Monday, September 28, 2009

Edge Colored Business Cards

In July, I joined a group of Orlando area creative professionals for a meet-up hosted by Anna Bond of Rifle Design. Please visit Trisha Hay's blog for a great summary of the day. She's the one who brought us all together.

Anna arranged for a tour of Mama's Sauce Print Shoppe, where we got a good feel of what they do and how the shoppe runs. One of the gals, Fiona of Anavi Ink, who is thinking about having the edges of her business cards colored, was curious about my gilding capabilities, and later let Nick of Mama's Sauce know that edge decoration is in my bookbinding arsenal.

Nick got in touch a few weeks later, and voilà, about 600 business cards with colored edges! These cards belong to Chris Heavener, the editor of Annalemma, a very cool literary and arts magazine. Head over to Chris's blog for a post about the original printing of these cards, and a post featuring some process photos of the edge coloring.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Broadside on the Spirit of Paper

I recently received the broadside pictured in these photos from my friend, and fellow NBSS alumna, Amanda Nelsen. She printed it at Firefly press where I once attended a fantastic open studio night. Below is an excerpt from the note included with this fine specimen of letterpress printing.
Alegria [another alumna] located this quote from Timothy Barrett, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the College Book Arts Association in Iowa this past January, and asked me to print it. I thought that while I had it set up I would print one for you all as well - fellow admirers of well crafted paper.

Do click on the photo above for a closer look at Barrett's elegant words. Reading the quote with each letter impressed in the paper, you will start to imagine that you've been transported to the entrance of paper heaven!

Learn more about Amanda and the wonderful work that she does, by visiting her website, She was recently featured on Cambridge television with a video interview about her recent work using found paper. It's definitely worth a peek because of her beautiful work, and her little bindery helper, her son!

L to R Tim, Alegria, Walter, Me, Miguel, Wendy, Amanda, Dave
Above, Amanda and I are holding a school banner after we've marched into the arena for the annual table hockey tournament.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tools of the Trade: An Interview with Randy J. Arnold

I posted this article over on the Bookbinding Team blog today. Read on to learn about an awesome tool maker!

Lovely ebony folders have been on my mind for the past couple of months. If you read my first post about folders, you’ve probably gathered that I am quite a fond of these useful tools. Randy J. Arnold, makes a variety of exceptionally beautiful wooden folders. I’ve been keeping an eye on his Etsy shop, and am increasingly impressed with each new product he has to offer. It doesn’t end with folders, or the custom boxes he builds for them. Randy makes a range of bookbinding tools, from those ebony folders I’ve had my eye on, to punching cradles and nipping presses.

After following a few links from his shop, I stumbled upon, It turns out that in addition to making amazing tools, Randy is a luthier and has a blog dedicated to his craft. Naturally, I was curious about what led him from banjos to bookbinding tools and my hunch was that he must have a bookbinder in his life! Randy kindly agreed to a phone interview last week, and I’m so glad, because it was so much fun to talk to him!

Woodworking seems to run in his blood. He is self taught, but was lucky to be able to observe his grandfather and father work in the family shop, which is pictured above. His grandfather worked on household projects and his father was a talented furniture maker. Randy has come a long way since those days as a young boy watching his father and grandfather; he inherited the family home and restored the shop to working order. You can read more about his efforts here and here.

As far as having a bookbinder in his life, I’m proud to say that my hunch was right! Randy’s partner, the talented Amy LeePard of Painted Bunting Books is the reason he started making bookbinding tools. Amy, who studied with Amy Pirkle at the University of Alabama, initially used tools provided by the university, but found that she really needed her own, and was looking for a better quality than was readily available. That’s when Randy stepped in and made his first set of folders. Amy took her new handcrafted folders to a Julie Chen workshop and the Paper and Book Intensive. Other book workers saw these fine tools and couldn’t help but want their own! Interest and encouragement from these book workers prompted a few custom orders for individuals and beyond. Randy’s work is now offered through Colophon Book Arts Supply and through the Morgan Conservatory. You can also find his work at our favorite place, on Etsy!

Like any artist, Randy looks to things around him for inspiration. His main inspiration is, of course, Amy, but inspiration also strikes when he is looking into family history, hiking, or riding his bike. As he slowly pedals down the road on his bicycle he has time to think about preliminary designs and work out any technical details of current projects. Fresh air and beautiful surroundings, as seen in the photo above, can go a long way for encouragement! I'm sure his bike rides are also a great time to think about his next choice in materials. He tries to use materials that are found locally, whether it be the wood he finds from his local sources, regionally tanned leather, or spalted wood found on one of his hikes.

Buying a fine tool, should be like buying a nice piece of furniture. The tool should be well made and built to last. Randy subscribes to this philosophy, and using the same tools as his father and grandfather before him, he makes tools for bookbinders that are not only delightful to look at, but rewarding to use.

