Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Evolution of a "Simple" Project . . .

. . . Or how an idea for a quick project gets out of hand. If you recognize yourself in any of the below, please leave a commiserative comment!

The Challenge:

Sturdy brown paper bags with twine handles and graphics

I've been following Ali Manning's blog and Facebook page (Vintage Page Designs) for awhile now. She has such a straightforward approach to bookbinding, lots of good basic information and some interesting bindings mixed with a variety of non-standard bookbinding materials. So when she started a Facebook group devoted to Crafting Handmade Books, I, of course, joined. I wanted to see what others were doing without following a lot of different blogs or joining Instagram. The group has given me so much eye candy, information and inspiration. And then Ali decided to try giving the group monthly challenges. For April she chose "Upcycled covers: create a book with repurposed items as your covers." Oo Oo - I can do that, because I have TWO small shopping bags I'd set aside (a long time ago) with the idea of turning them into some kind of book. And it shouldn't take long to do (she said, immediately dooming any chance of a quick finish).

The Plan:

I chose the smaller bag on the left in the top photo, the one with the dragonfly on it. I found instructions in two different books to help guide me with my idea of using the fold in the side of the bag as the starting point for more folds to make a concertina spine. Once I started cutting the bag apart, I realized that, rather than trim them away, I could fold the bottom and sides to the inside for a sturdier edge. I hadn't planned on pasting in "endpapers" but I also hadn't thought about how those twine handles were attached, and it didn't look pretty. I hit upon the idea of using some of the security envelopes to neaten up the look.

I was thinking I'd only need to make a fold on either side of the bag's side fold but their width would have made the signatures to be sewn to them too narrow. I had the hardest time getting my brain around how to place the additional folds (even though I thought I'd worked it out on a scrap of paper) but eventually figured it out. I chose my security envelop pattern, pasted them in place and secured the side and bottom flaps to the inside, all with YES!.

The Problem:

Now for the pages for the signatures. I'd also set aside this very heavy brown paper that had been used as packing in a shipment. It wasn't crumpled or creased, and I intermediately thought how well it would go with my little bag books if I ever got around to making them.

I thought I could get a lot of pages out of this length, plenty for my little book. I did the math on how big each sheet should be, straightened off one end and started tearing sheets to length. For being so rough and unrefined, this paper tore quite well. But I could only get 6 sheets from this piece, one for each peak of my spine, and there was no more, nothing even remotely like it. One folded sheet per peak was not going to cut it.

The Solution:

This was the point at which I was letting myself get just a little bit terrified of my project. I had intended to tear away the excess along each side of each sheet to bring the width to the proper measurement, but for now I decided to leave it turned to the inside to create a little more "bulk" because that is what I needed, things to add additional thickness to fill up the space between the folds in the spine. And as I held it, opening and closing the flaps, I started thinking about what might get added on these pages, things I could collage in place perhaps. While my mind scrambled for ideas, I hit upon one small step forward I could take in the meantime, a step more easily done before signatures being sewn in place. I've been using a piece of corrugated cardboard to stamp lines in art journal projects. I hadn't really thought through what I would be using this book for, but surely I could put some writing in it. And having lines as guides appealed to me.

Another night of mulling before dropping off to sleep produced another idea. I've been saving teabags, not really knowing why, but now I thought this would be a good place to experiment with them. I laid some out and decided, why not? They can be a first layer, can be stamped over, drawn over, collaged over. Not increasing the bulk much but I was really liking how they looked on that paper.

Fortunately, I had a scrap of the brown paper and some extra pieces of teabag to test out some adhesives with. I'd already determined I did not want to add adhesive over the top as is so often demonstrated by multimedia folk, and I did not want to use anything that would buckle that brown paper, heavy and stiff as it was. The results were surprising, except for the YES! The other three buckled the brown paper to varying degrees while changing the look of the teabags in different ways. In the end I went with the YES and was very pleased with the results - no buckling and not much change in the teabags.

More Solutions And A Theme:

I still needed to find something to create more pages in each signature. I got to thinking about that paper I made from recycled shredded mail. Most of it was pretty thick and I hadn't come up with any ideas for using it yet. It turned out to be exactly the right size with minimal trimming,  and whereas I'd not liked how the tea leaves I'd thrown into the mix had bled out brown around them, now against the brown paper pages, it was a good fit. It had occurred to me that I could play off the dragonfly printed on the outside of the bag and fill the lined pages with things about dragonflies and maybe even poetry about dragonflies. I determined that the best distribution of brown paper pages and handmade paper would be to nest the former into the later to form a signature. Yes, it turned out that I only had six pieces of the handmade paper that were suitable, exactly what I needed.

The more I have worked with this, the more the ideas have come, and because of the spine I chose, I soon realized that the sorts of things occurring to me to add and how they need to be added would be really difficult to do on signatures sewn to those peaks in the spine. So my "quick" and "simple" challenge project, one I thought I could whip out in a few afternoons, turned into a longer range project where I will be looking for all things dragonfly and perhaps even drawing a dragonfly or two. I've been surprised, frankly, at how similar the thought process has been to when I work with my textile art, making it a little less foreign in feel. I'll be putting it aside, now that I know how much more time I need and things to find, now that I have a theme and a bit of a vision about it, because the days are flying by and those things with real deadlines need some attention. 


The Inside Stori said...

You are a brave/adventerous woman!! Kuddos to your success!!!!

The Idaho Beauty said...

What a compliment coming from someone who I've always admire for being brave and adventurous herself! Honestly, I was surprised at how long each step took, but not surprised at how much time elapsed between each step, when I was NOT feeling brave at all and trying to figure out the best way forward. It's been very satisfying working through this.

Margaret Ball said...

Clearly you are to complications as I am to research: let's just add this one more thing...

Congratulations on forging ahead and completing it!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh my yes, Margaret. Plus I love research which often delays my actually doing something. Book not quite completed yet, still have things to add before I sew those signatures to the spine, but well on its way.

Living to work - working to live said...

Wow!!! I haven't made a book in a while and this is really tickling my fancy.

The Idaho Beauty said...

I was hoping you would like it, Hilary, and perhaps have a suggestion or two for those pages with the teabags. :-)