This is very interesting for us introverts, as I suspect a lot of you who read my blog regularly are. Even if you aren’t it is still interesting. I found it very encouraging and empowering to think that there is a power in being introverted.
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.
—Lucius Annaeus Seneca, translated by John W. Basore.
This Is An Awesome Video.
I first saw this a while ago, and I have wanted to post it for a while. I’m finally getting around to it.
I have always appreciated the multi-dimensional aspect of bookbinding. It is neither solely a creative outlet of beautiful works of art, nor solely a trade producing an object that must be usable and durable (and saleable): for me it us both of those things at once. I love that as bookbinders, we are creating something that is nice to look at, to touch, and to hold (and listen to: I love the sound when I snap a book closed, or the sound of a finger tapped on a closed book’s cover, dok dok dok), but also serves a definite purpose as an information repository, a place to pour out one’s heart through words or pictures, or as a vehicle transporting one to another world via a great story—books are there to be used.
In days gone by, bookbinding by hand was a big trade, with lots of workers all performing separate tasks in big factories. All this has now been mostly superseded by some amazing machinery (and amazing people who run them), and has now become a niche trade with only a few companies around maintaining the old ways, some of whom also maintain the old books. Mostly, hand bookbinding has become an art-form, a hobby for people like me and perhaps you. Nevertheless, I believe it is still important that we who practice this trade–craft as a hobby learn the skills, techniques, and methods of traditional tradesmen and women.
Since starting my Bookbinding and Restoration course at Sydney Institute of TAFE, this trade aspect of bookbinding has really been made apparent to me, because that’s how bookbinding is taught: as a trade. So we learn all the ‘right’ ways to do things, practices that with practice (!) will become second nature, and will result in a high-quality, well made book. We are not really given much opportunity for creativity (unless you’re a rebel like me and use random bits of waste paper as end-sheets!) but it is only the first semester of the course. I am not complaining. As I mentioned above, I think it is a good thing to know all the rules and the right ways of doing things—after all, doesn’t one need to know the rules to break them?
I yearn for the chance to create a book beautifully bound in leather with a beautiful design tooled into the covers. I also yearn to create books that are well-made and that will last. I look forward to learning the more decorative skills, but I look forward with as much eagerness to learning better bindings, and to bettering my skills.
And That Someone is Me
I gave a sneak peek a little while ago on a project I was working on. Well, I completed it, and have used it for about 6 or 7 weeks. It’s a school diary with a difference, and represents my efforts to get more organised and to manage my time better.
So far, it has been a moderate success—I have actually written in it and made notes and to-dos, which is more than I can say for any other diary I’ve owned in the last 10 years. I however need to move from using it more as a record to using it as a planning tool.
There were a few things that I considered (not specifically) when I was planning my diary. They were:
- what I wanted the book to look like, inside and out
- that I wanted something which would be useful and realistically so
- and that I didn’t want it completely utilitarian, but a little bit fun.
I designed my diary to look funky and colourful, unlike the drab, monochrome, boring diaries that you buy off the shelf. The look is something that is very important to me, being a visual person. When deciding what colours to use, I used the four process colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black)—the CMYK colour model. Whenever I can’t think of colours to use, or I don’t have anything specific in mind, I end up using CMYK. I used another colour—Orange—for all the writing lines and grid lines etc.
I also kept it functional and focused on its purpose of being a school diary with a difference. I decided early on that I wanted a week-to-an-opening view: being realistic, I knew what I was like with diaries, so I kept it simple. I came up with a layout where the days-of-the-week are on the verso and a space for notes and to-dos is on the recto. The verso is divided into 6 sections: a heading which tells me the term and week-number, and the month, and one for each day of the week. The days-of-the-week are further divided into spaces for each lesson of the day. Also, for a bit of fun, I included some cool ‘days’ like World Migratory Bird Day on the 14th of May (OK it should have been the 12–13th but my diary doesn’t do weekends and the original source I got the date from was wrong!), and Star Wars Day on May the Fourth. I also have a personalised timetable and a larger notes and to-dos section at the front of the book, and an assessment record at the back.
In terms of the binding itself, it is case-bound and quarter covered with Limette Duo book cloth and Kraft paper (I love Kraft). I’m really pleased with the result functionally. The hinges work really well—I was a bit more generous with them this time around, allowing the standard 2-and-a-half thicknesses of board‐and the whole thing is nice and square.
I just had to express my personality when designing this diary, and make it unique. As mentioned above, I included interesting ‘days’, and I did other things, like put in a photo of me and my wife, and give it a title page: The School Diary of Jacob Degeling. For a bit more fun, I included some grids for when I’m bored during meetings etc.—they are a 2mm square grid and an isometric grid.
Trial by Use
Something that I am very interested in is to see how my binding stands up to everyday use. So far structurally the book is doing well. The only thing I might change next time I bind a book like this is to use a thicker spine hollow (the piece of cardboard that covers the spine) because the thin card I used is deforming at the head and tail, and it shows the lumps and bumps from the sewing and the tapes. The paste I used to attach the Kraft was a bit thin, so some parts of the paper are starting to lift, especially where it overlaps the book-cloth. I’m just going to leave it to see what happens.
There is a little bit of wear and tear on the cover, most notably the Kraft is starting to fray a bit around the edges, there are a few coffee cup rings on it, and the quarter-cloth is getting a bit dirty from me holding the book by the spine. Also, I got some honey from a sandwich I ate one day on it which a mouse has just nibbled off over night taking some of the paper with it.
I’m pretty happy overall with my new diary. And I think I might just get used to having one around.
Thanks for reading, and happy binding!
May the Fourth Be With You!
Hooray! Today is Star Wars day, May the fourth. Which is what a Jedi Knight would say if he or she had a bad lisp. I thought I’d share with you my most and least favourite Star Wars moments.
By far my least favourite moment is in Episode 3, when the newly cyborg-ified Darth Vader learns of his belovéd’s death at his own hands, and getting really, really angry, things start breaking and falling over and steam escapes from pipes, and he lets out an almightily corny, ‘Noooooooo…’. That’s my least favourite moment.
Choosing a most favourite moment is much more difficult. It has to be from the first three movies, or wait, no… is that the last three? Anyway. I think that among all my favourite bits, like when C3-PO and R2-D2 meet the Jawas, and when Qui-gon Jinn, young Obi-wan Kenobi, and Jar-jar Binks walk calmly into the Nubian lake to swim to the underwater Gungan city while fitting little underwater breathing apparatus to their mouths, and all the bits with the Ewoks, my favourite Star Wars moment is, in Episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back, the snow battle with the AT-ATs. I think they are my favourite machine in all the movies too. I made one from Lego once! I can’t actually pinpoint one favourite moment out of all the cool moments.
So what is your most or least favourite Star Wars moment?
We had a birthday to go to today (sorry Tobi!) but my wife Sharon and I have been very busy lately so we stayed home, and ended up having a crafty day. She was making some felt flower brooches and beading, and I’ve been working on some books. One is a rebinding of a paperback, and one is a new blank book. Thank God for lazy days!
Very good demonstration of how to case in a book. When she does the first side and then opens it, I almost fell off my chair! But it seems to work for her. It has been drummed into me that you never open a book that has just been cased in and is still wet. We’ve all done it though, if only once!