black&white book, everything is possible - an update

last evening walking with the dog

Dividing time between ailing parents and home/studio/clients has been challenging and not a lot happened on the home-front if I’m honest. This week was strangely different. I think it has to do with the fact I last visited the old folks together with my siblings, hence we were and are able to share the burden. This makes it sound overly heavy, which it is and is not, in the grand scheme of things…..

I had sorted some of the stuff in my dad’s hobby room (still quite a lot  more to go) and as my brother and I had journeyed South in his car, I could easily transport the bookbinding paraphernalia to The Birdhut. They originally belonged to my Danish granddad.

As some of you already know I started experimenting with the bookmaking earlier this year. I vaguely remembered my granddad had been into it too and my parents had kept his bookbinding tools stored away safely for decades. I still don’t quite know what is supposed to go where and the handwritten instructions are 1. In Danish and 2. Only describe part of the process, not the actual apparatus set-up. So there it all is: the box marked ‘miscellaneous’, the wooden parts that screw together, some that don’t, several wooden planks, bits of leather, decorative paper for the insides of the book covers, and a copper plate to boot, which I know to be completely unrelated but I kind of know what it’s about!

Since my return I have done a little more research into the bookbinding/making process:

I watched a couple of how-to-video’s on you-tube and have browsed yet again through Esther K. Smith’s book.

I un-lost an article on Forgotten Crafts: The bookbinder, who is aptly named Kate Holland and finally got round to actually reading my photo-copied version by Norway's famous couple Arne & Carlos Make your own book (they're the ones responsible for the knit-your-own-christmas-ball-rage several years ago). 

The Singer no.66 was already in place, as are the two presses, one the gigantic roller press for printing and the smaller one for pressing & printing. There’s lots of paper for the books I want to make. Over the years I have managed to accumulate an assortment of block print inks together with two ink rollers. A thick glass plate for rolling the ink was left by previous house owner! 

I started by printing sheets of paper with the copper plate; this alas did not amount to much, and I picked up a couple of sweet chestnut leaves for some 'eco-style' printing: this was more like it and I left them to hang and dry overnight. A day later having decided I was going to make a book with these prints, I folded the paper in half, in half again and machine-stitched over this second fold. I cut open the first fold [still with me?] and I had four so-called signatures.

I love boxes like this

The copper plate is an etching of 
Brigg's Table of Tolls; I have no idea who made it or why, I must ask my parents next time, and hopefully they can still remember. Brigg is the small town in Lincolnshire U.K. where we lived from 1966 to 1971. 

I stitched the signatures together following Arne & Carlos' instructions:

Whilst stitching, which was pretty fiddly, and the threads were not long enough so I had to knot another bit on, I thought about the cover and as the prints are all black and white I chose the matching leather; so the books would be almost completely black&white as the sewing thread was blue! okay that's me: I had not thought too far ahead had I?

recalling Jude's love of black& white, how for her it holds magic - a link to one of her posts light and dark -
for me it represents possibility
how the only one holding me back is me, how nowadays in my braver moments I dare to believe in the magic of what might be

As the leather would not be enough to fold around cardboard for a proper cover, I opted for the leather journal design in Esther's book, mixing two bookmaking styles. I drilled holes in the leather to thread the threads through and tied them together, they are visible on the back of the book. Again adding another book-type into to mix. I had thought long and hard about the shape of the leather cover, not wanting to waste any of the little leather there is, that's why it looks kind of rough. I looked for black and white beads and waxed thread to tie it all together. As a final touch I stamped my initials and the year on the last page. Done.

It's a sketch/note-book with blank pages and printed pages, you can write and draw anywhere you want.

addendum, as I forgot to mention it's title yesterday:

'black&white book, or the magic of possibilities'

Note: the off-white lozenge bead comes from a broken necklace my mum gave me, for me to use the beads however I wanted to; it was a gift from her father, my bookbinding granddad, after one of his travels to Greenland in his capacity as state-employed lighthouse engineer. She thinks it's sea lion bone, maybe even whale bone.

glimpses of things to come:
bundles unwrapped, a slight let-down

the turmeric turned out a bright yummy yellow, the earl grey hardly stained but for the accidental contact with the turmeric, the hibiscus seemed unpromising

after washing with real soap: the turmeric turned pink and then yellow again once properly rinsed, the hibiscus experiments however turned & remained green!
after ironing the greens paled a little, so I grabbed the reeds and pressed those between bits of the still damp cotton and delicate patterns emerged, these were enhanced by eco-printing/rolling the block print ink 
or something like that
it's hard to explain exactly what happened when

I think my next book will have to include at least some of these cloth pages


Mo Crow said…
learning to make my first book in a community college course back in 2003 was one of the most magical moments in my life, it brought together my life long love of books and a place for drawing, holding that first book in my hand, opening the cover and turning the pages, then closing it again...
Nancy said…
How lovely this all is...the end book, the family gifts available for you to use and realize your creative thoughts...the dying, I love the softness of the colors and then you layer in even more!
The bottom pic, middle photo...I see a bus or something. Do you see it?
Love seeing what you are up to. xo
Saskia said…
the promise a book holds Mo, that is the magic....

I confess to not seeing the bus Nancy, your eyes always see so much! imagine to be able to see through someone else's eyes....guess that's one of the reasons we read
Patty said…
This is like an old story you just stepped into. The tools left you by
your your grandfather are magic treasure for any artist. Please, more
photos of making.
It is such an honour to inherit your Grandfathers tools.You are the perfect person to receive them , I know that you will create lots of beauty with them.Book binding is so much fun.
Saskia said…
Patty I'll do my best, but oftentimes it's hard to remember taking pics when working and yes, having my granddad's tools is priceless
Saskia said…
an honour indeed Sue, you make books too? I must come and have a look



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