Saturday, January 29, 2011

It becomes outrageous---

At my new journal group discussion the other night, lots of people were unhappy with their journals and journal practices. I wondered why we bother to keep journals or make art when so often we feel unentitled, lacking, frustrated, etc.  So I asked the group to think about what they absolutely loved about their journals, to find a single page that made them happy.  And then I went home and flipped through a few of my recent journals and found this page.  It's a fairly bland page, made while I was on a train going from White River Junction, VT, to Penn Station, NYC, a few months ago. 

I had sketched the town near the station while waiting for the train;  I had reminisced about the last trip to the Lebanon Co-op with my family;  I had sketched a cup of coffee;  but the wonderful thing about the page, what made it so valuable to me,  was that I had written down a quote that I had found in the Amtrak magazine that was stuck in the seat pocket in front of me.  Had I not had my journal with me I would have immediately forgotten the quote, and it is what makes this particular page spectacular to me.

The quote was from an outsider artist named Freddie Brice (1920- 98).  He defined his art in such a perfect way, (and I think it's a fine definition of a journal practice, too), when he said his art was ". . . a hobby -- a true thing [that] becomes regular.  It becomes continuously.  It becomes outrageous.  It becomes magnificent."

So I am posing a question for all of you:  when have been the times that your own journal practice (however intermittent and imperfect and lacking) has become magnificent?  satisfying?  useful?  a pleasure? continuously?  I would love to read your comments!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Corrections, volume 1

Today I'm posting the first set of corrections to RLJ.  If you own the book, you could print out the corrections, which you'll find under Topics as "The Corrections", and slip the page into your book at page 92 - 93.  Or just write the corrections in the margin.  Please let me know if you have questions!  And also, please let me know of any other errors you notice in the book.  I'm happy to clarify and correct.

The Corrections

I promised to post corrections to  Real Life Journals, so here comes the first one.  It concerns an omission rather than an error.  On pages 92 - 94 you'll find directions for making a concertina, something that you'll need to make when building the following bookforms:  a longstitch with concertina, a Coptic with concertina, a sewn-on-tapes with concertina, and both of the Australian reversed piano hinge forms.  If you're making the longstitch, Coptic, or sewn-on-tapes with concertina, these directions are fine.  But if you're making either of the Australian reversed piano hings books, you'll need to make a slight addition to the instructions.

The corrections are to step 3 and figures 1 and 3, all of which pertain to measurement and to the number of folds that you need to make. Here is the problem:  when you use a concertina with longstitch, Coptic, or sewn-on-tapes books, you nest the signatures (little booklets of pages) into the valley folds of the concertina, as shown in figure 3.  But when you use a concertina in constructing either of the Australian reversed piano hinge books, you slide the mountain folds of the concertina into slits in the center folds of the signatures, which calls for a slightly different number of folds. (See figure 4 below)

The change you must make to step 3 is to add the following to the end of the step:  "For Australian reversed piano hinge books, use this formula:  Make two scores for each folio."

There is also a small measurement correction to make underneath figure 1.  You should write, under figure 1, "For Australian reversed piano hinge, measure 2 inches for each signature.  Ex. for 5 signatures, measure 2 x 5 = 10 inches."

Please post any questions under comments to this page.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Journal Exhibition at Asheville BookWorks

A few months ago I was invited to curate an exhibit of journals at Asheville BookWorks, a center for printmaking, papermaking, and artists books in West Asheville, NC.  The show opened last night, and I've posted photographs of one page from each of the journals in the show plus my juror's statement.  Go to the topics pages on the right and you'll find the two installments of the show.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Butter Box Sewing Instructions

I've posted the sewing instructions for the butter box, but I've moved the entire set of instructions to the page labeled" Tutorials. " From now on that's where you'll find tutorials.  Just click on Tutorials under the Topics heading on the right, and you'll find the complete set of instructions to make a butter box book. 

You will notice that what started out yesterday as a butter box book has morphed into a neufchatel cheese box book.  When I was writing the instructions I realized I needed process shots of some of the steps, so I decided to make another book and use it for the shots I needed and as a model for process sketches. 

