Covers and Content

Bookbinding, writings, general creativity

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

Today the exhibition with the dragon book opens in Falun, so with some kind of logic, I decided to show you what I made for last year’s exhibition: The Game by Diana Wynne Jones, bound for the exhibition ”Kometen Kommer”.

Kometen kommer would be the comet is coming in English, and the exhibition is inspired by the meteorite that fell here in Dalarna, Sweden some 377 million years ago. So the books we’ve made are a lot about space and stars and comets – and The Game was really the perfect book to make.
Since the book wasn’t of the kind that can be easily taken apart, I scanned and printed it. Each chapter got its own size and font. Then I dyed all of them in tea.

I printed the covers on better paper (Hahnemühle butten ingres) and drew the pictures on them. (Possibly spoilery text under the pictures)

I forgot to print the last part of the book, A NOTE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS, in time to dye it with the rest, so that got to be around the box that would become the base of the book instead. Then I got some metal wire (copper and something else, I don’t know exactly, but probably iron) and started putting it all together, with small glass beads representing the golden apples.

When Hayley arrived at the big house in Ireland, bewildered and in disgrace, rain was falling and it was nearly dark. Her cousin Mercer had called the place just “the Castle.”

Then [Grandad] showed her atoms, molecules and germs—after which Hayley for a long time confused all three with planets going round the sun and, when Grandma insisted that you washed to get rid of germs, wondered if Grandma was trying to clean the universe off her.

He had stood, for as long as Hayley could remember, rain or shine, in the exact same place outside the pub called The Star, playing high sweet notes on a shabby little violin that looked much too small for him.

A young lady in a white dress came down the bank towards the shore. When she was right beside the water, she looked around, grinning mischievously, and crouched down. Her white dress melted into her all over and she was suddenly a swan.

For a moment, she thought she was crying. Drops were falling heavily on the pretend cat and then splashing onto her leg. It was only when more drops fell on her head that Hayley realised the water must be coming from somewhere else.

The next day, it was hard to believe that it had ever rained. Hayley woke to find the sky a bright heavenlike blue with great snowy clouds hustling across it.


She was a proper comet, not like Tollie’s pretend one. Her hair gathered together and flung itself out ahead of her like the flame on a blowtorch. Behind it, her body was a small, curled-up, icy ball.

There was a hill to one side, and she could dimly see someone trying to heave a boulder up it.

He and Harmony held the tall longbow steady while Hayley picked and peeled at one of the lower twinkles. To her relief, it came free quite easily and rolled into her palm like a small loose diamond. Very carefully, she zipped it away into the smallest of her trouser pockets.

Another woman came along with a huge earthenware jar of wine and tipped it into the first woman’s face. “Drink up!” she shrieked. “Drown your sorrows!”

Part of the clump immediately rose up into a tall, square shape. It unfolded two long legs like chicken legs and stalked towards them. When it reached Martya, it stopped and let down a ladder from the balcony on its front. “Is my hut,” Martya said.


Silver book

This week, we had an exchange thing between classes at my college. I spent one afternoon teaching bookbinding, and one afternoon learning some very basic metalwork. It turned out better than I ever dared dream.

So this is a necklace pendant in silver – and, of course, it’s a book.

The necklace chain goes through the cut-out A, but I’m thinking of adding a small ring, that might stop it from turning inside-out all of the time… My favourite part of it is that the hallmark stamps is in the place of page numbers.



It’s okay to give up

…or so I have been told.

Possibly it was me doing the telling. But I hope it’s true anyway.


Okay, this is going to be pretty rambly and personal. Feel free to skip it if you’re just here for the pictures of pretty books. There will be more of those tomorrow.


The thing is, I’m not going to finish all I should this year. Not ever nearly everything. This doesn’t come as a chock to me. I’m very, very used to failing.

When I do stuff for others, I have no problem doing it – I’m a good worker, my bosses have always liked me. When I do stuff that I’m not supposed to do, I have no problem with doing it – the Sherlock Holmes fanfiction book, for example or… well, nearly everything I put up here, really. When I’m supposed do stuff for myself, I… I just can’t. Homework, when I was in school. The historical books now.

(I want to defend myself and say that it’s not only my fault, that the schedule we decided on last spring might have worked for me but for some reason we never used it, and when I talked to my teacher about it, he didn’t really… I don’t know, get it. But I know I should have taken more responsibility for it.)


But the thing is, I decided that’s okay. I’m trying not to feel like a failure, because I’m really not. I’m still a bookbinder, I’m good at making books, I’m just not good at getting around to do it. And I can… well, I can accept that.

Now I just have to find a way to not be mad at my friends when they ask me if I’ve gotten my journeyman certificate yet…

Making parchment – part three

My dead sheep has become considerable less disgusting. I guess I’m getting used to it.

I’m too tired to think in English right now, but the pictures are rather self-explanatory.


Princess’ cake


In Sweden, we have a kind of cake called Prinsesstårta, Princess’ Cake. It’s covered in green marzipan and has a marzipan rose on top. Me and Fanny did… another interpretation on the name, for a friend who had a princess-themed birthday party.

Drottningens Väg – a book in three variations

In November 2010 I wrote Drottningens väg (The Queen’s Way) for NaNoWriMo.

