Sorry, where was I?

Owing to a brief medical crisis in the family (all set now, looks like there will be no lasting concerns), I’ve been away from this blog longer than anticipated. When I left, though, I was getting all set to post some shots depicting the making of a (very) limited edition book I made a few months ago. By limited I mean I only made 12 copies, but I was pleased with how they came out.

The book, called Three Tadpoles Enter the Mountain, grew out of a little poem–doggerel, really–I wrote several summers ago while sitting by a little body of water called Basho Pond, watching some half-grown tadpoles chase each other under and around a log floating in the water.  As is the case with a lot of the stuff I make (maybe it works this way for everyone?), a number of different media, techniques, and materials (not to mention two more short poems on the same theme) came together to make this project.

The book began with the very same image that appears on the very first page of this blog–yep, way back there in April. To save you the trouble, here it is again:

This image was one of many I made by using watercolors to paint in a tiny (1″ square) print I’d made using a hand-carved stamp on cold-press watercolor paper. I made lots of these at once, coloring each one differently.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll recognize this image from another project that grew out of this, one that was featured on Whipup back in June, in a tutorial showing how I used one of these small images to make a neat little brooch. Without its pin back, the little copper-framed glass tile ended up inset into the cover of my tadpole book, in a different spot in each book:

The books are covered with handmade Japanese papers that I bought so long ago I can’t remember where I got them, and tied with pieces of twill ribbon. I especially like the one at the top of the photo above, which has pine needle inclusions.

I began by printing the text of the book (each copy was 8 pages long) onto sheets of cream-colored* cotton rag paper, leaving space for illustrations, and using my paper cutter to trim each to a size (roughly 5 x 7″) dictated by the size of the small pieces of book board I was using for covers. Before long I ran out of book board and had to finish the project with pieces of an old game board I’d cut to size by hand (ow ow ow ow ow–blister city).

Here you can see the boards being cut out and the paper cover going on. Since this is an accordion book, the front and back covers were treated the same except for the use of the tile on the front cover (you can see the hole left for it here).

Using the text of the poems as a guide, I figured out what illustrations I’d need, and carved stamps for them out of blocks of Master Carve. The Master Carve is great to work with, easy enough for a child to use safely, and it makes a nice impression. My only complaint about it is that it isn’t very durable–the stamps tend to crumble after a while unless they are treated with great care.

With the text pages cut out and the stamps ready to go, I stacked the papers in a row in front of me: 12 pages of the title sheet, 12 pages of page one, 12 pages of page two, and so on.  I then:

  • spread the pages of one stack at a time on the table and stamped each with the image(s) for that page
  • spread the stamped pages out again and colored in the images with watercolor (as you can see below from the tadpole pages, I tried to make each page more or less the same colors, but I didn’t make a fetish of it)
  • made 12 new stacks so that each contained, from the top down, a title page and the remaining pages of one book in order
  • Cut and glued (for length) the long piece of accordion-folded paper that holds the text pages, and glued the backs of the first and last pages to the inside of the front and back covers of the book (I used a bone folder to scribe the fold lines)
  • Used a rolling applicator of double-sided adhesive (the kind used by scrapbookers) to fix the pages of text to the accordion
  • Repeat 11 times

Eh, voila: my book.  Here are a few sample pages.  There are more images on my flickr site in the “Basho Book” set.

  • Final step–sit down in a quiet corner with a drink, number each book on the bottom right corner of the last page, and have a nice stiff drink while you admire your little edition.


*Okay, okay, so I ran out of the cream colored paper and had to switch to a pale gray for the final two copies. Maybe these will become treasured collectors’ items, like that stamp with the upside-down airplane, so don’t fuss if you got one of these.


One response to “Sorry, where was I?

  1. Oh, beautiful Nancy! I haven’t tried that carving medium–the Master Carve-but I have good luck and decent longevity with regular old art gum erasers. Anyway, love your limited editions!

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