For years, until she retired, I worked with an enthusiastic classroom teacher named Anna who loved seeing her students make books. Instead of teaching bookmaking skills she created a bookmaking corner in her classroom that included a little display of books that I had taught her how to make. These books were accompanied by written directions and a stack of paper. Anna’s third grade students had a great time making books independently.

Last week I received a note from Lana, a teacher in Canada who I follow and who always has insights that I value. Here’s what she wrote:

I started a personal history project with my kids today, with  the big idea that our histories are different but we learn about each other because we are a community. Students start with creating a personal history of 5-10 important events in their lives. What if I open it a bit and let kids work with paper in 3 dimensions? Someone wants a line, someone else a book, a spiral, a tree, a flexagon?

I was wondering if there are some formats that you could recommend that don’t require too much pre-teaching. Ideally kids can follow template/video.

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Thinking about Anna’s bookmaking corner, I want to suggest a few books to Lana.

I decided to take this opportunity to finally get around to creating the StarBook/Cascading Book tutorial (at the top of this post) with video accompaniment:

This modular origami book can be tricky, but it is totally doable, The folding needs to be done precisely, folds need to be sharp, and it’s important to pay attention to the orientation of the modules as they get glued together.

Fact is though, that it looks tricker than it is. It’s a structure I highly recommend because it’s so dynamic.

Bookmaking by Paula Beardell Krieg

The next book I want to highlight is the Origami Pamphlet. This is the #1 book that I would like every person in the world to know how to make. Here’s the link to my post https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/how-to-make-an-origami-pamphlet 

Another set of these directions that I like belongs to Tim Winkler, and can be viewed at http://pictureengine.net/?p=7960

Mike Lawler made a 24 second video -Voila!- showing a piece of paper transform into the origami pamphlet  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APfeGF0HqvY 

Books made from one or two pieces of paper

The biggest problem with the origami pamphlet is that if you’re using regular copy paper, the book will be rather small,  If this bothersome there are two good variations that result in a larger book (other than just finding a larger sheet of paper):

You can link two of the structures together with a rubber band. That’s what’s going on with the lilac/blue booklet above. Well, I guess it’s not actually a larger book, it’s just longer.

Making a larger origami pamphlet by linking two halves together

Two Book Bases linked together to make an origami pamphlet

A way make a larger origami pamphlet is to use two sheets of paper to make two halves, then attach them together (use glue, tape, paper clips, staples? whatever ) like in the photo above.  I call this half-or-an-origami pamphlet a book base.

An advantage of making a book this way is that, if composition paper is used, the lines will be going in the correct direction for writing on.

There are so many fabulous inventive book structures students can make, but sometimes it’s great to just fold a bunch of papers in half, secure them together, and be done with it. The problem here is that it is not obvious how to secure the pages together. A doable no-needle way to sew pages together in a classroom setting is to use a bit of string or yarn to do a modified pamphlet stitch.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch

Modified Pamphlet Stitch

There you have it, four books:

  • the Star Book,
  • the Cascading Book,
  • the Origami Pamphlet (with two variations) and
  • the Modified Pamphlet Stitch book

Lana’s note mentions a spiral. I’ve been playing with some spiraling pages lately, and I have something wonderful that I want to share, but the spiral deserves its own post: which will hopefully show up here in the near future.

 

 

This past Saturday Ed Hutchins presented a three-hour workshop as part of the Book Arts Summer in Salem event. Ed is the kind of book artist and teacher that I would recommend taking a workshop with no matter what it is he is teaching. So of course I signed up.

As everyone’s style of teaching is different I am pleased when I can be a student in a book arts class. Ed chose to show us how to make four different books using half sheets of regular copy paper. He offered Canson Mi-Tientes paper for the covers. The photo above, shows how Ed “set the table” for this class.

All the books that we made were sewn with a basic three-station pamphlet stitch. Even though these books look nearly identical in style, don’t be fooled by the outside covers…

We made a book with a pocket in the cover, and a book with tabbed covers, based on a Keith Smith design as well as a simple pamphlet .

Here’s the tabbed and folded cover in-progress. Ed provided a template for the tabbed cover, and even scored the fold lines to help facilitate the creation of this cover.

We also made a book with two groupings of papers sewn in onto separate folds….

…and to give the inside a raison d’etre, we added place holders for an image.

