This is the third of my posts about the Blizzard Book, a folded paper design by Hedi Kyle. Since I just taught a class on how to create this book I have been able to indulge my great interest in different approaches to the papers, proportions, and covers of Blizzard Books. My last post showed the Blizzard Book as a single sheet of paper that is folded in such a way that each page becomes a pocket. This post features a variation which will include adding in pages onto the spine of the book.
Blizzard Book Spines: left, in progress: right, completed
The first step in making a Blizzard Book is to fold accordions to make the spine. In the Card Carrying Blizzard Book the spine becomes the whole book because the paper, which is 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, is divided up into only eight accordions. To make a Blizzard Book with pages I begin with the same size paper, 17 inches x 7 5/8 inches, but I divide this one up into sixteen accordions. The result is a tall, thin spine that has tabs on the tops and bottoms.
I know that this might be hard to see and understand from these photos, but part of the charm of this book is that it is tricky to figure out right away. Tabs are created, head and tail on the spine, by making V-folds on the accordions and then laying down the V-folds, thus creating a tab. Long papers folded into an accordion can then be tucked under these tabs on the spine as pages of the book.
The Blizzard Books in the photo above have the same size spine. What makes them different is the size of the width of the paper used for the accordion pages that fit into the spine.
Since I really like using standard size copy paper whenever possible, I do a book base fold with 8 1/2′ x 11″ paper to mimic the qualities of the accordion (photo above).
And some of the spines of my Blizzard Books start with a standard 8 1/2 x 11″ copy paper, too, which I then cut down to 8 1/2″ x 7 5/8″. When I use this proportion, I make only eight accordion sections to begin with. This size spine creates tabs which work perfectly with folded 8 1/2″ x 11″ papers when I fold them like a book base. The extra bonus fun thing about using these standard sized papers is that I can use standard size envelopes, A4s, for the covers of the Blizzard Book, as shown in the photo above.
It’s also worthwhile working out how to make covers which echo the inside folds of the Blizzard Book. But, when teaching a three-hour class, the envelope-covers work out just fine.
Now, I realize that I have just put out lots of details, that might seem like mumbo-jumbo. During my class last Saturday at North Main Gallery I was nearly apologetic to the participants about all the precise folding and math talk that learning this structure requires. Even though these folks assured me that, although it was challenging, they appreciated being able to learn how to make this book. I am feeling uncomfortable here, now, writing a post that might be hard to follow. I’ve been encouraged, however, to feel that it’s worth the effort.
On July 30, seven days from today, I will be teaching a three-hour workshop in Salem NY, as part of a series of exhibitions and workshops sponsored by Book Arts Summer in Salem (BASIS). This past spring, when Ed Hutchins and I discussed what I would be teaching for this summer workshop, we settled on the Blizzard Book, a structure which was developed by Hedi Kyle in the mid-1990’s. Hedi taught this book form to Susan Share, who showed it to me.
Since that time, nearly fifteen years ago, I regularly revisit the folds of the Blizzard Book , using different papers, playing with different proportions, experimenting with different cover options, and looking at the ways other bookbinders have approached the creation of this book. I am utterly captivated by the sequence of folds of this book. For many years I did not want to teach it to classes because I felt that it was not mine to teach. Something about it being so brilliantly elegant compelled me to want to leave it to Hedi Kyle to teach. Now, so many years later, since I have noticed that many people have packaged their own tutorials of the Blizzard Book I have become less reluctant to teach it myself. Still, I hope for Hedi’s approval. I am, therefore working on a small packet of my Blizzard Books to send to Hedi along with a note about the upcoming class.
Part of the charm of this book is that it is made without any glue or sewing. The sequence of folds holds the spine of this book together, and keeps the pages attached on to the spine. Then there’s the option of changing the proportions of the spine piece so that deep pockets are made, and there is no need for pages to be added in (more about that at a later date).
Also included in the Penland book is Hedi’s explanation the name Blizzard Book. According to her telling of it, back in the mid-nineties snow began falling in Philadelphia one January morning. Soon, everyone on the east coast was staying home as the predictions for a major storm came true. This, the Blizzard of 1996 became a perfect day for Hedi to work in her studio. As the hours passed snow accumulated outside of her studio while folds accumulated inside. Towards the end of the day it occurred to her to manipulate some folds a certain way. This resulted in the creation of a structure which “more or less bound itself.’ Months later when Hedi heard talk of “Blizzard Babies” conceived during the storm, she began to think of her own creation on this day as the Blizzard Book.