Team Bonefolder

Kaija over at Paperiaarre commented on my last post about bonefolders that she uses a teflon bonefolder in her work instead of one made of bone.

In my work I employ a team of bonefolders: one made of bone and one made of teflon. I use the teflon bonefolder for any work on a visible surface – bookcloth or paper on the cover of a book, for example. I use my bonefolder for anything work that doesn’t show, such as inside work.

Before I got my teflon bonefolder, I used 2 boney bonefolders. I always kept one clean and the other was always used for glue work. This worked best for me because I never had to worry about whether or not my bonefolder was clean – I had an assigned clean bonefolder. The bonefolders were two different sizes so I could easily tell them apart.

Then I got a teflon bonefolder.

I knew that they didn’t leave shiny marks on paper, which was a big plus. In addition, they were nice and slippery, which helped make work easier. So I bought one. What I found was that while the teflon folder had its perks, it was sorta soft. I couldn’t get as much muscle behind it as I could with my other bonefolders.

So in addition to using my bonefolder for inside work, I also use it for any work that requires me to use strength for any reason. In these situations, I usually place a piece of scrap paper over my work so that I don’t get any shiny marks or accidental tears. I guess it would be great to have one bonefolder that was great at everything. But I’d probably use two anyway, for the cleanliness factor.

Rhonda at My Handmade Books ran a poll on her blog about which bonefolder folks preferred. It seems like most folks are like me – reluctant to give up one in favor of the other.

I’d love to hear if you’re a you’re in a monogamous or a polygamous bonefolder relationship. Fill out the poll below and make me feel validated!

Note: This poll is now closed.

Rub a bonefolder on your face?

I learned how to make books when I was in graduate school – I had a part time job at Paper Source in Cambridge, MA (back when there were only two stores). I worked there with a woman named Martha (can’t remember her last name) who was enrolled in the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School [drool].

One day, Martha told me that a good way to take care of your bonefolder was to rub it on your forehead. The oils in your skin would help to condition it. Although I thought it was odd, I had no reason not to believe her. I have engaged in the practice ever since.

Today, for whatever reason, I became obsessed with this practice. I have never heard of anyone else doing it. I decided to do a Google search. The only face-specific method I found was mentioned in an article by Evi Sztajno from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sztajno wrote this article about Sam Green, Washington state’s first poet laureate.

Here is a quote from the article:

At a bookbinding workshop at Seattle Pacific University last week, Green got a twinkle in his eye as he rubbed a bonefolder tool on the side of his nose. That’s the secret to a really clean fold, he told women attending the workshop. “Face oil is the best,” he said, continuing to rub. “Although my wife has a favorite spot in her hair she likes to use.”

He says nose, Martha says forehead. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

So if you’ve heard of others doing the face/bonefolder tango, or if you do it, let me know. We can start a support group.

Super happy gluing tip

Glue Brush with Chopstick Rest

One of the best things about taking workshops is that you get to pick up little tips that make a huge difference in your work.

One of my favorite tips came from a table mate at the Focus on Book Arts conference last year. While she was gluing, she used a chopstick rest for her glue brush to keep it from rolling off the table – genius!

Mrs. Lin’s Kitchen has a great selection of chopstick rests. I’ve ordered from them before and had good service. If you’re looking for one that’s extra special, I recommend this one.

By the way, if you find a chopstick rest shaped like cheese, please let me know.

Me want.

Book Arts Guild of Vermont workshop: Panel Books

Last Wednesday I attended the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. The big difference at this meeting was that I was in charge of the evening’s program. I decided to teach folks the Panel Book, the structure I learned during my summer workshop at the Garage Annex School with Julie Chen.

Below you can see my completed panel book, as I discussed in this post about Julie’s workshop.

The panel book was developed by Hedi Kyle – a book arts innovator and all-around genius (I took a fabulous class with her about 2 years ago). The structure is a modified accordion book that has cut-out panels that swivel. This creates interesting possibilities for presentation – content can be viewed from either the front or the back when the book is stretched open, or it can be read in a traditional manner (page by page) when the book is closed.

A confession – I suffer from performance anxiety. I worried about this workshop for weeks. Well, ever since I agreed to do the workshop. It comes from a reasonable place – I really don’t want to do a sucky job. I managed to acquire the all-too-familiar stomach ache as I drove up to Burlington.

Luckily, my worst fears never materialized. Of course, I had a great time. I was surprised when I counted 18 people in the workshop. The beginning was easiest because everyone started in the same place. It was when folks started moving ahead of each other that I had to really hustle to keep everyone engaged. It was quite fun running around – it helped to burn off the nervous energy.

I did some internet research on the Panel Book and was surprised that I couldn’t find anything on it with regards to Hedi Kyle. At the Book Arts Guild workshop I talked to Gwen Morey, owner of Stamp on It, a rubber stamp store in Essex Junction, VT. She told me that a variation of the structure had been used in the card world for years – they refer to it as a Swing Card.

Templates for the Swing Card were easy to find (thanks Google!):

It seems that the panels of the Panel Book move much more freely than those on the Swing Card. Decide for yourself – you can download my template for the Panel Book for your own use. The measurements are designed to accommodate a panel the size of an artist trading card (2.5″ x 3.5″).

Overall, I’m really glad I did the workshop. Even though I might complain, I enjoy being pushed to try new experiences, especially when I can share what I know with others. I’ve learned a lot from others in the Book Arts Guild and it felt good to finally give something back.

Vermont North by Hand

Vermont autumn foliage

I love Vermont this time of year. If there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me, it’s the colors of autumn foliage. I am guilty of driving at an irritatingly slow pace, staring out of my car window like I’ve never seen trees before.

Of course, I’m also guilty of cursing under my breath at people who do the same thing when they’re in front of me in traffic. Especially if I’m late for work.

The timing couldn’t be any better for a studio tour and Vermont North by Hand is doing just that this weekend, October 4 – 5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The drive in this area is beautiful – I drove into East Topsham last weekend to buy paper from Richard Langdell, one of my favorite paper makers/masters. I make several trips a year out to his studio and showroom (which is truly drool-worthy). Richard’s studio is stop #13 on the tour and if you’re even remotely near the area and love paper, then you must make a visit.

As an added bonus, you get two artists for the price of one when you visit Langdell Paper. Stop #12 (at the same address) is Sarah Green, Richard’s wife and owner of Mountain Ash Design.  Sarah uses many vintage and repurposed fabrics in her work, which includes aprons, billfolds, quilts, and my personal favorite – pot holders. Only she calls them HotHolders™. She has the best slogan ever: Because you’re not the only thing in the kitchen that’s hot ™. Love it love it love it. Sarah is what I would refer to as a Beefcake Textile Specialist – meaning that she features fabrics printed with hunky men in her work. Who wouldn’t want a studly half-naked man in their kitchen? Well, now you can have that with Sarah’s work.

If you can’t make it to her studio during this weekend’s tour, you’re in luck – the Mountain Ash Design Etsy store is open for business.

Bookbinding lessons learned the hard way

  1. Don’t skimp on glue.
  2. Don’t use too much glue.
  3. Don’t refill your glue container near something of value.
  4. Don’t carry a loaded glue brush over something of value.
  5. There are no winners in the game of Where did I leave my glue brush?
  6. Don’t glue after 11:00 p.m.
  7. Wear an apron when gluing black kangaroo leather.
  8. Don’t try to learn a new bookbinding technique on a piece that you’ve promised to a show.
  9. Don’t try to learn a new bookbinding technique using really expensive materials.
  10. Don’t work bookcloth with your bone folder when you’re in a bad mood.
  11. Measure twice thrice a whole bunch of times, cut once.
  12. Don’t cut bookboard by hand for more than an hour.
  13. When your arm starts tingling or feels numb, it’s time to stop.
  14. When you have blisters on your hands, it’s time to stop.
  15. Stop being stubborn and get the tool that will save your hands and increase your productivity – it will pay for itself over time.
  16. Check your materials stash before you commit to a custom order.
  17. Check your date book before you commit to a custom order.
  18. The amount of time you’ve put aside for that really important project – double it.
  19. If you really like a piece you’ve made, keep it for yourself.
  20. There’s no such thing as taking too many classes.

Extreme Production Adventure with Carol Barton II: Jigs and Templates

One of the best things I learned from Carol Barton during her trip to Vermont was how to effectively use jigs and templates.

In my own production work, I have a “recipe book” that contains all of my standards measurements and designs – this keeps me from having to redefine the process each time I make an item. However, I have never had the opportunity to make use of templates or jigs in my work. So when the Book Arts Guild of Vermont got together to assemble copies of the Studio Protector for the Craft Emergency Relief Fund – read more about it in this post– I was excited to see what Carol had designed to help streamline production.

So I have to admit, I never really thought about the difference between a jig and a template – I’ve often used the terms interchangeably. Bad me.

So I did some research and came up with the following distinctions:

  • A template serves as a pattern, model, gauge, or guide.
  • A jig is used to guide machine or hand work, for example locating holes or making score marks. These can have hinged components.

So now that I have my terms straight, I can say that in the workshop, we didn’t use any templates because all of the pieces were laser cut in advance. We did, however, use several jigs.

Carol told us that when constructing jigs with hinged pieces, she prefers to use gaffers tape, which is made of cotton cloth and is commonly used in the theater industry. Duct tape or packing tape can also be used. I’m going to share images of several jigs, along with explanations of how they were used.

The image above shows a jig we used for the base piece of the Studio Protector. The base of the jig is made of bookboard, as are the 4 curved pieces glued on to the surface. In the center of the left side, you can see a shiny piece of metal – that’s a magnet. This jig had a small circle carved in it into which a magnet was inset – this was to help us attach a magnet to the same spot on each of the base pieces.

Jig for production of handmade books

As you can see above, we placed the base piece of cardstock into the jig.  The cardstock had curves cut out that matched the curved pieces on the jig, so it slid perfectly into position. Now here’s the cool part – to get the magnet in the correct position, all you had to do was hover a new magnet over the spot on the jig that had the inlaid magnet and the new magnet snapped right into position. Voila! Perfect placement every time. We would secure the magnet to the cardstock with a white label.

