Draw, Print, Repeat

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Small, handmade books with flap encloure

I made a bunch of little books using string tags for the covers. I experimented with color, and carved blocks to stamp the images onto the ink-dyed tags before sewing in the pages. Each book is 2.5 x 3.25 inches, or approximately 6 x 8 cm. Deciding what to print took a while as I wanted original designs based on my own drawings.

Robin drawings in pencil and ink

Since I tend to like detail, I had to figure out a way to change the drawing so it could be translated to a simplified block. I used this drawing of a robin, here, on the left. Then, I tried black ink variations to break it down to the essential elements. After that, I doodled some bird shapes because I felt the previous images were too stiff. The image on the right, is the final design I used to make the block. I tried to add some whimsy.

Drawings of a bandit cat

For the cat design, I started by sketching directly on the tags so I could more easily envision how it might look on the cover when it was finished. Then, I doodled a few more cats using a sharpie in order to investigate the black and white graphic elements.

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Drawing of a cat and a picture of a cat face that looks similar.

On the left is the finished drawing I used for the printmaking block. On the right is the sassy cat who inspired the image.

Block prints of a cat and a bird made into small books.

The finished printing blocks are quite small. The bandit cat is a 2″ square, or 5 cm, and the bird is only 1.5″, approximately 3.5 cm. 

String tag book with cat, and pile of sewn signatures.

In the end, I made 53 different little books while experimenting with color and pattern. I learned A LOT about working with existing materials, the limitations of manila tag stock, how to use a metal crimper to create the stretchy band closure, and, most importantly, what I will and won’t do next time!

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