I created one of my first handmade books on a summer trip when I ran out of space in the store-bought journal I had along. So, I improvised by constructing an emergency book out of hotel note paper, a store bag from a souvenir purchase, and the hotel sewing kit. That was 20 years ago. Here is an updated version of that now-historical experience. For research purposes (really, because it was fun and I wanted to) I made a found-materials book this morning while staying with a relative. This is how I did it– then and now — and you can, too!
Gather your supplies. This is fun. Be open to discovering or usurping supplies from wherever you encounter them.
Paper for pages: I have used papers such as the notepad next to the phone in a hotel room, receipts, and collected brochures. You could also us discarded documents from a business office’s recycle bin, uncolored pages from your child’s coloring book, anything with blank spaces for drawing or writing.
A cover: something slightly heavier, from the packaging from your lunch, to a shopping bag, to the menu you “borrowed” from a restaurant, or the cover stock from that paperback you were going to leave in the hotel anyway.
Needle: Doesn’t have to be an actual needle, just something that will allow you to get your thread or string-like substance through a hole.
A pushpin: easily obtained from a random coffee shop bulletin board, or the junk drawer at your mother-in-law’s house.
Thread or Cord: I was lucky enough to find a travel sewing-kit in my hotel room at that time. Since then, I’ve used the raffia off of a table decoration, the curly ribbon from a balloon centerpiece, and a shoelace.
Scissors, if you can locate a pair. Otherwise, folding and tearing can be your friend, and can yield rustic results.
How to Proceed. These are some general steps to follow. Feel free to improvise.
Assess your paper situation. The pieces don’t necessarily have to be the same size. In fact, variation can add a little whimsy. Fold your collected papers in half and stack them together. These will be used for the inside of your book.
Make a cover out of the heavier found material. It should be the same size as your biggest piece of paper you are using for the inside pages. You might have to cut or tear the bag, packaging, cardboard, or whatever you found.
(Attempt to) fold your cover in half. This will be easy if it’s the material is not too heavy. Sometimes, you can take advantage of existing creases, like say, at the fold of a box corner. Or, in the case of the photo examples here, I used a blank greeting card.
Stack all of your papers together. Make a paper taco with the cover on the outside.
Now comes the dangerous part. Without drawing blood, poke two holes in the folded, inside edge of your stack. Leave at least ½” from the top and bottom of the book.
Gather your sewing material. If you’ve got something substantial, like raffia or ribbon, or a shoe lace with a plastic seal, you might be able to roll and poke the end through the hole you’ve made without a needle. If you have thread and needle, proceed as you would if you were sewing regularly. Double or quadrupling the thread for strength.
Assemble the book by sewing from the inside top hole to the outside of the book. Sew back into the other hole. You might repeat this several times depending on how much string you have, or how strong your cord is. In the case of dental floss (as per photo example) I sewed through twice.
Once you have both ends on the inside of the book, tie a firm square knot. You could also decide you want the knot to be on the outside spine of the book because it’s nice and decorative when the excess hangs down.
And, voila! You have a pamphlet book made from found materials ready for notes, musings, drawings, or storing small mementos.
Cotton fabric comes in plenty of solid, consistently dyed colors. Sometimes that’s exactly what I need, and what I expect when I purchase it. However, I appreciate the depth of layers and happenstance that occur when I hand-dye my own cloth.
I use the low-water immersion dye method, so you can forget that stinky pot of boiling chemicals steaming up the kitchen. Each piece of cloth is individually wrapped in it’s own packet or soaking in a container, left to absorb just enough dye to saturate the cloth. This allows for some migrating, pocketing, and patterning to occur, allowing for variations in the final surface.
I dyed 8 half-yards to use as the substrate for printed book covers. While the colors are nice, they are not as intense as I’d hoped. I lost a lot of dye in the wash-out, and it took repeated rinsing to get the water to run clear. I don’t know if the muslin I’m using just doesn’t hold the dye, (I wonder this because I over-dyed an older piece of heavier cotton from my stash and it held the same dye really well,) or there’s an effect from the softened water I used for rinse out, or if there’s something else I’m missing. If you know what I did wrong, please let me know!
