[The following are selections from the Paper & Book Intensive newsletter "The Whittier Whittler," published by Susan Sayre Batton (PBI Journalist) during the period of June 10-21, 1998, Week 1.]
the whittier whittler "hew to the line, and let the chips fall where they may" camp whittier, santa barbara, california, 1998
Hanji - Korean Papermaking with Lynn Amlie
Making Tools by Hand with Jim Croft
A Boxed Set: Wrappers, Portfolios, & Boxes with Mindy Dubansky
Theme & Variation: Edition Binding with Sandra Reese
Gilding the Lily with Janet Takahashi
Hanji - Korean Papermaking with Lynn Amlie
First make your vat
.... I had the pleasure (?) of arriving early at PBI to help with the setup of the workshops. Not quite knowing what I was letting myself in for, I volunteered to help Lynn set up the papermaking studio in the "Big Top" tent that had been erected outside the Lodge. The first job was to make up some vats out of pine boards which were cut and screwed at the corners. These were lined with plastic to contain the pulp and water.
After much fiddling to get the correct position, two upright supports were attached to either side of the vat, with a crossbar across the top. This crossbar supports the Korean mould with a rope attached at one end, which allows the mould to pivot as it is dipped into the vat to pull a sheet.
....and then your stirring sticks
With the last of our precious wood, we decided to make some stirring sticks for the vat. Of course something as luxurious as a hand plane to shape the sticks, was as scarce as hen's teeth. I decided to go and talk to our good friend Jim Croft, instructor for the Tool Making class, to see if he had anything that we could use. Jim, the good man that he is, whipped out his best chisel and sharpened it on his waterstone. I was then able to shape the sticks and get rid of all the sharp edges. A final sanding with a rough stone from the creek completed the job.
Back at the "Big Top"
Lynn sorted through her Kozo fibre (the inner bark of a paper mulberry tree) to decide what she should put in water to soak overnight. The dry fibre is always soaked prior to being cooked.
We scavenged some wood planks for the press and the "vat steps" from the camp firewood pile. And camp maintenance man, Charles provided us with two logs, which would be used for beating fibre on, as well as various other tools from his kit. Thankyou Charles. We were ready to roll.....
Day one, In the beginning....
Lynn gave us an introduction to eastern and western papermaking. Basically, the eastern method has a frame with a flexible screen (usually made from bamboo) laid over the top, whereas in the west, the screen came to be made from wire and it is attached to the frame. The main difference between Hanji and Japanese papermaking is that Hanji consists of two sheets, one of which is reversed, laminated together; Japanese is one sheet only. Sheet formation is also different. Hanji is a backwards/forwards as well as a sideways motion, giving it grain in all directions; Japanese is backwards/forwards, grain one way. Lynn spoke of bast fibre (the inner bark of plants/shrubs/trees) as fibre that wants to be paper, badly. In the east, the paper mulberry (Kozo) is used extensively for paper production. Branches, about thumb thickness, are cut into lengths and steamed for several hours. The bark is then cut and pulled from the sticks in one long strip. We had bark which had already undergone this treatment and had subsequently been dried for storage. As mentioned before, Lynn had soaked this bark, prior to us using knives to scrape off the dark outer bark. Only the lighter coloured inner bark is cooked in a soda ash solution. Generally, a 20% solution is used, that is for every 100 gms of dry fibre, 20 gms of soda ash and enough water to cover the fibre. There is no set time for cooking, each fibre will vary and you will have to check the cooking pot every so often. Using gloves, if the fibres will separate easily, cooking is complete.
Wash and beat for three hours
After cooking, we had to wash the fibre and beat it to separate the fibres even further. Beating was done with an assortment of wooden mallets and beating sticks, on upturned logs and flat boards. Lynn said that we would have to beat for three hours; I don't think anyone believed her. Nonetheless, a fair amount of pounding went on and we produced some nicely mashed fibre.
Now for a sheet of paper
The morning was rushing by and there was barely time to make a sheet of paper. Lynn gave us a quick demonstration of the technique and we watched in awe as she pulled the sheets with amazing gracefulness. She promised that we too, could do this tomorrow, but right now we "had to go to lunch, otherwise she would get into trouble for keeping us in class." And so, the first lesson ended.
Day two, Oh no, more bark to scrape!
We thought that all the bark had been scraped, but another pile had appeared overnight. Must've been the midnight shift! Whilst some of us beavered away at this, the others got stuck into the vat. Lynn gave us a refresher demo and then it was our turn to master the mould and screen to produce a sheet of paper. Lynn patiently worked with each person, correcting their style and by the end of the morning, I think just about everyone had pulled their first sheets of Hanji. Much excitement. Roll on day three.
Day three, Now you're a real papermaker
We had dipped out, if you'll pardon the pun, on making paper during day 2, but today was our day. We made lots of paper during the morning, working both at the Thai Kozo vats and at the Iowa grown Kozo vat. The Iowa grown Kozo was a lot whiter in colour and as the post (the pile of paper) grew thicker, it looked wonderful. In Eastern papermaking, felts are not used between the sheets. You would think that the sheets would all stick together, when they're pressed, but they don't. A thin thread is laid down about 1/8" from the sheet edge, between each sheet, and this is used to separate the sheets after pressing.
Cover those windows!
Whilst some people were pulling sheets, we got stuck into the previous day's post which had been pressed. There is a delicate art to separating the sheets, then taking hold of a large wide brush in one hand, whilst continuing to hold the sheet. Everyone held their breath as the sheets were pulled off. Would they stick together? Miraculously, they came apart, with only the odd one or two which gave us problems. The next trick is to get the sheet brushed onto a flat surface. This is easier said than done. We had at our disposal the windows of the lodge and other assorted boards. You hold the sheet up against the window and with a deft stroke, brush one corner down. Then work from the centre of the sheet outwards to the other two corners. A firm brushing all over completes the job. The sheets are left on the drying surface until they no longer feel damp to the touch. If they are pulled off, before they are completely dry, they will buckle. In the warm sun, the sheets dried quickly and some which had been brushed onto boards, threatened to tear themselves off and blow away.
Day four, Time for the B-I-G vat
Today was cleanup day, trying to fit in things that we hadn't done, and Lynn getting prepared to do a demonstration in the B-I-G vat. We scavenged all the spare fibre to "charge" (fill) the the big vat and Lynn put together her large mould. This was going to be its maiden voyage. Over the lunchtime break, Lynn gave the demo to the assembled masses. She pulled the big sheets beautifully and couched them onto the largest flat areas that could be found. And they all came off the mould perfectly. It was delightful to watch a master at work.
Sheet surface treatments
I gather that the afternoon group worked on applying surface treatments to some of the sheets that they had made. This included walnut dye, which gives the sheet a rich brown colour and makes it look like old leather. Another technique is to brush on a soybean/rice mix, scrape off the excess and leave the sheet to dry. Traditionally, these sheets are used as floor paper.
It's all coming to an end
And so we had come to the end of a wonderful week. A very special thankyou to Lynn for all the preparation that she did for the workshop, for her infectious enthusiasm, her laughter and for sharing her love for Hanji. It was a great experience and one which will remain in my memory for a long time. - Helen McPherson
Making Tools by Hand with Jim Croft
What's bred in the bone
The first morning in Jim Croft's Making Tools by Hand class started with group introductions and a favorite tool show-and-tell. We all oohed and aahed at Jean Buescher's beautiful wooden paper knife, Nancy Turner's garage sale and tool store gems (especially the shoe repair knife) and Kitty Maryatt's great finds (check out her Quick-Grip vices).
Our entry into the Jim's world of handmade tools began when the boxes of elk and deer bone were passed around for everyone to choose the raw material that would become their masterpiece. As we rummaged through the pieces Jim talked about the strength differences between the elk and deer we would be using and the cow bone that is commercially used and gave us the step-by-step preparation routine from taking the bone to the butcher if you don't have an accessible band saw to filing and finishing off with steel wool.
The rest of the morning we focused on filing and sanding as our pieces of bone became tools of different sizes and shapes. With our two-by-four work benches we communally filed and rasped and filed and rasped and filed and filed and filed some more until we polished our new handmade tools to a lustrous finish with steel wool.
I highly recommend a trip to Jim's Dining Hall library table where you can check out some great books covering crafts from Persia and China as well as a few catalogs. You never know, you might just find the two bevel chisel you've been looking for all these years.
