Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Iron Craft 39

This week, we were challenged to create something that "holds" or "contains" something. I have to admit that I was a bit selfish this week. I had a meet with a potential client who wanted me to create a CD/DVD holder for her wedding. Since I had to make something to hold something else, I decided to create this prototype for our meeting and for my Iron Craft Challenge.

This is the final design that I presented to her. This will be one of three different prototypes that I will provide. Since I buy most of music online, the only CD that I had available was this American Idiot CD.

Overall, I am very please with the way that this project turned out. BTW, the CD is held in place with a "CD hub" that is adhesive backed that you can buy online--who knew these things were even available?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

P10K:Day 31

This week was a compromise between a busy work week and evening commitments but I still managed to make some interesting projects.

Etsy Listing (1 hr)
Photography (2 hrs)
Blogging (2 hrs)

Blogging (1 hr)
Wedding CD (1 hr)

Wedding CD (1 hr)

Ebay listing (2 hrs)

Blogging ( 1 hr)

Wedding CD ( 2hrs)
Paper Box ( 2 hrs)

Blogging (2 hrs)
Wedding CD (2 hrs)
Paper box (2 hrs)

Week Total: 21 hours
Cumulative Total: 114 hours

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Craft Advice

Granted, I am not a master crafter. Some people call me an artist but I use that term loosely as I don't necessarily consider myself as such. While I live in my own little self-contained world, I do believe in sharing tidbits of knowledge with those people who read my blog. Every now and then, I will offer tidbits of advice regarding how I create.

Today, I want to share a creating delayer that prevents people (at least, me) from creating in a continuous and fun matter. If you concentrate on the larger picture of having fun, you can enjoy the fun and bypass the drudgery of crafting/creating.

In other words, don't let the chores of creating get in the way of the creation. As an example, let me explain my OCD tendencies. I usually need to organize and clean my studio before engaging in a new project. Usually that means, putting supplies and instruments back in their place before moving on. What I have learned to do is to place these items in their general locations (where I can still find them and use them) rather than in their specifically designated homes.

While I could easily waste time and organize all of the items and place them where they SHOULD be, instead I put all of the items in their general locations (i.e., card stock with card stock, cutting utensils near my storage box, etc.). This way I can still find the items but I don't get bogged down in organizing when organizing isn't desperately necessary.

In the long run, this frees me up to create rather than postponing having fun with the nuisance of having everything perfectly placed at which point, I would mess them up again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Iron Craft 38 & Accordion Book (Part 3)

This week's challenge was based on the classic color combination of Black and White. While I do have to admit that this is one of my favorite color combinations, I decided to do some double duty with this challenge. I wanted to use this week's challenge as a prototype for a book that I have recently been commissioned to make. While I had figured out many of the logistical matters with Parts 1 and 2 of this series, the special challenge of this commission was an accordion book that had pockets. While not an outlandish request, it did take some special planning.

(left) the book tied on the fore edge (using one black and one white ribbon)

(right) the ribbons as they exit the spine of the book

I decided to use a white paper with a black flocked pattern from India. There is a beautiful tactile quality to the paper and the black pattern really is striking against the white paper. The difficulties with the paper are that it is thick and the flocking comes off when cut. I had to make sure that I cleaned all my work surfaces after each step of the bookbinding process--especially when gluing.

(left) Front of the book--six pages including two pockets

(right) Back of the book--four pages including two pockets

To illustrate to my client the capabilities of the book, I decided to continue the challenge and mount 4" by 6" black and white photos to show what the finished book could look like. For the pages with no pockets, each photo was mounted on black and silver card stock. For the pages with pockets, each photo was mounted on black card stock only.

(above) Page with pocket--photo with single mat

One of the aspects of photo albums that bothers me is what to do with a photo that has the wrong orientation. When this happens, you have to keep rotating the album according to the photo's orientation. By having a pocket in your photo album, you simply can place the photo in a pocket and pull out the photo to look at it (as illustrated above).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Accordion Books Part 2

(front cover)

As promised, here is the commissioned work that I told you about yesterday. The customer wanted an accordion book that had sixteen pages (fourteen usable sides) for 4" by 6" photographs. She provide me with a piece of vintage fabric that she wanted to me to use.

