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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Binding Dummies - Sewn board style

The search for the perfect binding for this book continued with experiments with Gary Frost's sewn board binding. I call it a sewn board style binding because with the text block to be a drum leaf the cover folio was not to be sewn, but glued.

From Karen Hanmer's handout at the 2013 Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence seminar:


The sewn boards binding is Gary Frost’s elegant, modern adaptation of an ancient method of board attachment. Stiffened outer signatures sewn along with the text block function as the book’s boards.

The drum leaf binding, developed by Tim Ely, has features in common with preexisting Eastern and Western binding structures. This adhesive binding is a perfect structure for printmakers, photographers, or anyone who desires to present visual narratives with no sewing thread to interrupt the flow of imagery. Because a drum leaf book is not laid out in signatures but made of single-sided folios, the complexities of imposition are not encountered when laying out text. Like the sewn boards, the drum leaf can also utilize stiffened outer folios as the book’s boards.

Both structures can be dressed up or down with a variety of spine treatments, board-covering materials, and edge decoration techniques. Both books open flat.  


I tried a goat vellum spine, lined with a bristol spine stiffener.

I really didn't like the sight of the bristol inside the spine.

Functionally, it worked every bit as well as the dos rapporte but a lot less work involved, or so I thought.

The sewn board style compared to the dos rapporte. I favored the reduction of bulk at the spine with the sewn board version.

Binding dummies - Ben Elbel's dos Rapporte

I settled on a drum leaf text block so that I could slip the translucent overlay containing the poem inside the foredge between pages. 

That left a lot of possibilities open for the binding of the book. The first think I wanted to try was a dos rapporte binding that I learned in a workshop. the dos rapporté binding is a spine construction developed by Benjamin Elbel that provides books with a great opening and a sleek contemporary character. 

The spine construction. Because it folds back on itself the spine is tricky.



the half of the end sheet folio that is closest to the cover is trimmed and the spine is lined with Jaconnet.









Alas, as lovely as this binding worked and looked, I decided that it would be too much work to edition.


Habitat image test

I wanted to include closeup, dreamy images of the marine habitat that could be overlaid with a poem, told from the viewpoint of the child in the moment of discovery, to run through the book on translucent leaves.

These images were first tested using bitmapped plates with a final stochastic dot plate for value. The final images were printed with 3 custom colors using the stochastic dot on all 3 plates, printed on natural thick kozo paper.


Test on MacGregor abaca paper with 2-step gold ink and a gampi overlay

Also tested on handmade Katie MacGregor paper, no gold with kozo overlay

Comparison of habitat spread and specimen image

Printing the light blue plate of the mussel image


Next, the brown and then dark blue.



Preliminary printing tests

The technique I had been using with great success to reproduce botanical specimens was proofing ineffective for rendering the shape and depth of these animals.

It was back to the drawing board to try to come up with a process that could represent the vibrancy and volume of marine creatures.

I tried a progression of stochastic dot experiments on more of the plates in an effort to print smooth, realistic images.

I was admiring the reproduction of specimens I found in Victorian era naturalist books.

CHROMOLITHOGRAPH: This is the process by which lithographs are color printed. As many lithographic stones, each with an identical image, were used as colors were needed, each stone carrying different colors on the replicated drawing. Often colors were overprinted to get different tones or colors (blue and yellow make green). While chromolithography was employed to save money over of costly hand-coloring, it was often a difficult process that required skilled “chromistes” who knew the art of color-mixing. Alignment or registration of the paper on each separate stone also required great skill so that the final printed image did not appear blurred. Sometimes as many as a dozen or more stones each bearing the same image drawn with a waxy crayon were colored and overprinted. The first large chromolithographs done in the U.S. were by Julius Bien, a German immigrant, for the sons of John James Audubon who published what is known as the Bien edition of the Birds of America 1858-60.

Ochre Sea Star printed on Thick kozo paper

Pacific Litlleneck clam shell, in this image I printed the yellow plate magenta and the magenta plate yellow. It was too red previously.

Giant Keyhole Limpet, found at Leo Carrillo State Park. This image was laking detail and was too contrasty.

Chestnut Cowrie with mantle exposed. I tried printing a solid shape first and dusting it with mica powder, then print the four colors over it. It looks amazing but the labor extensive process ruled out using it in edition printing.

Chestnut Cowrie. With this image I felt I was finally getting somewhere. It was rich and smooth with subtle tonal shifts and layering.

Trolling the tide pools for subjects

In March, 2015 I began a yearlong research project to collect information and images for a new artist's book.

I went to tide pools in Southern California during extreme low tides a couple times a month.

Most of the animals were alive at the time of photographic capture. The exceptions are a pretty red abalone shell and a Norris Top Snail shell.

I shot several of the creatures through water using a polarizing filter, but mostly the animals were plucked out of the water and set on a nearby rock where I quickly shoot them with a Nikon 7100 dslr and a macro lens.

My new artist's book looks back to the beginnings of my passion for exploration and observation of native species to a time when I collected sea animals gathered at low tide to bring home and live in an aquarium in my girlhood bedroom.


Giant Keyhole Limpet

Tidepool Sculpin

California Brown Sea Hare

Red Abalone shell

Green Sea Anemone, shot through water

Chestnut Cowrie, mantle exposed

Chestnut Cowrie

Giant Keyhole Limpet, shot through water

Norris Top Snail shell

Kellet's Whelk