Jim's' tip for the day: Rubber and tools from Taiwan are bad news!
Taking a break, literally
On the second morning the class diversified with all of us working with bone, two kinds of wood (lignum vitae or bamboo), and metal. Jim introduced us to lignum vitae, a hard tropical wood that is 50% oil and works very well in water. When filed down it becomes a beautiful tool that is very strong and flexible. After a brief lesson on recognizing the grain we all chose our pieces and moved on to an introduction to knife making and sharpening.
We're making knives from hacksaw blades which we broke in half using a Jorgensen vice, a bench and the stub end of a hatchet while wearing a protective face shield, of course. Jim asked if everyone had "taken a break" and then we moved over to the hand-cranked grinder to bevel down the blade end and grind off the saw teeth. Our final knife making demo brought us to the sharpening stones that are set up on a stump outside the Dining Hall. We all watched as Jim took the first scrape at his brand new 250 grit japanese waterstone, the coarsest stone we're using and instructed us to sharpen at either end of the stone as well as the middle to avoid making a dish in the center. The first knife was passed around a few times as we watched the burr move from the flat side to the beveled side to a nice clean edge with a gleaming surface.
After the knife portion of the morning everyone moved in their own direction either taking turns on the grinder or filing, rasping and sanding away. No piece of bone, bamboo or lignum vitae is safe outside of the Dining Hall for the next few days.
Jim's tip for the day: Waterstones are the only way to sharpen!
Join the debate: Do you prefer single or double beveled knives? - Richenda Brim
A Boxed Set: Wrappers, Portfolios, & Boxes with Mindy Dubansky
It was easy to see there would be no lack of things to do in this class, even for the most enthusiastic overachievers, I mean, eager beavers. Good clear handouts come with every project, too.
First one: The World's Fastest Slipcase. Keep in mind, however, that slipcases alone are not recommended, but should be accompanied by a protective chemise, to protect the spine of the book from light and dust.
To start, find the highest, widest and deepest dimensions of the book. For the boards, measure the height plus 2 board and cloth thicknesses. Add 1 more cloth thickness for ease of slipping the book from the case.
Cut the spine strip the same height as the boards, and the depth of the book, plus a little. Cut the head and tail wall strips the same depth as the spine strip and the same width as the board, minus 1 board thickness. Line all pieces with white bond.
Tip: Use Elvace PVA, which is a heat set adhesive, and iron all glued material at each step. I'm talking a Sunbeam iron here, folks, not one of those silly little tacking irons! This not only speeds drying, but reduces warpage. But remember to iron with a protective layer, such as pelon or Reemay, not directly onto the cover material itself.
Glue off the first board and lay it down on slightly oversize cover material. (All mapping out and trimming can be done when the wall strips are ready to be glued down.)
Now, as you've glued off the spine strip and you're ready to lay it down, here's the next tip:
Lift the glued-down board at a 90 degree angle to your work surface and lay the spine strip down along side of it. This leaves just the right amount of space, a board thickness, between the board and the spine strip. Now, glue off the other board, and lay it alongside the spine strip with the same space.
At this point, measure for trimming, which is pictured in the following diagram.[Picture missing. Sorry.]
After trimming, glue down head and tail wall strips at points A and B, and you're ready to assemble this amazing slipcase!
Fold a board over to line up with the other, letting the spine strip rest in between the two, and settle the wall strips down in between the boards. Glue down the cover flap and v shape spine tab on the head and tail, and the turn-ins at the opening.
All that remains to complete this handy-dandy slipcase is to glue on finishing strips to the head and tail measuring the depth and width, plus the turn-in, of the slipcase.
Many get up early, and a few even stay up late to keep up with all the projects offered in Mindy Dubansky's class. Today, this self-admitted Julia Child of bookbinding taught the four-flap box. Diagram (altered slightly) courtesy of the Library of Congress book on boxes, but instructions strictly Dubansky.
Nine pieces to cut, and the best tip of the day- Write the name of the pieces on them as they are cut!
