Book-a-Day: Day 2

The book for Day 2 in Dan Essig's Book-a-Day class (see my earlier post for more about the class) was a small papyrus book with a coptic binding. To make each cover we adhered a sheet of papyrus to cardboard, then folded it in half. (You can use heavyweight card-stock or light-weight board instead of the cardboard.)

We treated the covers as signatures, sewing through the fold in each cover. At the end, we glued the sides of each cover together. For a papyrus book I made in another of Dan's classes, we laminated 8 sheets of papyrus together, omitting the cardboard altogther, then folded the laminated sheets in half.

Leaving each cover open until the end has several advantages. You can pierce the outer side of each cover to sew in a button or bead (front cover) and tie in a thread or cord (back cover) to wrap around your button for a closure. If you have sufficient thread after you tie off your binding, you can also bring the thread through the back cover and use it as the tie for your closure. And you can cut a window in your front cover and put an image behind it, sandwiched between the two parts of the cover.

Are you thoroughly confused yet?

I used a piece of mica on the cover over the image, running PVA along the inside edges to secure it. It makes the book a bit more delicate, since the mica is raised above the cover, but I like the look.

I learned a couple of interesting things about papyrus during the class: first, papyrus is not paper; it's wood -- essentially, very thin plywood; second, it has no grain. By nature, it wrinkles and buckles when it encounters moisture (such as PVA), which to me is part of its charm.

The book is small -- a little more than 3 inches high and about 2 1/2 inches wide.

Peeking through the window is a tiny scrap from a map of Rome.

Dan cutting a window in the book's cover.


Book-a-Day: Day 1

What could be better if you love book arts than a week spent making books? Well, perhaps a week spent making books with a terrific book artist and great teacher. I'm fortunate to live in book artist Dan Essig's home town and just as lucky to have access to BookWorks, a wonderful book arts center, where Dan taught a "Book-a-Day" workshop this past week. About half of the students came from out-of-town, and most of those from outside the state, fairly typical for Dan's workshops.

Dan is best known for his books in wood and for his sculptural works (see The Penland Book of Handmade Books -- that's Dan's book on the cover), but this class covered books made with paper, papyrus, leather and mica, employing various bindings.

Here are some pix from Day 1. The book's cover houses two text blocks. It's not a dos-a-dos (a book that contains two text blocks, each text block having its own cover and the two books sharing a back cover); instead, the two books face in the same direction, and fold over each other. Each text block is attached to the spine with a long-stitch binding. We used paper made by papermaker Anne Marie Kennedy. It's wonderful, strong paper that behaves very much like leather, which makes it perfect for this fold-around cover.

Dan has tools, such as awls, available for sale. Some he's made, others are made by book artists and master toolmakers such as Jim Croft.

Above and below: two "bonus" long-stitch books from Dan's collection.


Ice Storm

We had an ice storm a week ago. It's hard to believe that something so beautiful can be so dangerous. We have a lot of trees on our property, and at first blush, seeing them covered with ice is magical. But the weight of the ice on the trees can do a great deal of damage. Smaller trees can bend and break; branches of larger trees can split off; and larger, rotting trees can come crashing down.

One of our trees did, in fact, come down. Luckily, it came down over our driveway and not our house. One of our neighbors, who is a builder, came by with his crew (and a power saw) and cleared the driveway and cut the tree into firewood for us. We're fortunate to have such good neighbors.

The second, equally magical phase of an ice storm takes place when the sun comes out. The sun made the ice glisten on the trees. The sound was a little frightening, as chunks of ice slipped from the trees and fell to the ground and onto our deck. Two days after the storm, we had temperatures in the low 70s. Go figure.

The weight of the ice can bend small trees and branches precariously

The ice built up to a diameter of a half-inch. An amazing sight.

The tree that crashed down over our driveway.

The sun starts coming out. Pretty magical, isn't it?