Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Japanese Stab Binding Instructions

Before I began binding the final books for my Good Morning books project, I did a couple of test binds. I thought the decorative bind (red binding) would work as the threading could recall the Union Jack on the English books (red binding), rays of sunshine (yellow binding) on the Spanish books, and a shamrock (green binding) on the Irish books. However, as the tests showed, the books are too small in size to facilitate anything other than a straight bind, so I went with a simple straight bind.

First I folded the endpapers, which are made of one long sheet, to wrap around the book pages.

The folio of endpapers + book sheets (in this case the Maidin Mhaigh prints) are carefully placed on the back cover.

The front cover is then placed on top to correspond with the back cover. The book sandwich is secured, taking care to protect the covers with additional pieces of cardboard. This keeps the book clean and pristine.

Measure where the holes are going to be placed to facilitate the binding. Keep in mind that the holes should be a reasonable distance from the scored margin edge where the book will open. In addition, an odd number of holes facilitates the binding well - one ends in the same place one began.

Since the book is secured, simply use an awl device for creating individual holes where the markings are. For these books I  have decided on 5 holes for the binding, placed slightly less than an inch apart. The books are small, so I could have easily only used 3 holes with wider distances, but I like the look of the 5 hole bind.

Flip the book over and ensure that the holes are as large on the back of the book as they are on the front. Be sure to have card underneath the book when creating holes to prevent damage to furniture surfaces.

It is easiest to make a binding using one piece of thread. For this size book (approximately 6 inch spine) I have used half of an embroidery skein for binding. Begin sewing through the centre hole, leaving threads hanging at the front. They can be cut evenly at the end of the binding process.

I use cotton embroidery thread and a thick, large-eyed needle (a darning needle is good - it doesn't need to be sharp). For books with card covers I do not thin out the thread, rather the way I sewed these books, the result is 24 strands for each binding. Embroidery thread is 6 stranded and I sew 2 threads at the same time, then doubling the bind.

This picture shows how I have sewn from the centre down one side and returning to the centre.

This picture shows the back of the book after returning to the centre verso when all binds are made.

Bring the needle under the 3 bind areas extending from the centre and pull before sewing back through the centre hole.

This picture shows the front cover after the needle has returned to the front of the book. Tie the thread off with the beginning strands.

The double knot will secure the bind and the threads can be cut evenly to size.

The sewing at the back of the book is even. If one prefers the end threads at the back of the book, begin sewing from the back instead of the front, but do not cut the final threads too short.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Belfast break

 Last week I was up in Belfast for a short city break. On the way back to the hotel after a delicious dinner, I came across this impressive piece of stainless steel public art "The Spirit of Belfast" by Dan George.

The next day was spent mostly at The Mac, a very large arts centre. My visit to Belfast was precipitated by the exhibition "I Draw, I Do" by David Hockney that I wanted to see before it closed. Specifically, I wanted to see Le Plongeur, one of Hockney's "Paper Pools", which I knew was included in the exhibition. One of my nieces gave me Paper Pools (the book) last xmas after noting that I had bemoaned selling my copy of it before emigrating more than 20 years ago. I had never seen one of these works in person before and was not disappointed. This is a very large, multi-panelled absolutely gorgeous "painting" made directly from paper.

The Mac was also hosting several other exhibitions, exploring "the possibilities of sculpture, installation and object-making". Keith Wilson's Calendar took up the entire space of the upstairs gallery.

Wilson's work explored the artist's studio - its relation to  itself, the gallery space, the artist, detritus and time... There are openings between the "months" to facilitate squeezing through to the interior for a different perspective.

Barbara Knezevic's work The Last Thing on Earth was installed in the Sunken Gallery on the ground floor. This work explores a theoretical object and speculative items involved with its unknown purpose.

I thought the inclusion of "rayograms" as theoretical documentation was interesting.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Good Morning - more work on lino prints

In the past few weeks I have been making some headway on my small book project Good Morning/How Are You? As I mentioned in a previous post, this will be a series of very limited edition (10 each) multilingual handmade books. The concept is existential with images to be reflections of comfort, companionship and renewal.

The first three books in the series will be in English, Irish and Spanish. I had to redo one of the Irish lino blocks because I had miss-spelled the Irish for Good Morning - i.e., Maidin Mhaigh is correct.

I was happy with the new test print.

