Sunday, January 25, 2015

Salmon of Knowledge art book project

I started on a new art book project, illustrating a handmade accordion book based on the celtic myth about the Salmon of Knowledge.  The story is short and perfect for several illustrations incorporating celtic designs.  This will be my first finished project that encompasses drawing, painting and bookbinding.

First I printed out a draft of the text, and used it to put together a mock up of the book using card stock.  This helped me decide on the subjects for the small illustrations, as well as the placement of the text blocks and illustrations on each page.  It is much better to figure this all out ahead of time.  In the end I found I would need eight pages, one for the title and seven more with text and illustration.  Two additional end pages would be needed to attach the book covers.

With accordion folds the front and back of the pages can be seen, so I developed eight small sketches for the text side of the book and one long sketch to span the entire back of all eight text pages.

I tested different combinations of colors and media on the illustrations to find the right look.  I worked with sepia, black, colored and metallic markers as well as a variety of watercolor pigments. The watercolors provide varied colors (fish at far right), while the metallic ink has a wonderful bright shine (fish at near right).  For this book I will be using a combination of both watercolors and metallic ink.

I decided to use 90 lb multi-media paper instead of watercolor paper for the book pages, since it will stand up to repeated folding better than watercolor paper.  To have a single long piece of paper for the text block, I would need a 35" long piece of paper.  I purchased a roll of Cason XL paper.  I cut a 5" strip from the roll and trimmed it to the desired 35" length.  Then I folded the long strip into 10 3.5" x 5" pages and pressed the accordion flat.  This was the first time I had used rolled paper and I didn't anticipate how resistant to being uncurled the paper would be.  Lesson learned: carefully uncurl the paper first!

I transferred the illustrations to the paper, and then carefully inked and painted.  I worked on the small illustrations first, then on the large illustration that spans the reverse side of the paper.  My original plan was to print the text directly on the paper, but because of the odd paper size (5" by 35") my printer would not cooperate.  After fighting with it for several hours I decided to finish this book and work on the printer later.  For this book I printed the text on velum, cut it to size and glued each section of text to the pages.  The text block was now finished and ready for the covers to be attached.

I selected a decorative paper with a Japanese looking wave pattern called Yuzen Black Gold Waves for the book covers.   For the closure glued a black ribbon to the inside of the front cover, and I chose a gold colored button that I sewed to the outside.  The ribbon is long enough to wrap around the book once and then wrap around the button.

Except for not being able to print the text onto the paper, this book turned out well.  The multi-media paper worked fine for both ink and watercolors.  I like how the book covers turned out and how the final illustrations look.

I am especially happy with the large illustration that spans the back of the book's pages.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Painting glass ornaments

A few years ago I purchased a set of clear glass ornaments during the after Christmas sales intending to 'do' something with them for the next year.  Well that never happened.  The box of ornaments was packed away and forgotten, until we did a whole attic clean up.

The box of glass ornaments resurfaced just as I was trying to decide what to bring as a gift to our Trout Unlimited chapter's Holiday gathering.  I had been thinking of doing a trout painting for the Chapter's spring auction, and so had already massed reference materials on my desk.  I had three colors of glass paint and a black glass marker to work with.  Maybe I could paint a trout on the glass.

Where to start?  I measured the circumference of the glass ornament.  Then I made three appropratily sized pencil drawings of Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout.  Now I had my reference sketches.

For some reason, I decided to try painting on the inside of the ornament instead of the outside.  This is known as reverse painting, painting from foreground to the background.  That didn't sound so hard.  I traced the drawings onto strips of tracing paper.  Then taped the paper to the outside of the ornament.  I used the red, blue and yellow paint to mix appropriate fish shades.  So far so good.  Now to paint.

Well here was a problem I hadn't thought about.  When you insert a brush into the ornament it can only paint the lower half.  I needed to make a special brush that could be adjusted to reach all the inside area.  I broke an old brush and used heavy wire to re-attach the two parts.  With the adjustable brush I now could paint the trout on the inside of the ornament.  I still had to be very careful when inserting and removing the brush to not touch the rest of the interior, and it was difficult to place colors without mixing them.  You can see the results of this first trial to the left.

The second ornament I painted on the outside of the glass.  This was so much easier and quicker.  I used the black glass marker to sketch the trouts image first.  After the black marker dried I painted the base color of the trout and built up the textures and colors. As a final touch I added a small fly inside the ornament.

You can compare the two in the image painted from the same reference sketches below.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Two new long stitch patterns

I took the opportunity to go with new friend Susie to purchase leather sides from a local Tandy store during their once-a-year sale.  Based on what I found at the store, leather only comes in giant and double giant size.  Now that I have enough leather to make books for several years, I can put what I learned in Hollis Fouts classes to use.  I designed two long stitch patterns and got to work binding.

The first black leather journal was another variation using stitch length, with a slight twist.  The pattern required four signature templates, and I used Crawford red 4 thread cord for the binding.  The central diamond shape of the pattern was made by passing the red cord through a small loop of black cord (as seen at right).  The black cord loop was stitched to the leather cover before the signatures.

The closure for this book is a red button with a red and black twisted cord loop.  The corners of the leather were rounded to match the button's shape.  I also added a red and black twisted cord  bookmark to the middle of the book.  The bookmark ends with a red teardrop bead that matches the red button.

The second black leather wrap journal was my first try at adding two signatures per sewing station.  The stitch patten has a diamond at each end of the spine with a wide space in the middle for the leather strap to wrap around the book.  This pattern required only three signature templates for the 10 signatures.

I used Crawford tan 4 thread cord for the binding on the second book.  Working with two signatures at the same time was difficult at first, but became easier with each pair I added.  It is important when adding a second signature through the same holes not to split the cord of the first signature.  This required more attention and made the binding go slower.

Below is a photo showing the spines of the two finished black leather books. I was happy with how my first two patterns turned out.