be done; I make books that are inteded for actual use, not just for looking at admiringly, which means the lace needs to be firmly stuck onto the cover material, which, of course is easier said than done, lace being, well, lace, with holes all over and glue going through said holes fairly uncontrollably. With some trial and error, but mostly with common sense, I came up with these four methods for different types of lace:

1. Just glue it

Stiffer types of lace on the heavier side are perfect for this method.

Stipple on glue on the reverse side (determining which side is the reverse can sometimes be an art in itself) with a waste paper under your lace. For this I use PVA glue that's pretty thick (having thickened after I've forgotten to seal the glue jar properly, which is why one needs several glue jars for different thicknesses). Stippling motion is crucial because you don't want excess glue building up in the holes of your lace, or for your lace to move around on the waste paper and getting all gluey on the front side, too. Once you've covered the lace with a moderate amount of glue, you ever so gently flip it over by picking it up by the edges, and place it where you need it before very gently pressing it down with the palm of your hand first. If the piece you just glued is large, you might want to place a sheet of non-stick material, like wax paper, over it and rub it down with a bone folder.

2. Have your lace make a layover

Some really delicate lace with large holes is best glued by creating a "layover" sheet of glue for it to pick up glue from. This one is the method that requires the quickest fingers.

Spread a thin layer of glue (not too thick, but definitely not runny) onto a sheet of transparency film, or some other smooth surface, like glass (if you're up to washing it afterwards), and gently place your lace onto it, making sure it touches the glue everywhere. Quickly, and carefully, lift the lace by its edges (you may want to use tweezers), and place it where you want its final destination to be. Rub down as explained before.

3. Glue it in steps

This one works for lace that has some structure and is made of somewhat heavier weight thread.

Pick a starting point (an edge would usually be ideal) and mark where you want to stick it. On a waste paper, glue that edge by stippling on very, very thick glue. Only glue a small area along the edge since that glue is going to dry quicker than you can stipple since the lace absorbs moisture from the glue, too. Carefully place that glued edge into position and press down firmly. Then, fold over the loose side, place a clean waste paper under it and stipple on another narrow strip of glue. Press down, repeat until you run out of lace to glue, making sure you always have a clean waste paper to glue on.

 4. Glue the receiving surface

This one is for dense lace with small holes, regardless of the weight. I use this for lace that is netted tulle and for heavy crochet lace, as long as there are no large areas without thread where the glue would show through disturbingly.

Place your lace where you're planning to glue it, and use masking tape to tape around it (you might want to use washi tape that you've first stuck onto your shirt, or somewhere, if the receiving surface is very delicate and masking tape might stick too hard). Remove the lace and stipple on a very thin layer of glue (thin, but not watery) inside that taped area. Press down your lace gently, carefully remove the tapes, and rub down as explained before.

For the above books I used methods 1 (the crescent one), 3 (first and third one, with slight modifications for the third one = it's not fully glued on, just the lacy bits) and 4 (the last one). For obvious reasons (that is, mostly out of indolence) I try to avoid method 2 unless I have a spectacular piece of fancy lace. It's actually a method I learnt at school while studying leather onlays; it's perfect for glueing teeny tiny leather letters like the ones I used for Yann. I hope these instructions are useful to someone planning on glueing lace or other fiddly bits!

*actually, the first book in which I used vintage lace I made in 2003 and it had dark brown velvet covers and gorgeous brown cardstock pages, and I've never used it for anything because I love it so much, and naturally, now that it would be appropriate to share a photo of it, it's safely stored away somewhere in my parents' home along with the rest of my "early work".

Monday, 13 April 2015

The first day of my thirty-second year

photo by Minna Vilkuna

Wednesday was my birthday. Stuff that happened:

  •  Got excellent free dessert at the fancy restaurant where V and I celebrated both my birthday and our third engagement anniversary.
  • Voted in the parliamentary election and the lovely election attendant wished me a happy birthday after checking my id.
  • Got asked whether I'd like to go from being a fiancée into being a wife, replied with a Finnish equivalent of what the heck, before ultimately saying yes and sobbing and laughing and apologising for saying what the heck. 

Back when we first got engaged no actual proposal took place, we just mutually agreed that we should probably get engaged, so, this is kind of a big deal, us two being the most cynical people we know. So, not much bookbinding has had time to happen, with me abandoning my cynicism (as well as my unfinished journals) and browsing for dresses and all things wedding related all day every day. We're getting married on August 7th, which means there's not much time to waste with grandiose wedding plans and doing everything anyone has ever seen on Pinterest. But we've got the perfect location and the perfect friends, and I think that's a damn good start.

PS. Go visit my mom's blog to see how we spent our Easter putting together her quilt show.

Monday, 30 March 2015


Organizing my buttonhole silk stash, for the next thing planned for tonight is a long session of sewing endbands for my fancy journals and notebooks.