Sunday, 3 June 2012

Feeding the Creative Soul

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.

After the sewing is complete, I put the book into a press (not pictured) and give it a good squish. From there, I glue up the spine under weight using a mixture of acid-free PVA and a gum glue. Then the spine is dressed with muslin and glued again. And again. Then the book is shaped to give it a nice, curved spine for strength. And it looks pretty. Then it's glued again.        
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment