Sunday, 30 January 2011

Turning Turtle

I just thought I'd make a short post about Turtles...or quite specifically, A Turtle. 

I have made many friends through my blog. They are all lovely people and come from all over the world.  From time to time something or other happens that brings one or other of my blog friends to mind; I like to think of my friends - it makes me happy.

This week, I just keep bumping into Turtles.  No reason why, they just pop up all over. For instance, we were in Milton Keynes yesterday and I kept seeing Turtles.. on bags, in shop windows, on stalls and in shops. I nearly bought a teeny toy turtle, with a pull-back motor, that would whizz along the floor... but no, I restrained myself.  These turtles are everywhere.

They even pop up on my blog... or DebTurtle does, quite often!  


If you don't know Deb of Paper Turtle, I suggest you go and visit - she's a star!

So, in honour of Deb and turtles everywhere:

This is a Treasury List from Etsy. It's just some of the wonderful Turtles that can be found there! Etsy is another of my favourite places!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sherlock's Latest Little Game...

You will know we have a cat, called Sherlock.  We love Sherlock very much. No cat could be more cared about, or better cared for.  He hasn't been well, this past year, and has cost us a considerable amount in vet bills; but we don't mind - because he's a Member of the Family and we love him.


He used to spend large parts of the day snoozing in my studio
Remember the Guest Chair, just for Sherlock?

That's when he wasn't snoozing in the sunshine of course
Sherlock's favourite seat in the garden - weather permitting.


Then there was his game with the shower tray...
drinking from the shower tray... beware of paw-prints on the bathroom floor!

Now these pale into insignificance... fade into the distant past... Sherlock has a New Game.

Recently, probably because he's getting on a bit and it's been cold, Sherlock has preferred to stay in the house.  Which is fine.  He doesn't like it if we all go out and he is left alone, so we're treated to a big fuss when we come home (except for me - I'm either ignored, or asked for food, that's all; but then I am only Human No.3 and a Lesser Type of Human, being Female - he's a Man's Cat).

As I was never his favourite person (I don't mind, he's cute anyway), he either sat on the Guest Chair, or he sat elsewhere in the house, depending on his mood.  Which was fine with me.  I would feed him at breakfast and lunch times, let him go out when I was downstairs and make sure he could come in again if it was cold, offer a bit of fuss if appropriate, talk to him - you know, the usual way you treat a cat.

Now though... Hmmm.. He is driving me NUTS!  In fact, he's driving us all nuts, but I'm here more often, so I'm getting most of this. 

Allow me to explain...

Downstairs, Sherlock has a bed on the top of the sofa-back, where he snoozes when Humans are about. 
He also has a bed on the dining room sofa, where he snoozes at night, or occasionally in the daytime.  Usually he stays on the sofa and snoozes when I - or DH / DS - go upstairs; or else he follows and finds a place to snooze near to the Human of his Choice. 

With me so far?  Good.

But lately... Sherlock follows us upstairs, then wanders up and down the hallway, miaowing.  He paces around and miaows - "Miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow...." - you get the idea.  So we say, "What's up Sherlock? Come in here with us."  

"   " (silence from cat)

"Come on Sherlock, there's a good boy."

"  "

So, we leave him alone.  He sits down and washes his face/paws...
He thinks no-one is watching...

He had started to sit on a plastic carrier bag that DS had left in the hallway, with some old stuff in for the jumble sale.  For the record, Sherlock doesn't like carrier bags - their rustling scares him...
So, I replaced it with a cat bed, that he likes to sit on.
Except he doesn't any more - like to sit on this cat bed, that is. 

This was left at the other end of the hallway over the last couple of days. I've been busy and haven't picked it up.

Guess what?

Then he starts again... "Miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow...."
J. has a tall bed.  He is in bed reading, before putting out his light to sleep.  Sherlock sits by the ladder.
Then he paces around the hallway... "Miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow-miaow...." So I go out to speak to him.
He doesn't wish to speak with me... I should go away...
and let him sit here alone in solitude...
All alone, contemplating the stairs...
Life is Lonely When You're a Cat.

(Heartwrenching, isn't it?)

We're thinking of making him a sign -
"(almost) Homeless and (nearly) Starving. Donations Gratefully Received"

Life is Hard When You're a much-loved, spoiled and pampered Family Cat.

Monday, 24 January 2011

But Life Goes On…

This is my Auntie Kate.

She had leukemia and I’m sad to say that she finally lost her fight on Saturday 15th January and slipped quietly away to Heaven, to be with Bill (her husband), her mother and father, and her brother, Robert (my dad). 

This is her garden, which she loved (and so did I).

The funeral was on Friday 21st.  Her ashes are now buried here, at the little church on the hill, along with those of her husband; my grandma (her mother) and my father are also buried here. So it’s a special place for me to visit.

The views from up there are inspiring.  It will be a good place to go and remember.

I hardly need to say it, but I shall… I will miss her sorely.  She is with Bill and the rest of the family now and no longer suffering.  Still, it’s hard for us left behind, who loved her. 

Please think of my cousins when you say your prayers – her daughter, Trina and sons, Innes and Neil.  Their children Jasmine, Daniel, Alastair and James. 
Also her much-loved (and much loving) niece, Terry, who was only 14 years her junior and who was always very close to her.  She took on much of the burden of helping Auntie over the last few years, since my cousins all live so far away (Trina in Teneriffe, Neil in Australia).  
All of these will feel her loss very much.

As will I.

* * *

But, Life Goes On and the Sun still Shines...

On Saturday, it was my pleasant duty to take my elder niece, Keri-Anne, out for a morning of shopping in Northampton, where she lives.

We had a lovely morning, stopping at a cafe for an extra breakfast (Elle didn’t eat much breakfast and said “It’s lunch time?”) and spending time in several lovely little shops.
We arrived home at 12:30, to be met by Caroline, Keri-Anne’s sister; also lots of family and friends, who had all gathered while we were out, to set up a wonderful Baby Shower for Keri-Anne (and her husband!).

220111_Baby_Shower  220111_Baby_Shower2
There were presents…

220111_Baby_Shower3  220111_Baby_Shower6
and more presents…

and more presents!

220111_Baby_Shower4  220111_Baby_Shower5
There were friends and family…

There were amazing cup-cakes, made by friend Laura…

220111_Baby_Shower11  220111_Baby_Shower12
Oh, did I mention presents?

220111_Baby_Shower9  220111_Baby_Shower10
and more presents?

quite a little stash, in fact…

and things for Keri-Anne too…

and a pretty book, to record all the details (not made by me, but by a friend of Caroline’s).
It was a great success.  Caroline was the best party hostess, having secretly organised this party over the past few months (Facebook Messages are soo useful!).

Keri-Anne (and Gilles and Elle) had a lovely time – as did we all!

Well done Caroline and best wishes to the little Pink Family, for the forthcoming birth of your newest family member (due in March)!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Wedding Book Commission – Samples

I really enjoy the challenge presented by a Commission item. 
Customers will contact me and ask if I can make them a special item.  It’s nice, because they get some input into their item and I can work with them to help decide on the best format for the book, the paper choices, binding etc. I've been very lucky so far, as all customers have been very nice and co-operative; and they've been really pleased with the finished items (believe me, this isn't always the case for artists/craftsmen carrying out commission work!).

This current commission is a good example.  The customer is getting married this year and would like a wedding album.  However, it’s a bit different to the usual sort, as she would like to use it to store messages from the wedding guests, which will be written on some blue paper tags that she is making.
After some discussion, she’s leaning towards having plain pages, with envelopes that she will attach, to hold the tags. 

She wanted the book to have a theme of peacocks, with a colour scheme of blues, with maybe some golden or coppery colours.

She also thinks  she would like the pages to be of kraft paper or card, with ivory envelopes fixed to them; but this is still something she’s thinking about.

I have some lovely paper, printed with an old Chinese wallpaper design of flowers, birds and peacocks.  I suggested this and have put together some samples for the customer, to help her make up her mind.
The back of the book – I have covered it in plain kraft paper, with coloured eyelets, to show what’s possible.
The front cover of the “sample book”, ready to sew together.  The paper is my peacock design, with a navy silk bookcloth at the bound edge, together with some eyelets and some holes without, again to show what is possible.

