Books for Beer Lovers

I’ve been a recycler since my childhood days. I always saved bits of fabric, string and paper to create collages or fold them into 3 dimensional objects to create a mini city. This is a habit that extended into my life as an artist today. In weaving there is a lot of waste. Long strands of  unweavable yarn at the beginning and end of a loom woven project are inevitable. Although the strands are too short for the kinds of projects I do, I save the yarn and have used them to stuff pillows and add fringe to other projects or used them in Creative Aging MidSouth workshops  with senior citizens. This spring I used my bits of leftover yarn and scraps of fabric from the linings of the purses and bags that I weave to create earrings. With the addition of some beads and wire they turned out quite colorful because the fabrics I choose always seem to be bright.

Earrings made from recycled yarn and fabric

Earrings made from recycled yarn and fabric

The pair in the center is wrapped with fabric cut from upholstery scraps that I use for purse lining, and the other two are wrapped with strands of yarn.

Paper packaging also seems excessive to me, and I find that every week I recycle several folded boxes from food products and toiletries. Occasionally we have a few beer cartons which I salvage and use them for covers of my handbound books. And I suspect that my collection will grow because lately Memphis has become a sort of hot spot for breweries. You can read about that here. This fellow Memphis blogger is a local foodie and biking enthusiast who also knows his beer.

My latest handbound books made from beer cartons are currently for sale at Allie Cat Arts, a funky and eclectic art gallery in the Cooper Young neighborhood of midtown Memphis. Oh, and my earrings are sold there too!

Handbound books made from recycled beer cartons

Handbound books made from recycled beer cartons

And for those interested in making their own mini version of these recycled books, I will be teaching a class at Allie Cat Arts in late August. Participants need to bring only their own beer cartons and brown paper bags.

mini hand bound book made from recycled beer carton

mini hand bound book made from recycled beer carton

The mini Ghost River book above utilizes a long stitch binding that a new learner of book arts can easily sew. Below is a detail of the hand stitching that I have incorporated into the spine of the full size Ghost River book currently for sale at Allie Cat Arts.

hand bound book made from recycled beer cartons and hand stitched over an exposed spine

hand bound book made from recycled beer cartons and hand stitched over an exposed spine

I know how I’ll be staying cool as the dog days of summer are upon us here in the South.

 

Asian Journals and Sketch Books

The Memphis Brooks Museum currently has an exhibit entitled “A Taste for China”, an exhibition of traditional Chinese visual and decorative arts and their connection to the Western world. In honor of the exhibit, the museum’s gift shop invited me to create handbound books with Asian motifs to sell during the run of the show.

The books measure approximately 5″ X 6  1/2″ each.  All have fabric covers and their individual signatures, that is sections of several  pages, have spine protectors made from Thai mango paper. The spine of the book itself is exposed and the binding is handstitched, a modified version of a traditional bookbinding technique known as the Coptic stitch.

 

Handbound journal with satin brocade cover, coptic stitch binding

Handbound journal 2 with satin brocade cover, coptic stitch binding

Handbound journal 3 with satin brocade cover, coptic stitch binding

Book of Ninjas, handbound, cotton fabric cover, coptic stitch binding

 

Gate Keepers, handbound, cotton fabric covers, coptic stitching

Below are photos of additional handbound books with Asian themes that I have made, but are not currently at the Brooks Museum.

 

Wayang Kulit (Javanese shadow puppet), handbound, handprinted Indonesian batik fabric, Belgian secret binding, handstitched

Chrysanthemum, Kaffe Fassett cotton designer fabric, handbound, Belgian secret binding, handstitched

 

Japanese stab binding, handstitched, handprinted Indonesian cotton batik fabric, Dupioni silk, Thailand coins, hand dyed and hand twisted tencel (eucalyptus) yarn

 

Handbound blank journal, handprinted Indonesian cotton batik fabric, Belgian secret binding, handstitched

The Last Picture Show

The annual “Celebration of Fine Craft Fair” showcasing the artists of the Memphis Association of Craft Artists was recently held at Christian Brothers University. Over 35 artists from West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi were represented. Only the third year since its inception, the “Celebration of Fine Craft Fair” educates the community about the wide range of craft media, including clay, paper, metal, glass, fiber and jewelry.  This year several artists embraced the concept of “green art” by incorporating recycled materials in their work. The artists involved are also instrumental in raising money by donating their works in a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction supports the new undergraduate Art Department at the University.

