Boxmaking weekend

This was the first weekend in what seems like ages that I had all to myself in my studio. My major work in progress is 346, a book dealing with my 7 week stay in hospital prior to the birth of my twins in 2011. As regular readers will know, the idea was that it was going to be in the form of boxed postcards, one for each day. This specific format was closely connected to the idea that it should be a larger edition, and not handmade as such. So I designed 46 postcards, both sides, wrote the text such that it fit in that format, selected images from my journals that I kept at the time, and then ordered all that in the form of photographic prints first for a second mock-up. That mock-up was finished a couple of weeks ago, and left me disappointed. Somehow this was just not working properly. Since then I have been thinking about how to change it, and my current idea is radically different, moving from postcards in a box to a boxed scroll. But although I am thrilled by my new idea, there are still lots of problems to solve. I will be asking your help and advice at the end of this post.


sketch of my reading thing – an anlogue version of a e-reader, really

My idea is that the spools with the content are hidden in closed compartments, and the reader has to wind a handle to access the images and text. In this way, s/he could not skip repetitive parts standing for the dull routine that set in after a couple of days, and s/he wouldn’t know that end is close from the few cards left in the box. These were two major issues that made the boxed set not work for me.

Well, this reader thing is only one aspect of what I envision for the book at the moment, but I don’t want to go into too much detail about that now. I will have to make this scroll-reader-thing work first in any case. So this weekend I started to build a model for the box, and, while I was at it, made also a couple of boxes that I wanted to make for a long time: boxes to store my thread. I got a bit carried away with the other boxes, I fear…

Box making day

Saturday: A couple of trays for the would thread, and two larger boxes with compartments for 346

Boxmaking craze continued

Sunday: More boxes and trays for thread, and on the upper right, four smaller boxes that go into the compartments of the 346 boxes to hide the scrolls

End of another boxmaking day

Sunday evening: two trays with smaller boxes covered for thread. A third tray with boxes still without cover. Standing on the upper edge of my table, 346 boxes, seen from the backside.

(I rather like the simpy grey covered boxes with the patterned paper inside very much, will try something like that for the tray that is still left to cover, I guess. Since these were all paper and fabric scraps, I am not sure that I still have enough to make it work though. Well, that is not that important now…)

My current idea is to use tyvek for the scroll, as I fear that paper might not stand the strain of being pulled like that. But then, thinking while I am typing this, probably a ready made scroll like the receipt paper used for cashes should work. – How is it really called and do you know where it can be bought?
I ordered some plastic modelling stuff in hope of making dowels from it, but I am not sure that this will work. – Do any of you have made something like that before? I would appreciate any pointers and sharing of experiences: what kind of techniques and materials worked for you and which didn’t?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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A simple binding kit by H. Kurzke

It has been long since I wrote the last blogpost and a lot of things have piled up. Of course the longer I postponed writing, and the longer my list of topics to blog about grew, the more likely it got that the task was pushed to the end of my ever growing to-do lists.

To break free of the dilemma, I decided to give you just brief summaries and bulletpoints instead of giving full reports and posts to each item. If you are interested to hear more about a topic, let me know. I’ll be pleased. And maybe (maybe!) I will indeed write more about it later :-)

  • As mentioned in a longish post (towards the end) I made 5 testing kits for a company to decide whether they want to produce the kits. I had a lot of thoughts about whether I would want to do that in the first place. Then decided to have a go. But after fighting for several weeks to either get paid or the kits returned, they finally returned them (phew, I actually already contacted the lawyer in our family to get some legal advice and was prepared to go the next steps). To my surprise they had not even opened the box. In 8 weeks. Their interest can’t have been too keen. Well, since then I changed the instructions that go with it ever so slightly (so that this company’s name no longer is part of it), and re-did it so that it is now printed in this A5 sattle stitched version. Currently the instructions are only available in German. A photo of the finished book can be seen above.
    I am undecided whether I want to continue this kind of kit. If I do, I will also include English instructions. For now I am selling just these first kits in my Etsy-Shop.
Erased, artist book by H. Kurzke and Zoran Vodakovic

