Well, on Friday there was a one-day bookbinding course. The original course description was that we'd make a "book with a difference", using traditional binding methods, to create a book with envelopes and interesting pages, with leather cover. However, when we all arrived, it was obvious we wouldn't achieve this. The College had over-booked the course - 13 people instead of the usual maximum of 8. The tutor handled it well, but there just wasn't time for her to help everyone do such a complicated book, so we ended up making a "normal" hand-bound book, with a traditional Case binding, with paper-covered boards and a book-cloth spine. It was very good and I did learn quite a few new things, but I was disappointed, as I'd hoped to cover several things that I'd never done before and there just wasn't time. Still, I have an almost-finished book, that I brought home to complete. I decided not to rush it on Friday afternoon, as I might mess it up.
Here it is just now - it needs a little trimming of the end papers, the case needs to be lined with plain paper (to make it smooth before I attach the book block), then I need to glue the book block into the case and let it dry thoroughly .
This is the finished Book Block - ie. the pages have been cut/torn, folded and stitched together. The end-papers (green paper) have been applied and the spine has been strengthened with Mull (a stiffened muslin fabric) and kraft paper. If you look at either end of the spine, you will see the headbands of coloured thread. These came ready-stitched on tapes, which can be cut to the correct length. I would like to learn to sew my own, but on a one-day course, time would not allow for such a luxury! Besides, these ones are very nice.
This is the Case for the book. It's actually upside down, but that doesn't matter really. If you look at the blue cloth spine, you will see that it curves. This is because there is no stiffening board inside it. The spine will be fairly soft (though it is quite strong and the book block was strengthened). I need to line the inside of this, with paper that will make it smooth. Then, when the endpapers are glued in, to attach the book block, there will be no ugly lumps and bumps.
Here is an idea of how the book will look when finished. You'll see that it's not straight and the end papers need to be trimmed, as they stick out just now. The pages are hand-torn, so the edges should be uneven (it's called a "deckle"). I hope to finish this tomorrow afternoon.
So, that was Friday, up to 4:30pm. It may not look like much, but there are a lot of steps in making a book of this kind. I learned the correct way to do this - an improvement on my previous method, which was not so sturdy or lasting and had meant I did not manage to put so many pages in my books. I had also had a lot of problems with making some of the cases fit. I hope I will be able to solve those problems now! I did actually take a "disaster" with me, to ask the tutor for advice (her name was Janine Pope). She was very kind and explained where I had gone wrong and what to do about it. I definitely feel that it was time well spent and I had great fun.
Saturday and Sunday
This is my plate. It started as something totally different, but turned itself into a sort of seascape. That seems to be how things go for me - a germ of an idea develops all on its own, into something I didn't plan! (it's not always like that - I can spend ages making sketches or diagrams, but it does happen if I start work with only mental images and nothing on paper - an adventure really!)
A detail of the bottom area, showing the various fibres, card and paper I used to build up the plate. There are areas of cut card, which are "Drypoint Board" - it has a shiny coating that allows the ink to be wiped off (or mostly wiped off), giving lighter areas. I also cut and chiselled areas out of the mount board support, to give added texture.
There is tissue paper here, also a bit of net bag, which a sponge or something was packed in. The dark grey, shiny stuff is carborundum. This is a gritty material, which will hold ink and give a dense area on the print.
The whole plate was coated in a thin layer of pva, then left to dry thoroughly (which can take a while, as the pva used to stick the textured parts on can take a long time to dry). Once it was all dry, the plate was coated again, this time with shellac (a yellow varnish). This would prevent the ink from sinking into the plate and allow ink to be applied, worked with and wiped off etc.
Here are two of the prints I made with the collograph plate. The colour palette for the top print was much darker than the one below. I had paynes grey and dark blue, also more umber and sienna. It produced a much darker print first. The print shown here was taken by making a second printing from the plate, without applying any more ink. I like it (though I have stupidly got a splodge of dark ink on the "sun" and have spoilt it!). The bottom print is also a second printing, but this time using a much brighter palette. This is my favourite of the prints made with the collograph plate.
Here is the plate, after it has been inked and printed. I think it makes a good piece of art in itself!
In fact, there was a lady on the course, named Mary, who was a regular student there. She makes lovely, dainty little plates, which are truly beautiful. Janine always encourages her to pull a few prints from her plates, but very often, it is the plates themselves that she wants to keep - she prefers them to the print! She even had one of her plates in an exhibition. It was a metal plate, which looked very like a fish jumping out of the river. She had called it "The Evening Rise" because of its resemblance to a jumping fish. It was lovely - she didn't have any prints of this to show, just the plate itself. If you hadn't known it was a printing plate, you would have perhaps thought it was a collage painting.
While the collograph was drying, I tried a bit of experimenting with metal plates, of the kind Mary and some other people were using. Janine gets thin metal lithographic printing plates from a local printer, who would otherwise throw them away after use. The metal is thin enough to bend, score and cut, but stiff enough to make into certain sorts of printing plates. Mary, Stella and Marlene, who were all returning students, were working on these plates, applying carborundum and other items, for texture and depth and making various marks in the plates as well. Marlene produced some wonderful pieces in this way, especially one of a standing figure and a series of fabulous images she had made, using a photo of a Venician building. Stella had brought some photographs of organic objects, stones etc, that she had taken at the beach in Ireland. She made some plates using these as inspiration. Her plates were more layered, with card or board built up for texture and some carborundum in pva applied with a brush, or sprinkled over areas of the plate. The prints she made were more abstract than Marlene's but just as interesting and lovely.
Stella didn't mind me taking a photo of her inking-up table. The plate she was inking up is to the left of the inks, next to the roller. You can see that she has a very natural, organic selection of colours on her palette.
Marlene was using browns, greys and rust, then tried yellows and greens too. She also produced some prints using hot oranges and reds, which were very effective. Mary, on the other hand, preferred a cool palette of turquoises, soft blues, mauve etc. Her prints and plates were glowing with jewel-like colour. It is so interesting how everyone produced such different work, using the same materials.