I’m going to come straight out and admit it – writing wasn’t my first love. I’d been around the block a few times before we finally found each other. In fact, I was past the big three-oh before I finally realised I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But on the way to this realisation, I had affairs. Lots of them. With almost every creative past time you can imagine.
For starters, when I first left high school (yes, that’s left. Shock, horror, I didn’t finish) I went to TAFE to study art and design. Then a year down the track I discovered myself in a hair salon wiping mirrors with vinegar and newspaper and shampooing the heads of elderly ladies. It seriously happened by accident. I never had any intention of becoming a hairdresser. But I did, and that accident turned out to be a happy one. For sixteen years I got to paint and sculpt people’s hair. In the meantime, I painted (mainly oils and acrylics), I made dolls, quilts, polymer clay mermaid sculptures that I used to sell to a local gift shop, and books. Yes, books. Not in the way I’d like to be making them now – writing the words that fill them – but actual, old fashioned hard-cover books via a course in bookbinding at RMIT.
Lately, like writers sometimes get, I’ve been feeling sick of myself and the stories I’ve been working on. Nothing was lighting a fire in my belly. So, I figured it was time to head back and make some art. I firmly believe that one form of creativity spawns others, so I got cracking. I moved my writing desk and computer into another, quieter part of the house (yay for lots of spare rooms!) and set up my little bindery again. I promised a friend I’d make her a couple of books, like, a year or so ago (thanks for your patience, Bec) so I had a project ready to get working on.
Here’s a few pics of some of the steps:
|Each leaf of parchment paper is folded individually, collected into signatures of 5 leaves, goes into a vice to have the spine cut for sewing and is then sewn up using the kettle stitch technique. I add spine sashes in at this stage for strength.|
|While the guts of the book are drying, I get to work on the design of the cover. We're going for a bit of a dragon inspiration here. The materials used will be polymer clay and embossed leather. Plus a few pretties like freshwater pearls.|
|Painted up dragon eye with pearls. The iris will sit behind the glass bead.|
|This is the almost completed 'guts' of the book. Endpapers have been added, along with bookmark ribbons (2!), headbands and muslin spine dressing.|
|Back to the cover, with the design now covered with nylon twine. The leather will be embossed and shaped over this. The design itself has had a couple of alterations since this pic, but you get the idea.|
I’ll upload the finished product as soon as I’m done.
I use traditional techniques to bind; it takes a long time but is so worth it. The books I make are strong and sturdy and should outlive their owners. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Leaving something behind.
But did it work? Did I get all fired up and get some words happening? Hell yeah. This week I’ve got down just over 12 thousand words across one big project and a couple of little ones. Win.