So off I went to the store to buy butter (again).  But we currently have six sticks of expensive butter staring at us every time we open the fridge, and we really don't go through butter that fast.   I considered lurking around the dairy case and asking another butter buyer to give me her box (I would give her a nice plastic container in exchange).  But that seemed too pathetic.  So I opted to buy a package of neufchatel cheese, which came in a similar box (not quite as wonderful as the Kate's butter box, but close), and make the book out of that.  So what's neufchatel cheese anyway?  fancy cream cheese?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Butter Box Book

The butter box book is based on a longstitch binding.  There are directions for a longstitch binding and cover in Real Life Journals but they presume you will be deciding the size of the book based on the size paper you want to use.  If you already have a perfect cover (such as a two-stick butter box), start with the cover and then figure out the page size following these directions.
This illustration shows the finished journal next to one of the sticks of butter as a size reference.  I got my two-quarters butter box at Whole Foods, but you can probably find this smaller-than-usual butter box at other stores that have nice butters.  The journal in this picture has two extra pieces glued on the ends of the spine to cover some rather messy stitching that I did on this, the first one that I made.  I will give directions for a better way to sew the spine so that you won't need to glue on extra pieces (unless you want to).

1.  Carefully unglue all flaps of the box;  then open out the box so that it is one rectangular piece.
2.  Place the unfolded box, inside facing up, on a tabletop, and fold in the flaps using the score lines that are already there.  Cut the top left and top right of the two side flaps on a slant, as shown in this photo.

3.  Use a glue stick to glue down the three flaps along the top:  left side, spine top, and right side.  Then glue ONLY the bottom spine flap in position. 

4. Fold up the remaining two bottom flaps, and then glue just the bottom 1/4 of the two side flaps on top of the outside halves of the folded-up bottom left and right flaps, s shown in the photo.  You should now have two pockets, one on the inside front cover and one on the inside back cover.

5.  Next you will cut rectangles in the spine part of the cover, as shown in the photo.  Begin by making a pencil line at the level of the top of the bottom flaps, going from one score line across the spine to the other score mark.  Make a similar line at the level of the bottom of the top flaps.  Next measure about 1/2 inch down from the top line and up from the bottom line and draw those two lines.  Then measure about 1/2 inch up from the bottom and down from the top two lines you just drew to get the middle two lines.  You have drawn 6 lines, each about 1/2 inch apart.

6.  Use an Xacto knife and a ruler to cut along the lines you've drawn and to cut the sides of the three rectangles so that you've cut three rectangles, evenly spaced, along the spine.  Make the side cuts in the already-scored lines of the box.

7.  Now you need to mark and cut a thin (1/8 inch) space through the two layers where the top and bottom spine flaps are glued in place.  Draw these lines about midway in each flap, as shown in the photo.  Use the knife and ruler to cut out the thin spaces.

8.  Finally you will punch holes for each signature, using an awl with a piece of cardboard or an old telephone book under it to protect the table top.  You can't punch these holes until you have figured out how many signatures (groups of folded pages) you will need to fill the spine.  So put the cover aside for now and go on to step 9.

9.  Here's where you're going with the signatures.  This picture shows 13 folded and punched signatures.  Each signature is made by nesting 4 or 5 small sheets of paper (4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches square), folded in half.  The folded pages are called folios.  When you nest the folios together, the little booklet is called a signature. 

Depending on the thickness of the paper you use, you will need 4 or 5 folios for each signature.  So choose paper (really, anything you like is fine).  If you want watercolor or other heavy paper, make the signatures of only one or two folios. Remember that it's fine to mix up different kinds of paper in the signatures.   After you fold the signatures, press them under a pile of books for about half an hour to get a little air out of the creases.

10.  This photo shows the opened out cover with an opened out signature underneath (the cream colored paper with the center crease showing through the rectangles in the cover).  You will notice that holes have been punched in the top and bottom spine flap fold-downs-- the ones I told you to hold off on punching.