In any case, I ended up with completely useable, pretty cloth. It will become more complex when I manipulate it further with printing and sewing.
June is Adopt-A-Cat Month here in the United States. A brilliant and worthy celebration! So, why have I waited so long to celebrate? Lack of direction? Indifference? Too busy? NO! Just wasn’t sure how to properly honor such an awesome event…so, I finally made a work of art to show my support.
“Of the 3.4 million cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.”
I read that statement multiple times… MILLIONS of cats?! more are euthanized than adopted! only 5% returned to owners? Isn’t anybody looking?! We (as an internet culture especially) worship cats on a scale that the Egyptians couldn’t even imagine. And Egyptians took their cats very seriously. Did you know that, “because of widespread cat smuggling in ancient Egypt, the exportation of cats was a crime punishable by death?” Animal Planet (I got this factoid and others here at Animal Planet.)
Adopting a new kitty, or adding some more to your collection, is the obvious way to celebrate Adopt-A-Cat Month, but if you simply can’t for practical reasons, then there are other ways to help.
Volunteer at your local shelter as a cat caretaker, helping in the socialization (this means petting and playing!), care, and well-being of cats until they are adopted.
Donate your dollars to cat rescue sites in your area. Many rescue agencies are run by individuals or small groups who personally assume the monetary burden of rescue. During the summer months, they are often saturated with kittens and need additional donations of food, old towels, carriers, cat toys, and cat litter.
Some areas sponsor trap, neuter, and release programs to help moderate and maintain feral cat colonies. Before I moved to Michigan, I was the Sunday night feeder for feral cats who lived in parking lots at nearby businesses. I supplied the food, and my husband and I would drive around just after dark every Sunday and leave food for groups of spayed/neutered colonies. Sometimes we would find new cats, or new kittens, which would then get trapped, neutered, and released back into the colony. Captured kittens were often adopted to good families!
While June is the official Adopt-A-Cat month, I think that every month should be Adopt-A-Cat month! I love cats and will advocate for happy, healthy, well cared-for cats with glee and passion. We all need a(nother) kitty!
You may notice a few changes at Art Is Not For Sissies, like a new header and formatting, and a little more headline action for Attack Cat Studio. When I reached the “1000 Likes” milepost this week, I decided the best way to say THANK YOU!! to my readers was to update my look. You know, make it more spiffy, add some organization, tell you a little bit about myself…some important details for someone who has reached ONE THOUSAND likes. It is my own fault that it took me four years of erratic blogging to get here, and, frankly, compared to some bloggers, 1000 likes is something they do every day. But, hey, the tally means a lot to me, and because of you, here we are at this moment of transformation. Cheers, friends!
My new art fair tent canopy finally arrived at my house! I opened the long box, pulled out the pristine white tent structure, the sturdy sidewalls, and the instructions. I was perusing the information and checking the contents to make sure everything was in order.
Yellow tabby seeks employment as tummy rub model . She is well-groomed, has a professional attitude, and lots of experience on the catwalk. Interested? Comment below to have Lucy’s people contact your people.
I am assembling small printing blocks because I enjoy…
Multiples: Being able to reproduce the same, or similar image repeatedly and in variation so that there is more than one.
Repetition: I am naturally attracted to patterns. There is beauty in organization, design, and structure. Can be organic or geometric.
Layered imagery. Inspired by the effects fabric artists get with cloth and my long-time experience in using watercolor. I want to create depth through layering of color and image.
I used Speedy Cut for the large square block, and sticky-backed flexi cut, which is a thin, easy-to-cut rubber material, mounted to a square of thick binder’s board for the shape blocks.
Blocks were then printed onto a piece of handmade 100% cotton rag paper that I previous painted with watercolor and left to dry covered in bubble wrap. The resulting image leaves the circle pattern of the bubble wrap in the dry paint.
This paper will get used as a cover for a handmade book, so stay tuned! More about that, later.
I mean a row where things are lined up in a queue, as opposed to the kind of row one does to propel a boat, or a row that means a quarrel or dispute. I doubled-rowed here, where I illustrate a sequence of events in a row, as well as present the image of Miss Bean who appears in rows on a mesh screen which was used to print on fabric that became the cover of a book. I call this one “Green Bean.”