Friday, May 27, 2016

Copper covered books

The final two books I made during the class had 5" x 7" oxidized copper covers.  We used plastic boxes to created small chambers to oxidize the metal for our book covers.  Inside the box the metal sits above a shallow pool of ammonia, and a mixture of vinegar and salt crystals are used to patina the metal.  The process created intricate patterns of yellow, pink, turquoise and black on the copper sheets; while the brass sheets developed gold, silver and brown patterns.  The finished plates are sprayed with a thin mate or gloss coating to stop further oxidation and to protect the patina.

While the copper was oxidizing I worked on the the other parts of the books.  The text block was stitched to the leather spine using chain and long stitching.  The pattern required sewing two signatures per station, which is a tight fit.  To adhere the edges of the leather spine to the copper covers the surface of the copper needed to be roughed up.  It was difficult to scratch away even a small amount of the beautiful patina from the copper sheets.

Each copper sheet develops a unique patina, and I had to decide which piece to use for the outside of the front and back covers.  The front cover of the completed book below was my favorite, it reminds me of a river delta with swirling streams.  The weight of the copper cover is enough to keep the book closed without any additional closure.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mica covered books part 2

We did have some sheets of stabilized mica that split.  The thinner mica was too fragile to use as book covers without additional support.  To support the mica I attached the sheets to a 1/8" inch larger leather cover using mini brass brads.  I used a Japanese punch to create the holes through the mica and leather for the brads.  A small brad with a ring was attached to the back cover of the book, and a twined thread and a small hollow brass ball on the end was used as the closure.  Below are two completed leather books with thin mica front plates.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mica covered books part 1

We started by making small 3" x 5" x 1" books with mica covers.  The mica sheets we used were pre-cut stabilized sheets of mica.  This type of mica is less likely to split then natural mica pieces.  The mica is translucent, which allowed us to put small images between the mica and the Lokta paper used for the book cover.  End papers were wrapped around each of the three signatures of the book.

For the second mica book I used walnut dye on the book pages.  I then nipped and ironed the pages flat before folding, punching and stitching them to the book's spine.  Two pieces of Lokta paper were glued together to create the book's spine and also support for the mica covers.  For this book I inked celtic knots directly on the Lokta paper.  The final step was to add a twined thread closure with a small glass bead Steve Hilliard made.  Below are the two finished mica books.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Books of the Earth

I spent a week at the John C. Campbell Folk School taking an amazing book arts class: Books of the Earth.  Holly Fouts was the instructor and Cheryl Prose was the assistant.  The focus was using natural materials to make artful books with variations of the historic long stitch binding.  We worked with mica, natural dyes, wax, rusting and burning to create interesting pages for mica, copper or brass covered books.

We experimented with several tea, coffee and walnut dyes on a variety of paper types.  The berry tea dye changed color, depending on the acidity of the paper it remained red or turned green.  I used this dye on the pages for my first mica book.  I dyed all the pages of the second mica book using a walnut dye.  I used crumpled waxed paper both under and on top of the dyed paper to create additional texture.  The finished paper needed to be ironed and pressed before being stitched to the book spine.

We used small culinary butane torches to heat copper and brass to create colored patterns on the surfaces.   Heat treating metal alters their physical properties.  This is usually done to improve the strength or elasticity of the material (annealing and tempering).  It will also change the color of the material.  This process required careful heat control.  If the metal is over heated all the color is lost.  The trick is to stop heating as soon as the metal starts to develop the color you want, since the metal will continue to change color after the heat is removed.  I plan on using the copper and brass mesh as part of future art book covers.

We used a variety of rusty iron, copper and brass items to create rust patterns on different types of paper.  Vinegar is used to promote rust and transfer it to the paper.  We also experimented with wood burning tools and candles to carefully discolor, scorch, char and burn paper.