The front cover is hinged, as the customer wanted a traditional “Japanese” style binding; this would make the book difficult to open, hence the hinged cover.

I want her to be able to see what this binding will be like – to see it and be able to play with it, so she is sure it’s what she wants.  That’s why I am binding the paper samples into a “Try-out” book.
I have put some page wrappers on some edges, using different papers, to show what can be done.
The shiny stuff is glassine paper – that crackly tissue that is often used in traditional photo albums.
This picture has normal gift-wrap tissue paper as a separator.  The customer may want to put photos in the book, on pages facing the envelopes, so I have included some options for the page separators (I wouldn’t really recommend “normal” tissue paper for a photo album. It is not normally of archival quality, which means the paper is slightly acidic and may attack the photos, spoiling them). If she wants tissue paper, I will need to source some large sheets of acid-free tissue, that has not been folded (see the crease up there!).
180111_5_Peacock_Wedding_Sample_Page  180111_6_Peacock_Wedding_Sample_Tibetan
Another couple of page wrapper options, and some cartridge paper for one page.  The bottom picture shows another page separator option – a fine tissue paper that I buy to make bookcloth. This isn’t like gift-wrap / packing tissue. It’s much stronger and a little thicker, but it is still translucent.  She may like this stuff better. We’ll see.
The customer thinks she’d like to have pages made of kraft paper or card.  This is a sample of some Bazzill Kraft Cardstock.  I think we may end up going for this in the end. 

I have, however, included lots of different papers, so she can see what is possible in an album of this kind.  They are all different types of paper (kraft paper, cartridge, printmaking paper, sketch paper, watercolour paper) and different weights too.
So, I have bound all these different samples into a book, which is about 7”x5”.  I used gold coloured linen thread, which I waxed, for strength and to make the stitching easier.
The book will be sent with a batch of other samples.  There are some mulberry papers, which could be used for the covers – lining or complete coverings and/or page wrapping if she wants this; some Murano and Canford art papers, also ideas for lining the covers, or perhaps page wrappers; the final swatch is pieces of silk, in various “peacock” shades of blue, so she can see what I have available, if she’d like silk on the bound edge, for a bit of contrast – like I have done above.

I hope she’ll be pleased to get all this.  It should help her to work out what she’d like – which can only be a good thing for us both!

Wish me luck, friends. This is a special project and I don’t want to mess it up!

And, if anyone knows a UK supplier of patterned Glassine paper, or a similar type of patterned interleaving paper, pleeeeeese let me know – I used to be able to get this easily, but now I've offered it to the customer as an option, I can’t find any!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Making Bookcloth for Bookbinding – heat-bonded method

Hello all,  I mentioned a little while ago, that I make my own bookcloth for bookbinding and that I use a fairly simple method that has recently been “discovered” by many in the Bookbinding Community.  It’s not my own idea, but one that was passed on by others, and as it’s common knowledge (so nobody’s “property”), I think it’s fine to pass it on again!

A few people have asked about this and I thought I would make a tutorial.  This is quite a long tutorial, as I wanted to cover everything, but the method is actually very straightforward.

I have used lots of photos, to make it as clear as I can. I hope you find it useful.

* * *

Background Information

Traditional Bookcloth is made using some kind of glue to stiffen and strengthen, or fix a fine paper to the back of, the book-covering fabric.  The reason for doing this is that fabric, fixed to the book boards by itself, would stretch unevenly, possibly fray and probably not look very good.  By coating it with a special glue, or backing it with paper, the fabric is stabilised – it won’t stretch or fray – and will stick smoothly to the supporting cover boards.

However, making bookcloth with old-fashioned “wet” glues is not very easy.  The glue can soak through the fabric, spoiling its appearance.  If you miss a bit, you can end up with bubbles on the surface of your book cover.  Traditional glues can be vulnerable to attack from insects, who like to munch on it (it’s made of wheat or rice starch)! It also needs a while to dry out before it can be used.  

Kristin Crane, a bookbinder from Rhode Island, with a lovely shop on Etsy, wrote a very clear, concise tutorial about making bookcloth using the wet glue method -  find it here. (in fact, I should perhaps take a leaf out of her book - I don't seem to be able to write "concise" blog posts about anything!).