Erased, poem by H. Kurzke, binding by Zoran Vidakovic

  • Last year I was lucky to be invited to a joint project with Zoran: I sent him two copies of the poem, he bound a first copy which he exhibited as part of his travelling, collaborative show of books. He made another copy for me to keep which has reached me by now. – I really should make some photos, above you see one that he send me before sending the actual book.
Leather Binding Kit - No. 16

Leather Binding Kit by H. Kurzke

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Leather binding kit – failed experiment

  •  You probably know that I have this other series of leather binding kits that I sell. It is much more high end, and somewhere on the division line between a finished journal and a kit. I actually prefer to call it journal in single signatures, rather than a real kit. Each cover is handmade one of a kind with a lot of attention to detail. I made a couple more of them before Christmas (currently working on some more) but didn’t manage to get them photographed until a couple of days ago. On one of them, which is not for sale for reasons that will become obvious in a minute, I experimented with a magnetic closure. It looks nice and kind of sleak as magnatic closures usually do (it always feels like magic to me, using a book with a magnatic lock). But when I photographed the inside lining, I noticed a round brownish speck, and a closer inspection showed that indeed this was rust. Grrr! Fail. That’s how things go. On to a different method.
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Leather binding kit – failed experiment

  • I enlisted in a 6-week long print workshop. Very much looking forward to learning many different printing techniques in a professional setting, will start in April.
  • Bought a lot of books
  • Finished another draft of 346, like it was meant to be printed on the postcards that were meant to go into a box which would then make my first non-handmade artist book. Not sure what to think of it at this stage. I just feel so close to my heart that it is hard to judge. I gave it to read to M. who said he found it interesting and engaging – but then, he is not neutral at all either. I still have some things I would like to work on, and we both agreed that the format does not really suit the form, and some things that I thought central just don’t work. So I am back at the drafting table but at least with some clearer ideas about the project – but now with new bucket full of doubts.
  • Ordered and just got delivered some beautiful new fabrics. Oh, I really would like to make some new books with them. Who knows, maybe I might :-)
  • Working on Coptic Headbands 3.2 (digital version) that then can get sold via Etsy’s Direct Download. Other than first announced, the Simple Coptic Binding Ebook is still available because Etsy accepted responsibility for the VAT for their direct downloads. The Coptic Headbands is too large at its current state to be included, but I could break it up to up to 5 pieces which then easily should suffice their size limits. Working on that.
  • Working on Coptic Headbands 4 (print version). too.
  • Updated my Homepage. Doesn’t look much shinier than before. This is kind of frustrating: I am proud that I am able to open a text editor and write a page like that. But then, this is really old fashioned and after all the time I put into it, it doesn’t have this “ah, beautiful!” look that it ought to have after putting in so much effort. I really ought to go with a CMS…

I guess that’s it for now. Have a nice and pleasant weekend!

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More Printing

Woman with Hat 3, lino print by H. Kurzke

woman with hat 3 – a couple of prints on different papers

If you have followed this blog in the last weeks, you know that I am currently printing again. I mentioned I was working on a “more serious print”: Well, actually I decided to participate in the Bookmarks : Infiltrating the Library System Project by Sarah Bodman. And I am looking for something that I would like to print in an edition of 100. For my standards that is a rather large edition, but after the trials with woman with hat 1 and 2 I felt confident that I can do it, and I liked the idea of printing women with hats.

I spend quite a lot of time with the block for woman with hat 3. I didn’t want to rush into things, and decided to make a lot of proofs on different papers, to decide what would work best.

preparations for more 01

different papers and parchment waiting to be printed upon

I decided to go for oil based Sakura relief printing colour for this one. It turned out that this is not a smart solution if you have an unheated studio in wintery England. – It took them a little over two weeks to dry. While there are a lot of prints with which I am satisfied per se, there is none that I find ultimately convincing. It turns out I find my own block a little too boring to be bothered to make more than I have now. Right on top you can see a scan of some of the prints that I found interesting in one way or another. I like how the red dots on the paste paper on the very right make it look like she is holding a bouquet. – A lucky coincidence that I would have no chance to replicate intentionally. The second from left is parchment, and to my relief the paint indeed dried eventually, and I was not sure at all that it would.

