Brooklyn Bound

Sketchbook Project Envelope

It’s January 31, the deadline for sending in a sketchbook to The Sketchbook Project 2012. My next stop is the post office.

sketchbook page

When I first read about The Sketchbook Project it was almost too late to request to be part of it.  This is how it worked: I signed up, sent them money, and they collect, scan, catalogue and show thousands and thousands of sketchbooks done by artists all over the world.  I love this concept, and the way it has been implemented.

I draw nearly every day, so there was no question in my mind that this is something that I should be part of. The  sketchbook they provided is modest in size: 7″ x 5 ” containing 8 folded papers to created 32 drawing pages. At first I thought it was a bit too small, but I grew to appreciate its diminutive size as it was easy to fill, and not too precious to send off.

The cover of the book  is a simple folded piece of book board: thin, folded, and stapled.  Of course I had to mess with the binding….

…but I messed with it only a little. Cut out a window, replaced the staples with sewing.  In fact I like the look of the board. I thought of drawing on the cover but chose not to.

I filled most of the pages with sketches.  I worked in it the same way that I work in my own sketchbooks: I find something that’s challenging to draw, then I draw it repeatedly until I feel like I better understand the visual language of the object.  I also wrote on a few of the pages.   At first my thoughts were trying to push through, so I let them. But that didn’t last long.

This is what I most liked about getting involved with this sketchbook initiative: they sent me emails reminding me to sketch. OMG, no one has ever done that for me before. I get emails reminding me to pay bills, show up for meetings, to take political actions etc etc, but no one sends me emails encouraging me to sketch. I love being reminded to draw, irregardless of whether or not I need the nudging.

Dedicated to Jose Gaytan
Dedicated to Jose Francisco Gaytan

Since this book is being sent off to Williamsburg Brooklyn, just a few blocks away from where I lived for many years, and right in the area where my friend Jose Gaytan took thousands of photos during the 1980’s and 90’s, I decided to dedicate my book to him before I sent it off into the world.

And off it goes………..

How-to · Non-adhesive Book · simple book binding

V-Pockets Book Cover

V-pockets Book Cover
Click on drawings to enlarge or print

        Last Sunday morning  I was trying out different ways of folding 11″ x 17″ paper to make a folded book cover.  When the structure that I’ve drawn out in the document above appeared in my hands I was so excited that I kept making one right after the other, and, thus began my Off To South Africa day of bookmaking.

When I wrote the post about sending off the V-Pockets books that I had made I wondered if anyone would notice and ask about the folding method. I wondered if anyone would ask how to make it, and how long it would take for that inquiry, if ever, to come.

After posting it took me three hours to get back to the computer to look over the post. Bronwyn, who is literally half the world away from me, had already noticed and asked. I was so pleased that I immediately got to work on some sketches and sent them out to her. Here’s an excerpt of her response, which might be helpful to people who work with A3 rather than 11″ x 17″:

“….those instructions – they work perfectly!! I…. got an A3 piece of paper (which is 29.7cm x 42cm) …. and cut it to 22cm x 34 cm – not the same size as yours, but the same proportional dimensions.  I’ve ended up with an 11cm square, so you probably end up with an 5 1/2 inch square.”

So, there you have it, the metric measurements! Roughly, a proportion to keep in mind is that the starting paper proportions should be 1:1.5,  so if your paper is 10 units wide, is should be about 15 units long.

Thank yous to Bronwyn and to the others who asked for instructions on this structure. I hope you enjoy making books (or folders) with these directions.

simple book binding

Off to South Africa

    This past Christmas I received a card from my pal Nancy, celebrating that, in lieu of a gift, she had donated a bicycle, in my name, to a charity which refurbishes and distributes bikes to people whose lives will be enhanced by the acquisition of two-wheeled transportation.

v-pocket book
Handmade books bound for Pretoria
    One good turn deserves another: now that Nancy’s birthday is coming up, it has occurred to me to donate some handmade books to students in South Africa whose learning may be enhanced having some new notebooks. Given in Nancy’s name, of course.
Wall Paper Sample Book for Bookmaking
A Wallpaper Sample Book: these pages are good to use as book covers because they are durable and vinyl-like
    These books will be sent to a young man who, as a fourth grader, used to come the book arts classes that I taught at our local library. Back then, this little boy made a real connection to the mechanics and magic of paper-folding Now a college graduate, he is spending two years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Africa.

Back Page Of V-pocket book
These books cover are made from 11" x 17" , folded in such a way that a both the front and back covers have a V-shaped inside pocket.
This young man, James Higby, is a lone American teaching in a rural South African school, having committed to teaching for two years. Honestly, I can’t  relate to what it would be like to be so far from home, for so long,  to have to learn a new language and to make all new social connections. Each one of these challenges in isolation seems managable and exciting, but, all together all at once is something I can not image.  Since I have often seen how little blank books encourage children to write (much like water encourages fish to swim) the books I am sending are my modest way of supporting the work that James is doing.
V-pocket book cover, without pages
V-pocket book cover, without pages
From what I understand, James gets his mail only on the rare occasion that he visits his mailbox in Pretoria. It takes him a full day of travel to get to his mailbox.
The book block is a combination of blank pages, and pages I "harvested" from a thrift store book, which I disassembled
From what I’ve been told,  James visits his mailbox just about once a month.  This leave me feeling nervous about both the time and distance that separates my gift from its destination.  To allay my own discomfort, I am going to affix post-it notes to the books:  my plan is to write quadratic equations and area formulas on to these post-its,  as I imagine, donned with math facts,  my books will be cloaked with a protective aura.
I slid cover weight papers into the pockets, to give the book a more substantial feel
I haven’t yet told Nancy that I am sending these books in lieu of her birthday present.  However, since James is her son, I am confident that she will approve.
Book Artists · exposed sewing

Susan Share at Kenai Peninsula College

By Susan Joy Share, detail

I just received an exquisite postcard from Susan Share, announcing an upcoming show of her recent book work. Here’s the note that came with the postcard:

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce my upcoming solo show in Soldotna, Alaska. If you find yourself in the vicinity, please stop in.

This is a show I would love to see. I hope that there will be some on-line coverage of this event. I am green with envy over the luck of the people in Soldotna, Alaska who get to see this show.