Friday, February 10, 2012

I've been home for a week now with the kind of flu that reminds a person how amazing it is that we have modern medicine...I'm sure that 200 years ago I would have coughed myself to death, or at least into some secondary infection that would take ages to recover from.  Thanks to a trip to my doc yesterday and a mittful of modern meds, I had my first full night's sleep in several days.

It's weird to have been away from work this long while classes are in session.  School board work often means chunks of time off, but it's pretty much always the same chunks of time for staff and students alike.

The last few days have left me in long stretches of low-energy consciousness...not so energetic that I could, say, do the laundry, but with enough percolation to sit and fiddle.

Of course, the foremost thing in my mind right now is the Sketchbook Project.

With a couple of drawings/paintings already ready to go for the Project, it was time to experiment with a bit of binding to see what is going to be useful and long-term functional for something that will be moved, opened, closed, shelved, packed, moved, flipped through again, etc.  I used a modified (mostly due to the size of my paper) version of Teesha Moore's Journal. My final book is pretty small, and the fold-flap pages are a bit abbreviated compared to Teesha's, but it was more about experimenting with the ideas than perfection.  Also wanted to answer some questions I had about how this particular paper would react to being heavily water coloured on both sides, and whether or not the markers would bleed (or if paint would want to creep through the stitching holes).

I used 3 pieces of paper, torn to approximate what Teesha did with her one large sheet.  My book has deckled edges on the top and bottom of each page, cover included.  The deckled edge allows for the handmade feel of the book, and those torn edges react to the paint differently, creating a natural border when the work runs all the way to the edges.

I used a waxed Egyptian cotton (not linen) thread to do the stitching, and found that I couldn't get it as tight as I wanted. It's because of this that I glued the pieces of mulberry paper to both the outside spine (as shown on the photos of the outside cover) and on the inmost signature.  They were fun, too, to play against with the paint, seeing how/if they would absorb the pigments in the same way as the rag papers, or not.  I was really quite happy with the way that the two papers complement each other.

Also, to play and experiment, I pre-painted all of the pages in random colours - just quick glazes, motley and spontaneous.  Having not painted in layers in quite this way before, it was interesting to see how the paint colour would suggest different subject matter.  The first page, with the portrait face, was pretty tricky, really.  It was my first time drawing on a surface that had nothing to do with the subject matter, and it took a lot of concentration.  All in all, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.  

The page that I did this morning shows two handmade things that are precious gifts given me by friends over the Christmas holidays.  The page colour suggested this as topic, as the plate and the background colour have the same rare yellow/green hue to them.  It was painted so that the yellow/green could glow through the  over painting and give some cohesiveness to the whole picture.

The paper held up well, and you can plainly see in the pictures the bit of bleed-through at the stitch holes on the signature, but all in all it was more successful than expected.  I'll probably bind a couple more little wee books like this to get the stitching tension ironed out better, then jump in and do the actual book for submission.

The whole thing leaves me wondering...if I weren't me, what would I do with all this time on my hands?  What do other people do when they're at home sick for long stretches? I caught up on all of my website work, wrote the rough draft of my proposal for a work thing, hammered through a bunch of email that was waiting to be dealt with, read 3 books and watched 4 movies (oh, find time to watch 'Mary and Max', especially if you have Netflix). That, and managed to sleep long chunks of time away here and there, including all of last weekend. 

Oh, and for the people in the audience who love that technical stuff, the paper is some bottom rung 100 lb rag paper, the paint is Koi, the markers are Pitt and Staedtler, and the pencil is one of those ones made of recycled Chinese newspapers.  

In better health,