Bind, Iterate, Bind

Today’s project was to take the hardbound book I made last week and make another one, improving some of the parts that went sideways in that first iteration. Up

Here’s what I ended up with:

Photo of hardbound book

The paper is from a pad of 70 lb. Strathmore drawing paper I purchased at Michaels; it’s a step up from the Staples copier paper that I used for my coptic stitched book.

While not as toothsome as the St. Armand paper I used in the last version, it has the benefit of being slightly less precious-feeling (Catherine said “the paper is so nice I don’t want to draw on it” about the last book; this is not a good quality for a sketchbook to have). It was a bit of a challenge to wrangle the paper out of the pad along its perforated edges, so I suspect this isn’t a paper source I’ll go back to. But it did the job.

The stitching, in red cotton thread, went much easier, partly because it was my second time, and partly because the thread didn’t get bunched up nearly as much.

Photo of signature stitches in book opened wide.

The cover stock and book board beneath it are the same combination I used last time, but I got the spacing of the covers and the spine right this time, meaning that the book opens and closes very pleasantly.

For the endpapers I used a map of Mbarara, Uganda that I rescued from the University of Calgary Library in 2014. I felt bad about cutting up the map; but otherwise it was destined to live a live of solitude on my paper shelf, and at least now parts of it will have a new life.

Photo of endpapers of book, a map of Mbarara, Uganda

As you can see in that photo, I was liberal in my ribbon-marker length; truth be told, when I cut the ribbon I thought “this is way, way too long.” It wasn’t. I need to singe the end of the ribbon lest it fray; I’m afraid to do this, as there’s some chance the book might burn to the ground if I’m not careful.

Another photo of the book itself, in the summer sun

There is still much, much to get better at. My glue-management is still dreadful. I haven’t mastered the art of cutting reams of paper with a knife (I was formally trained to cut single sheets of paper only). I need to become better at right angles. And bone folder use.

I really could throw it all in and do this all the time, though; it’s lovely work to practise.

Olle Goes to Mediamatic

My friend Olle doesn’t blog very much, but when he does it is, as a result, doubly special.

Yesterday he wrote about a trip to Amsterdam and, in particular, to Mediamatic, which is a Dutch institution that I’ve followed agog, from afar, for many years.

After this journey into aesthetics, we relocated to a new  had very good pizzas at Mediamatic ETEN. Elderflower lemonade! Someone speaking Danish tended the bar. “Take a look around!” Aquaponics gardening in a greenhouse with colored LEDs. “Oh, all food here’s vegan.”

There are plans afoot for Oliver and I to return to the Netherlands at the end of August, and I hope that we can make Mediamatic one of our destinations.

Red Thread

One of the advantages of having a partner in the fibre arts industry is a ready supply of various and sundry threads. Courtesy of same, I sewed up a new text block yesterday, using some red cotton thread that Catherine gave me to sew together signatures made from sheets of 70 lb. Strathmore drawing paper.

Closeup photo of sewn case block

I Made a Coptic Stiched Book

One of the challenges I face in learning about bookbinding is a striking inability to think clearly in three dimensions; it’s no wonder that my vocations to date have been firmly rooted in the comfortable two dimensional plane of printing.

No more so was this true than in my attempt to sew together a coptic-stitched book today, helped along by this video how-to.

Coptic binding is simple, at its heart, but it requires the ability to retain a three dimensional picture of where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going, and this is something almost beyond my abilities.

But I kept at it, and here’s what I made:

Coptic-bound book

Detail of stitching on the coptic-bound book

Coptic-bound book standing up on its end

Coptic-bound book laying open, flat

Inside cover of the coptic stitched book

My stitching went off the rails a few times; most of the time I managed to wrangle things back into order, but there are a couple of gnarly bits there. Coptic stitching is a struggle to maintain just the right amount of tension in the cord to hold things pleasantly together, without making it tight enough to tear nor loose enough to flop around. I didn’t win that battle completely, and my book is a little too floppy for my tastes.

My big error in judgment was opting to use stock 20 pound printer paper for the inside pages; after dealing with the substantial living organism that is St. Armand machine made paper, constituted from rag not wood, stitching through Staples paper feels horrible and unforgiving and deeply unsatisfying. Never again.

That all said, the book does lay open flat rather pleasantly–coptic binding’s strong suit–and I was proud of my ability to translate the stitches on the video into stitches in reality.

I made the covers from the same sheet of “display board” I used to cover my hardbound book earlier in the week; I covered them with some lovely, thick green paper that Catherine gave me last year. The inside covers are Japanese paper from the same odds-and-sods lot I picked up at The Ikebana shop. The stitching is with green linen cord I purchased at the NSCAD art supply store a few years ago.

The only way I’m ever going to crack this thinking-in-3D nut is with practice, so I’ll make more coptic-bound books until I get it down.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

It seems that I cannot escape the theatre: I move, and the theatre follows.

It all started with a sewer backup.

As the CBC reported in mid-June, the Mackenzie Theatre, an annex of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, experienced a sewer backup that forced the closure of a basement rehearsal hall. The spill-over effect of this was that the Confederation Players needed a new home for at least part of the summer and, St. Paul’s Anglican Church Parish Hall, being only a block a way, proved to be a convenient emergency base.

The Confederation Players are a Confederation Centre side-hustle wherein “history comes alive when you stroll down Charlottetown’s historic district … a troupe of costumed, young Canadians, trained as the Fathers and Ladies of Confederation.”

Said troupe of the costumed young now occupy the former Sunday School classroom beside my office here in the Parish Hall basement, and their youthful exuberance has spread over the land. At this very moment, for example, their voices are joined in harmony with a modern take on Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler’s seminal 1983 power ballad.

Indeed this is but one example of what amounts to being the only fly in the ointment of this arrangement, that being that when the members of the troupe are here in the basement they are in their down time.

And so while they may be dressed like J.C. Pope, they are also talking about socialism, merengue, varieties of scotch, and the ins and outs of southern BBQ1. The effect is quite disconcerting, and effectively ruins the theatricality of the troupe for me when I encounter them playing croquet or holding forth on Maritime Union, as they are inclined to do outside these basement walls, when they are on the job (a job, I should add, that all evidence suggests they all take very seriously, with great concern for both historical nuance and theatricality).

It’s hard to believe the Disney magic when you’ve seen Mickey Mouse smoking out behind the castle.

Nonetheless, aside from the occasional theatrical outburst outside my door that disrupts my flow, I’m happy to have the young Canadians next door: if it weren’t for them, many days I wouldn’t lay eyes on a single soul outside my family, and the life they breathe into these hallowed halls is welcome.

1. My impression of what young adults talk about; this impression may be influenced by the fact that I can’t really here what they’re talking about.

Engage the Plasma Drive

After a three week delay due illness, I was back at Canadian Blood Services in Charlottetown this afternoon for my monthly plasma donation.

Since I started on this round of donating, after a 10 year gap, today was my first time back wearing summertime clothing, meaning that the bright pink wrap, with “Give Blood” printed on it, looped around my donation site, was in full view. Making me appear to be a member of a militant band of pro-blood-donating rebels. Which, in a way, I am.

Photo of my post-donation arm, with wrap

While I was having my blood pressure taken, during the pre-donation screening interview, I noticed a poster advertising Canadian Blood Services’ Give Blood mobile app, and I took advantage of the free donor wifi to install it on my phone while I was donating. It’s a slick, well-designed, helpful app packed with useful functionality, like calendar integration, notifications, a digital donor card, the ability to see (and reschedule, if needed) upcoming appointments, and a lifetime donation total (mine is 16; today’s will make it 17).

Screen shot of Give Blood app

As I’ve mentioned in this space before, Canadian Blood Services has really upped its game in recent years: the plasma donation time is now down to about an hour (from the time you walk in the door until the time you walk out the door), the pre-screening questionnaire can be filled out online before you arrive, the call centre is religious about calling with appointment reminders; and the nursing staff are as friendly and accommodating as they’ve always been (my nurse, looking at my plasma through the microscope during the screening, told me that I have “beautiful plasma”).

If you’ve a spare hour every month–or every two months, or once a year–and don’t mind being poked in the arm (by some of the best arm pokers you’ll meet)–I encourage you to make an appointment: just call 1-888-2-DONATE.


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