Base = height and width of the book plus a hair
A= thickness of the book (2)
B=A plus 1 board thickness
C=B plus 1 board thickness
Flap #1= Base minus 1 board thickness
Flaps #2= Base minus 2 cloth thicknesses, cut in half
Flap #3= (Cover)=Base plus 1 board thickness
Lay boards out on an oversize piece of material.
Draw a line across the material for laying down the first five pieces, left to right. Leave 2 board thicknesses for space.
Glue off and lay down the A boards and the #2 flaps.
Flip it over, bone, and iron.
Flip it back over, and draw 3/4" all around for turn ins.
Draw a cut line at 45 degrees into the four inner corners, and trim all corners.
Glue off and turn in, using a 2 board jig for pushing the material well into the spaces between the boards.
Cut and glue down little corner pieces to cover the inner corners.
Glue down filler pieces, and iron.
Line all flaps and boards with matching material or decorative paper as desired.
After the frantic flap of the four-flap box began to fizzle, Mindy's faithful followers became fascinated with the terrifically technical but tip-top two tray box, (covered in one piece). This box is highly recommended for the storage of The Family Jewels, especially dramatic if the jewels are gilded and presented in pop-up format. Build two trays of equal size and then the fun begins. The experience of cutting this one-piece cover could be compared to trying to find one's way through a world class maze. But, once you navigate your way through that, all the fun is in the folding! (Not recommended for those suffering from boxlexia.) PICTURE Glue down the top tray first, fold in the flaps, head and tail first, then fore edge. Leave the spine unattached while you glue down the base tray, and glue in those flaps in the same order as for the top. Glue the spine sides up last. Add a cover strip over the hinge inside and line out as desired. A covered 4 wall insert can be added to make that box really plush for your best family jewels.
Day four found the faithful followers clamoring for the corrugated clamshell box. (It was at this time that the seeds were planted for Madame Dubansky's fabulous new program, "Box-A-Rama"! ) "This one's easy!", she cried, referring to the box. And if you don't believe it, just take a look at the following diagram: This works for most any book, except a skinny one, and according to Ms. Dubansky has been known to preserve a tuna fish sandwich for almost a week. 1. Measure length, width and thickness of the book. 2. Map out the plan on an oversize rectangle of corrugated board, with the corrugation parallel to the spine. Start with the outer tray first! Note that the inner tray is cut 1/8" shorter at the head and tail. 3. Cut all the dark lines, score the dotted ones, and don't miss that little 1/8" cut on the inner tray side of the spine, or else your box won't fold right. 4. Separate the corrugated layers on the four wing tabs and take out the corrugation. (These wings will attach the corners together.) 5. Bend and bone all the folds, then glue the wings, one on the inside, one on the outside where each of the walls form a corner. This reporter will testify to the fact of the facility of construction of this corrugated clamshell box and would like to add that it makes a great box seat, as well as housing for bugs, and a boxmaker's first-aid kit. Call now to order YOUR special box, 1-800-GETABOX! - Linda Rollins
theme & variation: edition binding with sandra reese
it all began quietly and ended up in laughter.
sandra reese gave an overview of what we'd be doing during her class and handed out all kinds of goodies. the first project will be five "flutterbooks", a folded and glued structure. though the same size and design, they vary in colour. sandra says "i like it when it's not all technique. when the art can shine through, that's the pleasure." text paper was folded & cover paper was coated on the exterior side with methylcellulose to help it wear less quickly & prevent fingerprinting. one of our fantastic five books features photos of beefy so. california surfer hunks of yesteryear.then we proceeded to fill another one of the books with sketches of ourselves and each other. ah, but it this was no kind of ordinary sketching. there was only one minute allowed per portrait, and had to draw with our eyes shut!! then we passed out the sketches of others to the models, and we each create a book of ourselves. this reporter noticed a cubist theme. apologies and giggles rang all around.
into production today, completing the design and gluing up five books, we employed templates to make folding and cutting practically effortless. in edition binding one doesn't think or measure too much-it's all be worked out beforehand by making a series of models. still, it came to be apparent that this type of repetition works differently for those who are right handed or left handed. unfortunately the lefties ended up gluing things backwards, and the general discrimination and inherent evilness (belief of the middle ages) of left handed people was discussed. names are withheld. this was a learning experience for one and all.
