Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Five Day Challenge

Fabric left over from making a mask now bookcloth!

While casting about for something to work on during the week between my two July remembrance days early in the month, a week I often spend working on something I think my late husband would approve of or that brings certain memories of him, my Handmade Book Club offered a "Five Day Fabric Journal Challenge" happening that very week. I know, I know - this is a finish year, not a start new things year. But I erroneously thought the structure of the challenge - small specific tasks posted each of the 5 days - would keep me on track to actually finish making the book over those five days. Plus the exposed binding was different and a new way to make bookcloth would be covered. With nothing else calling out, I decided I was in! I didn't even dither long over choosing the fabric for my covers and I quickly finished day one's assignment - fabric fused to a paper backing rather than attaching it with wheat paste. I normally don't use Heat and Bond but have had this sitting in my fusible drawer for a very long time. As I did the fusing, I couldn't remember just why I'd decided that I didn't like it.

On to day two and this went relatively quickly as well, familiar territory the making of signatures. Plus it gave me a chance to try out a paper cutter I'd picked up on the cheap thanks to a great sale price and some earned credits. I've been wanting one of these for a long time and felt I'd been avoiding some of the bookmaking because I found the hand cutting of paper for signatures tedious. Must be all those years I was a school secretary, because the first time I brought down the blade and heard that distinctive snick it made, I was smiling from ear to ear. I didn't have much to trim off my paper but especially with the markings to help line up the paper, it certainly speeded up the process.

I've been thinking about adding lined pages to my books and decided this was the time to make it happen. With the help of a pdf provided by the Handbook Club's leader, I printed lines on one side of my papers only, so that when they are nested, a lined page will face a blank page. Not sure how I will use this book but one thought is to sketch or collage on the blank side and journal on the lined side. Click on the photo above for a larger view and squint to see those lines and how they work in the signature.

Collated and folded, my signatures now went under a heavy stack of books. It really is amazing how much flatter a signature becomes after time under the weights. Then the fore edge can be trimmed away, that unavoidable creep of the inner pages past the edge of the outer page. And that is as far as I got before I got sidetracked by something else (can't even remember what now). Day three was to be the cutting of the cover boards, a process I truly dislike. I printed off directions, watched the video, and stubbornly refused to deal with it. That is until today, when I finally carved out some time before July totally got away from me. I'd recently read additional suggestions of how to make this cutting go more easily, and one of the suggestions did help, but it still takes many passes of your knife of choice to get through the 2mm board. This is so vexing to even experience bookmakers that they buy pre-cut boards or take them to a print shop that has the machinery to cut board to your specifications. So it's not just me.

Just like in quilting, measuring, marking the dimensions of the covers and cutting must be precise and square, and my first one was. My second one was not. It was an eighth inch narrower at the bottom than at the top. And quilters know that even a tiny eighth of an inch can throw things out of kilter. Ok, try again. But I was having increasing difficulty with the metal ruler slipping, even though it has grippy cork on the back. The third one was off not just along the bottom but along one side as well, but this time it was angled slivers extending beyond the desired measurement so trimmable. But how to get everything square, mark the cutting line and make those laborious cuts with the Stanley knife? Not the first time I've grabbed a quilting ruler to square things  up in my bookmaking, and it was so obvious what needed to be trimmed away. But I can't use a knife with my quilting ruler. My big rotary cutter was lying not far off to the side, seeming to taunt me. Come on, it seemed to say, use me - I bet I can get through that board. And with three quick cuts, it did! Now yes, I know that kind of cutting will dull it, and yes, rotary blades are a little pricey, but to be honest, I don't use that really big one very much and I'd already spent so much time trying to make the Stanley knife cut through it. I more than reduced the time in half that trimming with the "proper" tool would have taken, and ended up with two boards that were the right dimensions and perfectly matched. A worthwhile tradeoff, and the next time I'm faced with cutting board, I'll try the rotary cutter again.

I also got my signatures out from under the books and trimmed away that fore edge creep - with a quilting ruler and small rotary cutter designated for paper - so they are ready to have sewing holes punched in them. But the next step is not that, but gluing that bookcloth to those covers and adding end papers. I'm a bit stumped about what to use for the end papers - possible candidates so far have not been big enough. Something will come to mind . . .  


Anonymous said...

I know how you feel about that paper cutter! When I retired from teaching I gifted my personal one to a younger teacher. I missed it so much that I asked my husband for a new paper cutter for Christmas! Old habits, huh? I keep a rotary cutter blade in a separate little container labeled that it's for paper. Then, you always have one & it's not going to ruin a fabric blade. Bet you already do that, right?! Jan in WY

kathy loomis said...

when I saw the photo of the paper cutter my heart beat faster! I inherited a big old wood paper cutter from my father. He acquired it during the depression when he worked for a department store that went out of business and allowed employees first crack to buy the fixtures before they were sold off.

All during my childhood the paper cutter got good use. Dad was always making certificates and lettering and stuff that needed to be cut to size. We kids had to make school projects. I have no idea how many times that blade got used in the 80+ years of its life.

Unfortunately the blade has become dull and I can't find anybody to sharpen it for me. The paper comes out with a little bit of torn/deckle edge, not everywhere but enough to be unreliable. My son thinks he can fix it without sharpening the blade simply by cleaning and tightening up the mechanism. I sure hope so! Meanwhile I too use my rotary cutter on paper and even heavy cardboard. (But I would never throw out the paper cutter, even if it never works again. A family heirloom...)

The Inside Stori said...

Very helpful post!!! Thank you...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh my, Jan and Kathy, how delightful to hear your own experiences with and love of the mighty paper cutter! Honestly, I can get as lost in a business supply store as I can in a fabric store so no wonder I would lust over adding something like that to my may tools. Kathy, I hope your heirloom cutter can be spruced up to cut reliably again - I rather think your son is onto something.

Also delightful to learn I am not the only one using the mighty rotary cutter on things other than fabric. Jan, I actually have a separate rotary cutter designated for cutting paper, just a 28mm size, which is why it was such a leap for me to grab the 60 mm one on a hunch - I doubt the smaller one would have worked as well.