I’ll be teaching the Inlaid Journal on August 10th at the Occasional Artist in Glendale, AZ. We’ll be making a 3″ X 5″ red oak book with walnut or cherry inlays, a book block sewn onto a leather spine and a brass closure. I’ll be teaching how to enhance the wood grain with Milk Paint, create the inlay, and sew the book block onto a leather spine. The kit provided by the instructor will include the wood covers, plugs for creating the inlay, the leather and the brass closure. Extra kits can be purchased from the instructor for $8.00. The class is $50.00 and runs from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. You can reserve a spot by calling the Occasional Artist at (623) 847-2215.
It will be time to put the holiday decorations soon and I don’t want to kill myself climbing over a ton of junk while I do it so I thought tidying up the garage might be a good idea. I found a piece of red oak about 3″ X 24″ while I was cleaning up, seemed like a good excuse to bind a new book. The book show below is approximately 3″ X 10″ and contains 8 signatures of 200gm Fabriano Artistico. The wood was finished with several coats of milk paint in different colors and then distressed using a sander. The signatures are sewn to the leather spine with 4-ply Irish Linen using a long stitch. As I was getting ready to bind it all up, I thought it was a little blah so I added a band of polymer clay faces across the front cover. Here are the photos…
I was reorganizing my bookshelf last week and stumbled across a book I made back in 2004. It’s a small pocket journal whose dimensions are about 3″ X 4″ and it had fallen behind several other books and been forgotten. I can remember making this book because it turned into something I hadn’t intended when I started making it. Whatever I had in mind when I started this book changed along the way. I was beginning work on the cover and NPR had a remeberance about Jerry Orbach the actor that played Lenny Briscoe on Law & Order, he died in December of 2004. As I continued working on it, he book somehow morphed into The Book Briscoe. One of the things the Briscoe character was famous for was the sarcastic quip he typically uttered early in each episode as a dead body was discovered.
I have a personal favorite and I embossed it into the brass strip that runs around the edge of the front cover, in the event you can’t see it in the photograph, it says; “if I was kidding I’d be wearing a Fez and no pants”. I don’t know that I’d call this a tribute book because that really wasn’t my intent when I made it but it did start me thinking about possibly making a tribute book for Captain Phil Harris. For those who don’t know, Phil Harris was the captain of the fishing vessel Cornelia Marie, a crab boat featured on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch series. Any time I would think about how bad my job was, all I had to do was watch an episode or two of Deadliest Catch to put it all in perspective. Phil Harris died on February 9th, 2010 after suffering a stroke on January 29th. It seems to me that metal would be my material of choice but time will tell as I continue to think about where I want to go with this idea.
It’s funny how fortuitous happenstance works which is why I suppose it’s called fortuitous happenstance in the first place. A recent collision clogging the freeway forced me to bail onto the surface streets and as it happened my detour required that I drive by the local woodworking shop. Knowing that the wood supply in my studio was getting low I decided to stop and see what they had on hand. I often use wood when binding my journals, even when I make journals out of polymer clay, the back cover is almost always wood. While I like using wood for the very practical reason of workability there’s a wider range of aesthetic reasons that I find it compelling as a raw material.
The only problem I have with wood is finding it in the thicknesses I need for bookbinding, I want it no more that 1/4″ thick. Sure, I can order it online but I’m not crazy about buying it sight unseen — I want to be able to see the color and the grain when I choose my wood. Occasionally I’ve been able to find thin hardwood at this store but it’s often hit or miss and something they don’t stock regularly. This time, there was a whole rack of it and I bought four boards in widths of four and six inches — my choices based solely on the interplay between the color and grain of the wood.
Two of the boards were Peruvian Huayruro, one was Bloodwood and one was Brazilian Yellow Heart. In the picture below you can see what I mean about the interplay of grain and color, while the top two boards in the picture are both Huayruro the color and grain patterns are significantly different. I’m already thinking about the books these boards will turn into.
In the process of preparing to go to PLAY for a few days I’ve bound two books, the leather wrap and The Book of Jade Faces. I’ve very satisfied with the way they both turned out but something still wasn’t right, I needed more. I wanted something… a little… beefier? I rummaging through my supplies trying to get an idea of what I wanted and then I found a piece of walnut burl, the grain and striations in the wood were fantastic. I only had one piece of walnut but I was able to squeeze two 8 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ pieces out of it. To do that however, I had to cut it so the grain was running horizontally across the cover instead of from top to bottom. Visually I think it works, the burl hides the direction of the grain well and from structural standpoint this is a fairly hard wood so there shouldn’t be any problem with wear or breakage.
