Too many photos, no words, but this is a long story to tell. Yann, all finished, with box and everything. This has been one of my all time favourite projects. This year has been a huge learning experience to me, I'm re-learning to be me and do the things I love. This I love:
I am finally back. The competition book and its rather fancy schmancy box are all finished. The above strip of leather is a part of the box in the making. "Yes. One day it will happen." To me that quote sums up the entire book. Yann Andrea Steiner is somehow a book of inevitable things, of waiting, of knowing, it's all very complicated. You can read a (long!) excerpt here.
My new place is going through a façade repair and just this morning they decided to cover up my windows with boards. My lovely beautiful bright new place (its bathroom has been described as so ugly that it's awesome, but to be honest, it's simply just as beige as anything can get, only with added black currant vines on the tiles) was turned into a dark cave at once and I have no idea how am I going to take proper photos for you before I send everything away across the seas.
Saima is hanging on the wall. The rest is still a little mess. Just like me, all bruised from assembling the furniture and unpacking, with a bump on my forehead from an unlucky meeting with my terribly inappropriately placed leather paring machine, which also involved flying cups and bowls and one loose kitchen cupboard shelf. It has been very eventful here. How about there where you are right now?
Today I got to the point where the book looks ready unless you look too closely. Before noon I had put the cover leather on, but still left the turn-ins waiting. And just when I had begun to work on them, with my first headcap (the shaped and modelled turn-in over the top and bottom of the spine) in the making (something you need to do pretty quickly and preferably at one go to avoid the over-worked look), the phone rings and my moving boxes are delivered right that moment. I went and opened the door for the men and told them to put the boxes wherever they want, I'm too busy to think, or even notice they exist. They were very understanding, did a little gawking while I worked, though. The turn-ins went fine, but it was just the perfect example of bad timing. The worst possible timing, for me. Still, alive and well, and the book looks like it's supposed to look.
I like how the grain of the leather looks like the shadows little waves sometimes make in the bright sea bottom. Not a thing one can see in Turku, but still. I like sea and I like water, as long as I'm not in the water myself.
I promised a shot of the headbands and here you can see the headcap that was made while standing at the door book in one hand and a bonefolder in the other. I've seen better ones, but this will have to do. And as you can see, the book block is still wrapped up to keep the moisture from the covering process away. Maybe if tomorrow isn't all packing, I will do the leather hinges and filling in. Hoping to get this book all done before the weekend, so I can start working on the box too. All this is pretty weird because of the moving, but well, I'm staying right here until Thursday next week. Plenty of time, kind of.
Loads of photos this morning and probably another blog post later today. This isn't my normal working pace, just so you know, but I'm rather enjoying being intensely involved with a project like this.
Hinges and the headcap area pared. I use a glass plate instead of a paring stone, works better for me. This of course is just a personal preference, some say glass isn't good for your knives, but I've never had issues with mine. Maybe it's because I'm obsessively sharpening them anyway.
Gluing on the onlays. Meticulous work, but that's just the way I like it. Most my designs aren't all symmetric, there's usually always at least a bit of randomness there somewhere. But I'm the kind of person who needs to plan ahead all randomness, my just winging it will lead to a disaster without exceptions. Everything goes out of balance if I don't stick to my plans. Call me neurotic.
The only moment the sun has come out today was when I snapped this photo. I guess finishing the onlays was an accomplishment worth a ray of sun or two. I actually finished the back-paring and removed the paper from my onlays late late last night and had to snap a couple of bad photos and email them around and go all squee on my own. The onlays need a little more cleaning up to remove all remains of paste and paper, but I'll get to that after the leather is actually on the book.
I like how the handcut letters turn into a handwriting when I stick them together. I could've done the title using brass type, either in simple blind tooling or gilt, but that type of titles have kind of lost their charm to me. I like the organic and slightly weird appearance of my tiny little leather letters. The title is made, not just printed. To me it makes a difference.
Now the most boring part of this morning post. Just finishing the covers before I stick on the leather. Sanding, once again. Luckily at this point things are smooth enough to not require too much of yucky dusty sanding.
And the leather is on. In the press as I write. Now a little food for this bookbinder and I'll get back to the book and do the turn-ins. Some binders do the entire covering process at one go, but I prefer to split it in two parts. There's just too much adrenaline going on if I need to do everything at once. I like to have time when I'm doing the headcaps and corners, but this again is one of those things everyone does in their own way. To this date it still surprises how strongly many bookbinders feel about their technique. I don't believe there's a right way of doing anything, just many ways that will lead to a good result as long as the bookbinder knows what they're doing. (Wrong ways, there has to be loads of those, but as long as the book looks good and functions like it's supposed to, I'm fine with the way it was made.) I make my books the way I was taught, and the way I taught myself whenever I felt there was something wrong with the way I was told to do things. A random mix of techniques from many, many teachers and a little something from me.
Today has been a hard-working day so far. My fingers ache and my mind has gone all fuzzy. I never seem to know how to relax my shoulders while paring leather, so I'm a very stiff little thing at the moment. I'm sure a brownie or two will fix that too.
...to here, is a long way. I pared the leather with Schärf-Fix (the most amazing thing, I use it with real razorblades instead of those blades that come with the machine, though) and some self-made paring knives. The hinge area still needs to be pared before I can start working with my onlays.
Working with leather was pretty damn scary at first, but nowadays it's one of my favourite things. Once you accept that each leather is different and they all have a will of their own, it all gets easier. I knew from experience that this leather would be a PITA from the start (it has something to do with the colour, I think, all the light blue Harmatan leather hides I've worked with have been the same, also this is a grade 3 hide from the times I was still studying, so there are some cuts in the leather that needed to be filled and blahblah), so I had saved up some extra patience before I even began the paring process. Some leathers stretch and tear while paring, this one usually does both, no matter how sharp my knife is. Everything went really well this time, which is a bit worrying, now something must go wrong later on. My dear logic, must you be so pessimistic!
If my fingers can take it, there will be some hinge paring and onlay glueing on my schedule later today. If not, I'm just going to take a long and well deserved nap. Tomorrow will be the day the moving boxes will evade this household, so we'll see how much bookbinding will happen later this week. I hope lots, but I can't promise anything.