Monday, June 27, 2011

Books, Books, Books

This time I thought I would share some of the books I have made and/or taught. A couple of weeks ago, my bookbuddy Pam and I taught a class about ancient Chinese book structures. Pam made a great handout with a lot of the history involved, and drew really clear pictures for the instructions I had made up. We chose two of the structures to teach the class to make, a version of the palm-leaf book (called a Pothi) that the Chinese made from bamboo strips knotted together, and a transitional book from the scroll to bound pages called the Whirlwind book. Here is a picture of the class holding their books.

Pam and I are on the left.

Everybody had a good time, and there were some really interesting papers the class used to back the bamboo strips we used for the Pothi. The paper for the Whirlwind was all the same, a lovely tan sumi-e paper with gold flecks.

I had to make up the instructions by looking at the pictures I found on the internet, and making samples that looked right enough. My husband helped by cutting the half-round molding we used for the Whirlwind book (in lieu of split bamboo rounds), and asked me when I had become an expert on ancient Chinese book structure. I truthfully answered, "Yesterday."

All the people you see in the picture above with the exception of me and the person in the blue shirt hiding her face with her Whirlwind, are wonderful calligraphers and will no doubt use their books for that. I can't wait to see what they do--I sure hope they will show me! Below is a photo of some of the books the class made.

These are all Pothi. The one on the left is backed with a map; the black one is backed with a recycled paper bag from a National Park gift shop; the one below that uses Italian paper; and the other three use handmade paper.

Here is a photo of my sample Whirlwind book.

I used some light brown handmade paper for the sample (hadn't gotten the paper for the class yet), and I used  some skinny brown wool for the tie. The button is a wonderful carved owl.

One of the calligraphy groups I belong to has an annual conference called Letters of Joy. It is usually held the first weekend in May, but the calendar fooled us this year, and it was held the last two days of April. I taught a couple of classes on the Australian Flat Piano Hinge Book. This is an interesting structure that has a flat piece of board inserted into an accordion fold which is passed through a slit in a folded page. It is easy to take a page out or put one in, and the structure was simple enough to finish in the allotted two hours for the class. Of course that meant I had to do most of the cutting--I needed 10 pages for each student, plus two cover pieces, plus the strips for the hinge. I decided to cheat and use craft sticks with the hinges, as they are already the right size for the 6 x 9 inch pages I was using. Well, I ended up with 22 students between the two classes, so there was a LOT of cutting to do! And I knew I would need extra, because people do make mistakes and need another piece to finish the project. I made kits, with the craft sticks--some colored, some plain wood, depending on the cover paper--the 10 sheets of watercolor paper, the hinge strip, and heavier scrapbook papers for the covers. I ended up with 36 kits and a few extra sheets of watercolor paper.

Here are some of my LOJ students, working hard on their books

And here are some of their books:

You can see in the front book how the flat piano hinge works. Someone asked me why it was called Australian, and all I could think of was, because the hinge was down under the page.

I took a class myself, from Patricia Glass (she owns Green Heron Books in Oregon). She called it the Slinky Book, and it certainly is! It has at least 50 pages, if it is to slink properly, and coping with them as you sew is sometimes challenging. I only got about fifteen pages sewn in the class, but I did finish the book. Here are some pictures of it.

Patricia had painted and cut all the pages to size, as well as the cover boards and papers and the length of ribbon. Fifty (or more) pages per student, and two classes--what a chore! And I was grumbling about ten pages!  But she is a wonderful teacher, and her efforts were much appreciated.

That's enough for now, I think--until next time, Nan


  1. Hey, Nan! I just wanted to share with you my steampunk wallet that I made using the "rust" technique you taught at the NWPCG clay camp in May. [I couldn't figure out how to email you directly--sorry!] I've not have much time to clay but what time I've had, I've spent on making a couple of rusty wallets. The covers are just black polymer clay treated with the surface treatments from your class. So much fun! Here's the link:


  2. Hi Nan
    I stumbled across your blog and found it very inspiring. I'm currently doing a creative project every day on the them of books - Project Book 365 - thought you might like to take a look:

    Thanks for spreading your creativity, I'll look out for more lovely and fabulous things

    Amy :)