Randy is still a luthier and while he is finding a balance between the two, working on bookbinding equipment gives him an opportunity to employ techniques he wouldn't otherwise get to practice. There are so many things he’d like to make, it’s just a matter of deciding what to make first! A main priority is addressing Amy’s needs (naturally), but he’d love to hear what you might like to see available in his shop. He mentioned that he's working on a vertical plough, which I'd love to see! Feel free to get in touch with him or leave a comment below.

Thanks again Randy, for a great conversation!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Second Handmade Winner & My Handmade Winnings

It is fitting that my friend Erin is my second handmade winner, because I was one of the lucky winners of her handmade giveaway! This little book, covered in cotton polka dots and a vintage hot iron transfer iris, is what I sent to Erin as her prize.

It's a good size for a pocket or purse, and has actual pockets inside! Two envelopes are are sewn in with the thick white pages. The pages have complementary blue endsheets and contrasting fabric endbands.

It was made with the very same construction that I came up with for Stacy's books.

All wrapped up! I hope this was a nice surprise in the mailbox.

This awesome necklace was what Erin sent to me for her giveaway. I wear it all the time! She made the lovely pendant out of shrinkable plastic. Visit her Etsy shop for all sorts of fantastic jewelry. You can also visit her blog to learn more about her process.

Inspired by her gift and intrigued by the idea of shrinkable plastic, I did some experimenting and came up with a project for the kids at Carpe Diem Piano Camp this summer. Shrinkable Plastic is great medium, because on one hand you can create striking and professional looking jewelry, and on the other hand, it can be used by to create a very satisfying project no matter what your artistic level may be. Pictured above is a key chain made using Shrinky Dinks.

I printed several measures of each camper's recital music onto the plastic which they then decorated with colored pencil. After they cut their music into squares, I punched holes in them and rounded the corners. The kids then had the thrill of watching them shrink in the toaster oven. After the pieces were cool, I added the jump rings and lobster clasps so they each had a bracelet to wear home. The bracelet third from the right was signed by all of the campers and given, by them, to their wonderful camp director/piano instructor on the final day of camp.

Thanks very much, Erin, for the necklace, and for the inspiration for our camp project!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Neverending Thread

I struck gold at Disney's property control a few weekends ago. All of those large spools on the table were a just a dollar! The white and yellow spools on the windowsill were finds from the same place a couple months ago. The tiny (normal sized) spools in front are just for reference. If you're a cast member, and you're in the area, there are probably plenty left.

These could have come from anywhere in Disney World, judging by the color scheme I'm going to guess that all this thread was used for costumes either somewhere in Animal Kingdom, or Adventureland. I will probably use it for various projects on my sewing machine and for endbands. I wonder how many hundreds of endbands all of that thread could produce. Yeesh! If you need any of those colors, let me know, I just might have some to spare!

Property control is a magical place. It consists of two buildings, one for damaged items and things that have been long lost in the parks, and another for overstock and things around property that aren't needed anymore. You can even find old vehicles and machinery. Whenever we go, I head for the section in the back where I usually find something I can use in the bindery.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love & Memories

Here are some photos of the special memory book that was hidden inside a gift bag that I featured a couple weeks ago. The bride-to-be received her gift and was married a day or two later! Best Wishes Ashley!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Antique Market Finds

Last weekend, while at Renningers with friends, I came across a number of really neat items. This, of course, is not hard to do considering the vast number of shops within the antiques center. My favorite item, pictured above, was this fabric covered electrotype edition of McGuffy's Eclectic Reader. It caught my eye because I've recently been using fabric to cover books. I was eager to peek inside and investigate the cover construction. At first I thought there was a chance that the binding was originally sold this way, but as soon as I saw the hand stitching I knew that someone spent the time to make this book their own.

A few steps later I saw this huge piece of furniture. I saw the back first, and thought it looked like such a mishmash of random wood, but I circled around to the front to see all of this detailed carving. I love the contrast between the front and the back and feel like I'm in on a secret, since the back would never be exposed in a home.

Paper and string! I was delighted to find this tidy little combo. Not that I brought it home with me, but isn't that old wrapping paper neat? The tear-bar operated with a simple spring mechanism which is a nice touch. I'd love to see it in action. Did people tie wrapped packages with such thin string?

Oh, and one more thing! Here's a photo of my great friends, Lisa and Sarah, sitting at my table at the Farmers Market in Sanford, the reason why we were spending the day together, in the first place! They hung out with me for the duration of the market, and were real troupers in the sweltering sun! It was a very cute market with some very nice people, especially the gal who ran the cheese booth. I was glad for the opportunity, but I don't see myself headed back in the future. It was a great time with friends and a super excuse to get to go to Renningers! We were mostly window shopping, but I did come home with one thing - Lisa and I got a great deal on a gigantic jar of buttons! We've spent more than a couple hours huddled together, dividing them like Halloween candy!