today cases and text blocks came together. cases were assembled and the groove has begun to be found. the case design consists of two davy board "boards" with a slightly thinner spine attached to cloth (black). the cloth covers the back board to about and inch over the front cover. the rest of the front cover is bound in paper, which has been pre-assembled panels that fit on like a dream. (unless you're left handed) forward!
today wrapped up with the finishing of the five books. many people left one unfinished so they could look back (and into) what was accomplished. also demonstrated were two other super simple structures. one was an eight page book made from one folded piece of paper with only one slice. the other; two signatures sewn into a paper cover with a figure eight type stitch - a structure designed by Hedi Kyle. in addition, we benefited from an impromptu demonstration of how to make a jig to crease paper by mindy dubansky, and a jig to poke sections for sewing. sandra stresses the practicality of an organized workspace and as much design and forethought as possible. the best test for a design: "put it into the hands of a non-binder." see how they hold it, how it works, and how it wears will be revealed by the reader. the five books we made were so easy to put together, one can immediately see what the benefit from such research is worth. a pleasant feeling of accomplishment follows after the completion of this class! the nicest thing I noticed is how much sandra uses her hands while binding. to me this is the integral aspect of "handmade", as it imparts the qualities that make a book pleasant to touch since it is being touched while being made. where would we be without these objects that, as martha says, tell two stories...the one printed in the pages and the one that the binding tells us. thanks sandra!
- Kris Nelson
Gilding the Lily with Janet Takahashi
Day one Rumor has it that when Janet was first asked to give a workshop on gilding techniques, she asked, "What could I possibly teach? You put down the glue and the gold simply sticks. There's nothing else to tell." But there IS plenty to tell.
The class began with a quick survey of the possibilities in store for all participants: gold leaf on paper, on glass, on metal, and on such objects as a seashell. The cozy gathering of enthusiasts, huddled together in what is affectionately called the "bungalow" (but what Janet has called the "hedge-hog nest") were wowed by the spectacular array of Janet's "jobs" - samples of her exquisitely graceful and refined calligraphy work on paper, her sign painting work for bus stop benches, boat hulls, restaurants, and banks, the oil-gilded dome of the First Interstate Bank building in downtown Los Angeles, and most extraordinarily, the gilded plaster work ceilings and wood paneled rooms of a private home in Newport Beach that is a self-styled replica of Versailles.
Day one tackled gilding on paper. The ground for the gold leaf today was kept to a simple 50-50 PVA-water solution (Sobo brand glue) applied with a sable watercolor brush. A tiny bit of gouache pigment is added to tint the ground to make the ground visible. To facilitate the ever-vexing question "But what do I paint?", Janet supplied rubber stamps and we gilded those fun designs. The PVA was let to puddle up, to give some relief to the gild. But to create a substantially raised surface, a mixture of Liquitex Modeling Paste and Gel Medium (50-50) is mixed and applied with a "quill" (cut from a McDonald's straw - "not Taco Bell, but McDonalds") to create an impasto surface. Once dried, the PVA solution is painted over the raised modeling paste and let to dry about 20 minutes (the "window for the PVA-water mix) before laying on the gold.
About the "window": any adhesive used as a ground for the gold has its own unique "window" of opportunity, that is, the time available to apply the gold:
from wet --> sticky --> tacky --> tack--> dry --> too dry>
The window is from the sticky to the dry phase when the adhesive is still viable for applying the gold. The PVA-water solution has a window of about half an hour or so. Other grounds, like gum ammoniac (a traditional gum resin ground) can last weeks before you apply the gold. And traditional lead based gesso can be viable for as long as 1-2 years!! The longer you can wait to the "dry" phase (but not too dry, at which stage nothing will stick), the better the gild.
Handling the gold: Gold leaf comes in booklets of paper 3" x 3" square. Traditionally, the gold leaf is transferred to a gilder's cushion, a suede covered pad that can cost you an arm and a leg if you buy it in France, or can be very easily constructed with a piece of Styrofoam or even paper towel as cushioning under your suede leather (even Tandy scraps will do!), wrapped over and nailed to a small rectangle of masonite board or thin ply wood. But, you don't even need all that. You can make your own transfer gold by carefully opening the booklet of gold leaf and inserting a 3" square sheet of wax paper on top of the gold. Without any coaxing at all, the gold leaf sticks to the wax paper. Now you can pick up the wax paper, cut off strips of the gold on this wax paper carrier, and lay down the gold over the PVA ground. The brilliant gold, now in the shape of your design, can be made even brighter by burnishing with a bone folder through a small piece of mylar.