Well, the prints had to move out of the way sooner than they dried, for me to experiment with something else instead, and so I tied some thread to the railing at my stair and hung the prints there. That makes them hang just above the height of a hand-railing as you can see. But  everyone who wants to enter my studio has to take the last steps crawling anyway, to underneath and through my working table, so this made the situation not much worse.

prints drying on the line

prints drying on the line

Once the (seemingly not) drying prints were out from under my feet – quite literally – I was free to try something else. Being bored with that print, and therefore, so I thought, with women with hats, I turned to an old favorite: fish and feathers. (I printed a lot of these two years ago, for example feathers here, more feathers here, some fish here, or other fish here I printed many more fish than these, though. For some reason I just draw and print a lot of fish, …). I figured, that the bookmarks would be some kind of business card, and therefore maybe should be something that is typical for my work. Therefore returning to an old favorite seemed like a sensible idea.

preparations for more: Fish and Feathers

two plates

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Fish and Feather 1


I made two plates: a drypoint in rhenalon and a drypoint in lino. It was clear that the rhenalon wouldn’t do for an edition of 100. Typically one can get about 10 prints before it gets too blurry. But it was a quick warming up exercise.

The results are mixed. I am neither totally happy not totally unhappy with the prints. Some came out sharper than others, none crisp but that is to be expected with drypoint. I struggled with wiping, as you can see here: There are some regions that are clearly too faint, there is some additional dirt with the fish on the very bottom. Many details didn’t come out like I owould have wanted them to come out. But, well, it was just an exercise.

The frames marking three panels are a relict from an earlier stage in my sketchbook from when I still thought I would be making three independing plates. While scratching I wanted to try how I could translate the frames to the rhenalon (i.e. trying out whether I could do thicker lines). While that worked o.k., the boxes themselves are rather wonky, with the third one being significantly smaller than the first.

Well, and after that I gave the lino a go. This mix-technique is something I tried last year, and it doesn’t seem wide spread. I know of no-one using it.

Fish and Feather 2 - First Proof

Fish and Feather 2 – First Proof

Feathers and Fish 2 xth proof

feathers and Fish 2, trying again the next week xth proof no good

The first trial with the lino-drypoint looked promising (see above on the left). There was a lot of dirt visible in the print, and there were minor things I wanted to change, but I was actually quite happy with the outcome. The plan was to make more of these the next weekend. – Maybe even to go for the 100.  My next weekend therefore started with cutting more pieces of the watercolour paper to size that I was planning to use, and then water and press a first batch. Making a print takes quite a lot of work like that: First rub in and wipe the first colour in all three panels. Then clean the parts that should not print extra carefully. Then add printing colour to the lino on the three plates very carefully and in a very thin layer. Clean the plate once more, then print. – And every single one was dissappointing. (See teh white spots and lines above on the right.) The upper fish seemed to do o.k., but not great. The lower fish and even the feather didn’t show much of the first colour. Instead the parts that should be black just printed not at all. It took me far too long to realize what was going on. I thinned the black paint in hope it would more easily be rubbed into the scratches, I made the scratches a little deeper. Nothing seemed to work. Only then I realized: – The paint I was using for the drypoint was not made for intaglio but for relief. Switching to a paint made for etchings made all the difference. Well, that understood, after just one good print, I got rid of the frames:

Fish and Feathers 3

Fish and Feathers 3

I printed a couple of these images which came out o.k., now that I was using the right kind of paint only wiping remained an issue. It is hard to keep the prints consitent, though. Making an edition of 100 would be hard, hard work. I spend about 4 hours printing and got 20 prints out of it.

Well, I won’t be using this plate for my edition in any case. Too many things that I still dislike about it. Even if I decided to go for fish and feathers, I would make a new plate.

I still have a couple more ideas to try, and I still have until June to make my bookmarks. Until then I’ll number and sign and mark all my trials. I’ll end up with A LOT of bookmarks. Anyone in for a swap?