The Traditional methods do still have a big place in Bookbinding and it would be very sad to lose these tried and tested methods of working, which (when done skilfully) produce high quality products that last for years and years.  However, for many projects, the old paste method of making bookcloth doesn’t have to be used.  So long as the materials used are of “archival” quality – ie. acid free / neutral ph, so that the glue, fabric and paper used doesn’t attack the book inside the cover – more modern adhesives can be used with great success.

This method uses a modern, dry adhesive, which comes in the form of a fine web of glue, which has been sprayed onto a parchment paper support.  It is commonly used in making clothes, quilting, applique and for repairs, as it gives even adhesion and strength.  It is also pretty much invisible from the front – a big advantage – and does not fray at the edges, which means it is helpful for fiddly little bits of fabric, or those that are soft and fray easily. 

You can use almost any close-weave fabric that you choose for your book-binding projects.  Suitable fibre types are linen, cotton, poly-cotton, rayon, polyester or silk.  Nylon and polyamides are not really suitable for this heat-bonded technique, though you should be able to use them as covering material for a book, if you attach a backing paper with glue (you could try a spray craft-adhesive for this).
It is worth trying out this method on a test-piece of your fabric, before committing to the whole piece, just to be sure it will work out.

Be aware, however, that there are a number of specialist bookbinding supply companies, who offer ready-made bookcloth, in a wide range of types and colours, at reasonable prices.  Many of these accept orders over the internet.  If you are not making the bookcloth for aesthetic reasons, it may be as cheap to purchase it ready-made.  You should be able to obtain samples of your possible choices, before committing to a larger purchase.

This material is known as “Wonder web, Bondaweb or Wonder Under”, depending on where you live (it has lots of other names in languages other than English, but I don’t know those!).

You can buy it in haberdashery, dressmaking, fabric or craft stores.  It’s usually sold by the metre or yard; the pieces I buy are 46cm / 18” wide.  It can easily be cut to size, with sharp scissors and can be stored rolled up with its paper backing still attached.  However, the lady in my local shop tells me it doesn’t store well for long periods, so only buy what you will need in the next couple of months.

I had asked what it would cost to buy a roll of the stuff.  Her response rather put me off that idea, as a full roll is pretty long and I wouldn’t use it up very quickly.

I was further put off by the cost – over £100 a roll! By the metre / yard, it’s more affordable – mine cost me £3.95 a metre, but it may well be cheaper elsewhere.

This does add extra cost to your projects – if you are making things to sell, do remember to add this into your calculations, as well as the cost of the actual fabric, remembering that most fabrics are wider than 46cm/ 18” (although you only need to make as much bookcloth as you need for your project, cutting fabric and Bondaweb to size).
I also save money on fabrics, by buying “Fat Quarters” at my local quiltmaking suppliers (a “Fat Quarter” is where a yard/metre of fabric is cut from the roll, then cut across and vertically, to make four quarter-yards/metres – as opposed to cutting straight across the whole width of the fabric at quarter-yard/metre intervals).  This gives me nice, almost square pieces of fabric at reasonable cost, which are more than enough for my projects.

Just a further note.  I was initially offered a slightly different product, as the Bondaweb was out of stock.  When I looked at it, I decided not to use it, as the “web” of adhesive was actually formed in a small grid pattern.  I thought this might well show through some of my fabrics, giving a raised pattern to the bookcloth.  The Bondaweb is very fine and this problem would not arise.  There may be similar products available, but I would suggest you check the density of the glue and make certain it is acid-free/ archival quality before you buy it.

* * *

Cut your Bondaweb and fabric to size, allowing enough for your project and including any hems/edges that you need to fold over your boards etc.

Lay it adhesive-side down / paper side up, over the back of your fabric, on a heat-proof, smooth surface. If you can’t use an ironing board, use a worktop or table, protected with a piece of heat-proof blanket or a few thick cotton tea-towels.

100111_Bookcloth_2  100111_Bookcloth_3
If your piece of Bondaweb isn’t big enough, you can add an extra strip.

