Thursday, 30 June 2016

a somewhat unfortunate caterpillar stitch binding

caterpillar stitch and coptic binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Well this was a trip down the memory lane... The last time I made a book using the caterpillar stitch was in 2004 or 2005 when I was still a bookbinding student. Some things get better with age - and some things don't. This project was a fail, at least to me, no matter how it looks at a first glance.

I ambitiously went with a very curved design and remembered too late that there was a very special(=tricky) way to keep that core somewhat centered along the curves. Now my centipede/caterpillar looks like it's missing some legs at the inner curves, and the tension at the spine also leaves a lot to hope for. The front cover fails to stay properly closed, but at least it's much better than some caterpillar stitch books that fail to close at all.

caterpillar stitch and coptic binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com


In the caterpillar stitch the stitches that form the legs are done first and the core wrapping takes place a few steps later, making it pretty difficult to estimate the perfect amount of tension in the stitches done first, especially when it's been 10+ years since the last attempt to get it right. So, I ended up with a deformed bug and a slightly too tight stitching on the spine. But I did do some things right, so let's focus on those things a bit: The caterpillar stitch alone is very unstable, so it's advisable to use other stitches to support the spine better -> the four-needle Coptic binding did the job perfectly. Using another method for the primary binding meant I didn't have to sew the caterpillar through each and every signature on the spine -> the caterpillar core looked pretty balanced even as it crossed the spine. Mind you, I didn't count the number of wraps I did around the core at each section as I wanted some variation along the length of the core, so that variation helped with masking some uneven distances between pairs of legs, too.

caterpillar stitch and coptic binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Now I've checked one more bookbinding technique off my list of things to try again/learn for the first time, but I'm not sure this one made much sense. I've seen some pretty cool books with caterpillar stitch - it works with a more rustic look than the one I usually sport, and it can be just the thing to add as a detail to an artists' book. The caterpillar stitch gives you a pretty unique look, but I don't really know why one would want a caterpillar on one's book to begin with. The stitching is pretty impractical in its bulkiness and predisposition to excessive wear, so, in my books, this falls into to the try only for curiosity section of bookbinding structures. It can keep company to the crisscross binding (formerly known as the secret Belgian binding) there.

To be honest, the success of the crisscross binding in the craftier bookbinding circles is pretty baffling to me. I get that glueing can be scary and it's easier to begin learning bookbinding by trying out book techniques less likely to totally fail than casing in hardcover books, but still, that book basically comes apart when any single one of the very much exposed threads breaks from continuous friction. Again, I'm all for variety in bookbinding structures, but this is another technique that I'd much rather see used primarily for artists' books as they are handled much less often and more carefully than any notebook ever.

If you want to try your hand at the caterpillar stitch regardless of all I said above, you can find an illustrated tutorial here. I'll get back to my search for bookbinding structures to try that have a chance of passing my practicality screening...

Monday, 27 June 2016

mixed media monday - brooch with lace and pearls

mixed media brooch by Kaija Rantakari - paperiaarre.com

A trinket Monday this week! I enjoy making small mixed media jewelry - it provides a nice balance in between larger collages, which admittedly aren't that large, and satisfies my need to make items that are useful. Although I'm not sure jewelry can be regarded as useful, but it does serve a purpose nonetheless.

mixed media brooch by Kaija Rantakari - paperiaarre.com

(vintage wrist watch case, vintage photo, vintage lace, recycled leather, freshwater pearls, brooch pin, thread, glue)

diameter of the watch case is 3,1cm / 1.2" - length 8cm / 3.1"


mixed media brooch by Kaija Rantakari - paperiaarre.com

I wouldn't mind such a fine pair of shoes, but I would settle for some extra spring in my step this summer.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

accumulator seriali - part 20

my grandmother's scrap and quote book from the 1920's - paperiaarre.com

I think I've mentioned having collected Victorian scraps in the early 1990's. I remember counting 700 pieces at one time, but I carried on collecting for a few more years, so I have no idea what the grand total would be now. But we all know, quantity does not equal quality. My maternal grandmother, however, had some amazing scraps in her friendship book from the 1920's! I would've fainted at the sight of these when I was at the top of my scrap enthusiasm.

my grandmothers' scrap and quote books - paperiaarre.com

These two books belonged to my grandmothers. The smaller one, from my namesake, is the one I'm showing you today.

my grandmother's scrap and quote book from the 1920's - paperiaarre.com

Isn't this pattern on the endpapers gorgeous! 