After we made each book, Ed made a point of talking about content. His message was ‘These are not to be blank books. You have lots of interesting things to say! ‘

He asked us to brainstorm on what we would put into the books. Here are some of the things that we and he came up with

  • poems
  • jokes
  • recipes
  • details of last night’s lobster dinner
  • leaf prints,
  • drawings
  • autographs
  • collage of a trip
  • a big eye
  • weather report
  • weather response
  • photos
  • family history
  • overheard conversations
  • rubber stamps
  • stamps harvested from our fan mail
  • phobias
  • what stood out about today
  • plans for tomorrow

Speaking of plans for tomorrow, my plan for tomorrow is prepare for the workshop that I will be teaching on July 30, as part of BASIS. In the next few days I will be starting to write about the structure, Hedi Kyle’s Blizzard Book, that I will be presenting. I am looking forward to having this excuse to make one variation after the other of these Blizzard Books!

sewing a book

Last Friday I was so  impressed with  the book making that I saw being done by high school students that I wanted to put up a post immediately. So I did. But I knew that I would continue thinking about these students and their work (after driving 100 miles each way – and teaching – I was a bit comatose when I composed that post) and would want to write more. So I saved some photos for this post #2.

red fingernails, book turn-in

Part of what was beguiling about watching these students work was seeing their year 2011 hands doing these centuries old techniques.

beads, punches, glue, and books

What stays with me the most, though, is how students gravitated towards making the most straightforward structures. Even though I brought classic materials such as wooden slabs to use as book covers, book board and silk book cloth, and white glue mixed with cooked paste,what these young adults were most drawn to were making books out of cover weight paper then sewing the pages in with a simple pamphlet stitch. Even though the students were successful with some of the  more complex sewing patterns , and even though they manipulated the traditional materials well, they seemed most captivated by the more basic methods of bookbinding.

line up of books

Noticing this I am reminded of a fact about teaching book arts that I often forget, and that is important to remember: the more complicated the book structure, the less likely it is that the novice book binder will personalize the book. The students seemed to feel freer to decorate and experiment with ideas on the books that we made using paper covers than the more complicated books. This totally makes sense as I continue to think about it. For instance, I showed three of the students how to use wooden boards and an exposed-link binding technique to create books. Each of these books looked exactly alike. No big fun in that for these kids.

paste paper book

The fact is that some of my most successful moments in teaching bookbinding have been when I have asked students to fold three or four pieces of paper together, then wrap a rubber band around the spine and we’re done. The students then dive right in to create, draw pictures, cut shapes in the papers, decorate and create. Students find great joy in transforming papers into pages then making then making the books their own. Sometimes I become so enamored by the architecture of the book that I forget about the pleasure of creating content and individualizing.

after work rush hour in the Adirondacks

At the end of this day my own individual joy was the beautiful ride home. Here’s what the after-work rush hour looked like last Friday as I headed out of the Adirondacks.

 

It’s a real gift to be totally surprised by the results of a bookmaking workshop. I did not have a clue that I would enjoy working with teenagers as much as I enjoyed working the group that taught this past week.  They were smart, capable and enthusiastic and they have an art teacher (the teacher that invited me in) who clearly has created an environment in her art room which is both relaxed and serious. This made my job easy. I started making books with these students, and they just took off with it.

Over the course of numerous classes with the high school students several styles of books were made, including the paper-cover, beaded-pamphlet stitch, a shoelace exposed link binding, and a hard cover pamphlet binding with Ahashi bookcloth, all pictured above.

I want to mention, too, that it felt like a magical journey just to get to the school, located up in the Adirondacks. This is a photo of morning rush hour up in the Adirondacks.

On the first days of classes many of the students made paste papers, so many of the books were well decorated using these papers. I rather think that this young lady’s nail polish goes well with the book. An added bonus.

Of all the styles that I introduced to the students, what they seemed to like best was making books out of the heavy black paper that I brought with me – Epic 80lb cover. We folded a spine, and sewed right through the text block and spine, adding beads. They all used awls to punch the holes, and no one got blood on their books. Always a good sign.

I brought lots of beads. It was quite remarkable to see all the choices these students made, using colors and patterns in many different ways.  They were also pretty good at threading the needles.  One young man threaded a needle for the first time in his life during this class. He had trouble at first, then quickly became an expert at it.

I have too many photos for just one post, so I will end here, and add more later.

%d bloggers like this: