I haven’t been very happy with the finish process I’ve been using for the wooden covered books. It’s too slow, and I’m not satisfied with the results.
Considering that I want people to handle the books, I feel that they should withstand a reasonable amount of wear and tear. I don’t think that shellac is suitable since it doesn’t handle moisture very well and wet or sweaty hands could adversely affect it.
So I was using a commercial varnish, but it had a very gloss finish which felt plasticy. I would then spend a while burning the surface with wax and steel wool to knock back the shine. It was just too time consuming and fiddly.
Somebody recommended Osmo finishes and it was love at first application. This stuff can be rubbed on like an oil. A few thin coats (I’ve been using 4 coats on the books) and it builds up a beautiful matt finish which should be hard wearing. After all, this stuff is sold for use on flooring, and if there’s a harder wearing surface than a floor with all it’s foot traffic, I’d like to know about it.
I’ve actually resurfaced our dining table with the stuff and it no only looks great, but seems to be holding up really well too.
I made two test books using the Osmo finish. I got two different Osmo oil to try, one being a clear matt finish, and the other has a slight milky look. I mucked up my test books and mixed up the batches, putting one coat of each product on each book, but they still came out looking great. I’ve since done another batch of books with just the clear matt and they look great.
While I enjoyed the show (and the lemon filled donuts 🙂 ), I was disappointed there weren’t more art books there, and I mean books as art, not books about art. Since starting down this road of discovering book binding, I’ve gone from seeing book binding as just a craft, to discovering that bookbinding can also be a form of art. I don’t really consider the binding I do as art (although I’d love to get to that point), but I have seen online, and at the San Francisco Centre of the Book, some amazing examples of where books are the medium of expression.
The NGV Art Book Fair I went to today was mainly about books whose subject was art or artists. There were also local publishers and printers who are producing books for artists, and I was happy to see there were so many. In fact it was great to see so much enthusiasm for books and physical printing on paper (as opposed to the web) in general.
The wood I split way back when, has finished drying and I made some books from it. This is still cypress, but it’s a lighter coloured version (more sap wood perhaps?). It doesn’t feel as dense either. It’s still nice to work with though.
I also played around a little with the surface texture of the books. I mainly used a fairly flat gouge for the previous covers, perhaps using a smaller gouge for some highlight or detail work. But with this batch, I did a couple completely with the narrow gouge and it leaves a great textured finish. The texture of the books is always important to me. They don’t just have to look good, but they have to feel good in the hand. If I close my eyes and just use my hands, I want to still enjoy what I’m holding, and I think I achieve that with this batch of books.
The later title includes instructions on making several different types of books including sewing up a text block using “French Link Stitch”. (Actually I just checked and both books have instructions for this technique, but I think the “Little Book” is easier to follow, although “Making Handmade Books” has more suggestions for how to add covers.)
I’d seen this technique in photos online and wanted to try it, so I followed the directions and now I have four nice text blocks sewn using the French link stitch. It’s a lovely stitching pattern all by itself.
I did a one day short course on “Simple Bookbinding” yesterday through the CAE.
I made what is possibly the ugliest book I’ve ever made, but it’s mine and I’m proud of it.
I don’t think I’ll post any detail shots. The tension on stitching the text block was bad so it’s all a bit loose, and the cover didn’t go on well so the inside covers crumpled when I closed it the first time.
Having said that, it was a lot easier than I expected to make a hard bound book like this. I’m sure with a little practice, I’ll get the hang of it.
We finished a bit early, so the instructor took us through some variations on Japanese stab binding.
I really enjoyed this book. The first part of the book is a call to arms for people who make stuff, and the new technologies enabling makers.
I’m not sure to what extent the book applies to what I do with book making, as it doesn’t scale very well. A desktop CNC milling machine isn’t going to help me make books any faster, although I think a laser cutter might come in useful. But being able to sell books straight from my little shed to an international audience via my Etsy shop, well that it kinda neat.
The rest of the book is an interesting mediation on how new production and sales methods could revolutionise the manufacturing industry.
The two wooden books are for sale on my Etsy store. They are the last of my most recent batch of wooden books. I’ve got more blanks for front and back covers but I haven’t started making them up into books yet. I guess it’s time I started.
The other little books are just a bit of fun, and a nice way to use up small bit’s of left over paper. I haven’t listed any of these on my store. I don’t know if it’s worth it. But I might have a market stall one of these days and sell these.
I tried writing about why I like making books, but I don’t think I captured it too well. There’s no single reason I do this, so I probably can’t answer the question in one post, or even two, but here’s a bit more…
I make stuff with my hands because it’s not a computer.
In my day job, I sit on my ass for 8 hours a day, staring at a computer screen. I love technology, and will happily geek out to things, but after doing computer stuff all day, I suffer from two problems:
I get bored of looking at computers
I get terribly unfit
I just spent an hour in the shed preping paper for two new mini books, and making a new awl for punching holes to sew through.
My first awl isn’t doing too well. The nail I made it from is apparently low carbon steel and won’t temper, so the point is soft and keeps bending. I just made this new one by gluing a large needle into a handle of apple wood from the apple tree in our back yard.
Cutting, drilling, carving, gluing. Not one of these things is high tech, and I love it, and they all keep me moving. No ass sitting.
Of course I’m now sitting on my ass in front of the computer writing this. Irony perhaps?
The sun is shining so it’s time for me to hit the publish button and get back outside.