Making of “346” – Part 1b


attaching piece 2: The tail of the first piece is folded over for glueing up, piece 2 marked. I am going to sew once the glue is dry, and then trim (and possible glue once more) the overlap.

Just showing that I am now working towards finishing the scroll… I’ll probably post a pic of the day on Facebook and then write a wrap-up later here (maybe). So if you want to follow the further making of step by step, please have a look at

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Making of “346” – Part 1

Making of

The first of 12 pieces attached to the dowel

So here it goes. I cut two dowels into shape and attached the first of 12 pieces. You can see it is already quite thick. And it does have some spring to it, but when it has been held in shape for a while, it should settle and not spring open that much. Actually this effect could be observed pretty much right away.

Making of

held in place by paper

I attached it to the dowel with the help of some staples and glue. To make sure it stays in place while the glue settles, and to let the Tyvek adjust to being rolled up tightly, I wrapped more paper around and closed it off with some tape.

Next up is attaching the next piece.

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Back in the Saddle – Hopefully for a while


Jeans waiting im my studio to be turned into books.

“Now I try to take it a bit more slowly, but it’s not easy. Being in the studio to get work done is actually the most relaxing I can do at the moment. But I have been sick too many times in a row now, I really should find a way to wind down a little. It is surprisingly hard to do, …”

That is a quote from myself from the last blogpost almost four weeks ago.

Well, it looks like my body was not quite satisfied with my attempts. I had a lot of plans for the time between our holidays and half term in October (when the children won’t be in school for 2 weeks): Of course I would like to finally finish 346. While tidying up my desk I found a quote from a printing service for an instructional book that I thought almost finished in Febuary, and wanted to pick up these loose threads (but I can’t find the draft, will have to look once more, could it really be it existed only in my head – oh, please no!). I also thought I’d go into journal making mode again, for old time’s sake, to use up a lot of torn jeans of all sizes (should be fun, families of books…), and to revive my Studio & Press Etsy Shop, and of course for some financial gain for and from the Christmas season. And of course there are prints to be made, stories to be told…

But, just when I wanted to get started, about three weeks ago, a back ache set in. At first I hardly paid attention to it. – It was just a slight back ache like you get it sometimes. But it grew worse every day. I started to find it hard to bend down or lift things. I found it harder and harder to sleep at night. Next I found myself unable to bend down, or lift things. Next day I could hardly walk. I started to have cramps in my back muscles, and apart from that hurting a lot, they pulled me into uncomfortable positions which resulted in more back ache in different muscles. The cramps often start when I am trying to relax. The best way to keep them at bay is to keep moving. – Slowly of course, because my back ache is so bad, I can hardly lift my feet off the ground. And so, for the last week or so, I have been pacing the house restlessly. I often woke up at night, so much in pain, that all I could do is try to get up and start walking again, trying to cry and moan as silently as possible to not wake up my children and sleeping husband. M. essentially had to look after the children all the time anyway, bringing them to school, picking them up, getting up for them at night time (which we still have to do surprisingly often, usually several times per night), and so I didn’t want to disturb his sleep more than necessary. Being up on your feet all day and most of your nights is rather exhausting – and gave me yet another type of back ache (and foot ache and overall ache).

Invisible Rope Walkers, Big and Small

“Invisible Rope Walkers” a photo I took for an assignment a couple of years ago, showing incidentally, two of the jeans in my pile in comparison.

So yesterday I decided this was enough and went to see a doctor. I now am taking a couple of different pills with long lists of unpleasant side effects – but I can finally move again! The last night was the first in a while I stayed in bed. I am not pain free, but it seems managable again. [insert big sigh of relief here]

So, time to get working again, eh?


Cutting Tyvek

I am of course still – and again – working on 346. The text is almost done, at least I hope so, I keep working over my draft. I have a first drafted layout without graphics, just with empty boxes where they are supposed to end up. Hopefully it won’t take too long to add the pictures. It looks like a 3 hour job to me, so probably I will need about three weeks (I just hope they won’t end up as three months!)

Being almost ready for a first printout, I started looking again at material to use for the scroll itself again. My choice fell on Tyvek for now.


Tyvek prepared for printing (and some previous trials)

It turns out, Tyvek is not Tyvek. It comes in a lot of different weights and textures but not all of them seem to be available on rolls. I was only able to find really thick and heavy Tyvek (apparently used a lot for outdoor banners), or rather thin Tyvek “fabric” which has a texture I am not completely happy with. If you know of a source for Tyvek on rolls with a weight of less than 100g per square meters, please do let me know.

The one I am currently working with (and which can be seen in the pictures) has 105g and is a little too thick, I think. But it feels and looks wonderful and I want to try and see how much I need of it, and how thick the rolls will turn out. I also ordered some of the Tyvek fabric and will have a trial run with that once it reaches me.

The problem of how exactly and from what material to construct the box to hold the scroll is still unsolved and troubles me in sleepless nights. But I am trying to take one step at a time, and decided to not think about this too much at this time. I’ll find a way when the scroll is finished, I hope.

Message in A Bottle No. 79

New Message in a Bottle

Some things worked out in the last weeks: I made a couple of “miniature world” bottles, with miniatures in them which I hugely enjoyed. (And I still have a couple in my sketchbook which I would like to make.) You can see them on my other blog along with some nice finder stories from the summer dispatches. If you just want to see the bottles, you can also have a look at this album on ipernity.
I am rather proud of them and happy with how they turned out. I would like to do something special for them for their dispatch, but have not come up with something concrete yet.Well, as outlined above, I have some more projects on the line and three and a half weeks to go until half term. – But I don’t want to jinx it by putting anything on a timeline now. I just hope I’ll manage to finish some things before the next disabling illness catches up with me!

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bookmarks the whole lot
You probably remember me making my edition of 100 bookmarks for the Booksmarks XIII project by Sarah Bodman. In the meantime my full set with one bookmark for every participating artist reached me.

bookmark melanie alexandrou

bookmark by Melanie Alexandrou

bookmark lesley crawley

bookmark by Lesley Crawley

bookmark Kathleen Furey

bookmark by Kathleen Furey

bookmark sumi perera

bookmark by Sumi Perera

Sarah already mailed us a list of participating venues, which lists places in the UK, USA, and Australia. She said the webpage will be up and live soon. Unfortunately at this moment I don’t have anything to link to. So I decided to just snap some images myself; above you can see some of my favourites, though it was really hard to choose: So many beautiful bookmarks!

with child

“With Child”, by H. Kurzke, paper size A4

And while I am showing off images, I thought I’d also show you the print I made for the competition in Japan. As you might remember, I was fretting out about this one. Well, I still won’t comment too much on it now. It is a print made from 4 different plates, the first is a stamp of a heart, barely visible in the finished print, the second a kitchen litho print with pairs of eyes surounding the main image, third is a lino cut of a female skelleton, and the third a monoprint, where I put the paper onto an inked up plate and then pressed the paper onto the plate with a pencil. Due to the monoprint in the end, each print is quite different from the others. Here is a detail:

with child detail

“with child” by H. Kurzke, detail of print, print size approximately 10cm square

These are of course all old news in a way, but in the past 2 weeks I didn’t get much work done.

[Imagine a photo of a nice English garden party here, please. I was so busy, I failed to take a single photo the whole day.]

Last Saturday, a week ago, we had a big celebration here in our house (or rather the garde) with all our family from Germany invited, and many indeed visiting. In a fit of madness -which I thoughtwas a particularly clever phase until living through the result- I had arranged with my sister to start on a joint, brief vacation on Sunday. Yep, the day right after the celebration. I had everything planned out: A marquee (I keep thinking “tent”, but learned quickly that I shouldn’t say so, unless I want to spread happiness and laughter among our hired personal for the day) was put up on Friday and put down on Sunday early in the morning. I not only hired a caterer to make and serve all the food, I also hired the complete porcelain and cutlery we needed, so that everything would just be taken away and we could leave.

