Friday, August 11, 2017

More new journals from old books — AND here comes the LoLa art crawl!

The annual LoLa art crawl is coming up in about a month and I need to get serious about making journals to build up my inventory!

LoLa stands for League of Longfellow Artists, which is a volunteer-run neighborhood arts group that's been going around this South Minneapolis neighborhood every year for nine (9!) years now. I'll be setting up shop at the adorable little yellow cottage that is the home studio of LoLa cofounder Bob Schmitt, Laughing Waters Studio.

This is all happening September 16–17, by the way.

So here's a look at a journal I recently completed, when I wasn't feeling quite so rushed so I took some pictures along the way which I won't be doing anymore for a while now.

I started with a vintage book with a pretty cover that I picked up at a Duluth shop called Chester Creek Books and Antiques. It was only a dollar and the pages were brittle and yellowed, so I figured it was OK to take it apart and give the cover a new life.

I've written before about how I enjoy taking apart old books to examine how they were made, kind of like a kid taking apart an old alarm clock or something (when my daughter was in preschool, the teacher asked for donations of such things and then had these 4-year-olds take them apart; one parent later remarked that her child knew the difference between a Philips and a flathead screwdriver after that). OK, that was a bit of a digression; back to the book.

I made an interesting discovery when I started taking this book apart, and that was that they had repurposed some other printed matter when constructing the spine. Today we talk a lot about reusing and repurposing materials, but in past decades they did that sort of thing as a matter of course. The blue paper is attached to the spine of the cover, and the teal scrap is glued over the spine of the text block, covering the stitching. 

I saved those scraps because I thought it would be cool to reuse them again in a collage. And I suppose it would have been really cool to use them in the journal I made from this book, but I set them aside to use later.

This book did not have headbands, which I wrote about in the above linked blog post (or just click here instead). Those are often another example where materials were repurposed, at least in mass-produced books. Traditional headbands in fine bookmaking are handstitched, but bookbinders in the late 19th and early 20th century would make them from scraps of shirt fabric, a practice I have also employed. (Actually, I use various cotton fabric scraps, including some from old shirts.)

In the above photo, you see the blank text block I made to fill the new journal, next to the original text block. The original text block appears to have been sewn with a kind of chain stitch, then was rounded, then coated with glue (probably a type of rubber cement), and then the strip of paper was pasted over that.

My assembly is a little different. First, I used a running stitch with the signatures interlaced together. 

Instead of rounding the spine, I keep it flat so that the journal will lay open more easily for writing in. I brushed on a synthetic flexible glue known as PVA that's acid-free, so it won't yellow or become brittle. 

Next I glued on the headbands to protect the edges (top and bottom), and attached a ribbon page marker with more PVA. Finally, I attached end papers with a thin strip of glue and then wrapped linen tape around the spine in two places, which takes the place of the paper used in this book, or the webbing often used in traditional fine bookbinding. 

Here's a view showing the end papers that I glued to each side of the text block. This hand-marbled paper (made by Sally Power) will be attached to the cover boards, over the original endpaper shown on the inside of the back cover.

Setting aside the text block for the moment, I made a new spine for the cover boards, reusing my own paper scrap from an old calendar I made a few years ago. Since it's my own scrap, I know that it's acid-free paper and won't get brittle. The cloth covering the spine is a black linen tape, the same type as the white tape used to reinforce the text block. 

And here's the finished journal. Come see it in person during LoLa.


Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.