This summer a group of ten bookmakers embarked on a miniature book exchange challenge. Led by our excellent teacher and fearless leader, Lesha Shaver (LittleMountainBindery.com), we set out to give ourselves a creative push. For this challenge each bookmaker makes ten copies (at least) of their book and we exchange at the end so everyone receives a full complement of books. One specification is the books are miniature which means they are less than 3” max at each dimension. The Miniature Book Society (I am a member — mbs.org) allows that presentation boxes can be slightly larger but we decided to stay under the 3” guideline. Another requirement is that the books have content — probably complementary to the construction.
I took my first class with Lesha almost two years ago and to say I’ve been swept up in the bookmaking process would be an understatement. The creative energy that Lesha has shared with us has been a joy. Apart from the actual bookmaking, the best part of this journey has been participating in the classes with groups of like-minded creative people. Working with this talented group was the main reason I wanted to join the book exchange class.
Watching everyone’s project come alive over the summer, and now into fall, has been a treat! I know we have all pushed ourselves and learned quite a bit. First, you would think that smaller books are easier to make than larger books. No. Also, production runs of handmade books are a growth experience, for sure.
For my project I decided to use a series of my harp photos to tackle a couple techniques I had wanted to experiment with and use creatively. My book is a layered star book in a presentation box. I used five different photos which each have a foreground, middle layer with the harp, and background. When glued together the images give a dimensional tunnel view of the harps and the book opens up in a circle which is tied with a bow. I started off doing a lot of Photoshop work to each of the photos which later I ended up having to mostly undo. I was trying to limit the amount of ink my printer would use but the harsh borders ended up adding difficultly when cutting the images. I chose to make 14 books — 14 books x 3-layers for each book ended up being a lot of detailed cutting! Additionally, you have to take into account the tunnel effect of the layers so each layer is a different size. I have a much clearer vision now of things that I should have done to make the process easier and more consistent. Art is an ever evolving education!
Also, I learned a lot from the challenge in making a run of presentation boxes. I used old sheet music paper to cover the boxes and the book covers. The paper turned out to more fragile than I expected and that caused some hurdles. I had also planned to layer over the sheet music with some textured paper to add a little depth and an additional antique quality to the overall look. In the end I ran out of time and patience to cover everything again but I think the final outcome looks nice.
Another key to this puzzle for me was creating a new logo for my book. I wanted to create a stamp to use with one of Lesha’s foiling machines but it didn’t work out. The metal stamp wasn’t quite right to leave the impression I wanted. However, I love the final logo and I’m working it in to other things. A while ago I bought a rubber stamp with a beautifully stylized B which I had scanned and was using as part of my logo for cards and books. For this project I ended up combining the B with the outline of my harp and I think it is a great graphic representation of me and my work. I ended up printing the logo on to some of the old sheet music and cutting the shape out to apply to the books and boxes.
So, I finally finished all of my boxes and books! Just before we were about to have our final meeting. We had to postpone but we look forward to meeting on November 11th to exchange our books and oh and ah over all the masterpieces.
While working on my books… along the way errors were made, lessons were learned, curses might have been said, delightful things were discovered, and overall I’m proud of how the project came out and I hope the group will enjoy the books as well.