All this indeed worked but was a lot more work and required more effort than I first anticipated. I had made sure that the marquee would be taken down on Sunday at 9 so that we could leave soon, but only on that morning realized that I had to get up really early to take down all decorations before that. And that is just one details where I was completely ignorant of how much work would go into that until I had it on my plate. Already the week before the event I essentially stopped working, and instead went into party-preparation mode. Although food fortuately wasn’t my task anymore, a plethora of things needed to be arranged.

I think despite various things not working out as planned, it was a fairly good party. At least I hope it was. I can hardly remember now, and everything seems to melt to a blur when I think back. After having all family come by on Sunday once more, saying good bye’s for a couple of hours, then packing our suitcases (we thought we would have plenty of time on Sunday morning, and in all fairness, I forgot only a few things which we could easily buy at a Morrisons), I sat down in the car beside DH, kids in the back, excited to go on a beach vacation with their cousins, heaved a big sigh of relief, and felt ready for vacation indeed. Half an our later, I said to M. “I think, my hangover is finally kicking in.” It didn’t occur to me that it could be anything else, and didn’t seem the slightest bit strange to me that I had not felt it in the morning.

When we arrived, I told the same to my sister who was already there. She was surprised “I didn’t think you drank that much yesterday.” “Well, I must have”, I replied. I didn’t count what I drank, but I had a glass in my hand pretty much the whole time, having had a drink with most of our guests. It still seemed perfectly reasonable to me that this was a hangover. I drove with my sister to a supermarket in the next village, by now shaking violently, while picking items from the cooled shelves. When we came home again, I announced that I felt a bit sick by now, to be honest, and needed a little lie-down. I took my temperature, and was surprised to see it raise until very little shy of 40 degrees. I could hardly believe it. I didn’t seem to have any other symptoms: a hangover with fever? – unlikely. Too much stress? – maybe. I took some ibuprofen, went to bed early, and really expected to be all fine in the morning.

Far from it, unfortunately. During the night, as I became more and more aware of a pain and swelling in the throad, it became clear to me that it must be a tonsillitis. Which a nurse who agreed to see me pretty much right away confirmed. She asked whether I maybe have had too much stress recently? – Apparently it was a rather bad case and did look like I have had it for a longer time, apparently without really noticing / showing due to high stress levels.

When is a good time to be sick? My sister and her husband pittied me for getting sick just when I was to go on vacation, but I didn’t feel too bad about that. I guess that is the difference between being self-employed and being eligible to fully paid sick days. Anyway, I was aware of my body telling me to take it more slowly, – but how?

I was determined to get better soon. The rest of the family went to the beach and tossed in two bottles for me and my project message in a bottle while I stayed a day in bed.

On Wednesday I was feeling well enough to go to the beach myself, free of fever thanks to ibuprofen (and no additional paracetamol which I took, too the past 2 days), and I was beginning to feel much better. The weather was beautiful, too, and we spent the day at the beach and I tossed in some bottles, too, that day. I hope they will have a good journey!

And the next day we already drove back, the first day I was without fever without medication. Now I try to take it a bit more slowly, but it’s not easy. Being in the studio to get work done is actually the most relaxing I can do at the moment. But I have been sick too many times in a row now, I really should find a way to wind down a little. It is surprisingly hard to do, since the moment I step out of my room, I have two (heavy by now) children literally clinging on to me, asking me to do this and that. When I lie down, I have two kids jumping around on me. But they have been surprisingly tender and caring while I had a fever. They kept feeling my head for temperature, remarking acurately “you are very hot”, “you are warm, but not as much as yesterday”, … it was really heart warming. On Friday they had their graduation ceremony from preschool, a little more than a week and they will go to school. I am rather proud of how far they have come!

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Corner Chomper

corner chomper

my new toy

I bought this corner chomper recently and it reached me today. I have no real sane reason for buying it. I have been wanting one for a long time, but I don’t really know what I will be using it on. Of course I immediately tried it, and it is amazing, it does not even take force. I imagined I would have to lean on the hande to cut through the notebook, but actually none at all.

excercise book

exercise book I made a couple of years ago and still had lying around.

two corners chomped

two front corners chomped

four corners chomped

all four corners chomped

I quite like it :-)

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Been making things

My apologies for being so silent and not having posted anything in the past couple of months (edit: weeks. It feels like months, but it actually was just a couple of weeks.). As you might have expected, I have been quite busy. And I actually made a couple of things, too. As intended I turned from printmaking back to making books, well, slowly.

