Trade secrets…sshhh…

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) Ottawa Valley Chapter, held another workshop recently. Our instructor, Mary McIntyre, led us in making a simple and elegant photograph album. Mary is a paper conservator and master bookbinder. She enriched the workshop experience for us with her interesting presentation on the history of albums. Most enriching was her generous sharing of expert knowledge of bookbinding way beyond the topic of album-making. Workshop participants, each in their area of interest and expertise, also shared generously. It was a very satisfying experience. How pleasant to be a member of such a generous group and to learn and share so freely. One of the principal aims of CBBAG is to pass on the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for bookbinding and the book arts, and to actually plan for a time when students might become instructors also. CBBAG is not a guild where trade secrets are the order of business! No NDA's required.

In the past, though, in other guilds, strict secrecy and Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) represented important values to the master artisan. Diane Vogel Maurer reports in the introduction to her book ” Marbling: A Complete Guide to Creating Beautiful Patterened Papers and Fabrics” that “much of the work was accomplished secretly behind wooden partitions and masters were careful to teach only a few aspects of their craft to each worker to prevent any of their apprentices from learning enough to establish himself as a competitor.” (p15) That proprietory approach to teaching and learning marbling had its lifespan cut short by Charles Woolnaugh who “divulged the whole process by publishing a book, despite the outrage of the guild. James Sumner, Woolnaugh's chief rival, did not take such severe umbrage, however. Recognizing the value of disclosure to the progress of knowledge and of healthy competition, Sumner pragmatically published his own book on marbling. I have to say I like the cut of both their jibs.

So here I am, Spilling The Beans again on my blog, today starting with some images of the albums we made at the CBBAG workshop. Mary supplied us with bookcloth she had made herself from Quilter's Quarters. Mary divulged her secrets, too, in the self-respecting context of a workshop. To make the bookcloth, she revealed that she applied a simple cornstarch paste to the back of the cotton and let it dry. (Wheat starch paste works too. A recipe for corn starch paste is at the end of this post). The bookcloth covered the outside of the album and we had some pretty Japanese papers to line the inside covers. To construct the album pages, we cut Fabriano black pastel paper to size, sewed the stacks of signatures together (I made my first Kettle Stitches!) and made some decorative stitches over the spine of the album.

My album is the orange one. You can see the elegant effect of the spine-wrapping threads on all these albums.
We cut rectangular apertures in the spine board to enjoy a view of the sewn signatures. I love that feature!

The linen thread we used to sew the signatures was brought through the aperture, then around and over the spine at top and bottom. This gave a lovely thread texture to the outside of the spine.

Husband made the green one. He made another album at home. His engineer's mind caused him to figure out how to make the spine decoration threads more stable ( they do kind of shift around) so he simply pierced holes in the spine and brought the thread through them.

Natural linen thread, waxed, for the stitching

Canson pastel papers for the album pages and commercial bookcloth for the outside covers:
A map for the inside cover:

Corn starch paste recipe

Four parts water to one part corn starch.

Mix cold water and starch until smooth

Cook over medium heat until thick and smooth, stirring all the time.

Cool in the fridge.

Thin with cold water and beat to remove lumps, to make a paintable mix. Thinner is better.

Place fabric on a flat surface like an acrylic sheet,

Apply paste to the back of the fabric

Dry and store.

More “Secrets”

In the CBBAG workshop, our instructor, Mary McIntyre, shared aspects of her practices re attaching papers to textiles. I have been reading “Magical Secrets About Chine Colle” by Brian Shure of Crown Point Press. Brian is another artist maker like Mary, dedicated to a legacy of teaching knowledge, skills and attitudes in a self -and-other -respecting but generous and open manner. One way Brian does this is through his books. His information on using paste with paper and textiles is very valuable. He shares expertise fully in his book with the goal that you and I as readers will learn and pay it forward. In future posts, I plan to report more of how I am using Mary's and Brian's processes of attaching papers to fabrics.

Until next time!

PS The bookbinding needle inside the spine aperture gives a sense of scale.

 

 

Advertisements

Ooops!!! Lost Post on eco printed Artist Book pages!

Sorry but it seems I have deleted the post I wrote yesterday about my Artist Book and the Clamshell case. Here is ” Local Colour” meantime. I was inspired by arlee's nerine …plus have cabin fever a bit, longing for some green….

I will try to recreate the Lost Post – It was a little history of my first eco print and how that printed textile ended up as the covers in an Artist Book.

May I offer you some eye candy meantime? This is a collection of images of leaves I live with:

To remind myself that I like sewing and other kinds of printing: this is a free motion and hand stitched morsel on transfer- printed polyester, mounted on painted canvas, 6″ x 6″. I do wee textiles like this when I need to stitch either when I do not have a Big Idea in mind or when taking a break from the Big Project. It is a great stash buster, too. For this one, I simply patched a few fragments together and stitched on them

Detail of same. I like making the seeding stitch. Julia Caprara and Ilze Aviks have done wonderful pieces with just that one stitch. I challenge myself to stick to one or two things to focus on

Carob tree, started from seed. I am a maniac seed saver and seed starter…it will be 80 years approx before this babe grows a carob pod or locust bean which the fruit of the plant that John the Baptist and the Prodigal Son ate…it reminds to be patient while waiting for the fruit of my labours…Another of my embroidered paintings is on the wall behind the Carob.

 

The fig tree is finally sprouting. The textile on the wall behind it is by Lorraine Roy, Canadian fibre artist. She often uses trees and leaves as motifs in her work. She cuts up bits of fabric and traps them behind tulle to create a textured surface into which she then stitches.

Below are seedlings of Polygonum tinctorium, Japanese Indigo. I grew the plant from seed in pots last summer but was too busy to make the blue dye when the time was right. So I let them grow on and brought them inside, cutting them back a few weeks ago. They have self seeded in the pot!

 

These are pet Eucalyptus globulus with a few Silver Wattle (seeds from Richter's).

Slow growing for sure – these plants are almost a year old. Think I wIll get prints from them any time soon?

 
Hitchhikers…I dug up some red geraniums to bring inside and along with them came hyacinth, Star of Bethlehem and …????Looks like an Easter lily but it is very tall…

The geranium (pelargonium) gave no print at all hardly when I tried it on paper.

Back to the Lost Post!

 

Wendy

Black Walnut markings

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) dye report.

First up is the info about the best walnuts for dye or ink. They are the green ones as they fall from the trees (here in Ottawa, that means October). This Fall, my three-year old grandson, Dylan, was my foraging companion. We took a nice collecting walk in a nearby walnut grove and gathered both green and black decomposing nuts.

We collected them “eco” style: picking them from under the trees, and not too many, for the critters need their winter supply. It was charmingly “eco” to get down as close to the ground as a three-year old, to examine and discuss every plant, every bug, every lichen-bearing stick; to take over an hour to collect one bag of walnuts, to choose more black squishy ones than hard green ones because the black ones squirted out icky sludgey goo on Nana…

By January, all the walnuts were black and frozen in our unheated storage. No more green ones that give the most colour. Well. We work with what is at hand, thus respecting another principle of an “eco” approach to natural dyeing. Four walnuts fit in my electric dye pot, a small ceramic slow cooker of one litre capacity. To get the most colour out of the black nuts, I thought I should make several dye extractions. In the end, four extractions were possible before the walnuts became sludge …or Nana's Squirting Goo…

For the first extraction, the walnuts were covered with water and simmered at 180 degrees for several hours, at least six, or until the liquid had reduced to about a cup. (One paper bundle and one small silk bundle were dyed in the first extraction)

The walnuts and liquid were then strained in cheesecloth, the dye saved, the four walnuts returned to the crock pot, covered with water, slow simmered for six more hours, then strained as above. The procedure was repeated once more, to make three times, I.O.W., until the walnuts disintegrated. The three litres of water reduced to just over three cups of black-brown dye. These three cups of dye were combined and strained once more. Then they were returned to the dye pot to cook down yet again until reduced to one cup of rich, thickish liquor, like balsamic vinegar:

So three litres of water, four squishy black Black walnuts and four reductions over a total of 24 hours in an electric crockpot..hmmm…I wonder how “eco” that is? At least the squirrels got the sludge.

So what to do with walnut dye?

The cheesecloth used for straining the walnut stew became…a rose by any other name:

Some watercolour paper first stamped with Oshiwa wood blocks and green acrylic paint:

…then washed over with the walnut reduction ( sort of a la Jamie Oliver):

 

…to this end: a typical antiquing look. The dye settled around thicker paint and created a drop-shadow effect, reversing the original white ground to green.

 

Some marks with walnut dye made with a paint brush, the dye painted on, dribbled on, splattered on, dripped on watercolour paper. The darkest marks come from a heavier application or a painting over of previous brush strokes:

 

 

Series below:

Marks made on wool in a 2011 walnut dye bath. Vintage wool panels were immersion dyed, bundled with Baby Blue eucalyptus, iron bits, acorns, corn cob, florist fern:

The euc printed acid yellow mostly but also patches of lime green and orange. Of course the deep browns are walnut dye.

Iron bits printed and so did the green florist fern:

I adore the walnut stripes:

A tad of orange from the euc and a clear green print from the fern. How well protein fibres print!

More stripeys in shades of walnut:

And a print from the dried Indian corn cob over which I had bundled this wool fragment:

Hope to make myself a garment from these panels of walnut and eucalyptus prints!

Last pic of walnut markings:

The brown dye seeped along the edges of the small accordion book above, and washed in over the Chokecherry leaves prints.

So far, I can use the straight dye liquid quite successfully as an ink, paint or liquid dye application.

But not yet sure about the right recipe for an ink thickened with gum tragacanth or gum arabic.

Wondering what would work for use with writing pens.

And what preservative might I need? Should I add alum?

Next post: Some local colour…