We met on three occasions so we could agree on size, pages, and images. I made an acetate viewfinder so we could pick the images that she wanted to feature on the front and back cover.

(back cover)

As you can see below, the ribbons exit from both the spine and fore edge so that the book can be fully extended (both sides untied) or opened like a book (spine tied shut, fore edge ties untied.

Above: here are the two covers next to each other
Below: the opened book

I have to say that I am very pleased with the way the book turned out. You might notice that I used a narrower ribbon which helped with the problems tying the book as mentioned yesterday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Accordion Books Part 1

This past week, I have been dedicated to mastering the Accordion book form. The accordion book is one of the first book structures taught in bookbinding class. The premise of the book is relatively simple--you fold some pages, cover your front and back cover, and then you glue the text block (the folded sheets) in place and you are done. While that might sound simple in theory, it is deceptively difficult to execute with precision.

The first problem (and one that I will illustrate later) is pyramiding your pages. The perfect accordion book has pages that lie exactly on top of each other. You have to fold with precision in order to make this happen. Most times, one page will jut out past the other pages which will spoil the look of the book.

I had a special order from a customer that wanted me to make her an accordion book and to use vintage fabric for the book cloth. In order to get the mechanics right, I made some prototypes because I didn't want to ruin or waste her fabric.

Here is a book where I used a fabric from a baby shower as a book cloth. While I love the fabric, there were a few problems that I had to work out. The customer wants ties on the front and back of the book. This option allows you to open the accordion book like a regular book (if you keep the back tied together). In the sample below, the ties are too short and I forgot to cut the grosgrain ribbon at an angle (thereby allowing it to fray).

Below is the second problem that I had. The photo shows the inside covers of the book and the ribbon is leaving a large indentation in the cover. What I also realized is the ribbon wasn't too short--it simple didn't need to be placed so far into the covers.

Having noticed my mistakes, I decided to try and make another prototype before tackling my commissioned book. This time, I used a separate piece of fabric from the same lot. Also, I wanted to try a different closure. This closure would have the ribbon exit the back (spine) of the book and would come forward to tie on the front (fore edge).

This solved several issues that I had with the first prototype and would help me with a book that I would make for my Iron Craft project this week. I also solved the problem with the indentation of the ribbon as shown below.

While this is a bad picture because of the lighting, you can barely see in the middle crease where the ribbon is fixed to the book. This time, I cut a more shallow groove for the ribbon and then I filled in the indentation with a piece of scrap paper. I then used a waste sheet as filler so the the turn-ins wouldn't be as prominent.

Tomorrow, I will share with you my commissioned project.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

P10K:Day 24

The week has been plagued with a struggle between my new freedom and my pursuit of artistic endeavors. The show that was playing at my theater closed and now I have my evening free. Granted, I should be rushing home after my day job and dedicating myself to my art. Unfortunately, like a starved man visiting a free buffet, I have been enjoying my evenings while they last--especially since the evening weather in NYC has been glorious.

As I look at my hours of productivity, I notice that I dedicate my weekends almost exclusively to my art so all is not lost. This week has been dedicated to making prototypes for some sales that are due this week in my etsy store.

Blogging (1 hr)

Blogging (2 hrs)
Small Accordion Book--Iron Craft (4 hrs)

Blogging (2 hrs)
Ribbon Paddles (4 hrs)

Accordion Books (3 hrs)

Blogging (2 hrs)
Accordion Books (2 hrs)

Accordion Books (4 hrs)
Cleaned Studio (2 hrs)
Bowling Book (2 hrs)

Fun Fur Book (2 hrs)
Cleaned Studio (1 hr)
Handmade Book Cloth (1 hr)

Week ending total 32 hrs
Cumulative total 93 hrs

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Craft Hint

Today, I had an epiphany. I was tired. My circadian rhythms are off and I am getting to bed early and rising even earlier. It was 5:00 AM and I woke up and wanted to organize my container of ribbon. Ribbon had been on my mind because I had to stop off at M&J trim to get me some 1/4" ribbon for a accordion book project that has been vexing me. I will share that project with you on Friday. Because I ordered so much ribbon, this was what I was given.