So, let me see, what have I done since the last blogpost…

miniature suitcase by H. Kurzke

I made a miniature suitcase, making the buckle was the hardest thing!

I made a couple more bottles for my project message in a bottle. The one I like best is the one you can see here, I named it “Small World – The Suitcase”.

miniature book by H. Kurzke

Here you can see (among other things) the miniature book that I also made to go with the suitcase. Of course it has some content which I will keep secret until someone finds the bottle.

mini book in bottle by H. Kurzke

The bottle just before sealing it.

Then I travelled to Ulm to visit my sister and get a glimpse at my youngest nephew.

baby foot, photo by H. Kurzke

aw, baby foot

And of course I used the chance to dispatch a bottle into a new river. It ended up to be the river Blau which discharges into the Danube. The day was just too hot to go far with the little baby.


Throwing a bottle into the river Blau in Blaubeuren, near Ulm.

When I came back, I made three gigantic boxes. In the picture they don’t look so big, but the basis has a format of about 45cm square, and it turned out I had to use a mix of papers to cover them, because I just didn’t have enough of the same paper to cover or line even one of them. They are now sitting in an what used to be a shelf and is now a chest of drawers boxes in the kid’s room.


big boxes and my foot for comparison

And back to making books:

pamphlet by H. Kurzke

1-quire tacket binding with an embroidered design on the cover. (I should have taken a thinner thread for the embroidery…)

I have also been making a variety of pamphlets in preparation of a bookbinding workshop I am going to give in December, above you see just one of many I made to try out different designs. I am rather exited about this opportunity at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and have since been investigating and perfecting some ideas for variations of the pamphlet stitch that I thought would be interesting to writers. Here is a link to the booking page and workshop description. Non-members are welcome, too.

Last weekend I then travelled to the coast in Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe, to be precise. Of course I out some bottles into the sea there. You can read more about the dispatch on the other blog.

Throwing Messages in Bottles into the Sea in Mablethorpe

Throwing Messages in Bottles into the Sea in Mablethorpe.

When I entered my studio today, I pulled out the sewing frame. It is about time that I used it again, it had literally gathered some dust. I mentioned before that I have bought some jute twine to try for supports, and now was the time.

setting up photo by H. Kurzke

setting up

I usually just made kettle stitches at the head and tail when binding on raised support, but wanted to try something new today. So I pulled out the K. Smith book. I very much like the Herringbone stitch, and Smith combines it with packed souble cords for changeover, so I decided to give that a try.

Working on the frame was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. – It really HAS been too long! I enjoyed the familiar pull of thread in my hands, and the repetitiveness of stitching up a book. – I have no covers prepared (or in mind) yet, I’ll still have to find out what to make with this textblock. As you can see in the photo, the packing didn’t work so well. I am used to packing on the middle signatures, but since you only get a chance to pack every second signature for the changeover, I found it rather hard to get them to spread evenly, therefore I guess I will end up coverering them.

textblock and photo by H. Kurzke

bound textblock, herringbone stitch with packing on double cords as changeover

The twine worked beautifully so far, by the way. I am looking forward to using it again.

Have you really read through this long blogpost until here? Thank you a lot for your interest, and I wish you a wonderful and creative next week!

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A Book for a Change

Message in a Bottle No. 72 (Take 2)
I made a teeny tiny book today to put into one of my bottles. It measures about 4mm x 5mm and has handwritten text in it.
Making a book, even if it was just a small one, was a welcome change from a lot of printmaking recently. Since I have been complaining so much about it, I probably owe you a status update: I finished a print by now, and send it off to Japan yesterday. I am not sure whether it is my best yet or total crap. Maybe I’ll talk about it another time, for now I am just happy to leave that experience behind me…

And I guess, I might make some books in the weeks (days?) to come. Of course I am also still working on 346, the book about my hospital stay in 2011. I am currently rewriting and re-formatting the text since I decided after the second draft that I need to radically change its form. Instead of a series of postcards, it is now going to be a scroll that sits in a box and has to be cranked forward and back to be read. I really hope to finish that book soon! I am eager to show it off and let people read it. But it has to be ready first.

Have a nice week, you all!

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Printmaker’s Block, Litho and Ink Experiments, and Twine Trials

drypoint and monoprint

H. Kurzke, drypoint and monoprint, 1/1, “arches”

Still no progress with my print to enter into the show. I am suffering from a lesser known but just as severe form of writer’s block: printmaker’s block.

In interviews with artist’s the question of how they overcome the blank paper and lack of ideas is often asked. Arrogant as I can sometimes be, I always had thought it didn’t effect me. Indeed I have not experienced this before. It is not like I do not have any ideas – I have plenty new ideas and fill pages of my diary and sketchbook with reminders of these seemingly so wonderful things to do. Problem is just that even if all these would be brilliant, and I could make them come to life all today, this would still not answer the question what to send to Japan. The approaching deadline (my personal save line was actually last weekend) doesn’t make it easier. Graaaah!

Up until now I just never had to deliver something specific on a deadline. So when I thought I didn’t have a problem with creative blocks, it was just a matter of not encountering such a deadline before. And truth is: I do not have any concepts in place to deal with it. I am currently just spirralling down into doing nothing at all, it seems.

Well, to give myself a break, I bought art materials, and then allowed myself to play a little with it. I already showed you some pictures of the kitchen lino woman with hat, here are two scans now.

litho print woman with hat

H. Kurzke, Lithographic print, woman with hat

I also tried a little more drypoint in combination with a monoprint, an idea I had during my print workshop in April (seen on top). The monoprint (all that is not black) took an amazing and crazy lot of time. Essentially it took me a full day to just make two prints.


my worktable while making the monoprint. With the paint tubes on the table and rags and brushes and rollers I felt really like a “proper” artist

In the past week, I had the crazy idea to indeed make a kitchen lino print for Japan (by now I have given up on that idea), and thus experimented a little more systematically. Here is the inked up kitchen foil for a sample page, experimenting with different pens and resists (the frame and the word “sampler” were made with a brush dipped in melted butter). If you take a closer look you will notice that I cannot write mirror skript quite as well as I would like to…

sampler alu

preparing a kitchen litho sample print

And here is the print in my sketchbook. Silly me is delighted beyond sensibility about the coincidence that the kitchen lino book has exactly the same format as my sketchbook.

sampler book

look, my sketchbook and my printing paper has the same format as the book!

Also I have been thinking and experimenting with expanding my product line for Büchertiger Supplies. I now added Fil Au Chinois professional bookbinding thread. Fil Au Chinois is the line of lush linen thread (lin cable) made for sewing leather which I like to use for exposed bindings. That thread is beautiful but too strong for conservational and professional use. I still have some small bits of German Bookbinding Thread which I intent to keep in my inventory (but it will take a while until I restock).

Fil Au Chinois bookbinding thread

new bookbinding thread now available at Büchertiger Supplies

And today a sample of Jute thread reached me. I am wondering and going to experiment whether it will serve well for binding on cords. It is completely natural, I love the colours it comes in and the rough look it has, and – not least – the tin!


yummy jute twine

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Lithography - first trial
While still searching for something to enter into the show I mentioned in my last post, I decided to try non-toxic alu-plate lithography at home. Find out more here. I bought the book, by the way, and can very much recommend it. – And it works! Much to try out now.
Lithography - first trial

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Searching for a new Print

Not quite blank pages, but not getting anywhere either, it seems. I am urgently looking for a new thing to print and enter into a print competition I foolishly agreed (and paid for) to enter, and now I am drawing one blank after another, wrecking my brain what to print…

Some drafts from my sketchbook inspired by architecture this morning:
trying hard

trying again

and again

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