Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Packing order plans failed

So, I've accidentally packed the papers I need for finishing Yann. No bookbinding posts before the move unfortunately. Must go finish with the packing, since I can't finish the book like I had planned. Sorry everyone.

My 200th blog post will be written from my new home. See you there. Soon, hopefully!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Letter to Suzanne

A while ago I made a special matchbox letter to the lovely Suzanne of Sakurasnow, who was my 300th sale customer on Etsy (and a terrific blogger too, but sadly I can't write letters to all of you lovely people in the blogworld). Beaches are good. Bringing things back home from the beach is almost as good. Pebbles, shells, twigs. I was just packing some things that were stored in the attic, and found a tin box, full of Brighton. I had forgotten all about it, but I swear those pebbles aren't going back to the attic at my new home. Art will happen.

I've taken a couple of days off from bookbinding and just packed and packed. If I stick to my packing schedule this weekend, the beginning of next week should be strictly bookbinding. The move is on Thursday, and I hope to be back to blogging as soon as possible after the move. My internet connection should work straight away, but that's what they said last time too... We'll see. Some bookbinding posts will appear here before the move, so worry not, I'm not abandoning you yet.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Yann - 5

Oh I thought I had already lost count, but I guess this really is post number 5.

Today I got to the point where the book looks ready unless you look too closely. Before noon I had put the cover leather on, but still left the
turn-ins waiting. And just when I had begun to work on them, with my first headcap (the shaped and modelled turn-in over the top and bottom of the spine) in the making (something you need to do pretty quickly and preferably at one go to avoid the over-worked look), the phone rings and my moving boxes are delivered right that moment. I went and opened the door for the men and told them to put the boxes wherever they want, I'm too busy to think, or even notice they exist. They were very understanding, did a little gawking while I worked, though. The turn-ins went fine, but it was just the perfect example of bad timing. The worst possible timing, for me. Still, alive and well, and the book looks like it's supposed to look.

I like how the grain of the leather looks like the shadows little waves sometimes make in the bright sea bottom. Not a thing one can see in Turku, but still. I like sea and I like water, as long as I'm not in the water myself.

I promised a shot of the headbands and here you can see the headcap that was made while standing at the door book in one hand and a bonefolder in the other. I've seen better ones, but this will have to do. And as you can see, the book block is still wrapped up to keep the moisture from the covering process away. Maybe if tomorrow isn't all packing, I will do the leather hinges and filling in. Hoping to get this book all done before the weekend, so I can start working on the box too. All this is pretty weird because of the moving, but well, I'm staying right here until Thursday next week. Plenty of time, kind of.

Yann - 4

Loads of photos this morning and probably another blog post later today. This isn't my normal working pace, just so you know, but I'm rather enjoying being intensely involved with a project like this.

Hinges and the headcap area pared. I use a glass plate instead of a paring stone, works better for me. This of course is just a personal preference, some say glass isn't good for your knives, but I've never had issues with mine. Maybe it's because I'm obsessively sharpening them anyway.

Gluing on the onlays. Meticulous work, but that's just the way I like it. Most my designs aren't all symmetric, there's usually always at least a bit of randomness there somewhere. But I'm the kind of person who needs to plan ahead all randomness, my just winging it will lead to a disaster without exceptions. Everything goes out of balance if I don't stick to my plans. Call me neurotic.

Back-paring the onlays. Old tools feel like the best tools to me. This spokeshave is pretty awesome. I only use it for back-paring, but it's still one of my personal favourites in my toolbox.

The only moment the sun has come out today was when I snapped this photo. I guess finishing the onlays was an accomplishment worth a ray of sun or two. I actually finished the back-paring and removed the paper from my onlays late late last night and had to snap a couple of bad photos and email them around and go all squee on my own. The onlays need a little more cleaning up to remove all remains of paste and paper, but I'll get to that after the leather is actually on the book.

I like how the handcut letters turn into a handwriting when I stick them together. I could've done the title using brass type, either in simple blind tooling or gilt, but that type of titles have kind of lost their charm to me. I like the organic and slightly weird appearance of my tiny little leather letters. The title is made, not just printed. To me it makes a difference.

Now the most boring part of this morning post. Just finishing the covers before I stick on the leather. Sanding, once again. Luckily at this point things are smooth enough to not require too much of yucky dusty sanding.