Yes--an absolute mess. Now granted, this is only part of the mess because it didn't dawn on me to take a picture before I started the organizing. Anyway, I knew that there had to be a better way to organize the ribbon than to leave it loose like this. I decided to make some ribbon paddles out of scrap book board that I had been saving. I usually save all of the off cuts of paper and book board until they are absolutely too small to use for anything else. Here is a photo of my trash bin filled with the book board off cuts.

There was no precision to the project. I simply started cutting pieces of book board in 2.5" by 5.5" sizes. I was planning on storing the ribbon in some small snack size ziploc bags that I had in the kitchen. When I was learning about portion control for my diabetes, I had to portion out snacks into these snack size bags. Of course, me being one to go overboard, I bought boxes of these bags to use only to find out that I only needed them for about one month. So, I now had another purpose for these bags.

I wrapped the ribbon around the paddle (btw, it is easier to turn the paddle rather than wrap the ribbon around the paddle), placed it into its little bag and then moved on. The final result--

The beauty of this project is that all of your ribbon remains wrinkle free, easy to handle and lies flat in the container. I am now wrapping all of my ribbon like this. This will reduce the space taken up by spools of ribbon which is a big waste of space.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Iron Craft 37

This week on Iron Craft, we were challenged to create something small. At first, I had a little trouble deciding what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to work in a book format, but I was fighting with time constraints. Also, I knew that I wanted to work with scraps so the size was going to be determined by what I had left over.

Since I have recently been working on some accordion books (a later post this week), I decided to do a miniature accordion book. I had a strip of paper that was already cut and folded in half so all I needed to do was fold the accordion pages. The pages ended up being 3.75" wide by 2.5" tall. Once the boards were cut, I covered them with a Japanese washi paper in a chrysanthemum paper.

Not satisfied with a plain white page accordion book, I decided to decorate the pages before pasting them to the covers. Since I am starting to work on my Valentine's cards, I decided to make this a Valentine book--a small book to place one's love devotions. I punched hearts in different locations on the white page using two different punches. I then cut and punched different red color card stock and pasted them to the back side of the white pages.

So the white pages have red hearts.

And the red pages have white hearts.

Overall, I am very pleased with how these turned out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

P10K:Day 17

This was a busy week because the show that was performing at my theater was in its final performance so there was so much work to do that I didn't have time to post everything this week that I wanted to do. There simply wasn't enough time in the day. The upside to the show closing is that I will have my nights off for the next couple for about 2 months which will give me lots more time to be creative and to fill up my etsy store for the holidays.

Accordion Book Project (1 hr)
Book Review (1 hr)

Book Review (1hr)
Blogging (1hr)

According Book Redux (2 hr)

Blogging (1hr)

Blogging (1 hr)
Etsy store listings (1hr)

Blogging (2 hrs)

Week Total = 13 hours
Cumulative Total = 61 hours

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pamphlet Book

I always have stacks of paper in some form of undress waiting to be used. Sometimes, I have paper in the press waiting to be sewn into a text block. Sometimes, I have paper that is already folded and pressed waiting to be used for last minute emergency gifts.

I fell in love with this paper during one of my visits to NY Central Art Supply. The paper is a 100 percent rag paper (A5 size, 150 gsm) from South India and is sold by Khadi Papers. I love the tactile quality of the paper and the paper is good for watercolor, painting and all drawing media. Unfortunately, the paper isn't suitable for journal writing but would be a great paper for art journaling.

Using the basics of the 10 minute journal illustrated in Art at the Speed of Life by Pam Carriker, I adapted the project to fit the materials I had at hand (after the miserable failure mentioned earlier this week). I folded the pages in half and was about to sew then together when I realized that I didn't like that the first page would be the front cover of the book. Carriker sews a button on the first page to help keep the book closed. Instead, I decided to add a piece of card stock to add some stability to the book and to act as a cover. I then decided to use a decorative piece of paper as a wrapper to give it a more polished finish. I would then sew all layers together using a pamphlet stitch and use the extra binding thread as a closure for the book.