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Another Print – Woman with Hat 2

woman with hat 2 by H. Kurzke, making of

page in my big sketchbook

Printing is a little bit like a drug. Once started, there are just so many thing to do and try and it is hard to find a way out. You think you could focus on other things (like on to finish a book with title 346), then you make just one little print, and you are hooked again. – After the fun of making the quick softlino print “woman with hat” the other day, I just had to go on. As I told you in my last post, the woman that could be seen in that print was made in strong resemblance to a sketch I found elsewhere. I liked her hat, so I thought I’d try some other hats. You see a page in my big sketchbook up there. Different hairdoes, all of the models facing to the right in just the same way as the original lady. I tried to like reproduce what I liked about her.

All except one. – Ideas can be so funny, I have no clue why I drew her like that. I was more like a subconscious doodle. But it was pretty clear right from the start that she was who I had been searching.

woman with hat 2 by H. Kurzke

woman with hat 2, in my regular sketchbook, the printing block and once of the prints I made

But I still wanted her to face to the right in the print. So I copied her (mirrored) into my regular sketchbook. She was a little too big, so I had to make her smaller. – And that’s it, really.

I am also working on some more serious prints. I hope I’ll have to show you something more after the weekend. I also hope that the fun I currently have with printing isn’t the end of 346!

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New Print – Woman with Hat

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Women with Hat, Linocut by H. Kurzke

Like always I am burried deep in things that need doing. My homepage needs updating, a new newsletter needs to be written, books reviewed that I bought and received during the festive season, … Yesterday evening I finished the first complete draft (on my computer) for 346, the book I am going to get printed. I’ll have to read and correct a couple more times until I am going to order a first proof. So I should be editing that, too.

But this morning I entered my studio and decided to just not care about all the work that needs doing. I figured I earned myself a carefree studio day. – And it was great! So what did I do? Well, not much. Mostly I sorted through stuff while listing to loud music. I finished finally a box that I started four years ago. I also tried a new idea for a printing plate which didn’t work. So in the end, to have something to show for, I made this small print, just about 5cm x 8cm in size. I guess I am going to put one in a bottle. Maybe I’ll make bookmarks from others. I don’t know yet.

The image is inspired by a drawing I found in Women’s Work by  Elizabeth W Barber. The sketches in my sketchbook are more or less copies of what I saw there.

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drawings in my sketchbook and finished printing block

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My desk during printing action. – Few space, but luckily it is a small print

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some finished prints

What I liked in the original, and which I tried to stress in my version is the subbornly lifted chin. – This woman sure is not to be messed with. I think I like the print on pink. And I think I will like to add more of her body. I like the indicated nudeness without giving much away; the simplicily of the composition and the lines; and its overall strangeness. Will have to work on how to translate that into print. But for now I am quite pleased with this outcome and the day.

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Good News!

11 kleinerI am back at my desk after a Christmas break. Currently I am working through overflowing virtual mailboxes. One of them had a great message: Absences will be part of the Artist Book Cornucopia IV at the Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, USA.

I have re-opened the Büchertiger Studio & Press shop on Etsy after the winter break where you can order a copy for yourself. It will take a little longer until I will re-open the Büchertiger Supplies shop, but you can choose to have an email send out to you when I do, just follow the link. What is keeping me from opening the shop after my break is – among other things – a new legislation in the EU with regards to ebooks, and I’ll have to make sure I can still lawfully sell them. – And I need time for making my annual list of inventory.

alle 4I am going to make a new order of lin cable and gruschwitz thread when I am done. As usual I am offering special conditions for those who want to pre-order thread (any of the  30 colours produced, any thickness, also lin retors, linen bookbinding thread, gros bis, or even silk thread). If you are interested, drop me a line so that I can fill you in on the details. (You will find my contact data on my homepage. You can also leave a public comment if you prefer, and I’ll get back to you via email.)

Well, and with that, I am back to sorting through my mailbox. – After all I have to make sure I am done in time so that I can mail off a copy of abences in time for the exhibition. I hope you had a similarly good start into the new year!

