landscape

The past week has gone not like I planned. Canceled performances, meetings and trips, but also a lot of work I hadn’t expected to get done in weeks to come. I wish all colds were like this - a high fever followed by days of feeling not quite right but so bored out of your mind, you turn into a paper folding machine, and have stacks and stacks of books ready for the next steps. I had been so worried about not having enough books in my shop for the holiday season so quickly approaching, but after the last few days I’m confident I’ll get great things done in the following weeks. Taking most of the year off bookbinding - or at least neglecting it - in favour of poetry was something I needed to do, but now bookbinding can be my priority once again. I hope you’ve been patiently waiting for my return to this focus and will continue to support me, especially when you’re picking out presents this year…

This week I’m presenting you with some unique - as always - notebooks. These large landscape format books were made using the sewn boards binding technique, which results in covers that remain flexible despite their thickness. Here I’ve used board that’s a bit stiffer than the one I usually use for this technique, as the last thing you want with a landscape format notebook is covers that don’t provide enough support for writing or sketching in situations where there isn’t a table in front of you. The end product is still really nice and light to handle. If this piques your interest, you can find these two in the Paperiaarre shop.

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Apart from folding paper like one happy robot, I’ve been working on my entry for this month’s #areyoubookenough challenge. The theme is ‘Found’ and I’m focusing on some really common domestic items that seem to be going missing all the time. I have actually finished my triptych, but I’m letting the ideas for an enclosure take their time while I work on some bullet journals and watercolour/mixed media sketchbooks. The next steps on those involve a lot of cutting and elbow grease, so I think I need to give myself a few more days to recover before I grab my knife and plough, and work up a sweat. Yeah, bookbinding isn’t always simple and easy and light. Sometimes when you don’t have a lot of big equipment, you use what you’ve got - and I’ve got some sad, neglected muscles and some sharp blades.

See you next week when this thing should be no longer in pieces!

a small trio with print endpapers

As promised, more new books this week! I’m finishing up on some sewn boards bindings I started in the summer months and have been itching to see in the flesh ever since the idea of them came to me. The first lot is this trio of small notebooks with beautiful print endpapers. You can now find them in the shop.

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Picking matching endpapers and linen fabric is a particularly enjoyable part of the bookbinding process for me. Once I know what materials I’m using, I can already see the finished book in my mind’s eye. After that it’s just about recreating that vision with my hands, and I know what I need to do in order to make it happen. As soon as I have that vision, the book becomes an individual instead of simply a thing to tick off the to-do list.

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This month the #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge has the theme ‘Found’ and I’m actually struggling a bit. Found items and random collections play such a big part in my everyday life and in my own art, it’s difficult to choose where to start! I have picked some items that could form the core of my artists’ book, but just as well I could go down an entirely different path. Structures and practicalities are all still wholly undetermined, and while I do enjoy this moment where everything is in the air and there’s no rush, soon I’ll be running out of time like I always am. The end of the month will be dedicated to Helsinki Book Fair business as a poet, so I really should try and finish my project well on time this time around! Before it’s time to focus on ‘Found’, I’m going to finish some more books that have been waiting ever so patiently for my return from poetry.

a human forest - an artists' book

After a rough and busy week it's nice to focus on something beautiful. The June theme for the #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge was "boxed in". Being boxed in, either physically or mentally, has much to do with factors that restrict or limit your actions. I enjoy restrictions when it comes to creativity; I enjoy this themed challenge that gives me both a starting point for a new artists' book as well as a deadline. What I don't enjoy are the inner restrictions that sometimes come from the conflict of having an actual self that always differs from the ideal self. Life is messy. We're not always as strong or perceptive as we'd like to be. Being more than just okay with who I am is something I work on every day, and a big part of that process is accepting all sides of myself, all emotions, all quirks, and all my neuroses. This artists' book is about all that, and it's called "A Human Forest". I'm not just birches, I'm pines and willows and aspens and all - and it's a fact that some of those make me weep.

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The vintage tin measures 8,2x4,2x2,5cm / 3.2"x1.7"x1" and each page measures 7,9x3,5cm / 3.1"x1.4". I've once again used glass microscope slides and transparency prints of digitally edited cut up poetry. When viewed as a stack, the variable order of the pages creates a peculiar sense of depth to the piece.

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A human forest:
All pleasures and all pains,
the excitements of silence
whatever it is, it's mine

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As promised, I randomly picked a winner for the book giveaway, and now the amazing Collage Ideas Book is on its way to @kreativesdurcheinander who recommended @lovewalkinginsnow as a collage artist worth getting to know. There were altogether 50 entries with more than 50 recommended artists listed, so if you're looking for inspiration and new-to-you collage artists, check out the comments on my previous post, and more importantly, the long long list of artists tagged and mentioned on my Instagram post. Thank you all for your participation - I'll probably spend weeks going through the list of recommendations to make it last as long as possible!

fingerprints - an artists' book

The May theme for the #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge is 'secret', and I decided I wouldn't take it too literally and pour my heart out, at least not too much. My artists' book Fingerprints was born after I went through a mental list of structures that hide and reveal in one way or another. I haven't made one of these magic boxes in almost 15 years, so it took me a moment to remember how it's constructed. I don't think I've ever known a particular name for this box structure, but it's basically a variation of Jacob's ladder.

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I haven't given fingerprints much of a thought apart from when I find dirty fingerprints on my supposedly pristine papers, and, of course, when they're mentioned as forensic evidence. This means, in general, it's not exactly good for you if you leave behind any fingerprints. Some research into the matter revealed a more pleasant side of those little loopy, whorly ridges on our fingertips - they provide us with tons of information crucial to our fine texture perception. The friction ridges are like little amplifiers for the sense of texture. As someone whose work is massively reliant on what I feel with the tips of my fingers, my view of the world is much more texture-oriented than the one of someone who maybe works with their brain alone. And it seems my texture-orientedness also affects how I get to know someone, how I trace their face with the tips of my fingers, over and over again...

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Fingerprints - a unique artists' book by Kaija Rantakari, 2018

(paper, board, glass microscope slides, ink)

the box measures 14,9x9,5x1,9cm / 5.9"x3.7"x0.7"

Check out my Instagram for a view of the box in action!

bullet journals and #areyoubookenough gems

My artists' book didn't end up being the only book I bound in April. Yay me! I had started a trio of bullet journals for myself way back in March, but it took me over a month to put the covers together and sew the lot. For all of April I was dependent on notes and to-do lists scribbled on random post-its and backs of envelopes. Normally I rely on my bullet journal routine and get tons of stuff done, so maybe that's why I didn't manage to fit all that much bookbinding into my schedule...

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All that will change now, thanks to these long stitch bindings, with a custom printed dark purple 4 mm dotted grid on recycled kraft paper for pages (a smaller than usual grid as I have a smaller than usual handwriting). The yellow one is the first in line for me - already filled with a few months' worth of calendar markings and plans for new books. Larger kimono books are underway as well as some tiny sketchbooks with watercolour paper covers, which have been sadly out of stock for a long time.

Now that the first days of May have flown by, it's time to share my favourites books of the April #areyoubookenough bookbinding community challenge. Visit the instagram post below to click through to each book artist's profile and see more of their work!

The May theme for the challenge is 'Secret'. I look forward to seeing what people come up with - will there be writing in code, hidden compartments, or personal secrets revealed? I have a list of possible ideas, but I'm still miles away from actually deciding what to create.