sculptural books

I seem to be heading to a lot of workshops lately.   This past Saturday I headed to a free demo at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey.  The topic was ‘Sculptural Books’ and it was presented as a taster for two classes that will be coming up at PCNJ over the summer.

The instructor was Pooja Makhijani – writer, educator, bookbinder – and passionate about all things paper as far as I could tell.  We started off by looking at the Turkish Map Fold structure, a folding technique previously used for real maps (cue the conversation on the downfall of paper maps and how ‘this generation’ just don’t understand the joy of driving along trying to follow a tiny line on a six foot square piece of paper).  She showed us some beautiful and complex examples online and then demonstrated a  simple book form using four of the folded ‘maps’.  There’s huge potential with this structure to incorporate text, images, ephemera etc and it’s incredibly tactile.

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Pooja’s Turkish Map Fold book structure

The second structure that we looked at was the Carousel Book, sometimes also called a Star Book.  The possibilities for this structure are endless as a quick look online will show.

The structure is essentially built of multiple strips of paper which have been folded into an accordion fold.  Each strip is a different length (the math of working out the length can be complicated and I’m not going to describe it here!) but when each accordion is nestled into each other (with a pamphlet stitch to hold in place at the points of contact), and the structure turned back on itself, it can reveal a wonderful series of dioramas depending on your design.  I think this is one of those structures that can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it but the possibilities are very exciting.

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Pooja’s example of a Carousel Book

The final structure that Pooja demonstrated was the Blizzard Book, a Hedi Kyle creation that I was keen to learn about. The structure is often referenced in bookbinding circles, and it almost has an aura of mythology around it as it really was created in a blizzard when Hedi was reportedly unable to leave the house because of the snow.

It’s another structure based on the accordion fold with no glue being used at all.  I won’t go into the exact instructions here as there are lots of tutorials available online but it is a very simple concept and one which (again) offers a whole lot of possibilities for incorporating text, images or ephemera.  It is another structure that is extremely tactile – but surprisingly strong.

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Pooja’s Blizzard Book

I’m hoping to be able to get to the classes on these structures over the summer and explore these structures in more depth with Pooja.   The Printmaking Center of New Jersey is an amazing facility,  recently renovated so it is light and bright.  The schedule of classes is online – take a look – they offer a great range of opportunities.

journal in a clamshell box

Anxious to use some of my suminagasi marbled papers, I constructed a case bound journal with suminagashi end papers plus a clamshell box lined with the same suminagashi paper.

The paper was probably too lightweight to be successfully used as endpapers and maybe not the ideal lining for the box, but I think the combination of colors looks good here.


Continue reading “journal in a clamshell box”

suminagashi workshop

I recently went to a suminagashi workshop at Upstairs at Talas with Christin Ripley.  Although I’ve done traditional marbling before, I had never tried this ancient Japanese technique of ‘floating ink’.  I had also never been to a class at Talas and was interested to see their new classroom facilities.

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concentric circles on the surface of the water

Suminagashi is believed to be the oldest form of marbling, originating in China over 2000 years ago and practiced in Japan as far back as the 12th century.  Ink is dropped onto the surface of a shallow tray of water.  The ink  spreads due to the surface tension of the water.  The ink is then interspersed with surfactant (in our case dish soap mixed with water) which creates a ring of negative color. The process continues – ink, surfactant, ink, surfactant,  on and on until a series of concentric rings has been created.

The rings are then manipulated by moving the air with a fan, blowing onto the water, or spraying the surface with surfactant.  There are many other ways of manipulating the pattern.  Plain paper is then carefully lowered onto the surface, lifted off and then hung to dry.

First off, the classroom facilities at Talas are fantastic with lots of light and space.  Christin was a fun and knowledgeable teacher with lots of new ideas for us to try when manipulating our patterns.  We all had a variety of papers to try ranging from newsprint for practicing, to delicate sheets of handmade Japanese paper.  We used suminagashi inks by Boko Undo.  Christin gave us a short demonstration and then we were off.  It was relatively easy to get good immediate results and three hours later I had about 30 sheets of  varied colors and patterns marbled on a variety of papers.

Once all the papers are completely dry, they can be ironed on the back of the paper with a dry iron to straighten out all of the wrinkles.

Some were better than others but all of them are usable in some way and I’m looking forward to using them when making handmade notebooks.

Oh and here are a two examples from the Japanese suminagashi master Mr Tadao Fukuda that Cristin brought along to inspire us: