Covers and Content

Bookbinding, writings, general creativity

Archive for the tag “handmade”

Relief work

One of my favourite ways of decorating a cover is with relief patterns. It’s very easy, really. You can either cut out the design in thin cardboard (or heavy paper) and paste it on before covering the boards, or you cut it out in the board itself and peel away as many layers of the cardboard as you want (make sure you don’t go all the way through, though, that would be embarrassing . Or a combination of the two, of course. For letters and suchlike, you can also use thread. I recommend using thinner thread than you think you will need, or it might get too bulky.

Then there’s a secret trick to make it a lot easier and better looking. Because when you’ve put on the cover materials (don’t use too thick book cloth, and remember that if the pasted-on relief design is in another colour then the board itself, it might be visible through light cover materials… my, this was a long parenthesis, I almost lost track of where I… anyway.), the design is of course going to dissappear completely, and you have to track the edges carefully with a bone folder (if the cover material is delicate, put a paper between it and the bone folder to avoid scratches), and trust me, sometimes it’s very hard to find the design. Even though you just made it yourself.

So, after that confusing paragraph… there is a trick to make this easier. Take a piece of sleeping pad, or some other kind of not-to-fluffy foam material. Put it over the covered relief, and put in the press for a short while (about ten seconds will do it). The foam will press down the design, making it much easier for you to just trace the contours. You can also use the foam when you put the finished book in press, to protect the relief.

A box. Or, wait, four boxes.





I was going to make a post about something completely different, but it was harder than I thought to find all the pictures that I wanted. So here is instead a cool box I made. The swirly things are what keeps the lid shut. It’s also posing with three other boxes I made that aren’t nearly as fancy.

Exhibition(ist) books

I just realised that I never showed you the books I made for our college’s exhibition this spring (the one that I made the paper flowers for).

The exhibition was called Nakenchock, one of those made-up-for-headlines words, translating as Naked chock (I don’t know what the headline word would be in English). I made two books for it.

With the first book, I interpreted the title literally. I made a book where the cover could be flipped back to reveal the spine. I stitched it using coptic stitch (I think) and let the chain stitching be like embroidery on the spine. So the picture of the naked woman is made just by placing the holes of the stitching right.

But we also talked about other interpretations of the theme. Nakedness in a more metaphorical sense, showing yourself as you really are. I got the picture in my head of how I tore myself open (just metaphorically, okay) and let all feelings and thoughts show, turning myself inside out. When translated into book form, it became a book where the pages consisted of traditional cover materials – leather and marbled paper – and the boards were covered with printed excerpts from my diary. I printed it in 4 points or something so that it would still look like text, but would be really hard to read. Even so, the secrets were old by then and wouldn’t make sense to anyone that weren’t there at the time, and since none of them lived in Leksand and would see the book, I felt pretty safe about exhibiting it.

Tough Guide to Fantasyland

This is another book by Diana Wynne Jones, my favourite author. It’s a pocket book, rebound into hardcover using a method I hope I’ll never ever have to use again.

I cut off the spine, so that I had just a bunch of loose papers, then I pasted them together with strips of thin paper, two by two in the right order, to make signatures that I could stitch as usual. The original cover is attached to the first and last signature.

Once that boring part was over, I started on the cover. I’m… not good at plain covers. For this one, I decided to go with the fact that there was a map in the beginning of the book. I drew the map on a smaller piece of paper, folded it using the Turkish Map Fold that I’d learned just the week before, and embedded it in the front cover. Just for the fun of it, and because I don’t know how to stop once I’ve started, I embroidered a compass star thingy on the map cover, and the F in the beginning of the title.

Paste marbling

This is the second-best thing in the world. Or part of the best thing in the world, I haven’t decided. Anyways, the handmade papers I’ve shown you so far have all been marbled on a glue base. These are paste marbled, which is another thing entirely. It’s even easier, for one thing.

To start with, I made paste from wheat flour and water, thinner than I normally use. I mixed it with pigment powder, but any kind of paint works to mix in. I should also mention that before starting this, we had covered the whole room in plastic. Paste marbling gets messy.