The beauty of the wood called for a very simple treatment so after easing the edges and slightly rounding the corners to avoid “pokeage” a couple of coats of Tung Oil were applied, followed by a couple of coats of Carnuba Wax. The book block is 300 gm (140 Lb.) Fabriano Artistico and sewn to a leather spine with waxed polyester thread using a modified long-stitch. As the stitches go down the spine they get progressively longer and a friend commented that it creates an illusion that each series of Xs is fatter than the one above. Here are the photos:
I put the last detail onto The Book of Jade Faces and as stood there looking at it there was a problem. Fabriano Artistico paper comes in 22″ X 30″ sheets and because of the size of these journals, when I tear the pages down from the sheet I’m left with a 3″ x 22″ strip of paper. Normally, I’d just toss them into my scrap bin and use them down the road but this time, the scraps lay there on the counter mocking me. What the scraps didn’t realize is the the polymer clay and all the tools were still out on the counter. They weren’t scraps for long.
This small pocket journal is 3″ X 3″. Both the front and back covers are made from polymer clay. The front cover is made from the faux jade that was used to make The Book of Jade Faces, I added some inlay just to make it a little more interesting. The inlay is gold polymer clay, the design in the inlay was created with a fairly standard mica shift technique. The back cover is the gold clay which I cut the inlay from. I’m not completely satisfied with the way it turned out and I’ll probably replace it, but it’s not bad for a few minutes work.
Unlike Artfest which is several days of formal workshops and classes hosted by Teesha and Tracy Moore, PLAY is a “come as you are and do your own thing, but if you’re interested we’re going to teach a class or do a demo over there” affair. This year, it looks like Tracy is going to teach his Relic Journal class during PLAY. The Relic Journal is made using polymer clay, resin, leather and found objects. I’ve been working with polymer clay for years and teach a similar class but I still like Tracy’s. Tracy limits the size of journals in this class to 5 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ and when I asked him why a few years ago he said it was because of durability and weight considerations. I’ve made bigger structures out of polymer but agree with him on the weight issue, on durability i might argue if it cracks or breaks, I’m okay with that.
I know that I’ll make a Relic Journal while I’m at PLAY but I decided to make one to take with me, maybe it will be my primary journal for the next few months. I think one of the reasons I like Tracy Moore’s work is because like be he’s drawn to what I would consider dystopic forms. Most of the journals I’ve seen come out of this class in the past have at least one skull and almost all are painted in browns and blue-green hues to give the feeling of antiquity. On my leather journal I used some faux bone for the closure, when I make faux bone I generally make a large block of it and use it in several projects over the course of time. I decided to use the bone and built up the cover using a layer of the bone on top of the basic structure, I liked the way it looked but I wanted something to provide contrast with the bone. After think through a variety of options Jade seemed like a good fit. Here are some photos of the completed journal, The Book of Jade Faces.
Here’s a more detailed image of the faces, when I made them using molds I laid a paper thin layer of the bone in the mold before pressing the jade into it.
Over the past couple of years I’ve started to use PLAY as a way point for a fresh start. I usually bind a book just before I go, take it to PLAY and then it becomes one of my primary journals for the year. I haven’t really produced anything over the past couple of months except for one book which was a birthday gift for a friend. She had mentioned what she wanted some time ago in a casual conversation and probably forgot about it. She had talked about what I typically just call a wrap, a single piece of leather that wraps around the pages to enclose them.
I made one for her with some grey leather, the dimensions were about 5″ X 8″ and although I’m not a fan of this style, I actually liked it when it was done. Later that week I stopped by the Leather Factory and found a great half-hide which was kind of a mottled milk chocolate brown… nice. The only logical thing to do? Make a journal out of it.
I bound this journal using the leather I found at the Leather Factory, 200 gsm (90 Lb.) Fabriano Artistic and 4-ply waxed Irish Linen thread. The closure is made from polymer clay using a faux bone technique. My original idea with this was to slip strips under the closure and then tuck them in on the back side of the journal. Here’s a detail of the closure.