Once the first piece is attached, run a finger nail under the edge of the backing paper, to lift it slightly,

then push the new piece just under this edge, so you won’t have any gaps.
Use an iron at the hottest setting for your fabric (remember that cotton and linen can take a much hotter iron than rayon, polyester or silk).
Press the iron onto the backing paper, which will fix the Bondaweb in place at this point; you can then iron over the rest of the paper, keeping the iron moving, so that you don’t burn the materials.

This photo shows the Bondaweb half-done.  The left-hand area is attached – you can see the back of the fabric quite clearly; the right side has not been ironed yet, so it’s still cloudy.  You’ll be able to see where the glue has been melted by the iron, so you can go over any cloudy bits again.

Let it cool down, then test the corner, to make sure the backing will peel off easily.

Detach the backing paper by peeling it away.  Normally it will peel off in one big sheet. Occasionally you’ll get a bit that rips away, but it should come off if you gently scratch it with your finger nail.  The backing paper is good as a non-stick surface for projects, or as “glueing paper”, so don’t throw it away.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the darker red edge of fabric, where there is no glue – the Bondaweb has left a thin, white coating of adhesive over the back of the fabric.

* * *

Backing the Bookcloth

You need to back your cloth with a firm, strong, but fine and lightweight paper.  Use paper that is finer and lighter than your fabric, or you will end up with a heavy and unusable bookcloth.

Please note that the kind of tissue papers used as gift-wrap, packaging etc is not suitable for bookcloth.  First and foremost, the majority of these papers are acidic and the acid in them will attack your fabric, causing discolouration.  Secondly, they have no strength and are likely to collapse once you start to work with the bookcloth.

I use a fine Thai mulberry tissue, like this one:
or this: – this is my favourite, and is the tissue shown in these photographs.

As you can see from the photo, the paper is very thin and almost transparent.  However, it is also quite strong and durable.

Cut the tissue to size and lay it on top of the glue layer on your fabric.  Try not to leave any glue uncovered, as it will stick to your iron.

If there is a bare patch, you could lay a small piece of the tissue paper over this.  Let it overlap very slightly, to avoid sticky problems and holes in your bookcloth backing.

Once again, use a hot iron, at the highest temperature possible for your fabric type, to activate the glue and adhere the backing tissue to the fabric.

The darker areas on the photo are where the glue has activated and bonded the paper. The cloudy parts are where it hasn’t been ironed over yet.

The paper will be stuck firmly to the fabric, forming a nice firm bookcloth. This can be cut with sharp scissors, folded and creased.  You can apply glue to the back – carefully and not too wet – to stick it to your book boards, though sometimes, especially with silks, I prefer to glue the boards, then carefully lay the bookcloth on top, to avoid the glue soaking through to the front.

There is a tiny overlap here, where I had to cut two pieces of paper to fit the fabric. This can be trimmed with very sharp scissors; however I generally find that it doesn’t show on the front, as the fabric is closely woven and the tissue paper very fine.

Finally, remember to clean your iron after use.  You may have adhesive on it, which will transfer to anything else you iron – potentially causing a lot of damage.  If you plan on making heat-bonded bookcloth, buy a good cleaner for your iron sole-plate.  Alternatively, buy a new iron and commandeer the old one for your craft room!

* * *

100111_Bookcloth_16  100111_Bookcloth_17
Finished bookcloth pieces.  All these were made by the bonded method described in this tutorial.  I have used many of these pieces very successfully in my bookbinding.

Fronts and backs of some silk bookcloth.  You can not see the adhesive on the front of the silk.  It also does not fray (as I found out when I tried to make my favourite frayed-edge quarter binding!).
Store your bookcloth flat, or loosely rolled.  Do not roll it tightly, squash it, or fold it, as you will spoil it.  As with paper, folded creases will not come out!

* * *

100111_Bookcloth_20  100111_Bookcloth_21
Red cotton bookcloth, used as a “quarter-binding”, with a contrasting paper on the cover-boards.

1210_Diaries 1210_Diary_Morris_5
Cotton and silk bookcloths, used to make bindings for some diaries this Christmas. The yellow cotton was woven with golden thread in one direction and red in the other, giving a lovely and interesting effect.  I frayed the edge to show this off.
* * *

I hope that this tutorial will be useful to someone.  I have enjoyed writing it – hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading it too!


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