Monday, November 15, 2021


This quotation, found here on Austin Kleon's Tumblr, seemed an appropriate follow-up to my last post about free may not cost you money but it does cost you time:

“I don’t want more, I want less. I want to have less, so I will have more time to devote to this gift that I have. Because in the final analysis, the only thing that we have that is not renewable is our life. When I am dead, they will still make money. My time, I have decided, is more important. To claim my time to do what I want to do in that time.”

After posting, I hoped readers would not think I fancied myself above or not in need of more information at all. No, I have several blogs I follow, like Austin's, where I find much that is thought provoking and sometimes, useful quotations I'm not seeing elsewhere. As I worked on my current book project (part of my slow cleaning off of my work table), this post on The Principles of Patience popped up on Austin's Tumblr. It's short and I give you its bullet points as a teaser, hoping you will follow the link and read the explanation under each one. They all seemed to apply to my current project.

Embrace radical incrementalism.

First let me say, making books leads to as much leftover bits and pieces too good to throw out but sometimes head scratchers to figure out what to do with as making quilts. After finishing the last leather book, I had 8 perfectly good signatures from the bottom half of the paper I was using left over. Shorter than the signatures for the long stitch link stitch leather book but still a decent height for another leather book I wanted to try. I cut a piece from the smooth leather bomber jacket had for 99 cents, fused a heavier batik to it with Steam-A-Seam (hoping it would prevent fraying along the edges which Heat and Bond did not do), chose the handspun hemp thread I'd used in a Japanese stab stitch book, punched holes in the spine and started sewing in the signatures.

This is supposed to be one of those easy and relatively quick books to make, and with the signatures already cut and pressed, I should have been able to finish it in a couple of days. But instead, I found myself doing small bits at a time, stretched over an entire week. Working incrementally. After the first signature was sewn in and I had the hang of doing the "packing" around each long stitch, I moved my materials to my office so I could do that meditative wrapping of the thread while watching, or at least listening to, videos on my computer. I think I did that for 3 days before all five signatures were sewn in.

As a side note, I had to laugh when listening to an interview with a bookmaker while I worked on the covers. She had attended some sort of class herself where she was introduced to the idea of "stacking" which I realized is just a new-fangled term for multi-tasking and was actually exactly what I was doing at the moment. In other words, find another thing you can do while involved in something else - say, do some sketching while watching tv (her example). Lordy, I've been "stacking" for all my life! 

Develop a taste for having problems.

Well yeah, anyone who has sewn or quilted or done any kind of craft or art should be familiar with running into problems as one works through a project. In fact, I can remember a few times when things went flawlessly and quickly and it absolutely unnerved me I was so used to issues cropping up. As you can see, I was incorporating seams into the cover in a different way from the first leather book, not stopping to think that by centering a seam horizontally, it would become a problem when I started punching sewing holes and adding a closure. Too late now - forge ahead.

But that was minor compared with what I discovered when I sewed the last signature in and closed the book. The spine rounded pushing the signatures with it to make them uneven and not what was supposed to happen. The spacing between long stitch stitches was too wide (or the signatures could have been fatter). The whole structure was unstable and wonky.

And the first and last long stitch was visible on the front and back. I'd have to come up with a solution. Oh yes, I definitely have a taste for having problems! And for the most part, I am a patient person, not that interested in immediate gratification, so bumping up against issues that slow me down become welcome challenges. But there IS a limit to my patience!

More often than not, originality lies on the far side of unoriginality.  

So here we go, analyzing the problem to determine its cause and how it might be fixed. I had used 5 of the 8 signatures instead 4 as shown in the directions because I wanted the remainder for yet another kind of leather book calling for 3 signatures. I placed the 3 between the sewn-in signatures to see if adding more would fix the problem.

Even just the 3 showed that, if I could figure out a way of adding a signature between the ones already attached, my book should behave as it's supposed to.

But adding with more long stitches with packing won't work - just not enough room between the stitches already there. I've been muddling options for days, as well as trying to work out how to attach some kind of wrap for a closure (that dang center seam!) and may have hit upon something (which hopefully won't leave me with even more unused signatures). Whatever I choose, it will take me from just following a set of directions into original territory for this binding. Originality from unoriginality. 

If you are interested in giving this book a try, the instructions are free over on Ali Manning's Vintage Page Designs website here.  And video instructions are here.


Anonymous said...

I read with interest The Principles of Patience. You made me laugh at "'Lordy, I've been "stacking" for all my life!'" I certainly understand where that's coming from! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Jan in WY

The Inside Stori said...

This is such a thought provoking post…… Love your determination!