Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sewn Board Models from Scraps: Coptic Again

After spending several hours learning this Coptic with single boards so I could teach it, I became addicted and began rummaging around the classroom for leftovers. It is an interesting design problem, I think. Shapes, colors, what is hidden, what gets revealed as you turn the pages. Then there are decks of cards that can yield a permanent flush.

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Small Books for Gifts

Here is a look back at the book art I made in 2016 that might make nice little gifts for someone you know. Details, ordering info, and more artwork at this link: nevermindtheart. Here are some suggestions, but the list is limitless.

I Found Out
suggested for the friend, the voyeur, the shy, the writer, the lover of overheard conversations

Alphabetical Lichencounters
suggested for the friend, the lover of nature, the designer, the gardener

The Catch
suggested for the friend, the lover of puzzles & tricks, the person of many identities

What We Reuse
suggested for the friend, the eco-interested, the human-interested, the collagist

A Fight for Chocolate
suggested for the friend, the chocolate-interested, the activist

Mrs. White Has Tea
suggested for friends and family of all ages

Friday, December 2, 2016

Instructions: Coptic with Single Sheets (or Boards) & Paired Needles

A student wanted to know how he could make a book with wood pages, so I got out Keith Smith's Non-Adhesive Binding, Vol. 4: Smith's Sewing Single Sheets to study and see if I could finally figure out the sewing pattern. It took several hours to understand it well enough to teach it. The version I show is a chain across the spine with four needles. I first painted book boards with a dry brush and a small amount of acrylic paint.

One of my earlier binding attempts. You can use different color threads by cutting the lengths in half and tying them together.

Measure two long lengths of thread that are equivalent to the number of boards. Put a needle  on each of the four ends. Center the thread, adjusting the needles, so that you have what looks like a stitch on the underside of the second board. Sew up through the second board with each needle.

Take the threads around the first board and sew down into the corresponding holes with each needle (you will always do the same action with each needle from here on out).

Take the threads out from under the first board and out around the second board. They will begin to look like figure 8s.

Pull the threads to tighten and align the boards.

Sew up into the second board.

From the inside to the outside,  take the needles between the two boards and back out under the stitches.

Pull the threads to tighten and align the boards.

Drop down and sew into the third board.

Pull threads to tighten and align the boards.

Take the needles under the preceding stitches. You will start to see the chains forming.

Repeat for all the stitches.

Drop down into the fourth board and sew into those holes.

Pull threads to tighten and align the boards.

Sew under the preceding stitches.

Tighten the stitches and align the boards.

Continue the pattern of dropping down, sewing under the stitches and tightening and aligning the boards until the last board. Sew in as usual.

Sew under, as usual.

This time, sew back into the last board, same holes.

You'll have  double stitches on the back.

Open to the last page and tie off inside.

You can tie two threads together and make the knot over the holes.

It is kind of surprising to see the variation of the stitching inside. But it can add an element of color, variation, or texture, and work well with certain aesthetic, more painterly styles.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

So, You Have a Question about Letterpress Inks?

I got an email from a book artist who recently bought a press. She had a question about inks.
So, can you let me know what kind of inks your books are printed with?  I'm wondering if oil-based is best for little books.
Someone had recommended rubberbased inks. I dislike rubberbased inks, but they have their purpose: if you are doing a long run of hundreds of something or want to come back the next day and print (!) They do stay open quite a while, and for that reason you cannot stack the prints or they will offset onto each other and sticking together and leaving marks. They are also good if you are teaching a six-hour studio class and need to keep printing. The rubberbased inks don't skin over, so you can use every drop.

I still prefer oil-based inks. Oil-based inks dry very quickly, and I have found I can stack the prints, even immediately after printing (but only if the print area is light or small like business cards or postcards or lines of regular text not bold or wood type). For linoleum reduction cuts, like the ones in my artist's books, She Is the Keeper and Tree, for example, I had to let them dry without stacking. If you are layering inks at all (like reduction cuts), oil based is the way to go. Printing on glassine or Mylar should only be done with oil-based inks. I use a piece of marble tile for my inking/mixing slab.

The only downside to oil-based inks is that the ink dries in the can, forming a skin that must be removed before use. Otherwise, the dried bits get worked into the rollers and leave spots here and there as they stick to the type and are printed. There are various sprays and barrier papers you can try. When I use my inks I just cut around the edge as if I were removing a cake from a pan, then lightly skim off the dried ink skin. It's true this is less economical than using rubberbased inks, but so be it.

Whatever you use, the finished works should be kept out of direct sunlight. I’ve had some fading issues, primarily with gold and silver, which are only available in oil.

Clean up has been going well these days. Much more quickly and less toxic as I’ve been cleaning the press primarily with Crisco: a tablespoon or so loosens up the ink. Just keep working it in and wiping it down with a shop rag or clean diaper rag. Wipe down with odorless mineral spirits at the very end to degrease.

Although Van Son no longer makes small 1 lb. cans (only the 1 kilo/2.2 lb), you can get Victory relief inks from NA Graphics. I've been gradually replacing with these, and they work very well. Keep a screwdriver handy, though, the lids are tight.