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!).
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!