Friday, 31 October 2008

Re:Paper wins BEST Zombie Award!

Congratulations to Sara,! After a week of active voting, Sugar Skull earned the most votes and is hereby officially awarded the 2008 BEST Zombie Award! Sara wins all associated bragging rights, to be used at her discretion, for a full year. She can also make liberal use of the BEST Zombie Award graphics. And finally, here is a closer look at her and the winning book!

The winning book bears a skull inspired by Day of the Dead sugar skulls, with clever matching vibrant candy wrappers sewn into the binding.

Sara titled this book, "Momento Moir, Sugar Skull Blank Book" and wrote "Eat candy and be merry. For tomorrow we die. Ah Halloween... the innocence of candy and playing dress-up, the darkness of nasty pranks and reminders of our mortality." Such a succinct and thoughtful summary of the Halloween traditions, and wonderfully represented here in book form!

Sara calls herself a hackbooker. She says "Hackbooking," her own bit of jargon, is the craft of guerilla bookbinding. Using found objects and fine papers, to create unique mixed-media books, albums, and folding frames. She is also a photographer and sometimes incorporates her photography in her books as well.

More lovely examples of her work, currently available on Etsy:

Thank you Sara, for making such a terrific book for our Halloween challenge. Happy Halloween and happy bookmaking to all!

Read the Interview with Sara

Visit her shop:

Visit her blog:

Friday, 24 October 2008

Vote for the BEST Zombie Award

Vote for the book that you think should win the BEST Zombie Award for 2008. The small photos shown below will link to larger photos and descriptions to help you decide. Then select your favorite and vote using the poll here on the right side of the page.

Here are the candidates:

Frankenstein's Monster
Sugar Skull
Black and Gold
Owl Photo Album
Skull and Bones
Candy Corn
Coffin in a Coffin
Screamin' Red
Trick or Treat

The members of the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team were invited to make themed books for the BEST Zombie Award, using any of the upcoming holidays as inspiration: Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, etc. The award will be given to whoever gets the most votes! So check out the books then vote for your favorite using the Poll located in the right sidebar. Everyone can vote, tell your friends to vote, spread the word! Voting will close on October 31st.

Thanks to everyone who accepted the Halloween Challenge! And thanks also to everyone who voted and left comments for us. Yay, Sugar Skull!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What Brush is Best for Glue?

By special request, we'll be taking a look at brushes for use with glue this week. It seems a natural progression from the last topic, so here we go!

To be honest, I knew nothing about brushes for applying glue in bookbinding prior to researching this topic. I've been using a cheap little flat brush which has served me well. But now that I know there are other options available I'd like to try some of them out.

First I looked around to see if there were any professional bookbinders making recommendations for brushes. As we saw in Peter's Goodwin's YouTube video entitled "Glue", he uses a round brush, hollow in the center, which holds glue inside it. He referred to it as a "Turk's Head" brush. I was unable to find a supplier in the states for this brush. (Anyone?)

Here are some suppliers and the brushes they offer:

Brush Bookbinder's Round 1.5 inches - Traditional round bristle bookbinding brush. Natural hog bristles with aluminum ring reinforced and long narrow handles. Brushes hold a large amount of glue.

Shepherds Superior Brush - Archival Paste Brush. No metal parts, reduces contamination. String ferrules. Very Durable and suitable for all adhesives. Clean with warm water after use.
Comes in sizes ranging from 2-28.

Standard Glue Brush - With grey bristle and a plain wood handle. The brush head itself is bound with wire or 'bridled' to give a greater attack when gluing. These must be cleaned properly after use as the metal parts can start to rust which in turn can lead to contamination of your glue. Comes in small, med, large sizes.

The Paper Studio - Sells both flat and round brushes.

If you have a great brush supplier you'd like to suggest, please let us know by adding a comment. Opinions welcome!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Illuminating the Word

As bookmakers, we are continually involved in the creative process of deciding the form and function of our books. One style of bookmaking is to try to be historically accurate in methods of binding. Take that several steps further and imagine using only materials available in the middle ages. Forget about paper—try preparing your own calfskin or goatskin vellum for the pages (see below) and wood from a tree in your yard for the covers. And you want to add text? No computer, letterpress or gocco printers available to use here. You must carve your own writing quills and grind your own pigments and inks as well. Oh, and did I mention the text would be the entire Bible?