My grandmother was born in 1916, so she was just nine when she got this book for Christmas. She then passed this book around and her little friends wrote in quotes and poems - more or less skillfully - and embellished the pages with scraps (and there's one tiny photo in there, too).

my grandmother's scrap and quote book from the 1920's - paperiaarre.com

I won't go into translating any of the other quotes, but I want to mention the one above saying "Live and learn" - it's pretty strange and adorable coming from a girl most likely no more than 9-years-old.

my grandmother's scrap and quote book from the 1920's - paperiaarre.com

There are many very large pieces of scrap in this book, many of them quite heavily embossed and made of a much heavier weight paper than the modern ones are. 

my grandmother's scrap and quote book from the 1920's - paperiaarre.com

Then there are the some scraps that are like from another world! Among all the flowers and angels there are some Danish (I think?) Disney scraps. I think one of my aunts added these in later, as the Donald Duck character was created in 1934 and the quotes in this book seem to date mostly from 1926.

And here are three gif animations to show you the entire book. What a variety of hands and styles!






I hope you enjoyed these antique paper treasures!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

sewn boards binding


sewn boards binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

This week I decided to focus on creating models of binding structures that are not part of my everyday repertoire. I have a bad habit of always selling the books I intend to keep as a part of my model library, so I took precautions and used paper I hate for the pages. Two birds with one stone: books that serve the model purpose perfectly, but are not something I'd sell because of the paper, and I get to use some of that big lot of slippery paper (unfortunately there aren't enough book structures in the world for me to ever run out of that paper by making models for myself).

sewn boards binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

My first two models are of a sewn board binding that's been on my to-do list forever. I'm not sure if my teachers knew about this structure at all when I was studying for my bookbinding degree, but I first saw it years after graduating. Now it seems to be everywhere! You can find several tutorials for it online, but just to name two, here's an excellent one by Karen Hanmer, and here's another one that has lots of photos. I didn't follow any particular tutorial, but picked the features I liked best in what I'd read. In the future I think I'll tweak things some more, use more fillers to keep everything even more smooth and level, and little things like that.

Having a good plough, freshly greased and sharpened, is really useful in making sewn board books, but I see no reason why you couldn't make one without a plough. I usually really enjoy the look of torn pages on my books, but sewn board binding with its covers the same size as the pages looks especially good when everything is cut super neat.

sewn boards binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

I used brown recycled cardstock for the sewn covers and left it visible on the book I covered with old dictionary pages. In the full cloth book I covered the spine and the exposed parts of the cover board with soft teal coloured paper and I really like that little pop of contrast colour.

sewn boards binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

I think most good bookbinders have a look of their own that ties different types of books together regardless of the techniques used. I look forward to seeing what my 2016 caterpillar stitch looks like! I haven't done one since 2004 or 2005... Any suggestions what binding structures to tackle after I'm done with the caterpillar?

sewn boards binding by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

I hope you all have enjoyed the midsummer week so far. Our household won't be doing much to celebrate Juhannus tomorrow and Saturday, but I expect some effort will be put into having a few delicious meals even if the bonfire is missing. Whether or not we go to sauna depends on how hot our home is to begin with - if it's already hot inside, it doesn't really make any sense for us to heat a room just for the sake of the tradition of going to sauna on the midsummer eve. Do you have special midsummer traditions where you live? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, 20 June 2016

mixed media monday - you may hear the wind

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Do not speak of meaning; you may hear the wind
But we will not communicate

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Last week we had several days when I woke up to the sound of rain. Sometimes gentle, sometimes near torrential. I spent all week home alone, so the sounds of water were a welcome company. I had planned to do a lot of writing and took the week off from making things by hand, but I ended up writing a little, folding papers a little, and relaxing a lot. Probably just what I needed after working hard all spring.

This Mixed Media Monday collage is something I worked on all night before launching my writing staycation. Sometimes I work the best very late at night, but it's not a good long term solution for obvious reasons. Still, I'm very much a night owl and I doubt that will ever change.

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Can you spot all the people in this photo? For the longest time I only saw one! This blog photo is an enlarged version of the original, so it's not as hard to see the others.

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

I love map markings.

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Domed metal findings are sewn through the top and bottom edges of the shallow box I made to house this collage.

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

(vintage photo, cut up vintage text, vintage map, metal findings, thread, paper, board, glue)

21x15,8x1,4cm / 8.3"x6.2"x0.6"

you may hear the wind - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari / paperiaarre.com

Refreshed by the lazy week I hope to get a lot done this week. Maybe trying out some less used book structures would be a nice change to my bookbinding routines. What's your plan for the week?