The colored stickers on each curved piece of bookboard indicated the placement of 4 pockets that were later glued in. This eliminated any confusion about which pocket went where.

One of the cardstock pieces required two different jigs to get all of the scoring done.

Above you can see the first jig we used to score a Fire Alarm piece. The base of this jig is made of bookboard and the 3 attached L-shaped guides in the corners are as well. Next you can see the jig with the Fire Alarm in position.

Jig for production of handmade books

And now you can see the jig with the hinged piece closed over the top of the Fire Alarm. The overlay piece is made of mat board. The overlay was attached with packing tape on the inside (because it was thinner) and duct tape on the outside (because it was stronger).

Jig for production of handmade books
One score line was made across the top left edge of the of the overlay piece, so it went all the way across the piece of cardstock that extended above the jig. The next score line was made on the bottom right edge of the overlay piece. If you look carefully, you can see a short notch cut into the mat board overlay. This notch acted as a guide to help us score only where it was needed – the ends of the notch stopped us from extending the score line too far. So cool.

Above you can see the second jig we used to score a Fire Alarm piece. The base, overlay, and attached guide pieces are all made of bookboard. Once again, the overlay was attached with packing tape on the inside and duct tape on the outside. Next you can see the jig with the Fire Alarm in position.

Jig for production of handmade books

And now you can see the jig with the hinged piece closed over the top of the Fire Alarm.

Jig for production of handmade books

This time the score lines were made in 4 places: along the left side of the overlay (left flap), across the top left and bottom left sides (tiny flaps with dots on them), and along the top right side. Once again, notches were cut into the overlay to prevent us from over-scoring the cardstock.

So a big yay for jigs! Once created, jigs essentially guarantee that you do your job correctly. And who wouldn’t love more non-screw ups in the studio?

Aldrich Public Library’s 100th Birthday Celebration

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Barre, VT at the Aldrich Public Library’s 100th birthday celebration. I was originally called to set up a display of my work and to demonstrate the bookbinding process. While this seemed appropriate for a library, it also sounded not-so-fun. I asked if it might be more fun for party guests if I did a free hands-on activity for kids – my offer was quickly accepted.

Display of handmade books at Aldrich Public Library

I arrived early with more than enough time to get set up. I used half of the table to display my work and the other half for the activity.

If I had to do it over again, I would have left my work at home. I didn’t sell anything and it didn’t matter. What upset me was not having enough room for all the kids that came over.

Kids making books at Aldrich Public Library

The table stayed neat for about 2 minutes once the doors opened. I had a steady stream of kids throughout the day – almost all of them girls (and they were so cute!). As you can see, my pictures are a bit blurry, but that’s what the day was like. It seems you can’t go wrong when you have stickers on hand.

Kids making books at Aldrich Public Library

The creative process of children amazes me. They create with such enthusiasm and freedom from self-doubt and criticism – I wish I could do that. It’s all about having fun, not “Does this look good?” They made the most interesting choices – ones I most likely would never have made. It was inspiring.

The staff told that my workshop was a hit, although I’m sure they said that to everyone who had volunteered their time. What meant most to me was when the party was about to end and the little girl next to me at the table said, “I wish this would never end.”

Can you hear my heart melting?

Extreme Production Adventure with Carol Barton

So today I finally get to talk about my weekend workshop with Carol Barton. As I mentioned in this post and this post, Carol came to Vermont as part of a collaboration with the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, where I work. Even though a lot of work was accomplished, I still had a really fun time.

Members of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont volunteered their labor in exchange for time with Carol. I have to tell you, these women are worker bees! There’s no way we would have finished as much as we did without their help. I love you guys! Carol taught us a very basic truth:

Repeating a single production step…is more efficient than moving through several actions at once.

I have learned this over the years in my work. I usually work on three books at a time, completing the same step on all three before moving on to the next. The time it takes to produce each book is reduced when I work this way.

We also learned about using jigs and templates to help speed up production – that alone was worth the price of admission (yeah, the workshop was free, but still). I plan to devote a post to the jigs and templates to show you exactly what she showed us.

The simple tips she taught us were invaluable. For example, if you want to test the archival quality of an adhesive, you can simulate extreme conditions (time/aging, heat, & moisture) at home:

  • Glue your item.
  • Put your oven on a low setting.
  • Put a pan of water in the oven.
  • Place your glued item on a tray and leave it in the oven for 2 days.

Carol advised us that commercial pop-up books are priced by the number of glue spots included. You can reduce your production costs by eliminating as many glue spots as possible – adapt your design/engineering to accomplish this. This is applicable to the production of handmade editions too – reduce the number of glue spots and you reduce the amount of time it takes to finish a piece.

Somehow we managed to finish 100 prototypes of the Studio Protector – the exact number we needed. Yeehaw!

If you’re interested in reading Carol’s view of her experience in Vermont, you can read about it in her blog. That’s me in the second picture on the right – gray t-shirt, curly hair.

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