Archive for June, 2011

Following on from the first part yesterday, today brings part two of the ceci n’est pas une porte series:

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My old studio was a beautiful place, situated on an island that was crammed with quirky features.  One of those features was this door:

Photography by Katherine Palmer

I loved that door, and always thought I’d like to do something inspired by it.  Well… today I finally did.  It’s part sculptural piece and part useful book, and it’s the first part of my Ceci n’est pas une porte series.

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Relief work in dark green leather.  More to follow…

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The promised heatwave hit London yesterday and persisted into today – by 10am it was 28 degrees in the shade and still rising, finally topping out at about 32 degrees at lunchtime.

I love living in the city, but in the summer it’s a mixed blessing.  The mass of hard surfaces – tarmac, concrete, brick, slate, stone – both absorbs the heat and reflects it back, and on a clear day when the temperature is high you can see the heat haze.  On a day like today it makes the city seem, from a distance, blurry and out of focus.

Which was the perfect inspiration for the books I made today.  I used a fabric which is printed with a slightly blurry map of London:

It’s a lovely fabric, and I actually like that you can’t see the fine detail – it gives the books a Monet-like effect: they look fabulous from a distance, but a little messy close up.  I’ve got enough of the fabric left to make a third book, which I may well do tomorrow if the heatwave continues.

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I don’t often make gardening themed books, which is perhaps a little odd for someone who works as a gardener!  I had the urge to rectify that on Friday, and whipped up a few books with a vintage gardening theme.

More to follow this week, I think.  I’m temporarily on house arrest as my van is currently at the garage in need of a new fuel tank…

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Just a little update on yesterday’s events.  The Flea Market at the Paradise went rather well.  I had a cushy spot on the roof terrace (although I was opposite La Dinette, which meant that I spent much of the day catching glimpses of their tempting produce…), and although the weather was grey and overcast most of the day it did stay dry – hooray!

I was really pleased with my stall as I’ve finally come up with an effective way of displaying my notebooks.  In the past I’ve just arranged them directly on the table (take a peek here to see what I mean), which has been a nightmare as it tended to look like a jumble sale after a few customers had a rummage through.

About a month ago I came into possession of some vintage drawers (I was actually offered the whole desk, but didn’t have room for it!), and I hit upon the brainwave of using those to house my books.  They’re attractive in and of themselves, they allow customers to flick through the books (much as you’d flick through DVDs or CDs in a shop), and they make the transportation of my stock and the setting up of my stall really quick and easy, as I can arrange all the books at home and then just transport them in the drawers themselves.  Perfect!

It was a successful day out (many thanks to Juliet Kinsman who organised it), and I’m looking forward to the next one which will be on 9th July at Queens Park Community School.

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I returned to the pen and ink drawings over Wednesday and Thursday evening, and I’m glad that I did.  I think the sepia ink works better with a more simple style.  Just the outlines have been inked in, and (to my eyes at least!) I think it looks good:

Here’s the first version I did on Tuesday:

See, I do think the simple version works better, what do you think?  I also had a go at a view of the London Underground:

I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do with these yet.  So far they’re just experiments so I may do a few more and then decide whether they’re good enough to do some print of…

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It’s a sad fact, but my hands were too stiff to do any bookbinding today: clearly I overdid it at the weekend.  So I turned to sketching instead…

When I sketch with ink I normally just use a pen, but today I decided to have a bash with an old fashioned dip pen and some ink.  It’s turned out pretty well, but I think I’ll use less colour next time.  I’m more accustomed to using watercolours, but with ink it’s more difficult to get the same effect.  Practice makes perfect though, so watch this space!

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… since Friday morning.  I realised that, with three fairs lined up over the next four weeks, I really needed to make some more stock.  I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the studio over the past month but mainly I’ve been taking my time making unusual books, or experimenting with new materials – but what I really needed to do was replenish my stock of basic A6 notebooks (which tend to be the most popular things at fairs due to their size and price).

Thus commenced a two day marathon of bookbinding…

As you can see from the above photos it’s been a very productive two days!  I’ve been spending the time in my studio making the covers and preparing the pages, and then sewing the books together in the evenings while I watch television.  The downside of such intensive sewing is that I’ve managed to give myself a bookbinding injury: slicing open my little finger where the thread is repeated pulled taut against it.  OUCH.  I’ve done this before and found out that plasters are no good because after a while the glue from the plaster tends to warm up and seep out onto the thread, so I’ve ended up making a little leather sleeve for my finger to protect it while it heals.

It might look odd, but it’s remarkably comfortable and does the job perfectly!

Although the past two days have been dedicated to fast and furious work I have found a little time to experiment.  I normally use either unwaxed linen thread (white) or embroidery thread (when I want colours) to bind my books, but I thought I’d try waxed linen thread for a change.  I ordered a few colours from a seller on Etsy:

The colours are fabulous, but it was a very strange experience using waxed thread for the first time.  It’s very sticky, and much thicker than any thread I’ve used previously.  It was quite unwieldy to work with, although the final effect was good:

I did find that, because it’s a thicker thread, the result was a slightly thicker book than usual because the thread running inside the signatures bulks them out.  I’m not madly keen on that so I think I’ll only use this thread for things like photo albums or guestbooks in future, where I generally use a thicker paper anyway.

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If you’re in or near London next weekend then please come and visit me at Kensal Flea, a boutique flea market organised by Juliet Kinsman and held at The Paradise by way of Kensal Green*.

There will be oodles of handmade and vintage goods to browse and buy, as well as food galore.

The market will be held on Saturday 25th June from 12pm to 5.30pm.  £1 entry for charity including the Women’s Refuge, Marylebone (children free, although donations welcomed).


*19 Kilburn Lane
Kensal Green
W10 4AE

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