Thursday, December 31, 2015

These Small Steps (with a Nod to a Bone Folder)

As I was in production making a little keepsake for my upcoming talk at the College Book Art Conference, I noticed that when I creased one white cover, my bone folder left a mark. I hadn't really noticed before: my bone folder was dirty. Bone folder hygiene has never been my thing. I'm busy. But I washed it with warm water and soap. I admired it.

I took out the rest of my bone folders. I used to teach in my studio so I have lots. (Now it's like having several pair of reading glasses around the house or multiple pacifiers for a baby: always one in reach.) Most of them were grungy. Glue. Paint. Pencil marks.

 I gave them a scrub. They look good!

Gave them an overall touch up and sharpening with an emery board to finish.

 As I was washing the bone folders, I noticed the sink needed cleaning as well, so I washed that, too. One act of noticing led to a change, which led to another change. Maybe these small acts of noticing are steps to something even bigger. Who knows?

A little thing, really. But it's nice to start fresh somehow, some way, sometimes. In honor of the new year, perhaps.

Wishing you meaningful acts (both great and small), and a calm and creative 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

If We're Still Talking about It…

Oh, how critics love to proclaim the death of something! What is that morbid fascination with dying that we must apply it to inanimate objects, places, activities? I am both irritated and weary at the articles heralding the death of books, the not-death of books, and on and on.

In addition to the book, we've heard this about:
The death of painting
The death of classical music
The death of the novel
The death of the short story
The death of letterpress

Since we find so many lists as we face the death of 2015, here is one more.

Online searches turn up:
The death of God
The death of money
The death of the west
The death of the party
The death of pop
The death of conversation 
The death of comedy
The death of golf
The death of sprawl
The death of expertise
The death of satire
The death of the peanut

I say if we are still talking about it, it isn't dead. Long live civilization!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Single Flag Postcard Book

We took a little trip to San Francisco last Sunday to catch the end of the special Jewel City: Panama-Pacific exhibit at the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park as well as a powerful exhibit of Robert Motherwell's Elegies and an exhibit of feathered capes, leis, standards, and hats in the Royal Hawaiian featherwork exhibit.

While the special exhibition was a mighty fine collection of paintings from the late 1800s, it was the featherwork exhibit that inspired me to make a book. Well, it was a colleague I was thinking about as well. She will be teaching a class next semester at the San Francisco Art Institute called "Things with Feathers," so I thought I would pick up some postcards for her in the gift shop. I noticed the cashier's familiar purple lanyard and asked if the museum workers were members of SEIU Local 1021. She then spoke passionate paragraphs, and it turns out that she is one of the shop stewards. Who knew that buying postcards on a whim for a colleague would lead me to a connection and a story?

Which inspired the book.

I decided to use the bag as the cover material over book board. Miscalculated a tiny bit as I would have liked the words a bit more centered. Aim for perfection. Accept reality. Bags and wrapping paper are often difficult to glue: glue lightly and evenly and use a big brush. Then smooth it quickly with a bone folder over a piece of waxed paper.

Postcards make nice pages for a single-flag accordion book. In this case, I had five postcards, so I needed to make a 16-panel accordion and cut it down to 14 panels. The shorter red accordion gives the book a little breathing room and allows a nice flow. But it would have been just fine if the accordion had been the same height as the postcards. (Red paper and yellow endpapers are Canson Mi-Teintes.)

Accordion paper is 8" long for 1/2" panels. The postcards were 4 1/4" x 6". I cut boards to be snug so that the book would stand up relatively well: 4 3/8" x 6 1/8". The endpapers were cut to the same size as the postcards.

The order of gluing is: cover, accordion flaps, endpapers.  The accordion always starts with a valley fold. The first panel is glued to the board, aligned with the edge. 

Although you always glue the postcards to the left side of the mountain folds, gluing to the first mountain fold here would make the book's opening very tight. I chose to begin by gluing the first postcard to the second mountain fold. This extra pleat also functions as a spacer to accommodate the bulk of an origami pocket envelope with the single-signature booklet. (Origami pocket is glassine, glued around the edges to the endpaper with Aleene's Tacky Glue, which did not show through. I also tacked down the triangular flap.)

When the princess in this first postcard was having her portrait painted, she held a feather standard and wore a feather lei, but noticed her brother had a feather cape. Never mind that the capes were for boys! She must have insisted on it, because she's wearing it.

I intended just to send my friend some postcards. And I have, still in their bag. Thanks, Carol!

Instructions for folding a 16-panel accordion are in:
Unique Handmade Books (p. 140)
Expressive Handmade Books (p. 70)
Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms (p. 74, step 1 in "Pocket Frame Book")
Or glue two 8-panel accordions together.

Instructions for the single-flag book are in:
Unique Handmade Books (pp. 52-54 "Pocket Frame Book")
Expressive Handmade Books (pp. 57-60)
Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms (pp. 73-74 "Pocket Frame Book")

Each cover is wrapped separately and instructions for wrapping separate covers are in:
Creating Handmade Books (pp. 112-113)
Unique Handmade Books (p. 148)
Expressive Handmade Books (pp. 126-127)
Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms (p. 209)

Instructions for origami pocket envelope are also in:
Expressive Handmade Books (pp.106-107)
Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms (pp. 186-187)
and in this post

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bedside Reading

Periodically, I post a list of what I'm reading. Sometimes the books are piled up by the bed and I have to sort through them to see what's actually there. I generally graze from book to book. The semester is over, I'm putting together my talk for the College Book Art Association in Nashville in January, and we've had our last bargaining session for the union this year. In short, I have time to write and take stock and wish you all the best. 

So, here is what I found. And, as usual, it is highly subjective! (If you've read any issues of my magazine *82 Review, you will also know what I like.)

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories by Yasunari Kawabata (1969). It was on top, but I returned it to the library today because I found I had stopped returning to it to read. In the intro, one of the translators admits to having read the stories years earlier but not "getting it." Only years later did the person become quite enamoured of these early flash fictions. Having read them once before and not "gotten them," I really wanted to appreciate them this time around. While the ones that were clearly dreams appealed to me, I wasn't quite getting the charge I had hoped for.

The Necklace and Other Stories: Maupassant for Modern Times by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Sandra Smith (2015). A protege of Flaubert and an influence on James Joyce, Maupassant tells brilliant, entertaining and ironic tales about men and women and class in the late 19th century. He wrote over 300 stories, the translator chose 28 short stories and 2 novellas for this collection.

Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North by Madame Ida Pfeiffer, one of the first female explorers, translated from the German, (1852). Similar era as Maupassant, this strange book in a series of illustrated works of A Woman's Journey round the World, is mostly descriptions of the landscape. However, it does periodically reveal what it was like to travel as a woman alone in the 19th century. One interesting section describes how the Icelanders expected foreigners to either donate money or give parties, neither of which she was able to do. The writing somewhat plods along, but the content is new. The link above is to a 2.99 Kindle edition! Link to the $20 book: Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North (Illustrated Edition).

Report from Planet Midnight by Nalo Hopkinson (2012). Ms. Hopkinson is most known in the sci-fi/fantasy world, which she loves, but also realizes is "dominated by white, middle-class people" (28). This slim book is a collection of two short stories, a tremendous, powerful, mind-stretching essay on race, and an interview. Really should be read right here, right now.

Horror Vacuui by Alastair Johnston (1986, Jungle Garden Press). Alastair's musical ear carries the plays on words, overheard phrases, and hilarious juxtapositions. Yet it is serious in its own way. I continue publishing his fine and fun work in *82 Review. "flipflops flap / impenetrable mud / traffic tangle / in the jungle." You can buy it from him at Poltroon Press. It's a lovely letterpress printed book, painted softcover, hand sewn, for $50.

Subtly Worded by Teffi, translated from Russian [works from 1910-1952] (2014). "In the years before the Revolution, Teffi was a literary star." So begins the introduction to this collection of lively short stories. Teffi writes with humor and wit and insight into human relationships and observations about daily life. This book delights me. I'm reading it for the second time.

California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present edited by Dana Gioia, Chryss Yost, and Jack Hicks (2004). A fascinating collection that gives the editors' overview of poetry and poets hailing from or residing in California. They concede it is purely subjective what they picked, and why not? They created a book that they themselves wanted to read. Some gems, some warhorses, some new to me. Overall a worthwhile education, particularly the biographies and interconnections between the works and the poets.

A Field Guide to California Lichens by Stephen Sharnoff (2014). I photograph and draw lichens. This thoroughly comprehensive field guide is packed with info and beautiful photos. The names of the lichens are poetic and will likely inspire some writing: powdered honeycomb; cinnebar button; pebbled pixie-cup; pale-footed horsehair; warty camouflage; blushing rock tripe; peppered moon; fringed rosette…

The Life of Images: Selected Prose by Charles Simic (2015). A collection of essays, mostly. I love the fresh images and cominations of memoir and observation and humor that Simic brings to his poems and expected the essays to be just as exhilarating. As I began reading the first essay I relaxed. It was like sinking into a warm bath. The qualities of his poetry that I love are present here as well in an easily readable, intellectually challenging, emotionally engaging form.

Just trying to wind down. Hope there is something here that you and yours will enjoy as well!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star 82 Review Winter 3.4 Is Now Available

The twelfth issue of Star 82 Review, the art and literary magazine I design, edit, and produce is available online and in print. Issue 3.4 is 60 pages and contains humanity, humility and humor through movement and relocation. Daily we relocate. Comfort falls away as we move from bed to feet, room to room, house to street. Our moving is ordinary at times, dramatic at others. Blink and refocus, get your bearings each moment as the scene and circumstances change. Outside, lined up, trees and bodies are dwellings, too.

To our art pages we welcome the work of Tsang Kin-wah, who represented Hong Kong in the Venice Biennale this year, Imin Yeh's slyly humorous collages,  and Marianne Kolb, painter of mysterious figures. These are only a few of the many gems among plastic rings, the game of Battleship, bottled water, brooms, and birds set into inspiring and moving writing and art.

Support the magazine and order a print copy:
(also available on Amazon)

Four-issue subscription (yearly or your choice of 4 issues) available here.

Shawn Aveningo
Z.Z. Boone
Virginia Boudreau
Roger Camp
Chua Yini
Keith Dunlap
Landon Godfrey
Howie Good
James Hartman
Kyle Hemmings
Dylan Henderson
Rachel Holbrook
Jenne Knight
Marianne Kolb
Rebecca Lee
Carolyn Martin
Noemi Martinez
Rupprecht Mayer
Jay Merill
Gina Mulligan
Toti O'Brien
Deonte Osayande
Ana Prundaru
Luke Schamer
Marsha Schuh
Tsang Kin-wah
Bill Vernon
Christopher Woods
Imin Yeh
Robert Zurer

Submissions are rolling! General Guidelines:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Coupons for books and prints at Nevermindtheart

As a thank you for following, here are two coupons to choose from: either for free shipping from my Etsy store nevermindtheart for U.S. purchases (5.95) or for 10% off your total purchase there, no minimum.

In the store you will find multicolored nature prints such as the iris featured in this post, painted and letterpress printed books, several of the collage boxes that were featured in this post, and more. 

The code is good through 31 December 2015. Just type in JOY2015 for free shipping or SOLSTICE2015 for 10% off, and the special discount is yours. Thanks again!

Addendum 12/16/15: Make sure you find the box that says coupon code and type it in before you click payment. 
  1. Add something to your cart.
  2.  Look on the right hand side of the screen. There should be a blue phrase on the right: "apply coupon code."
  3.  Click that phrase.
  4. A box will appear. 
  5. Type in the code. 
  6. Then proceed to click on your form of payment.
It's a little confusing, but that's how they are doing it. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pop-Up Present: Angle Fold Cube

Robert Sabuda notably changed how many people looked at pop-up books with his design for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. How does one piece of paper turn into an object that moves? He set a paper tornado in motion, created an Emerald City, and made the balloon rise at the end. Pop-ups are magical. But they take time and patience to make. Carol Barton and Dorothy Yule are full-on advanced bookmakers who employ the magic of pop-ups. I'm still on the very beginner level, but I do like to brave learning a new form now and then. Looking through the incredible book Elements of Pop Up, (by David Carter and James Diaz) which has excellent physical examples to examine, but does not have step-by-step instructions, I thought this cube looked like a little gift. For you. Some instructions. And a template you can download here.

Materials: 2 pieces of card stock, 8 1/2" x 11" (grained long): one for the support paper, one for the cube and tube post. You can access a template here. Or create your own in Illustrator: this cube is 2" square with 1/2" tabs on the cube and 1/4" tabs on the tube post.

Tools: scissors or X-Acto knife and cutting mat; bone folder (optional but useful); PVA  glue and tiny brush or piece of board to use for applying glue

1. Cut out the cube and the tube post armature (a). Fold all pieces on the lines indicated.


2. Fold the tube post in half lengthwise, to make it longer and narrower. Glue it to itself to make it double thick. Fold up the tabs at the ends, both valley folds.


3. Glue tube post (a) to underside of the box top here (A), parallel to the tabbed wall, tabs facing away from it.

4. Glue top tab (b) down to inner wall (B).

5. Glue tab (c) around to other end of box (C) to complete the cube.

6. Fold the support paper in half. Center the box on the support paper, lining up the valley fold of the top with the valley fold in the support paper. It will be at a 45 degree angle.

7. Apply glue to the other end of the tube post (a) and to the box tab adjacent to it. Press them into place on the support paper. You can press down on the box top to adjust the tube post.

8. Apply glue to the remaining box tab. Close the support paper. Hold down until completely dry. Note: Although many of the photos here are from different angles, the tabs are glued at the bottom of the page, the open side of the top is at the top.  
Shown in this photo: bottom is right.

A continuous image was used here: 
a strip cropped from one photo, 
and a separate square cropped from another.


A repeating image for the sides, a second image for the top.


Cropped from a photo of some painted paper I made for this post. I added "ribbons" in Illustrator. Later sewed a bow of linen thread onto the top. A thin ribbon might work, too.

 It's a simple pop-up, but still, like everything else, it takes practice.
 Happy December!