Oct 23 2008

Mini Books

This is a series of mini books I’ve been working on. They’re great little practical and fun pieces that are great for tossing in your purse, backpack or laptop back, keeping next to the bed, in the kitchen or at the office for to-do lists, those profound yet passing thoughts, or spontaneous sketching and doodling. They are approximately the size of a check book. The covers are sturdy but pliable and the book block is made of 100lb premium Strathmore bristol illustration board, perfect for pencil or ink (even sharpies will not bleed or show through.) The pages are perforated for easy removal or using as a business card on the fly. Each book features either a lovely, textural ‘caterpillar’ stitch stretching from back to front cover or an elastic or button closure. The elastic covers work in the same manner as a moleskine.

I’m having a lot of fun with these — using up some of my favorite paper remnants and playing with lots of color. They are for sale on my etsy site, for $15 each or $50 for a grab bag of four. The grab bag will have two with caterpillars and two with closures. Keep them in mind for the holidays… they’re perfect gifts for co-workers, white elephant gifts, stocking stuffers or those last minute gifts even the most organized of us occasionally need. Hey, you might even need one for yourself to keep track of all your holiday shopping! (And yes, I’m aware of my shameless self-promotion here… please forgive me.)

They are archival quality, exposed spine sewn with a two needle Greek across the spine method, with waxed Irish linen thread.

Apr 13 2008

I learned the worm!


And I’m not talking about breakdancing! And having these worm skills is far superior to having the breakdancing variety. It’s actually called the caterpillar. I learned it from Keith Smith’s Non-Adhesive Binding Vol. III: Exposed Spine Sewings and he credits learning it from Betsy Palmer Eldridge. I’m bravely posting photos of my very first try, then my second and third. The third one is the only satisfactory one, in my opinion. And it’s already reserved for my friend Kelly Lusis. The sewing technique I found surprisingly easy to pick up, but it’s getting the tension right that will take multiple attempts. Like in the double digits, I’m afraid. But anyway, back to my bravery…

My first attempt:

So the legs are all over the place, I hadn’t figured out a way to make a distinct looking head. And if you notice the book climbs slightly from left to right — it’s sewn more tightly on the left side than the right. And that’s a consequence of a couple of things: I’m not used to sewing one station (one set of side-by-side holes to sew through) from cover to cover and then starting on the station.

Basically, you sew one worm to completion and then you start the other worm. This is a very rare way to bind, at least according to everything I’ve read.

And that picture makes it look like I bind my books in a cave. But I don’t. I started learning this stitch at about 5pm and couldn’t go to be until I had completed at least one entire caterpillar book. So this picture was taken at 4:17am.

My second attempt:

You can see above that I modified the caterpillar itself on the spine from my first attempt. In the first one I sewed the caterpillar at every signature. The caterpillar looked disproportionately heavy compared to the body on the cover. So in this second try I only entered every other signature… Better, but still not great.

You’ll also see that sometimes Mr. Caterpillar’s legs are much longer on the left side of his body than his right. It’s those kinds of kinks that can only be worked out by obsessive repetition. Yay! (If you know me, you know this exclamation was indeed genuine.)

My third attempt:

I do think this one turned out pretty cool. I also like the pea pod paper with the big purple caterpillar coming to munch some tasty lunch.

This is the first time I’ve used this brand of paper… it’s called Iota, and it claimed to be extremely ecologically responsible. The paper seems okay, it’s interesting, different than what’s out there and seems really pretty durable, that caterpillar puts some strain on the spine edge.

I ended up settling on sewing the caterpillar into every third signature on the spine. I think it is the most closely mimics the weight of the caterpillar on the spine.

And to wrap up the tail end of this exhibition of my new wormy skills… drumroll…
here is the tail end of the caterpillar

*reserved for Kelly Lusis*