And the leather is on. In the press as I write. Now a little food for this bookbinder and I'll get back to the book and do the turn-ins. Some binders do the entire covering process at one go, but I prefer to split it in two parts. There's just too much adrenaline going on if I need to do everything at once. I like to have time when I'm doing the headcaps and corners, but this again is one of those things everyone does in their own way. To this date it still surprises how strongly many bookbinders feel about their technique. I don't believe there's a right way of doing anything, just many ways that will lead to a good result as long as the bookbinder knows what they're doing. (Wrong ways, there has to be loads of those, but as long as the book looks good and functions like it's supposed to, I'm fine with the way it was made.) I make my books the way I was taught, and the way I taught myself whenever I felt there was something wrong with the way I was told to do things. A random mix of techniques from many, many teachers and a little something from me.

Rambling again.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Yann - 3

Today has been a hard-working day so far. My fingers ache and my mind has gone all fuzzy. I never seem to know how to relax my shoulders while paring leather, so I'm a very stiff little thing at the moment. I'm sure a brownie or two will fix that too.

From here...

...to here, is a long way. I pared the leather with Schärf-Fix (the most amazing thing, I use it with real razorblades instead of those blades that come with the machine, though) and some self-made paring knives. The hinge area still needs to be pared before I can start working with my onlays.

Working with leather was pretty damn scary at first, but nowadays it's one of my favourite things. Once you accept that each leather is different and they all have a will of their own, it all gets easier. I knew from experience that this leather would be a PITA from the start (it has something to do with the colour, I think, all the light blue Harmatan leather hides I've worked with have been the same, also this is a grade 3 hide from the times I was still studying, so there are some cuts in the leather that needed to be filled and blahblah), so I had saved up some extra patience before I even began the paring process. Some leathers stretch and tear while paring, this one usually does both, no matter how sharp my knife is. Everything went really well this time, which is a bit worrying, now something must go wrong later on. My dear logic, must you be so pessimistic!

Preparing the onlays for cutting...

...cutting... and cutting... and a few more...

...no more. All cut. Now they're sorted and placed in various zip-lock bags to keep them safe from me.

If my fingers can take it, there will be some hinge paring and onlay glueing on my schedule later today. If not, I'm just going to take a long and well deserved nap. Tomorrow will be the day the moving boxes will evade this household, so we'll see how much bookbinding will happen later this week. I hope lots, but I can't promise anything.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Yann - 2

Sorry, pretty photos are banned until this book is finished. Until then I'll bore you to death with in-progress shots. I won't be turning this into a tutorial, but I thought someone might be as curious as I am about other people's work, so loads of photos will follow.

My relatively simple complicated endpapers. There's also a very complicated complicated version, but I find that one a bit over the top, so these were made with a leather hinge and three pretty shades of some turqoise-y aqua kind of coloured paper. (I find colours difficult even in Finnish, but you English people make it near impossible to me. Maybe it's teal and light teal and even lighter teal. Or something entirely different. Greenish blue stuff.) Anyway, the endpapers will be trimmed after the sewing is done.

Ta-dah. Sewing happened and I forgot to take photos. Later I did take photos of my headbands, but they were all out of focus, you'll see them on another day. What we have here is the prettiest and most stylish living-room corner item, my press and the book ready to be backed.

Done, or actually, the almost there phase. Looked awful lot like this when finished anyway. I've sewn the endpapers with turquoise silk thread, that's why there's some odd bits of turquoise there too.

I attached the covers to the book block, and took a break from handling the actual book since it was in the press, once again. I had pared my onlay leathers yesterday and today I dyed some darker shades of that greenish blue colour to liven up the cover onlays a bit. The overall design could be a bit monotonous and boring if everything was done in the same colour. I have yet to decide how exactly I'm going to use all these different colours, but I'm sure it will all come to me in time. It always does, I've never been too much of a planner when it comes to my books.

Meh. My least favourite part of bookmaking. Sanding the covers with my super handy artsy sanding block made by a fellow bookbinder while we were still at school. (I can't believe how fast time goes! I finished my studies almost three years ago.)

Covers sanded and a hollow back added (still needs to be trimmed). The tapes and everything will be covered and evened out before the cover leather is pasted on to the book. Every little bump will show through in the finished book, so I need to be sure that there isn't even a smidgen of a bump anywhere on the book.

The hardest and most fun part of today's work: my title. I haven't measured how tall the letters are, but they are way less than a half a centimetre tall. I've cut my title twice, because with letters this small, you're bound to lose some and ruin some. It's just best to admit it straight away and do a little extra work and save yourself from swearing when it's time to glue these little things on.