With my trusty bone folder, I scored the margins for all the pages that the lino block images/texts will be printed on. This took awhile, as the Strathmore paper is quite heavy.

I also set up a more careful registration system - I had just been eyeballing it on the test prints.

Printing without a press has its own satisfactions.

Conas atá tú? means "how are you?" in Irish.  

One of the images for the books is two mugs.

A teapot is the ultimate symbol of comfort for me.

I had a good day of printing today! Here some prints are drying on the living room floor.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Blackberry Apple Pie!

My daughter recently waxed lyrical on the wonders of autumn. One of her favourite things of the season she proclaimed, was a fresh blackberry apple pie. How could I not take this hint? My husband had picked fresh blackberries at our local park and picked apples from a friend's garden. The cupboard store provided the rest of the ingredients. First, the no-fail, easy pie crust that I use all the time. Directly in the pie tin mix 1.25 cups flour (I usually do a mix of self-raising & coarse), pinch of salt, about 1 tsp sugar. 

In a measuring cup mix 1/3 cup sunflower oil with 1/3 cup milk, then pour into flour mix.

Stir around with a fork, mixing the wet & dry ingredients. If it seems too moist, just sprinkle in small amounts of flour, but a pliable consistency is more desirable than a crumbly one.

With your hands pull out about half the pastry dough and set aside (this will form the lid) and then mould the pastry to the form of the pie tin. (This is a very hands on process!).

Peel and chop the apple. I used 3 medium garden apples, but you can use a large cooking apple if preferred. I always soak the apples chunks in some lemon juice before adding to the pie.

Add the berries layer, some sugar (white or brown), more apples if you have them.

The lid is composed of a patchwork of pastry dough -- it can fall apart in your hands if the pieces you are using are too large so just a bit of patience is needed to cover the pie completely. Make sure to cut an "x" at the top, to give the juices an out (this may or may not happen). Years ago I was given the tip that sprinkling sugar on the top crust of the pie before putting in the oven eased slicing. This may or may not be true, but an extra bit of sugar in or on a pie never goes wrong!

Bake at 180C for about 25 mins, the crust will be golden brown. I usually leave the pie about 10 mins to settle before slicing. This is extra delicious with cream poured on top!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Good Morning. How are you?

I've started work on a small, hand-made book project. Very simply, the books will be less than 10 pages , five of these pages being lino prints (two text, 3 images) and each book series in an edition of 10. Each series will be in a different language - starting with English, Irish and Spanish. The first & last prints in the book will be simple texts "Good Morning" and "How Are You?" The three other prints, separating the texts, will be simple images - a teapot, two mugs, a boiled egg. Existential breakfast. Here goes. Tools for printing.

Trusty wooden spoon technique rubbing the print into being.

The inked lino blocks after a series of test prints.

Lino-blocks and test prints.

I have decided the final books will be printed on heavy Strathmore paper and the cover will be corrugated cardboard. I will bind them simply, using the Japanese stab-binding technique, with a different coloured cotton thread for each language edition. Here are the test prints for the Strathmore paper. I have since been informed by trusty, Gaelgor (Irish-speaking) sources that I made spelling errors in the Irish text for "Good Morning" (should be "Maidgin Mhaigh") so I am cutting a new lino block today. But here are the Strathmore paper test prints drying.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Aughnanure Castle

My daughter was at summer college in the Connemara Gaeltacht, so while visiting on family day one Sunday in July, we had prepared a picnic and did the very scary drive from Lettermore to Oughterard. My trusty (though now out of print) Guide to National & Historic Monuments of Ireland, by Peter Harbison, had alerted me to the existence of Aughnanure Castle, 2 miles outside Oughterard. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful moat - the Drimneen river.

The original castle dates from the 13th century, but what stands there now is a 16th century tower house castle.

The sentry stairs are completely intact, but. for health & safety reasons I'm sure, there is a "no climbing" sign nearby. Authenticity is maintained without a safety hand rail.

One can enter the tower, walking up spiral stairs to several large rooms, but it is the out buildings and walls that are most interesting.

I almost missed the amazing carvings on the windows as they are only visible from one side of the wall.

Several windows had these intricate carvings on them, and one had to walk on what one would consider the exterior in order to see them.

In fact, the wall was not an exterior wall but an interior wall marking the banquet hall, which was no longer apparent.