More from the boxmaking workshop with CBBAG

Here is the whole collection made in the workshop offered by the Canadian Book Binders and Book Artists Guild of which I am a new member:

The papers are REALLY handmade in Nepal, India and other countries but available commercially – thus we can distinguish them from our instructor Maggie McGovern's handmade papers from plants.

You don't have to be a member of CBBAG to take workshop. Info about other workshops at CBBAG Ottawa Valley here:


Treasure Box Workshop at CBBAG Ottawa Valley

The Canadian Bookbinders' and Book Artists' Guild (CBBAG or “Cabbage”) offered a workshop on boxmaking, instructed by a great teacher, Maggie McGovern.

The participants completed a lidded box, 7cm wide x 7cm deep x 9cm high. I dove for the RED paper in the pile of workshop supplies.

We used commercial papers with a handmade look for covering standard bookboard, decorated the lid with small bookboard shapes and attached a bead for a knob to lift the lid:

Techniques learned are all applicable to the construction of book covers – careful measuring, cutting bookboard and gluing with PVA and cornstarch paste in a 50-50 ratio. For attaching beads as lid decoration, Maggie taught us a neat trick: Carve a wee groove on the underside of the bookboard that holds the bead so that the wire or thread pushed through the bead can be nested into the groove, thus avoiding lumpiness underneath the board and allowing it to lie flat:

I attached my bead “knob” with waxed linen thread; some folks chose copper wires ( I forgot my camera so have no pics of most of the other boxes but will post when I get them.):

The paper hides quite a few construction sins! I like how the stacked profile on the lid turned out. I would have preferred a black bead but I thought red looked best in the absence of black:

I learned a neat shortcut to make the decorative attachments stacked on the lid: Cut the board using a 2cm-wide metal ruler as template.
Instructor Maggie has a great Problem-Solution approach to making: Any “mistake” is usually an opportunity for a new creative direction. Or it can be sanded off, filled in with glue or covered with paper. Only in desperate cases is it necessary to abandon ship.
In her capacity as a retired technical writer, she provided handouts that were a pleasure to read. I appreciated those notes being made available during the class because my hearing is so poor (…my beloved three-year old grandson has mislaid my two brand-new hearing aids. Well, I am blaming that on him…)
Last pics are of the box made by my husband who also attended the workshop:
Husband chose a two-colour black and orange scheme a la japonaise. He used both the printed and the plain sides of orange-and-gold paper, preferring the printed design as an accent on the lid that he decorated with an assemblage of bead, board and wire:

Next post: My recent eco prints on paper.

And maybe some images of Canadian fall colour which has been utterly spectacular this year.

I heard from a gardening guru that our severe drought this summer has caused the leaves to become thinner – thus allowing more sunlight to shine through them and causing them to appear lit from within.

Only a few more weeks to collect the leaves while they are juicy.


Eco Print and Natural Dye Sampler Book – done!

The medium is the message!

My sampler book illustrates and describes aspects of my processes for eco dyeing and printing on fabric and paper. Dye printed fabrics and papers make up both form and content of the book.

Now my sampler “pocket” book has its covers, endpapers, “flags”, text, inserts and closure.

Covers are made with dye and paste printed 140 lb watercolour paper (madder, cochineal and logwood)

Back Cover

Front Cover

End papers: Logwood paste paper, embossed with a wood block:

“Flags” made from fragments of eco printed and dyed silk samples, inserted into the inner accordion spine by sewing with waxed linen thread:

An array of eco dyed silk flags printed with madder, logwood and cochineal:

The signatures sewn to the spine are intended for images of the dyes and for text and images about them. There are enough pages for me to keep adding info as it appears useful for my records. I transferred inkjet printed images from a transparency to silk organza using Purell! Then cut out the silk organza images and fused them to the book pages. R to L: Cochineal insect, chemical structure of logwood, logwood plant. (…partially successful with the Purell transfer- will keep working on that technique! … No close-ups, ha ha)
The pocket inserts below are constructed from a large sheet of eco print leftover paper fragments, glued on to a thinner paper background and cut to size, 2″ x 4″ approx. The back of each printed insert records my handwritten info about the print:
The sampler closes with a machined-cord tasseled tie attached to each cover. I used the same red waxed linen thread as for the bindings. For the ties, I punched a hole in each cover with a screw punch ( from Lee Valley Tools. Martha Stewart makes a decent one, too )


Last looks at my newest toy!

Inside the book showing paste paper pockets, sewn signatures, eco dyed/printed silk flags and paper inserts:

And the outside of the book, showing covers, ties and madder-printed accordion spine:

Next posts: Stash Busting!

1. Back to the textile stash! I am recovering a chair with my collection of needlepoint canvases from the sallyann.

2. And a new Artist Book about my stash of rust printed papers, linens and cottons

A bientot!



Dye Painting and Printing Book Papers

I making progress with my paste paper book “Sampler”. Some of the papers shown in my previous post have now been incorporated into an accordion-fold artist book about papers painted with natural dyes, the aim being to integrate form and content.

I have based my “Sampler” design on the “Pocket Flag Book” shown by Alisa Golden's lovely and instructive “Expressive Handmade Books” . I am taking Alisa's design for a little walk…going down a few wrong turns, taking interesting detours, gathering some new companions on the way, tripping over stuff in the dark, exploring always…

First, let me tell you about the African handcarved blocks from Oshiwa Designs in Namibia, designs you see on some of the paste papers. I love that I can read the names of the artisans on the blocks – thank you, Joseph, Paulus and Ndumba! My friend Paula Benjaminson introduced me to their work when she lived in Ottawa. Read about Oshiwa on Paula's blog Paula lives in Gabon at the moment where she explores surface design with an African esthetic.

Samples of Oshiwa blocks in my collection:


After folding my paste papers into accordions, pockets, signatures and spines, I used glue and stitch to finish putting the basic book together:

Accordion structure, back view. That band on the bottom was a glued -on addition because I had cut the paper too short…The papers are monoprinted with madder. The colour of the madder changes with the paper used. The band is white paper while the accordion is buff- coloured thin cardstock.

Accordion from the back, folded. Signatures inserted on the front, sewn pamphlet style with red linen thread, waxed. Red because that colour relates to madder. I put the knots on the outside because I liked their texture, all lined up. Alisa's model book did not include sewn signatures but I was desperate to see what happens if…You know how that goes… The holes are rather too big but they have a certain shaggy textured charm…but rats! and one set of holes is out of line…Not sure how that happened because I did use a piercing cradle to hold the signatures…

Accordion spine, from the back

The structure, top view, showing three-slot pockets made of paste papers, four-folio sewn signatures and a double wee spine insert to hold the “flags” when I get to that stage. Manila tags are inserted into the centre slot-pocket. They will play their part for book content down the road.

Sampler book from the side, accordion spine on the right, paste paper pockets and folios on the left.

I like how the folds and the bands create coloured planes with the intersecting lines.

The diagonal line is the side pocket fold; the darker red rectangle below is a wide band of printed silk organza wrapping around the bottom of the pocket to enclose it, to keep inserts from slipping through the opening. Alisa's model created two side pockets. I have added a third pocket by gluing on a band to connect the two side pockets along the bottom.

To the left are the folios, in the centre is the mini spine which will hold “flags” and to the right are the paste paper pockets, with an Indian block print in logwood.

The signatures are stitched pamphlet style, knots outside on the spine.

Some text content about the dyes

How the pockets work

More on the functional aspects of the book form

Just a few last pics of the book's accordion spine

In future posts:

The book covers

The endpapers

The “flags”

The closure device

The text

The pocket inserts

A bientot!


Flag Book Fun

Practice continues…this time I folded the accordion a bit better and lined up the tags more evenly. Good lighting helps! And not after midnight, no matter how desperate I am to create…

Raw materials for this flag book are two beaten up (thrift store) wee books about Thomas the Train Engine, my three-year old grandson's fave.

The book covers (reversed) and some of the salvageable pictures ( no text) were glued onto small manila labels, as reported in the previous post. The middle row of tag “flags” was trimmed a tad to make them fit between the upper and lower rows. The endpapers are 140 lb watercolour paste papers with a wiggly train track motif. The endpapers enclose the last panels on each end of the accordion, glued in place with PVA and pressed overnight under books and bricks.

Now the pics:

Inside the book:

Book closed, covers visible. I used the insides of the original book covers. The flags stick out beyond the edges of the covers. And why not?

With the upper and lower rows of flags pointing to the viewer:


Close up of the end paper: traditional paste paper decorated with acrylic paint mixed with cooked corn starch and combed to give the “train track” pattern. Thick watercolour paper strengthens the covers and traps the last panels of the accordion securely:

Well it is Rosh Hashanah this weekend! A sweet new year to all my readers!

Circled accordion shows the backs of the flags:

It is fun trying out different ways to display the book!

I made the book readable from many angles so you have to turn the flags this way and that. And why not.

Next, two more flag books for two more grandchildren. And two more for Nana. As I said this is way too much fun…





Eco printed book covers

The covers of the Flag Book are glued down and with books and bricks, put under pressure to flatten them.

The Flag Book, an informal structure invented by book artist, Hedi Kyle, is understandably popular! It is such fun! Thanks to Hedi's generosity, it has been freely adopted and creatively adapted. The one I have created as a practice piece is a basic form that encloses three rows of manila and watercolour paper tags (” flags”), two rows unfolding to the right and fhe third (centre) row, unfolding to the left. The tags record information about the textiles in my show “Forest Floor”. Using up my stash in many ways!

After flattening: the inside covers or end papers (made from eco printed canvas) enclose the three rows of “flags”:

Below: The front covers and the accordion spine, seen from the back.

Some of the tags in the the centre row (see above) are cut from eco printed papers.

I cut all the centre tags slightly narrower than the manila tags in so that they would pop out easily from between the two rows of “flags”. I attached three 22″ lengths of accordion- folded drawing paper with strips of (nearly invisible ) adhesive-backed paper hinge tape. The wrapping tie was sandwiched between the front cover and the inside covers, then glued with PVA:

The book with wrapped with cord : I have to learn how to fold the signatures evenly!

Cover, cord and closure details: rose leaf print, braided machined cords, mother-of-pearl button.

Rose leaf prints on 140 lb water colour paper. The purple-blue spot is chokecherry fruit colour that soaked through from the papers on the next layer in the stack.

The last image is of the second cover: contact prints from rose leaves and chokecherry fruit. Note the colours of the contact print as compared to the print that arrived by dye leaking from the papers above.

The tiny cherry pit served to emboss the paper- like the dead rose-eating beetle shown in a previous image!