Now, on an entirely different note, I wish to publicly declare my hatred towards mosquitoes. I'm losing my mind. Why was I saved from those meanies when I was in the forest picking blueberries, but I can't sleep in my own home without getting bitten like I was the last person on earth to have blood on their veins? The windows will stay closed from now on, who cares about oxygen or fresh air anyway...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Yann - 1

This time it's really happening. I am binding my full leather book and not procrastinating for a moment longer. I found the perfect linen for my box, so I couldn't put this off any longer. I now need to do this. (Also because I'm running out of time, but that's an entirely different thing.) I usually don't really like to combine fabric with leather, but this linen with this leather is a match made in heaven.

My book, Yann Andréa Steiner by Marguerite Duras, is a book of being by the sea. Falling in love by the sea, perhaps. Or maybe it's about losing all sense by the sea. One can never really be sure.

Not the very first sketch, but not the final one either. I still need to work on the title and probably many other things too. I'm doing leather onlays once again, and it's a good idea to really think it all through before I start to cut out letters that are simply just too small and make my eyes bleed. But I do intend to cut out letters that are too small and make my eyes bleed, I just want to be sure I like them first.

I had to set up an extra work desk in front of the window, because my actual work area will be cleared and packed in moving boxes very soon. Only this book, and everything I need while making it, get to stay out until the last minute. I do like working some place other than the one I'm used to. And I like the sunshine. The shadows on my desk change during the day. Bamboo is the daytime shadow, and the money plant is the last thing there before the sunset.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Saima of my dreams, this is a beginning of the making of a home

I wish I spent my hours better. If this can happen in less than 24 hours, I've been wasting awful lot of time doing nothing most of my life. Still, feeling pretty proud of myself. I finished what I started.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Almost there.

All stretched and mostly done. Some loose buttons and the photos still need a stitch or two. I can't believe I'm actually finishing something that I've started without starting at least two new projects meanwhile. (I think it has something to do with inspiration? Need to find that thing more often.)

The portrait of Saima (bottom left corner) was given to me by my grandmother on my 17th birthday along with some fancy handkerchiefs. Those handkerchiefs are safely stored in Jokela, but these edge laces and torn handkerchiefs just needed to be a part of an art project. I believe that these too were once my ascendant's, I don't know whose unfortunately. Maybe my mother could shed some light on this one? She has probably given these to me some ten years ago or so.

Now don't you start telling me that something's crooked or off in this piece. For once in my life I decided to toss the ruler away come what may. I must be a sad case, because it was truly a very, very satisfying thing to do. (And now they're all crooked, the handkerchiefs, there. Absolutely fabulous!)

A Duras day today. I love her, and her words. Les mains négatives 1 & 2. I know I've posted a link to this one before, but it's worth posting again: The Only Letter I've Ever Written. I like listening when I do things.

On my desk, the sun trying to blind me at times

(click to enlarge, as always)

Definitely not the project I should be working on, but this is what's happening on the kitchen table at the moment. Still at a very early stage, everything just tossed on the backcloth, but I suppose this will be finished before the move and everything (it has to be, I don't want to take loads of unfinished things with me to my new home). I'm taking my great great aunt Saima with me, sort of. This is art for me, at last. J said it looks like a funeral memorabilia or something. Whatever. And Saima has been dead for a good while, so maybe it's only appropriate ;) There will be a little more red stitching and probably also white stitching and buttons to lighten up this piece a bit.

300th Etsy sale reached! Yay! More matchbox letter making it is then. They're one thing I doubt I'll ever get bored of. Small things are always nice. (Feeling energetic again, if you didn't notice. Not that the book project has made any progress, but at least I'm not grumpy today.)

PS. I thought you might enjoy the youtube channel SpokenVerse, loads of interesting poems there! Like this one.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Letters to David

It's time for me to find new stories. I like the story of the magician and the abandoned house and the strangeness of them both. The world is full of stories just as fascinating and just waiting for me and the personal meaning I have for them. I want a new story. Less sad, less lonely, maybe with a relatively happy ending (preferably one I can remember). Would you go and look for a story of some kind with me?

I'm working on too many things at once. I've started a huge quilt for my new home and the competition book should be bound too. I'm planning to take photos of the book in progress, but the progress just isn't happening. I love making full leather bindings, but maybe my energy levels are still too low for serious work. Or maybe I'm just having a bad day. I can't pretend I don't have them (often). Making things helps tremendously, but right now I've lost my focus. I think I need to write a matchbox letter or two.