(l) the book as sewn through all layers
(r)the grey card stock cover and the paper wrapper

Another aspect about the original project is that I didn't want the mechanics of the closure to show. Therefore, I sewed the button through the decorative paper and the card stock cover. I then glued down the wrap around front flap of the decorative paper to cover the sewing and to give a polished look to the journal. Also, after using the extra thread from the pamphlet stitch, I decided to tie a fob at the end of the thread to act an a weight and a finishing touch to the loose thread. The thread is long enough to be used as a bookmark when the book is in use.

(l) you can see the sewing on the spine of the book
(r) the extra thread from the spine is used as a closure around the button

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review:Art at the Speed of Life

As I have mentioned earlier, I have been reading Art at the Speed of Life by Pam Carriker. The tag line of the book is "motivation+ inspiration for making mixed-media art every day." While I enjoyed viewing the book, there were a few minor criticisms that I wanted to share with you.

One of my biggest pet peeves with DIY books is that they don't give you enough information to complete a project. A second pet peeve is when they give you step by step instructions on how to replicate the exact project that is in the book. I would rather they provide me/show me detailed instructions on how to use the technique so I can create a project on my own.

The first problem above is inexcusable. Leaving out simple details becomes disastrous and, often times, discouraging. For example, on pages 24 and 25, the author illustrates how to make a "ten minute journal" which will be the basis of some of the projects presented in the book. The author provides the reader with a materials list including "one sheet of watercolor paper, 22 in by 30 in." Basically it is a pamphlet booklet which is no problem. The problem is that the author does not list a paper weight with which to start.

Here was my first attempt. After folding the page as instructed, there was no way that I would be able to use my bone folder to rip the folded pages to create the signatures. Even if I wet the pages (as instructed), I don't think that the booklet would be able to close. I used 140lb Arches cold pressed watercolor paper (definitely too heavy of a paper).

Clearly frustrated, I went to the other extreme and used a 70lb text weight page so I could see if the structure would work. The author tells you to rip the folded pages with your bone folder to make a deckled edge. The biggest problem here is that not all of your pages will be deckled unless you start with a deckled edge paper at the beginning (which most watercolor paper isn't). Granted, most people wouldn't mind but the point of having a deckled edge is for aesthetic purposes--so why would someone want some pages deckled and some not.

Of course, the problem here is that the paper would not hold up to many wet medium and the pages would need a card stock cover to add some heft to the project.

The biggest strength of the book is the motivational factor that the author provides to those busy people who want to create art in a limited time frame. The invited essays from real mixed media artists provide motivation on making art, making art while busy, making art on a budget and the challenges/pitfalls/traps new artists encounter. If the author had simply made a collection of these types of essays then the book would have been much more informative to me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

P10K: Day 11

Today was a little slow because I was feeling a little bit under the weather and it was also Labor Day. Since the had the morning off from my day job, I had hope to log in some serious hours but I just couldn't get motivated to get out of bed.

I listed some items in my etsy store (1 hr) and I continued to blog (1 hr).

Custom Orders

Someone asked me to share with you the books that were custom ordered for this week. Originally, I had called them the "Nieces" books because they were going to be a gift for one of my co-worker's nieces.

The brief was for two blank, medium, unlined journals. The younger niece likes owls and the colors blue and green. The older niece likes the color purple and is the more mature of the two girls and likes to write and draw.

For the owl book, I cut out an owl face stencil design out of card stock. Because it was a stencil, I had the choice of using the pieces (the positive) to use as an embossed image or the stencil (the negative) as a debossed image. I decided to use the pieces. I cut out four faces and mounted them to the cover board. The book cloth is a beautiful teal velvet paper. The end sheets are hand marbled paper from one of my favorite artists--Rhoda Miller.

Left: Owl Book(l) and Iris Book (r)

Right: Hand Marbled end sheets by Rhonda Miller

Iris Book featuring Hand Marbled Paper by Rhonda Miller

The Iris book is one of my 3/4 bound books. In other words, the book cloth covers the entire back cover and 1/4 of the front cover. The remaining 3/4 of the front cover is a decorative paper. It always frustrates me to have to turn a book over when I accidentally open the back of the book. Without a label on the front, many times it is hard to tell which is the front or the back. This is my solution to the dilemma--the decorative paper is always the front of the book.

