Friday, 25 September 2020

Chapter 10: A Review of Book-type Structures

 Quite a considerable time ago I started making some book-type structures using whatever was to hand.  Initially these were simply folded. They all had soft covers which were made from carrier bags, paper wrappers and the like, the pages inside computer paper.  As time went on glueing and stitching became part of my repertoire and I searched out other papers for the pages.  Making these books gave me the opportunity to play with a range of materials and simple techniques.

Origami books: above (1) two trials with computer paper printed with my own photographs.

Below an origami book (2-6) using a Jigsaw carrier bag.  The design appealed and tempted me to add words on translucent paper -- sadly the paper strips didn't adhere too well.

Below a Snake Book (7) made from brusho painted computer paper over wax resist, finished with stamped words.  Each tiny page is wired to its neighbour.

The Fishtail (8) using Japanese paper glued to a scrap of something for the cover.  All materials were too soft.

A Concertina Book (9): beautiful Florentine marbled paper glued to thin card.  The brown paper pages were chosen for their colour, but they are soft and floppy when compared with the cover.  Superficially it looks good, but . . . 

Mood meets form and form function (10 and 11).  Below I've used handmade paper, coloured and stitched.  A strip of the paper binds the book.  It's then threaded through with dyed sari silk.  I feel this is really successful: the content, feel and look of the cover and pages are in perfect harmony.

Stitched Postcard Book (12 and 13): making straight folds in the thick card was probably the most difficult aspect of making this book.  Stitching for the same reason was troublesome.

Simple Stitched Book with One Signature (14):  here the cover is made with painted vilene, the pages of dyed lining paper.  The weights of both are a good match though I feel the vilene is overly heavy for its function and it lacks that special feel in the hand, so important given the book's contents (war poetry).

Wrap Cover (15 and 16): how lovely it is when things arrive through the post demanding something be done with them, they're far too good to throw away.  The cover below was a magazine wrapper.  The circular motif I cut from another part of it glueing on a piece of raffia by way of a tie.  Inside is light Japanese paper which compliments the cover well.

Dos-a-dos (back-to-back) pamphlet, (17): weigh and crispness of cover and pages are balanced.  A very handy design, though the squarish format is unusual.

Kantha Book (18 and 19) in stitch only: I included this because it made me consider more fully the feel of books in the hand.  Here not only has the stitching mellowed and integrated the colours, but working the fabric has softened it too.

Finally, Embroidered Book (20 and 21)using fabric from Module 3 stiffened with vilene and with fabric pages, an Ann Wood pattern.

There's so much learning in writing up this set of samples that I must note things down while things are clear in my mind.
  • The type of paper dictated the success of the fold: too soft and definition is lost, too thick the fold might not be straight.  Too thick paper can also create stitching problems.
  • Follow the grain, if possible, when folding -- grain parallel with the spine.
  • The weight of cover and pages must be sympathetic.
  • The feel of a book in the hand is very important.
  • Nothing should be disregarded as bookmaking material.
  • Consider stitch as a way of enhancing both the look and feel of paper and cover.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Chapter 9 : Stitched Edges

 At the end of Chapter 8 I took everything off my display board and made a new assembly of the samples that please me most and the stepping stones that led to their making.  At the top I have a phrase "Mood meets form".  I'm not sure where I found it or who coined it but the words seem to be good to hold in my mind as I work through Chapter 9.

So here are the factors I took into consideration:

  • what will the subject of the book be?
  • will the stitching be round the cover or individual pages and on all sides or some?
  • what about corners?
  • the weight of the paper will be significant and might work better with some ideas not others
  • the colours and materials used will need to complement the subject matter
  • when does an edge become a border?
  • have I the tools I need -- single hole punch, stiletto, pliers as well as needles and sewing machine?
Once started the ideas flowed and seemed to group themselves under a number of headings:


1.Rolled and machine stitched
2.Torn, folded, strung and knotted


3.Torn pieces, inked edges, fly stitched
4.Pleated torn strips with coloured pulp and cross stitch

Beaded and Looped

5.Wired on bugle beads

6.Looped on seed beads

7.Cord looped in two direct


8. Tape
9. Tufts of withdrawn threads
10.Small knots, piercing and ink edge

Stitched Writing

11.Paper String
12.Thicks and Thins
13.Thicks and Thins scaled up
14.Scrafitto and Stitching
15.Wax Resist and Stitching
16.Machine Stitched Zigzags
17.Machine Stitched Lines

Examples of Combinations

18. Lines and Zigzags
19, Loops and Wax Resist

Thoughts on Book Making

I think all of the edges above have writerly rhythms and it was really interesting to try out so many different materials and techniques.  Some of the paper is my own, but I've also used some Khadi Paper 150gsm.

My favourite of all the edges  is 18, the combination of two machine stitched samples.  Compared with many of the samples it is fairly flat and as an edge to a book page would work well.  Others are thicker and would rely on spacers within the book if they are not to be crushed.  However.  the book design could have decorative edges only along the page side opposite the spine.  These could also be of increasing width so that they stick out beyond the book cover.  As each page is turned the combination of edges is reduced.

A further consideration of this idea is the reverse of each stitched edge.  This could be tidied up under strips all decorated in the same way with, for example, the wax resist sample without any stitching.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Chapter 8 : Final Experiments

 So here are the final few experiments where I've stitched into paper using the research on lettering to inspire me.



