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One more book arts (ish) video

April 21, 2011

Gorgeous: Paper cut pop-ups are brought to life when images are projected onto them:


Commercial Bindery in 1947

April 21, 2011

I recently discovered a new book arts blog, (I apologize for the name of the blog–I’m really not a fan. It did make me laugh when I learned that the blog author is from Ireland, though. I lived in Ireland for a year, and um… I heard that word a lot).

Anyway, today (confession time) I spent a good hour and a half going through the entire archive. She’s dug up a lot of fun and beautiful stuff, it was inspiring going through it. Maybe I’ll share some of my favorites later. For now, here is a fun video of a commercial bindery in 1947:

Coptic Binding with Oxidized Copper Plate Covers

April 11, 2011

My friend Kristin had her dad crimp and drill these plates for me years ago, and then we had fun oxidizing the plates in a bath of ammonia, sawdust and rock salt. The result was very pretty, if I do say so myself. This month, I _finally_ got around to making a book with the plates. I think the copper plates make beautiful covers. I’d like to play more with copper in my bindings.

(The book is available for sale at my Etsy Shop)

Even more on the Tongan Book Arts Project

April 6, 2011

Remember the Book Arts Collaboration in Tonga that I keep talking about?

The project officially has a title and website now, with beautiful studio photographs of the artists’ works: Manulua Bookart. Be sure to click over and check it out.

The show is already slated to exhibit in the UK, but if you’re aware of any galleries (anywhere!) that would be interested in exhibiting the show, please let us know.

Book Arts in Tonga Part 3: The Finished Books

April 5, 2011

At the end of the week-long workshop, we enjoyed a traditional Tongan feast and put out our finished (and our not-yet-finished) books for a bit of show and tell. (Some of us–me, cough– didn’t finish until after returning home, but here’s where we were at the end of the final day):

And here’s my finished book:

Book Arts in Tonga part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4

Joe is working to get some exhibitions of the show put together, hopefully internationally. I’ll keep you updated with what happens with the show.

Update: The project now has a website with studio photographs of much of the work:

Book Arts in Tonga part 2: Learning Tongan Design and Making Books

March 31, 2011

Once we had made the tapa cloth and the koka dye, we had a bit of instruction on Tongan design, then three of us from the group gave a basic bookbinding demo. Next, we were shown some printmaking techniques, and finally we set to work to create our own books.

I am sad to say I don’t remember our Tongan art instructor’s name. But he showed us the basic principles behind Tongan design and their names. The sketches below are his. Each design/ pattern has its own name.

The seed thing below is used as a paintbrush. It is dipped in the koka dye, and the designs are then painted on the tapa cloth.

These women had obviously worked with tapa all their lives. They painted their designs very quickly and without any hesitation.

For special occasions or people or rank or special guests or ceremony etc, tapa cloths are laminated together with tapioca glue to make huge tapa cloths.  When a large tapa is made, the stencil below is used to make a sort of template for the tapa design. The stencil is placed under the tapa, and ink is dabbed gently on top, the transferred ink effect is similar to a crayon rubbing.

Here is a large tapa that was laid out for us to see.

It was fun that we had just made the tapa and understood the process, because on our flight back from Vava’u to Tonga Tapu, the queen of Tonga was on Shannon’s and my flight, which explained why they were laying out a huge tapa outside the plane (for the queen’s boarding of the plane):

I didn’t get any photos of me and my friends Shannon and Jenny giving bookbinding demos. Go figure. But we made several fun little models and demonstrated how to put them together. We tried to stay basic but offer enough options to get creative juices flowing. Next up was printmaking techniques.

Jenny and Linda demonstrated how to make a photopolymer plate using a scratch board and the sun. They rigged up the contraption below to use as an exposure unit. (The design is Joe Ostraff’s)

Processing (washing out) the plate:

I have to say it worked like a charm (as long as the sun was shining) ;)   They had also brought a couple of those little to-it-yourself letterpresses/ kits that you can buy at the craft store, and the end result was not bad for do-it-yourself printmaking on a remote Tongan island (sorry I didn’t get any photos of the printing process, but some of the printmaking will show up in the post showing the finished books).

Our Tongan artist/instructor whipped up the linoleum carving below: (A bunch of us used it to make tee-shirts) :)

And finally we were ready to get down to the business of making our books. Below are photos of people hard at work.

Ethan made his woven book cover out of snack chips packages.

Maddison’s book was made by adding one folded tapa section at a time, the sections progressively growing. As they built up, it curled like a snail shell.

The next Tonga report post will show the final works of the artists. I’ll try to have it up soon. :)

Book Arts in Tonga part 1 / part 2 / part 3 / part 4

Grangerized Books (Art made from books)

February 23, 2011

A few weeks ago sent me a great vocabulary word for the day:

grangerize \GRYEN-juh-rahyz\

verb: 1. To add to the visual content of a book by inserting images not included in the original volume, often by mutilating other books.

2. To mutilate books in order to get illustrative material for such a purpose.

(Above: Grangerized book by Brian Dettmer)

“He looked up from his reading, ‘An Illustrated History of Sparta,’ which he proceeded to grangerize.”

— Roger Rosenblatt, Beet: A Novel

“If, however, Mr. Lindsay is determined to grangerize his collections, I would suggest that before he does so he should examine the illustrated Clarendon in the Bodleian Library which has the character for being the most magnificent grangerized book in existence.”

— William White, “Regimental Messes,” Notes and queries, Volume 82, 1890.

Grangerize is named after James Granger (1723-1776), an English clergyman whose “Biographical History of England” (1769) included blank areas for additional illustrations.

And more definitions from online dictionaries:

-verb- to illustrate (a book already printed) with engravings, prints, etc. obtained elsewhere, often by clipping them from other books.
-verb- to damage (a book) by clipping such engravings, etc.

(Above: Grangerized book by Yuken Teruya)


A lot of artists these days are using the book as their medium. While I’m not sure all of their work exactly matches the definition of the word grangerize, when I first read the definition, I thought right away of artists such as Cara Barer, Yuken Teruya and the master of book mutilation–uh–grangerization, Brian Dettmer.

I’ve wanted to do a blog post (or individual blog posts) on artists whose medium is books (and paper) for a long time. And while I would still love to feature more artists in this blog, in the meantime there are plenty of great online galleries of grangerizers’ works.

Check out this link, this, this, this, and this (bearing in mind that there are some repeats) for some really great art made from books.