I sprayed the paper with water and let it swell a while. If you don’t do this, it’s going to swell when you put the paste-paint-mix on, and get all wrinkly. I painted it with the colors I wanted. Then the fun part started.

Using all kind of tools, from a plastic thingy used when tiling walls, to pieces of string, my own nails, tape and a small toy car, I made patterns in the paint. There really are no limits to what you can do with this technique – just remember to spray the paper with water every now and then, or the paste will dry too early.

Something in the mail

Work today was… not nice. I amused myself by planning to post pictures of the smallest book I’ve ever made. Yes, it’s smaller than this.

But that’ll have to wait for another day, because all unhappy feelings completely evaporated when I opened my family’s mailbox. There were letters! For me! Even one that I had to go and get at the post office.

One was a postcard from my bookbinding friend Stéphanie (who is in a lot of the parchment pictures – which reminds me, I have to write the final post on that!). Two was from swap-bot swaps. And then… do you see what’s under the letters? Yes, that’s another letter. Here, let me give you a better view:


This penpal and I have a bit of a competition going on, about who can write the strangest letters. I was honestly impressed this time. But my response will win me the victory, I just know it…

Marbled ice cream cake

Marbling, like all other things in life, have a proper time and place. Namely, all the time and everywhere. Especially when you’re baking. This is a marbled ice cream cake. It’s the yummiest cake I know, and when done right, it’s the prettiest too.

The last picture is one of my marbled papers. It’s done in a fan pattern, which is the pattern I’ve described how to make on the cake.

If anybody wants to make the cake, and can’t find Daim chocolate, tell me and I’ll send it to you. It’s actually the chocolate I work with making, so…

Another book

I love books with open backs. Not using them – they’re far to flimsy for me – but making them. There’s just so much you can do with them.

This one has some sort of jewelry theme. A figure with a hanging necklace on the front, a necklace clasp as fastening, and made with oriental stitching with glass beads and velvet ribbon.

Till the day I die – the good parts

The LARP was amazing. The people in my group were fantastic both in game and as themselves. We had care of about fifteen other refugees (since the whole story was about fleeing from a magic war), so we cooked food for about 221 people every day on a small wood-fired stove. Maybe it was the way everything tastes better outdoors, but the food really was great. I had brought lots and lots of chocolate for when we set up camp, and lots and lots of homemade toffee for when we were in game, so everybody liked me…

It’s hard to describe what happened in game without it sounding really weird, but I’ll try to give you an idea of it.

I, as my character Novice Ermin, have talked to a hero, talked back to a living saint, had a vision of a dead saint, banished a demon, given water to a tired and thirsty knight, sung songs that I’ve written myself, cried, laughed and even made some new friends.

This was the good parts. Tomorrow, or whenever I get the time, I’ll tell you about the horrible parts. For now, have a picture of Sara making the butter that we ate there.

Also, here’s another appearance of the marble sent to me by D.A. Bancroft. For those who don’t know, he’s got some sort of weird project that consists of placing a marble in every country in the world. This is the one he sent to me in Sweden, and of course I couldn’t pass up the chance of doing something slightly impossible and taking a picture of it I’m a fictional country. So this, dear D.A. is your marble in the country of Nedan in the world Kastaria.

I’m too tired to save the world

I’m going to the forest tomorrow for two days of camp-building and plotting, and three days of singing, praying and hopefully saving the world. The fictional world of Kastaria, that is.

These last two days have been filled with preparations. I needed to fix my green wool dress, so now it’s got thirty new hand-sewn buttonholes and five new hand-sewn buttons. I hope to even out the numbers tomorrow, in the car. I’ve written two new songs, and dyed papers in tea (and put them on the bathroom walls to dry, which actually worked surprisingly well) to print song books and a recipe book on. I’ve made toffee that I can give to everybody while we’re in character, and brought chocolate to give to everybody while we’re out of character. Both me and my character really believes in solving everything with sweets.

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