First of all a loose grid with paper pulp filling some of the holes, others open and ready to have the lovely space dyed flat paper yarn looped through them.  I added a looping machine stitched border with space-dyed machine thread.  Trialling ideas is now something I frequently do.  In this piece I made some sample border strips and tried them against the original, not going ahead until I was sure.

Secondly, a rather wiggly grid embedded in paper pulp and with a border.  This detail shows repetitive hand stitching in a blue/brown floss with lots of spring.  These markings are in response to the calligraphy image 4:1:29.  I didn't pursue this idea, although I do like the lines of markings which are lovely and rhythmic.



The final piece shows free machining along embedded threads responding again to the calligraphy examples from my research.  You can see where the paper is thin and the pull of the machine stitching reveals the muslin underneath.

Final Thoughts:

Handmade paper is a very lovely surface on which to stitch.  The stitching does need careful planning because the surface can be fragile, though, as I've discovered it is possible to correct the position of a individual stitch and the hole heals over.  Surprisingly it is strong enough, if attached to a piece of muslin with repositionable adhesive, to stitch quite densely both with hand and machine stitch. 

The other thing I'd like to comment on at the end of this chapter is how good it is to have to hand other  module materials, but even more my own sketchbooks.  They are a great source of how to achieve things as well as inspiration.  Module 2's work is especially like this and because most of the work was flat instructions and samples are stored together and I was especially diligent about taking notes.  I wish I'd been able to work out a better solution for Module 3 where the work was largely 3D; this module will have similar issues.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Chapter 8: Borders

 I made up the paper pulp vat again using the cat litter tray which is good for making part sheets with my small deckle.  The paper sheets adhered best to the pieces with embedded threads, less well to the drawn thread pieces.  This in spite of putting all the sheets in my press.  As you'll see below this was not entirely wise: the drawn thread sheets were, of course, pressed all over squashing the paper pulp which had pushed its way through the holes and removed those lovely dramatic shadows -- a hard lesson!  Of course you have to be very careful when reapplying pulp, water travels a surprising distance wetting unintended areas.

The right coloured thread was something else I needed to consider.  From stock I found some nice linen thread and then from The Handweavers Studio I ordered some paper yarns and one made from abaca.  All have a lovely degree of "spring", or "memory" as the helpful girl at HS called it, this quality would work best with the lettering I wanted to embroider.  All these threads I then dyed using my blue recipe.


A final preparation was looking out my spray glue, only to find it had degraded and I had to throw it away.  As shopping in person is now something I hardly do I've ordered a replacement on line and it will magically appear tomorrow.


A little more warming up with charcoal.  I like a number of things about these results: the angularity of the letter forms, the thicks and thins, the light and dark, all achieved by a change in hand-pressure.  Printing, rather than embroidery might achieve this effect, but I'm not doing that, I'm embroidering . . .



I've used temporary spray adhesive and stitched in to 4:7:4, the piece which had become squashed when I pressed the border and sadly removed that 3D quality.  The hand stitching is in linen thread: its colour and spring give it just the right kind of prominence.  Much less successful are the paper letters spelling TIDES, also mounted on muslin.  When the letters were white they hardly showed so I coloured them blue, but they still remained too well camouflaged so that wasn't successful either. For the stitches on the letters I chose the finer silk thread used in the machine stitching.  The stitches are a little repetitive and restrained until I reached the "S", where they more closely resemble the linen stitches and that works better.  

Below is the final version of this piece and really a return to my starting point -- simplest is best!  In this image the lighting is right.


What is a great success is the silk piece 4:7:11!  My first thought was to weave upright sticks through it, then decided paper strips with poetry on them ("Sea Fever" by John Masefield") would be better.  Better still might be lines from a gansey knitting pattern and I may well make that change.  Much fiddling about with font and font size and the width of the strips, but these I think are just right.  It would be lovely to use my own handmade paper which would be a less stark colour, though I'm not sure my printer would like it. Or, I could machine stitch the words onto my paper.  The paper could also be used as a mount.

As I guessed in an earlier post, too much handling does soften the work.  


Lastly, in this group, a piece of some purity though this too has undergone some experimentation. I tried using some of the removed threads from the other dyed pieces, but even the softest tones were too strong: wrapping threads, of course, intensifies the colour.  So in the end the needle weaving is white on white.

My intention here was to create some half and whole lines achieving intersections randomly.  In doing so I hoped the tension of the stitching would develop angular holes, which has happened to some degree.  Is it possible to achieve the effect I'm describing?

The replacement border is much better.  Learning from a previous mistake I pressed only the border this time so that the drawn thread work wasn't crushed.  So much needs to be planned in advance and I think I made a wrong call in leaving the withdrawn threads rumpled along two sides. Withdrawing the threads in two directions would have been better, evening out the bulk, and probably covering them completely with the frame yet another better step.  I stitched into the border extending the needle woven lines diagonally and liked that effect, shown in 4:8:15.   A further thought: without the paper border I might have woven clumps of threads  into the surrounding linen something I'd tried in 4:6:9 and liked very much, though the threads there were variegated but with white on white the impact might not have been as great.




It's interesting how some ideas become part of a personal repertoire.  Here is a small section of my resolved sample from Module 1.  Extended lines stitched into the border.  To me it is a very attractive way of pulling a piece of stitching together.  Of course embossed lines on the border might be another nice idea.