Note to Rhonda--You see, I really do use your papers and don't just hoard them.

Iron Craft 23

This week were required to do a craft based on maps. Since my friends were coming for their annual Yankees game outing, I decided to draw them a map for the area so they could have something to do while I was at work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

P10K: Day Ten

I am glad to say that I had a wonderful Sunday. I was supposed to go out for some commitments but I decided to be a little selfish and nourish my soul by making some books. Considering that I had a self imposed deadline, I was working toward a goal.

I finished the special order books that I will share with you tomorrow.

Finished Owl book (2 hrs)
Finished Iris book (1.5 hrs)
Blogging and Etsy Posting (2.5 hrs).

Week Ending total = 32 hrs
Cumulative total = 48 hours (only 9,952 more hours).

Iron Craft 22

This week's challege was to design something associated with al fresco/picnic dining. One of my friends has a daughter who is infatuated with bugs. I designed this cutout paper poster for her birthday.

Iron Craft 21

This week's challenge was to create something based on our cultural heritage. I decided to do Papel Picado which is famous in Mexico. I remember my grandmother cutting these out for special occasions like weddings and birthdays. These are paper banners that usually feature a recurring pattern. They are hung from a string and then draped across the room.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

P10K: Day Nine

It was a glorious day in NYC and I was torn between going outside and enjoying the weather and making books. Happily for me, I was able to make some books. I am still working on the custom order for the niece books which are due on Monday (Labor Day).

I was able to make a prototype and was glad that I did because I make a couple of errors in execution. The nice aspect of it all is that I know have an example of an embossed book which also represents a sample of my large blank journal book--so all is not lost.

Owl Book Design (1 hr)
Owl Book Manufacturing (2 hrs)
Blogging (2 hrs)

Iron Craft 20

This week's challenge was to create something using our old T-shirts. I decided to so a freezer paper stencil that some of the crafters had already done. I cut each of the stencils out of the freezer paper and then used my new fabric air brush machine.

Iron Craft 18

This week's challenge was to created something based on flowers. I decided to do this cut paper cards. The entire series is called Garden Party. The backgrounds are tissue paper, colored vellum, plain vellum and printed vellum.

Friday, September 2, 2011

P10K: Day Eight

Today was the Friday before Labor Day and I took off from my day job and had full intentions of creating art until I had to go to the theater. Unfortunately, life threw me a curve ball and I had to spend the morning running around the Bronx trying to take care of some business. Needless to say, I didn't do as many hours as I would have liked on P10K but I was able to log in some hours.

Planning/Designing Niece Books (1 hr)
Blogging (1 hr)
Reading Art at the Speed of Life (2 hrs).

Iron Craft Seventeen

This week's challenge was dedicated to Kate and William's wedding. This is a wedding album that I created for one of my friends. The colors of the decorative paper matched the colors of the wedding and the ginko leaf was a design element on their invitations.

Iron Craft Sixteen

This week's challenge was dedicated to money. I decided to use yen coin for a fashener for one of my decorative boxes. This is a simply dropped spine box that is covered in a green, sun-dyed fern pattern. The tray is covered in a moss colored suede paper and the bottom is lined with the same fern paper.

The closure is a yen coin that his been wrapped with a gold organdy ribbon that is glued under the lid of the box. The corresponding loop is glued under the tray.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

P10K: Day Seven

I really think that it is humorous at times when people assume that you can drop everything and make a book. Sure, store bought books are easy to handle in that you simply go to the store, find something that you think that you will like, and then pay for it. You start doing whatever you bought the book for and then realize that it isn't exactly what you had hoped for. If you are like me, you go and look at a different store for the right journal.

When people ask me to make them a book, Ifind it funny that they expect that everything is ready for me to simply complete their order. An acquaintance of mine asked me to make a pair of books for his nieces that have birthdays next week. He was surprised when I said that I might not be able to make them on such short notice. I told him that I would have to cut and fold paper for the signatures (sections), press them, sew them, glue them, press them again, and then case them in. "Really? That's how you make a book?" he said. All I could say was "Yep. That's how I make books."

Cut paper (1 hour)
Folded paper (1 hour)
Stitched Pamphlets for charity (1 hour)
Blogged (1 hour)