In April 2011 we had our annual spring exhibition at Leksands Kulturhus. The theme was Från det ena till det andra (From one thing to another). I’d had plans for a book jacket since the year before, and this seemed like the perfect time to make one. So from one thing to another (and another, and another): From my story, to a book, to a jacket and at last (because as I said in post about gifts, I don’t really know when to stop) to a necklace/choker.

I could have covered the book in the same fabric that I used for the jacket, but I felt that there would be more of a “transformation feeling” if I just chose a paper very similar to the fabric, and I think I found the perfect one. The book in itself is straightforward enough, leather back with foil print and leather corners, french headbands.

Then the jacket. I used fake leather for the back and corners, and printed it with the same machine we use for title prints. I wanted to silk screen print the lining, but since I didn’t have the necessary equipment, I did it with those iron-on papers that you just print from the computer*.  This had the effect of making the fabric a lot stiffer, which wasn’t really what I wanted, but maybe looked better than if I had got my will. The “beginning” of the jacket-book (that is, the right side) is lined with the prologue, the “end” is lined with the epilogue, and the ruffle around the cuffs are my favourite parts from the middle.

I’m always making mini versions of stuff, so before I knew what I was doing, I had a mini book in the same paper and even with similar headbands. I wanted to make a necklace that would be visible together with the jacket, so a choker felt like the best choice. The  leather band around the choker is printed (in the same lovely machine as all other foil prints, of course), with one of the first lines from the book: Aldavera, värdshusvärdens dotter, hade aldrig följt floden längre än en dags vandring neråt. (Aldavera, the innkeper’s daughter, had never followed the river more than one day’s walk downstream.)


*The word “print” just stopped looking real to me from typing it too many times, by the way.



Making of The Seventeenth Step

After I copied the whole body of text into Word and printed it on nice paper (after some hours of editing, such as replacis soft returns with hard returns in the entire document), I stitched the book with flax thread. When I thought about if I should wax the thread or not, then I remembered Sussex and the bees, so beeswax it was.

After stitching it, I glued the spine and… argh, I really don’t know what it’s called in English, but well, I shaped the spine. With a hammer. Then French headbands. I used silk thread, grey and blue for Holmes and Watson. There is a third thread that is just for tying the knots around, that you never see, and I made that red for hidden love, because I’m silly like that.

After gluing on the cover boards I measured the leather for spine and corners. The lovely green machine is a Shärf-fix, you use it to thin out the edges of the leather. I glued on false raised binds (direct translation from Swedish, I really need to learn some English terms), then pasted on the leather.

Then time for the paper. This, too, is silver and blue for Holmes and Watson, I made it especially for this book. (The paper on the box, which I forgot to take a good picture of before cutting it up, is made especially for this book to, with the London fog of the 1880’s as inspiration.)

Then box-making, a french box with a hollow spine. Last, I printed the title with “gold” foil.


Bookbinding: The Seventeenth Step

This summer, I had plans. I was going to sew clothes and write lots and and and… and I read Sherlock fanfiction the whole summer. I’m not that surprised, really. One author, Katie Forsythe, really had the voice of the original books perfectly down.

The thing is, since the text was so like the books, I felt that it needed to actually be a book. It would fit so well between covers of leather and marbled paper. My fingers itched for a chance to bind it. So I mustered all the courage I had (I’m kinda shy, and absolutely terrified of talking in English to people on internet, especially people I admire) and asked Katie Forsythe for permission to print and bind her works.

The format is called dos-á-dos, meaning back-to-back in French. I call it tvillingband in Swedish, twin binding. I wanted to make a box to protect the book, and ended up with a box that I’m tempted to make another box to protect… I made the cover papers especially for this project. Since the seventeenth step in the title refers to the 221b Baker Street staircase, I printed the title… well, like a staircase.

Since it’s Sherlock Holmes, I just had to make a secret compartment in the spine of the box. There should be a cocaine syringe in there, but there are limits to what I do for my art…


Making parchment – part two

After two weeks in lime water (the chalky stuff, still not the fruit), the wool was loose enough to pull off. We then washed the skins in the lake and started cleaning off the meat side of the skin.

The smell was pretty bad, but I got used to it after a few minutes. The other students walking by were properly horrified and the small dog living here was extremely interested (but luckily also well trained enough not to try to eat anything).


Giving gifts

Is there anything better, really?

Well, yes, of course it is, and you should know that. Marbling papers.

But next to marbling papers, giving gifts absolutely is the best thing in the world.

I’m not necessarily good at it. I forget birthdays. I panic at Christmas (luckily my brothers are as bad as me – there is a collective “you’ll get your present later” said at Christmas Eve and that’s that).

But when I do remember a birthday, and get an idea, I can go completely overboard with gift-making. It’s not enough to make homemade toffee, I have to make a box for them too. It’s not enough to make a pair of miniature book earrings, I have to make a box for them. Then a gift box to put the box in. And a pop up birthday card (I think I managed to stop somewhere around then). When I’m making stuff that will (hopefully)

Sometimes I worry about going too far. I don’t want people to feel pressed to give me stuff. I hope the birthdays I forget don’t stand out too much. I hope I won’t ruin myself buying stamps enough for the rather heavy letters I send (but I just keep thinking of more stuff that my penpals might possibly like and then I have to send it).

Also, the one who gives the best presents wins, right?

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