In November I received an interesting book from Elizabeth Simmonds. It was four inches square, and I had never seen the structure before. I wrote to Liz and asked her about it. She told me that she had learned it from Anne Cowie, who made these as smaller books. I made a few models of the book.
One of the attractive features of this structure is that it is modular; that is, you can add as many pages as you like and each element is only two pages, so that if you make a mistake on a book page, you can simply cut another piece of paper and re-do that two-page spread.
Here are some I things learned in making those models.
The book consists of three categories of parts: the folios, the page wrappers, and the removable spine. The folios are standard folios: a piece of paper folded in half vertically. The page wrappers are the same width as the folios but double the height. Like the folio, they are folded in half vertically. But they are also folded horizontally twice: once 1/4 of the height from the top, and once 1/4 of the height from the bottom, so that the central vertical division of the page is equal to the height of the folios and the top and bottom division fold around the folio to meet in the back.
The folios and page wrappers are then assembled in a daisy chain, ad infinitum (theoretically).
A five-inch-square may be the largest optimal size but this depends on the materials used. The optimal length of the book, 8 to 20 pages. (That’s 4 to 10 folios and 4 and 10 page wrappers.) Any less and the structure isn’t apparent; any more and the book becomes chunky.
In Elizabeth’s four-inch-square book, the folios were made of card stock, the page wrappers of Arches Text Wove, and the spine of a card-weight paper. In choosing your materials, the folios should be heavier and stiffer than the page wrappers..
A small sliver of the folios will be revealed in the gutter area (at the center fold of each page opening), which can be a nice feature. If you don’t like that reveal, you can trim width the folio pages later.
After (you think) you’re done, you can add a removable spine to make it more of a codex structure. You can see one in the top photo. I’m thinking I’ll add a board insert in the front and back to the first and last pages more “cover”-like. Since it’s all non-adhesive, if you add more pages, you can simply move the board insert to the new last page.
UPDATE 20 DEC 2019:
It’s now settled that I will teach two classes this winter — one on journals and sketchbook bindings, and one on brush and pointed pen lettering. So I’ve removed the interest survey. But you can get a complete description of the classes and/or register and pay for a class here.
Long time no post! We’ve been traveling, and I’ve been Instagramming, and … well, honestly, inspiration has been sparse on the ground. Anyway, remember this artist book I was working on? I mostly finished it shortly thereafter, but never posted any photos. I had a few binding chores left on the last couple in the edition, and I worked on that recently … which reminded me that I had never properly photographed it. Here are some images from the book.
A variable edition of 12 manuscript books; 4 are still available. The books are small at 1-5/8 in x 3 in x 1/2 in, and lettered in gouache with a metal pen.
The structure is a modified version of a flat-piano-hinge non-adhesive book described by Keith Smith in Non-Adhesive Bindings.
The clean, strong imagery of this text appeals to me. Indeed, the visuals were so strong that I endeavored to make the letters themselves illustrate the poem, which describes so beautifully the preciousness of words as well as our tenuous hold on them.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Harvest Crittenden’s workshop hosted by the Big Sky Scribes in Helena. The subject: Spencerian script. I had never studied this hand before. Harvest is very organized and clear, and we learned a lot in a short time. Now all we have to do is … practice, of course.
I haven’t been as regular about it as I could wish, but yesterday I sat down to practice in earnest again. I began with 2 pages of warm-up exercises designed to build kinetic memory. After the page of cross drills, I decided to simply trace, in pencil, a letter written in the 19th century in Spencerian. It helped to teach myself the rhythm of the script, and I was surprised to discover by that method a few things I had been glossing over. Then I wrote a letter in Spencerian using a ball-point pen. I have this lovely ball-point pen with a 0.3 mm point, and I didn’t want to get out ink.
Spencerian practice using a pencil and ball-point pen on B&R layout paper and Crane stationery.
Deadlines are looming and inspiration is elusive. I tidy my studio, clear out some old practice sheets .. and make some more. It’s a never ending cycle.
To entice the muse, I sit down to play a little. I’m thinking of another little book (and just now remembering I’ve never posted the last little book), so I experiment with a number inks/paints and a #6 Mitchell nib. The lettering is 1.5 mm x-height.
In anticipation of the upcoming conference, and the class that will be taught by Carl Rohrs, I get out a brush and do … something. It’s not much, but it reminds me what a pointed brush feels like in the hand. I feel some of the kinetic learning of a recent Spencerian workshop creeping in. That’s good.
Here’s my submission to the envelope contest that John Neal Books hosted in association with Seattletters. The deadline was April 20. The gray lettering is a post I read in a calligraphy group on social media. I surrounded it with text from an 1888 article by A. J. Scarborough which had been posted in 2000 to the Cyberscribes discussion list. I like the contrast in approaches 🙂
I penciled baseline guidelines 2mm apart for the small lettering, making the x-height about 1mm. I clipped a pointed nib (a blue Esterbrook of some sort, I think) to make a tiny broad-edge nib. Seattleletters address is #5 Mitchell nib, I think.
After all that work, I couldn’t bear to send it through the US Mail unprotected, so I made another envelope, just ¼” larger in each direction, to house the submission.
This piece, “Prairie Spring”, is currently on display in “The Horse” exhibition at the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery of the Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT. The text is a Willa Cather poem of the same name.
I’m so pleased to have been selected for inclusion in the annual juried review issue of the Letter Arts Review! And to be included as a tile on the page cover (top right)!
I realize that although I have posted a process image of the piece , I never did post a final image. Here it is, shown below. I’m also honored to have “Fragment” included “Formation,” a juried exhibition of the Guild of Book Workers which will travel to Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, and Philadelphia in the coming year.