Though I did not have the time during the weekend long show to photograph the overall fair set up, I have included here a photo of my own booth where I sold handwoven scarves, purses and handbound books.  Also a few photos of new work that I created just for this show.

 

MemphisWeaver's booth at the 2011 Craft Fair of Memphis Craft Artists

Handwoven bamboo, cotton and fun fur scarf woven in spaced twill

Detail, handwoven, bamboo, cotton and ribbon scarf woven in spaced twill

Back cover, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover - The Carpenters

Dr. Zhivago, handbound book made from recyced LP vinyl record and album cover

The Way We Were, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover

Love Story, handbound book made from recycled LP vinyl record and album cover

And a poster of the next show and sale where I will be selling my work:

A Tisket, A Tacket…

Handbound book with tacket binding and fabric cover

A red and black book jacket. My apologies to Ella Fitzgerald.  That’s not how the song goes of course. Tacket refers to a hand sewing method of binding a book. Basically, it resembles a running stitch that is wrapped.  Studio CaiLun has a very clear tutorial using this form of hand sewn binding. The wrapped effect of the binding gives the spine a bit of a jazzed look.

Above is my finished book with tacket binding.  The cover of this book and the Ninja book below is made from cotton fabric purchased from KimonoMomo. The fabric is backed with nylon tricot and then glued onto the book boards.

 

Handbound "Ninja" book with tacket binding

Not sure if I will use a tacket binding for the books that I sell. It is rather labor intensive, as the wrapping takes a bit of time. The end result looks quite pretty, so I may reserve this technique for gift items or special orders.

And while I’m on the subject of bookbinding, here is my attempt at the “Rope” stitching described by Keith Smith in “1, 2, & 3 Section Sewings:  Non-Adhesive Binding Volume III”.

Record book with rope binding

The rope binding is another decorative wrapping technique and done with two needles, one at each end of  a single length of thread. It also lends an attractive appearance to the spine. The record book is part of a collection of  old 45s and 33 1/3 rpm records that I handcut and bind to create a blank journal or sketchbook. None of the records are playable and so they are recycled into another life.

After sewing with the rope binding, I realized that there are many other techniques that can be used in hand sewing a binding. Some that come to mind are used in finishing the ends of a weaving project:  twining, twisting, braiding and plaiting to name a few. I’m sure that tapestry techniques such as soumak can also be incorporated into a bookbinding technique. I really like the idea of  sharing forms from various media, and so my experiments continue.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Blank Pages

Memphis is ranked 58th out of 71 most literate cities in a 2008 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University.  This is based on the community’s number of bookstores,  the number of libraries and the rate of circulation, residents’  book purchases through online sites, number and circulation of local newspapers and magazines, and percentage of citizens with a bachelor’s level education. In this case, 58 is not a number that Memphians should be proud of.  Perhaps not reading literate, we are however literate in the arts, music, theater, fine craft and fine food. Memphis thrives in all of these areas. If anyone ever picks up a newspaper around here, they’ll see pages and pages of music venues, theatre and ballet performances, fine restaurants representing a global diversity and of course, my personal favorite —  galleries, shops and fairs representing the growing number of  fine craft artists in the Memphis area.

This weekend, March 26 to 28, Memphis Association of Craft Artists in conjunction with Christian Brothers University will be having their second annual “Celebration of Fine Craft”.  Over 35 area artists will be showing and selling their work in a variety of media including  clay, wood, glass, metal, jewelry, paper and fiber.

MACA - A Celebration of Fine Craft

If you are in Memphis, please plan on joining us for our opening reception Friday evening (March 26) from 5:00 to 9:00 in the Canale Arena on the campus of Christian Brothers University.  Artists will be selling their work at the reception and then again on Saturday, March 27 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday, March 28 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

And if you are visiting my booth, I will be selling books!  Yes, hand bound books whose covers and pages are hand cut and then covered with hand printed batik fabric from Indonesia.  Though Memphians may not be writing in these books according to our less than illustrious #58 ranking among literate cities, they may sketch, draw, or paint in them. Use the pages to glue theater ticket stubs, attach photos of local bands, stick wine labels on them, copy recipes, jot down those elusive and growing computer passwords.  Just to list a few ideas…because my books are empty! So, as the title says, “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Blank Pages”.  Same goes for Memphis.

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding" , hand printed Indonesian batik fabric cover.

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Inside cover with decorative batik fabric and handmade Thai mango paper lining

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Handbound book bound in "Belgian Secret Binding", handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover

Inside cover with decorative batik fabric and mulberry paper lining

All of the above books are bound in a technique known as “Belgian Secret Binding” which is widely attributed to one my instructors, book conservator Hedi Kyle. Apparently this binding is a traditional and historic bookbinding technique which had been lost for many years, and in her research, Hedi was able to recreate it and share it with her students. It is one of my favorite binding techniques because the process is similar to weaving.

The book pictured below is bound in an ancient technique known as “Japanese Stab binding”.  This book is covered in dupioni silk with a decorative handprinted Indonesian batik fabric layered on top.  The coins are from Thailand.

Handbound book bound in "Japanese Stab Binding", dupioni silk and handprinted Indonesian batik fabric cover, coins from Thailand

Don’t be disappointed just because the pages are empty!

Happiness is a Warm Dremel

My new best friend is my Dremel stylus.  At the Art and Soul Retreat in Hampton, VA, I learned how to use it and that it’s more than “just a drill”. I took two book arts workshops with Daniel Essig who uses the Dremel to drill holes in mica which we used to create our books. I was skeptical at first about getting my own Dremel, but my potter friend Gail assured me that I will find more uses for it than I can imagine.  And I’m sure that’s true. So  at the end of my trip, when I picked up my checked luggage in Memphis, I was quite relieved that my Dremel was still there and my bag was tagged with this lovely red sticker from TSA.

TSA sticker labeled CLEARED!

TSA sticker labeled CLEARED!

One can only imagine what TSA officials were thinking when they saw this going through security:

A Warm Dremel

A Warm Dremel

Now, about the workshops.  The two day workshop was “Book of Mica” where we learned of the properties of mica, both in its natural state and as a composite.  Mica is a naturally ocurring mineral also known as bookstone.  In our class, each student  created  a book with at least 5 pages of mica and a front and back cover.  Many of us inserted a collage or pictures between two pieces of mica to give the imagery a “haunted” or ghost like effect.  Here is Daniel’s mica book which he showed as an example:

Mica book by Daniel Essig

Mica book by Daniel Essig

Inside pages of mica book by Daniel Essig

Inside pages of mica book by Daniel Essig

Daniel was a very generous and patient teacher with all of us.  Anyone interested in book arts and wanting to explore the properties of mica would greatly benefit from a workshop with him. He is also a talented woodworker and sculptor.

Books and Hand Carved Tools by Daniel Essig

Books and Hand Carved Tools by Daniel Essig

In my own mica book, I cut out a window in one of the pages, then drilled holes at the top and bottom of the window to anchor down my warp of black perle cotton.  I then used the warp to weave a weft of  paper strips cut from a picture which I covered with a small piece of natural mica.

Paper woven image in my mica book

Paper woven image in my mica book

Paper woven page in my mica book - opposite side

Paper woven page in my mica book - opposite side

Daniel also showed us the steps for sewing a decorative centipede stitch, which he calls  a caterpillar stitch.

Book with Caterpillar stitch by Daniel Essig

Book with Caterpillar stitch by Daniel Essig

The evening workshop addressed the herringbone stitch bound on a book with paper signatures and mica covers.  We had the opportunity again to insert images between two thin sheets of mica for both  front and back covers.

My book with mica covers and herringbone binding on tyvek tapes

My book with mica covers and herringbone binding on tyvek tapes

The mica book that we constructed during the two day workshop had a different binding. We used four needles to create a coptic stitch.

Covers and binding of my mica book

Covers and binding of my mica book

Being a handweaver, I found that I really enjoy the stitching and binding process of  creating a handmade book.  I purchased some books by Keith Smith to inspire me to be more adventurous with my bookbinding stitches. And it will give me a reason to use my beauty of a Dremel stylus.