While this would be a monumental and unattainable task for most of us, it was the vision of Donald Jackson, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers, and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Donald Jackson with voiceprints used in the Psalms. The digital voiceprints show how we might “see“ the music. Copyright The Saint John’s Bible St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

It was Donald Jackson’s lifelong dream “to create the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned since the invention of the printing press. The Saint John’s Bible uses ancient materials and techniques to create a contemporary masterpiece that brings the Word of God to life for the contemporary world.” For the last nine years, Donald Jackson has been working with a team of calligraphers and artists in Wales. The entire project is to be completed by 2010.

Stretching the vellum skins. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

You may be wondering “why bother?” with hand craftsmanship for a project of this magnitude in the digital age. “The Saint John's Bible, consistent with the educational mission, values and vision of Saint John's University, is a spiritual, educational and artistic endeavour and a significant contribution to the new millennium.” You can read more about the vision statement here.

Sally Mae Joseph gilding with gold leaf. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

An exhibition of selected completed pages, Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible, has been touring nationally (US) and internationally (Canada and UK) since 2006. Winnipeg was the only Canadian city chosen to host the exhibition (from April 12 to June 8, 2008). I was able to view this exhibition several times and was continually amazed by the exquisite calligraphy, exceptional illustrations and the scope of the work. My personal favourites were pages illuminated by Thomas Ingmire.

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2006 The Saint John’s Bible and the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Each two foot tall and three foot wide page is a piece of art in itself.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom (two-page spread), Proverbs 8:22-9:6, Donald Jackson. ©2003 The Saint John’s Bible and Saint John’s University, United States of America. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, copyright ©1989, 1993 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Upon completion, the more than 1,000 pages will be bound into seven distinct volumes and will be used in worship in the Abbey.

Check the exhibition schedule for dates and times in your locale. If you can’t make it to one of the exhibitions, each page can be viewed online under Custom Prints. More information can be found on the comprehensive website.

Submitted by Laura of PrairiePeasant

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Taking a Look at Glue

With all the adhesives and glues on the market today, it can be difficult to know what to use for the application of bookbinding, particularly if you’re new to the art. We’ll take a basic look at the different glues experienced bookbinders recommend.

When I first started tinkering with bookbinding, I had no one to mentor me and was just learning from experience. I certainly learned what NOT to do!! I got a book on simple bookbinding and they recommended using glue stick for their step-by-step projects. Lesson one—DON’T use glue stick! It may be quick and easy to use, but over time the glue hardens and cracks, causing the paper to pull away from the book board, ruining all your lovely work. Someone recently recommended Tombo’s glue stick to me, which reportedly does not do that, but I have been unable to find it to give it a try.

Noted bookbinder Peter Goodwin recommends SuperFlex PVA glue by Fuller in his YouTube video, appropriately titled “Glue”. This very basic tutorial shows the technique he uses to apply his glue and some helpful tips.

Cindy from The Paper Studio also recommends a PVA glue and demonstrates the technique of gluing for book covers in this YouTube video, “How to Glue for Bookbinding".

Another product on the market is YES paste found at most craft stores. It won’t wrinkle delicate papers and is water based making for easy clean up, which is important to me because I invariably end up with most of it on my fingers and transfer to everything I touch! I don’t recommend YES paste for use with heavy weight papers though; it doesn’t seem strong enough to hold it and I’ve had the paper pull away from the board when it dries.

There are many recipes for wheat paste, a glue used in traditional bookbinding. Here’s one from Solar Cooking. has a video tutorial on making wheat paste.

I’ve been experimenting recently with Zip Dry paper glue for little touch up areas and gluing down corners. It claims to be acid free but is quite smelly. I made the mistake of saving up all my gluing to do at once. I didn’t realize how stinky it had become in my studio until I left the room and returned 30 minutes later. I had to open a window it was so bad!

What have been your experiences? Please share them with us so we can all master the craft of gluing!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Halloween Challenge

All BEST Members are invited to create a book for our very first Halloween Challenge!

Here's how it works:
Make a book that reflects the upcoming season - whatever that means for you. Your book can celebrate any element of the pending events - Halloween, Bonfire Night, Allantide, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Hop-tu-Naa, All Soul's Day, etc. Whatever inspires you.

Have your book finished, photographed, and listed in your Etsy shop by October 24th. Include the tag "BESTHalloween" in your Etsy listing so that all the books can be found with a simple search.

The winner will be selected by popular vote here on the team blog using a poll during the last week of October - votes to be counted on October 31st. The winner will receive the "BEST Zombie Award" for 2008. The award includes: a special blog feature, unlimited bragging rights, and the right to display the Zombie Award graphics on his/her own website! Wow!

Here on the blog we will also invite all our blog readers to post comments telling us which book is their favorite and why. From these comments, we will select a random winner to receive a little surprise!

Have a dark and creepy, ghostly, candy-corny, frightening time making your books!!