Once you've made as many signatures as will fit comfortably within the covers, (stack them up and slip the pile in to see if you have enough-- they should fit snugly but you should not have to compress them to fit them.  You will probably have 12 or 13 signatures.) remove the stack and punch the holes using an awl.  Make the row of holes at least 1/4 inch down or up from the top and bottom of the spine, and be sure the holes are at least 1/8 inch apart to avoid tearing.  If you happen to mess up at this step, simply glue a piece of heavy paper over the row of holes and start over.

11.  Next you need to mark the signatures to punch sewing holes.  Lay an opened signature on an opened out old phone book, NOT in the center crease but on one of the flat sides of the book.  Mark a line along the top of the signature on the paper of the phone book.  Then lay the opened-out cover 1/8 inch higher than the line you drew at the top of the signature and draw another line.  The two lines should be about 1/8 inch apart.  You want the signature to be spaced evenly between the top and bottom of the cover, and 1/8 inch should do it.

12.  To punch the signatures, first lay an opened-out signature along the lower of the two lines.  Then place the opened-out cover along the top line.  You should be able to see the center crease of the signature through the open rectangles in the spine of the cover.  Be sure the crease is perpendicular to the horizontal openings.  Punch a hole in in each signature at the following places:  in a top hole, in the narrow slit just under the top holes, at the top of the first rectangular opening, at the bottom of the first rectangular opening, at the top and bottom of the second and third rectangular openings, in the narrow slit at the bottom, and in a bottom hole. 

Each signature should end up with 10 holes punched along its crease.  If the holes seem too small, when you've finished punching all the signatures, lay them one at a time opened out in the center crease of the phone book and re-punch them to widen them a bit.  The center crease lets the awl travel more deeply through the signature and widens the hole nicely.

Tomorrow I'll post how to sew the book.  I need to do some drawings for that as I didn't take pictures of the sewing for the second book I made, and I've already sent it off to my friend Benedicte!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Post

When my most recent book, Real Life Journals (Sterling/Lark 2010), came out last summer, I felt sort of like I feel when I see a photo of myself that someone has sneakily shot while I'm eating or sleeping with my mouth open-- that sort of terrified cringe that all is now revealed and It Is Flawed.  On the one hand it was a great feeling to actually hold the new book and flip through, looking at the images;  but when I began to read it, regardless of the many times it had been revised, edited, and copy-edited, my critical eye lept on the mistakes that had mysteriously generated themselves.   And when I began doing readings and teaching workshops based on the book, the horror was compounded:   unclear passages, omissions of critical information, and awkward phrases all slithered out onto the page; and I wanted to recall all the copies and go through a final round of editing if not bury them in the woods.

This blog is a great chance to do that final round, and it's even better than great because it allows the book to be changed and changed again with suggestions from readers. The book can also be expanded and questioned as well as corrected. 

If you haven't read the book and have no intention of doing so, you might still enjoy this blog because it will also stand alone as a journal-keeping blog.  It will be full, eventually, of tutorials for building new kinds of journals, tips on materials, examples of other people's work, links to relevant articles, problem-solving, and ideas for different kinds of journaling practices.

I'll work hard to update the blog once a week after the initial flurry of activity while I'm getting it launched.  Eventually I'll talk about a new book I have coming out next year-- actually a revision and bind-up of two of my books:  The Decorated Page and The Decorated Journal.  So stop by often and leave a comment.  Your comments will help shape the blog.  Tell me what you want to know about, and I'll do my best to dig up the information.

Above is yesterday's page from my current journal.  I'm posting this because the next thing I'll do will be to post the instructions for how to make this little book.  I made the book out of a two-stick butter box.  I was getting ready to leave on a long vacation and wanted a small journal.  I saw the box in the dairy case at the grocery store, and, since the size was exactly what I had in mind, I bought the butter!  The journal was so easy to make and worked out perfectly.  It's based on a bookform that's in RLJ, but the cover is different.  Stay tuned!