Janet's only word of caution when handling this elusive material is to breathe in and don't exhale. Just remember to "swallow your breath," she chuckles. And so we had gleaming results within the first hour of class. Loads of additional tips were given, like how to travel with your brushes (weave them between rubber bands and sandwich them between pieces of mat board), the magic of the Hot Stamping Pen (an incredible battery operated device that can make nifty dots of gold with hot stamping foil), Saral paper (a carbon-like transfer paper for tracing your drawn design onto a surface), and the "Phantom 500 Drawing Kit" (a smoke-and-mirrors device that aided in the tracing of a copied design onto a secondary surface - "Ooh isn't this neat?", Janet exclaimed.)
Janet's irrepressible enthusiasm and her delight in the art of gilding was infectious to all. But her overriding theme for the day, in fact for the whole session, is to de-mystify gilding. "It's all about overcoming your fear of the medium." After all it's just about making it stick.
Day two began with reverse gilding on glass. Sound scary? Well I sure was petrified by the thought. We each got a 5" square piece of window glass. Cleaning the glass is the first step, using Bon-Ami soap on some cotton wool, let to dry to a film on the glass, and polished off with a clean piece of cotton wool.
A simple design is drawn onto paper and 3 registration marks are cut out. The drawing is traced over with a pricking wheel (because later we will pounce the design onto the gold after it has adhered to the glass.) This drawing is taped to the front of the glass. The glass is propped upright on a paper towel, the front of the glass with the drawing facing the wall. Now we are ready to apply the gold to the reverse side of the glass.
The adhesive for this technique is a dilute solution of gelatin (leaf or capsule form gotten from the drugstore or a sign painting supply). On site, one can heat up the gelatin on a little Sterno burner (fit into a Cost-Plus wire votive candle holder and Williams-Sonoma enameled griddle. Don't forget the hot-pan holder and the metal tongs. The gelatin solution is cooked in a stainless steel steamed milk pitcher. Janet's former life as a gourmet caterer is evident here: "All my cooking tools are now art materials!" she exclaims.)
This time we apply the loose gold from the booklet (not mounted on wax paper), picking it up with a gilder's tip. The gelatin solution is liberally applied to glass (dripping down on the towel), the gold leaf (cut in half in the book with a razor blade or finger nail) is picked up onto the squirrel-haired gilders tip and moved straight onto the gelatin covered glass. More gelatin is brushed onto the glass above the piece of gold, and suddenly all the wrinkles and folds in the gold miraculously straighten out. After let to dry completely, the gold takes on a mirror-like sheen. Tomorrow we apply a second layer of gold and then start painting on the glass - WILD!
The end of the session was devoted to "Wanda-size" (no Barbie, this is not the latest in WonderBras...) This is a PVA-smelling adhesive (use straight out of the bottle) that is ready to apply the gold within 15 minutes (when it turns clear) and has a much longer window than PVA of 24-30 hours (so if you get sidetracked by the beer beckoning in the fridge and then you go to dinner, file away on a couple more bone folders while the daylight holds out, then go to Michelle and Sid's lecture and groove on all the paper samples, and then you stay up all night typing to the tunes of Henry Mancini, you can still salvage your work the next day without a worry).
But the best part about Wanda-size is that you can put it on just about anything. After a quick scrub with a de- greaser like 409, paint on the Wanda-size, let dry 15 minutes and gild away (this time we used imitation and variegated gold foils) on seashells. Soon it was realized that this stuff could work on ANYTHING, so the tarantula in the road and the lizard under the table could have become gilded if they hadn't moved so quickly. Instead there were buttons and rocks and oak leaves glistening with gold. "You're just like my clients who start wanting everything in gold. It's a disease." Janet warned.
(P.S.: If anybody finds a nice hard shelled stink bug or cockroach, send it over to me so I can gild it!!)
Day three began with a second application of gold on our glass panel. This time we unflinchingly applied the dilute gelatin and loose gold leaf with the gilders tip. What had taken a good hour the day before was accomplished with aplomb in only twenty minutes. The design to be gilded, which we had drawn onto a paper pattern the day before, was pricked with a pricking wheel. The pattern was then taped to the back of the glass (the side now with the gold) matching up registration marks. Then black charcoal was pounced onto the gold to complete the transfer of the design.
The next step was called "backing up" the gold: this is a brush application of oil enamel paint called Dekor Gloss Enamel (usually black) on top of the gold along the dots of the pounced drawing . It is this black paint that holds the gold to the glass, so that wherever the black enamel is NOT painted, the gold will be rubbed away. Any errors in the black paint can be corrected with a blade on the glass. The results are a brilliant, mirror-like reflective gold on the glass.
The grand surprise at the end of the session was a beautiful glass panel that Janet had made for each class member, a PBI memento of a California lily, delicately outlined in the bright gold of reverse gilding, the technique Janet had just taught us. This was the lily we were to gild, hence the intended double meaning in the title of the class. Janet had spent the entire previous weekend gilding these panels for us, a labor of love and generosity that we now appreciate as characteristic of Janet's approach to her craft.
Day four Walking into the "bungalow" studio today, I could feel that the entire afternoon was going to be a high octane experience. Maybe it was the paint thinner hanging thick in the hot afternoon air (no open windows or breezes allowed in a room full of gold leaf). This was the day for oil gilding. Five techniques in three hours.
Matte reverse gilding on glass: To create a matte effect with the gold an oil size is used (whereas the brilliant reflective gold is done with a gelatin solution size). This medium is called "One-shot Fast dry gold size". The oil size is brushed onto the glass and let to dry to the tack stage (depending on weather, a half hour or so). Here the loose gold leaf is rolled directly from the book onto the glass (no cushion or gilders tip this time). It's quick, it's dirty, it's "one-shot." To add a slight color to the gild, a tinting pigment can be added to the oil size. The pure pigment concentrate, called Mixol tint, can be used for either water based, acrylic, or oil paints (miraculous!), and the results on the gilded lilies were stunning, blushing orange and deep yellow petals were abloom. But that was not the last of Janet's tricks.
Gilding three-dimensional objects: After the gold leaf is applied in full sheets to the glass, there are lots of loose bits that get brush away. These excess gold pieces, called "skewings" can be saved and re-used. If you collect enough skewings, you can push the skewings into the nooks and crannies of a textured object like a shell or a feather (over a layer of tacky oil size). And "A-ha"! The shell looks like solid gold.
"How to gild a fire engine, car, or truck": Next we gilded a metal surface, again using the One-shot oil size medium. Now we were rolling with the gold, directly from the 3x3" books, at a buck a sheet, we were in PRODUCTION!! But the real "A-ha" came with the stripes and the "engine spins" where you take a cotton ball and cover it with velvet into a little pouch and gently run the cloth pouch over the gilded metal surface, either back and forth to make a stripe (within a cut out window of mylar) or a quarter turn to make a halo effect "spin". So send on over that Chevy Malibu of yours for some fine details!
Finally, for those who were able to keep up with this dizzying array of techniques, there was one final touch to be made to the glass: the application of a colored background using a pigment blend. First we mixed in an extender to each color. (Janet uses "Smith's Cream", but if you prefer there is also a "Jone's cream." Seriously.) We painted two different colors of oil enamel around our gilded design, bringing the two colors zones right up to each other. Janet made a little cotton ball covered with cheesecloth; she patted each color zone with the cheese cloth ball, which removed the stroke marks of the brush. Then slowly, gently she moved one color into another so there was a seamless transition between the two. It was the final "A-ha" moment of the class.
Suddenly the dingy little shed we had huddled in for four days was lit up with the extraordinary results Janet cajoled and coaxed out of us. But the brightest light in the room came from our instructor's creative inspiration and infectious delight in her craft -- a gift that was masterfully and generously shared by Janet Takahashi. We left this memorable workshop AGLOW. - Nancy Turner
Plant Dyes for Paper with Merilyn Britt Merilyn has exciting plans for an item to be auctioned off at PBI next Saturday. She along with her students, and Hanji Korean Papermaking instructor Lynn Amlie, will collaborate in creating a swatch book of lush plant dyes. Lynn has donated paper made by her teacher in Korea to be dyed by Merilyn's students using dyes extracted from plant material gathered from the San Diego area and the hills of Camp Whittier. Merilyn and Lynn are thrilled to be combing two vastly different art forms. Students are anxious for the Plant Dyes for Paper class to begin. Already there are containers placed along the road near the lodge filled with brightly colored plant matter and water-basking in the sun. - Kirstie Zahansky
Evening Lecture Day two
Michele Cloonan "Historical Paper Bindings"
Michele Cloonan, Head of the UCLA Library School, and a woman of many other talents, presented a talk called "The Enduring Legacy of Paper Bindings" to an enthusiastic group of PBIers. She concentrated on three aspects of the topic - paper qualities, bibliographic studies and preservation, and accompanied her talk with slides. Michele covered 500 years of paper uses in books - from binding material to substrate for decoration. Michele wove images of historic bindings with design paper bindings from a recent Guild of Book Workers' show on a text called Paper. Dr. Cloonan also described her categories of binding scholarship, a very useful classification of an increasing area of research - the book! They include 1. historical surveys (Needham, Minor), 2. connoiseurship/decorative elements (Hobson, Foote), 3. structuralism (Powell, Cains, Pickwoad), 4. bibliographical structuralism (Pollard, Titcombe), and 5. historical (Middleton, Titcombe). Michele concluded with a plea for the preservation of these bindings. This will be no small task as questions of what to save and how to preserve books of often poor quality paper are far from being answered. We all came away with a new awareness and respect for that wonderful material that continues to delight and respond to our needs and dreams. Thanks, Michele! - Pam Spitzmueller
ASK BOOKBINDING BARBIE
A regular feature of the whittler
Q: Dear Barbie:
When pounding my kozo for Lynn Amilie, (boy, does she make us work!) after about 14 hours, I noticed that my old arthritis pains were killing me. What can I do when all there are no doctors or pharmacy near. Is there anything at this tarantula-ridden camp that can help ease my pain? - Poindexter
A: Dear Poindexter:
After consulting with gilding expert, J. Takahashi, we can recommend that you obtain a leaf of gold no larger than a slice of tomato that is 3 3/8" in diameter and tomorrow, at lunch "gild your tomato" and eat it. It's true, and your poop will look fabulous!
Q: Dear Barbie:
My friends call me naive and recommend that I ask my mother about the facts of life but I'm too embarrassed. I'm getting married next month and have never seen the male "organ" and I understand that there is a pop-up book that will prepare me for the wedding night. Could you tell me where I can find this enlightening publication? - Midge
A: Dear Midge:
It just so happens that there will be a copy of "Just the Facts", the brochure you are looking for (designed by internationally famous pop-up artist, Carol Barton) at the PBI auction next Saturday. You can place a bid with Bill Drendel, auctioneer at that time. Good luck and wear a female condom.
Q: Dear Barbie:
I just spent a fortune on my new nail job and my boyfriend thinks it's a waste of my money. How can I get my money's worth out of my fingernails and stop taking the heat? - Skipper
A: Dear Skipper:
Our experts say there are several applications for long shapely nails:
1) Testing the grain of paper using the "nail-drag" method. Place the nails of thumb and index finger on the paper edge and drag across the sheet. Do this on two adjacent edges. The grain is perpendicular to the ruffled edge.
2) Why spend money on expensive bone folders and bookbinding tools, when you can use your nails for scoring fine lines on paper, making "tick marks", and instead of tweezers for difficult operations. Then you can write your nail jobs off on your taxes. The next time you consider changing manicurists, we recommend Jim Croft at the Medieval Talons Institute (MTI) who can create customized shapes to meet your bookbinding needs.
Dear Bookbinding Barbie:
In my class with Jim Croft today, he mentioned the Sargasso Sea, a place where the Atlantic and Caribbean come together and form a bizarre collection of flotsam and jetsam, trapped forever in the clash of waters. Sea captains dreaded the area as a place for collisions with unidentified floating objects. Can you confirm this, or deny it? Who is Sargasso and is this related to the Bermuda Triangle? - Washed Ashore in Santa Barbara
Dear Washed Ashore:
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