Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Workshop

Yesterday I got to attend another fun workshop at King's Books given by Mitzi Lindgren, and this time, my mom and one of my sisters attended too. What a fun time we had. In this workshop we made little single-signature books using decorative embroidery stitches to attach the soft covers to the signatures. As usual Mitzi had organized lovely kits with lots of helpful instructions to take home. We learned six spine stitch patterns, and chose four of those to sew the books. In the photo above you can see my four books. The covers are made from that wonderful Cave Paper made from flax.

My background is in fiber arts, and I consider myself a fairly accomplished embroiderer, so these little stitch patterns were familiar and really fun. For the first book, done in the chain stitch, I stuck right to the instructions, as you can see below.

But I can't help it- I am one of those people who can't follow a recipe without adding my own little pinch of something else, and after getting my bearings with the first book, the next three definitely had Kim stamped all over them. The book below is The Twist (Exit Backward and Link). Yes, it sounds like a cool dance step, but it is a variation of backstitch with a little twist, or loop, forming the links. I found that if I ignored the directions, exited to the left instead of the right, and wrapped the waxed linen thread a couple times, I got this interesting variation of the variation, and I really like it.

The third book used the Bow Tie, which is a simple running stitch with a little couching stitch "pearl" in the middle of each stitch. Perfect place for a bead, of course, and if you know me, you know beads will be used. I think you could also put four beads on the running stitch, then couch that little pearl in between the second and third bead, which would also keep them nice and taut. The only issue here is that if you are using waxed linen thread and a book binder's needle, you must use a large hole bead, and you will probably have to either remove the needle each time and just thread the bead directly on the linen, or switch out to a narrower needle when a bead must be attached. I managed to thread the bead by hand, thanks to the stiff waxed thread.

The last may look complex, but it started out the simplest stitch. It is The Laced Dash, simply a running stitch down the spine, and then the rest of the thread is brought back up and laced under each running stitch, alternating from side to side. My variation again uses beads on the lacing part of the stitch, and then I simply wound the thread around each running stitch instead of just slipping under it. It's an easy way to spice up a very simple stitch. This time the holes in the beads were so big that the tapestry needle I used went right through them.

It was a great workshop at a wonderful bookstore. If you're in Tacoma and haven't been to King's Books, shame on you. And if you ever get a chance to take a workshop from Mitzi, go for it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

This bookbinding post is about sewing over snakes tapes.
First, there was the black hemp paper. I love hemp paper because it is so nice to stitch on, and so when I found a sheet of black hemp, I bought it, thinking black hemp...metallic thread...maybe a little iridescent paint... This is how hare-brained schemes are hatched. I would make a little black book using painted fusible webbing and metallic and silk thread and it would be great. And it was great.

...until I began poking the holes to stitch the signatures. Hemp is very fibrous paper, and in the best of situations, the little holes one pokes have a tendency to close back up. Add the black color to the mix, and the holes for the sewing stations simply disappeared. That was problem number one.

Problem number two began when my friend Roberta put this ball of recycled sari yarn on sale, 50% off. I don't knit, but I bought it anyway. This leads directly to problem number three, in which I decide to use this gorgeous yarn as the tapes (or more correctly raised cords) over which I sewed. Oy vey. This yarn might be fine to knit with, but when you cut it into short lengths it has a mind of its own. The yarn came alive, snaking and curling every which way, no matter how I tried to tame it. I gave up trying to find the holes I had carefully punched in the signatures, opting to get the first signature sewn fairly evenly and then just line the others up and hope for the best. I unsnarled giant knots about once every 3 minutes. Little pieces of sari silk fuzzed off and caused further snarling, both vocal and threadly.

I realized, to my horror and amusement, that the catchy tune I had begun humming was I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor. Where the heck did that come from?

And finally, somehow, I had tied the last knot. I have no cover yet, but that adventure couldn't possibly be as -ummmm- eventful as today's, could it?
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The View from Here

Like most creative people, I wear many hats. I have the day job(s), the family obligations, the crazy harebrained idea hat (beanie with propeller) ...and then there is theatre, the one that, when donned, engulfs me in a world of paint, light, endless rehearsal, endless stage sweeping, and a fair amount of cursing at times. This is by way of explaining my radio silence, as it were. I have been painting a set for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which opens this Friday. And this is the view from here: