Friday, May 29, 2009

Let's talk book design

My biggest struggle in making books is figuring out how to both make something well and have it still be unique. Unlike say drawing or printmaking, in books, there is a limited pallet of decorative papers and book cloth. When you are looking at handmade books, it can start to feel like everyone is shopping at the same Michael's and took a class on how to make a journal.

So. What do you do. Well, I've been trying to find ways around this without compromising quality. I mean, there's a reason why people choose to use bookcloth, it works. Very well. In order for me to sleep at night, if I sell a book to someone, I need to know it's going to stay together.

Instead of using decorative papers for end sheets and covers, I've been using vintage and alternative materials. Old illustrations, posters, collage, etc. But, you say, this is not acid free! I know. This pains me. So whenever possible, I back it with an acid free paper and always use acid free PVA. Of course, acidity is what gives that paper that lovely brown patina which I adore. Decisions, decisions.

I've also started incorporating drawings onto the covers. On the inside, I embellish with stickers, paper inserts, and other little surprises. All these things make the books more interesting to make, and hopefully, more interesting to use. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

South Philadelphia :: Land of the Green Awnings

I'll be in Philadelphia this weekend, visiting friends. Looking forward to it as always. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and I lived in Philadelphia for seven years, mostly in South Philly, and I am forever homesick for brick row homes as a result. By the way, I used to be a photographer. It's true.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Epic Equipment

I've been at Penland School of Crafts as a Core Fellowship Student for about a year and a half now. It's a two year program, so soon I'll be packing up soon enough and starting up shop. A scary but exciting thought. What this means is a hardcore search for any equipment within a reasonable distance. And thanks to Briar Press, this big beautiful machine will soon be gracing my life with its commanding presence. See you soon, Golding paper cutter! I look forward to meeting you and your blades.

The Engineer's Handbook

Yesterday was my birthday, and my boyfriend and I went to the used book store. What can I say, we're nerds. But I found this book, the Bureau of Public Works Engineer's Handbook 1913, for three dollars.

The numbers, the aged lined paper, the errors and corrections, are all things I find so exciting about books as objects we use. This book was meant to be a pocket reference for an engineer. All this information, all this labor to make a book! And now I have it and like it because it is tall and narrow, has neat diagrams and "erratums." How odd.

I have been really into these little erratum notes, and used one in a journal I made recently.

Some day, I dream of finding a warehouse full of yellowed graph paper. Do you have such a warehouse?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Albums of My Life - Fear of Music

There are albums that I listen to all the time, especially when I'm working. I will just loop these things over and over. These are the Albums of My Life. I have a double tape deck/radio/record player in my studio and a small but beloved record collection. Talking Heads make up a large chunk of that collection.

So I salute you, Fear of Music. Thank you for everything you do for me while I'm folding paper and sewing signatures.

That also brings up the subject of the David continuum. A chart which rates Davids. You can make your own David continuum. Here's how mine goes, David Byrne and David Lynch are on the high end of the continuum. David Cronenberg is somewhere in the middle. David Hasselhoff is definitely on the bottom.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I've been wanting to write a blog for awhile. 

Its taken awhile to take shape and feel like a solid enough idea to actually materialize, but the time seems right now. I hope to learn something by doing this, and to maybe entertain a few people along the way too. 

In the last few months, I've started following a handful of blogs about letterpress and bookbinding, an experience that has been reassuring, motivating, and stimulating as a person trying to find their place in the creative world. 

So I guess I would like to do the same for others. 

This blog will be about my efforts to build and sustain a career as a bookbinder and letterpress printer. It will also be about sharing the work of my peers that I admire so much and the vast miscellaneous network of things that make me happy, make me think, and that I like looking at or listening to. 

bookbinding, letterpress, and etc.