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Merry Christmas, and a good start into the New Year – we’ll talk in January

jule our cat

Julchen a little more than four years ago

The last couple of weeks have not been nice here, to say the least. Little boy, hubby and I all have been sick on and off all the time. I am worst off, with just 2 days feeling well in the past two and a half weeks. Miraculously little girl is still holding up and has not skipped a single day in nursery since it started.

Because I – and the others – felt so off, everything that usually would have to get done in this time of the year got delayed: we bought a Christmas tree on Thursday (with me still being sick, but I managed not to throw up in the B&Q) for a last-minute-discount: not bad as such, and I was so late writing Christmas cards that only a few will actually make it for Christmas (mostly done now, but a few are still unwritten). I posted the birthday present for my youngest sister (birthday yesterday) two days ago. They told me it will not even be in time for Christmas.

Yesterday and today I spend mostly in the kitchen, making up for the time lost and cooking 6 different types of biscuits and sweets. These are for our neighbours:


Schweineöhrchen for the neighbours

Well, all this means of course that also Büchertiger’s Studio has been vacant for weeks. During that time a friendly inspector from British Gas helped figure out a problem with our heating, and needed access to parts of the system through my studio. Boxes needed to be moved and never went back to their place, some toppled. I looked for paper and fabric for wrapping some gifts, found them beneath a pile of other stuff which got scattered around during the process. If you could have a look now, you wouldn’t believe it is a studio. It looks like that small room at the end of the corridor into which all the little things that have nowhere to go get thrown for years.

I had hoped to clean that up before Christmas, but I am not sure I am going to make it.

To top off our weeks of sickness, last week our cat Jule died of old age. I remember well seeing her for the first time. My mother, my sisters and I selected her from a litter of cats who were born on a farm near to where we live. When we arrived, we could see a large dog and the mother of the kittens carrying them jointly, side by side to the dog’s basket where they continued to sleep. We selected the kitten, and it almost broke our heart to take her from that basket, and separate her from her brothers and sisters. She was already 3 months old and had learned from her mother to use the litter box. Cats shouldn’t be separated on purpose from their mums earlier than that, pet shops usually do because their baby faces sell better. – Really a shame, but this is a different matter.

Despite being able to use the litter box, Jule chose to rather use our beds for the next couple of months. – She was just so lonely. Just when we were about to give up, she finally accepted us as our new family.

A couple of days after she arrived at my parent’s house, I left for studying in Göttingen. But I saw a lot of her when I went back home (still frequently at the time), and I used to cat-sit the house for a couple of weeks in the summer, when the rest of my family went for vacation.

She was a kind and patient cat, especially with her family. My youngest sister used to put her into her doll’s pram and walk her around. But she also fierce and independent, partially fed herself through hunting outside, and would not come in for days if we had visitors.
When she got older, she got more easily annoyed, and more demanding of the humans around her. She was becoming a lovely grumpy old lady…

I was not very close to Jule, I never lived with her. But I loved her very much, and she never failed to recognize me, even when she got older and older.
When I brough M. home to introduce him to my family, he didn’t see her for the first couple of times he visited. But in the evenings she would find me when I was on my own and curl up beside me for the exchange of some caresses.

It will be very strange to find her gone when I go there again.

Well, this all kind of spilled out of under my fingers, while I was just going to say Merry Christmas, and Talk to you in the Next Year!
I hope you will find inspiration in this time, whether it be busy, noisy and full of people, or calm and serene and/or lonely. If you celebrate it, I wish you a very merry Christmas. If you don’t, I hope you’ll have something nice to do during these days anyway. And I wish you all a good start into the new year 2015!

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The new kit that I mentioned in the last blogpost contains an awl (so that the leather as well as the paper for the signatures can be punched). And so I ordered and tested a couple to find what I like. This is a selection of what I found this morning in my drawers, old and new.

On the top right are two awls with a wooden handle marked as “leather awls”, and there is another one in the middle , lying below the “Pricknadel”. They all have a long tapered point and a straight shaft. The one with the largest bulb was the most expensive that I bought from a leather supplier but it turns out this is the one I really never use because it is the thickest and I don’t like the feeling of the large handle in my hand. The one beside it with the more slender handle – it might be that I bought it as a bookbinding awl, not as a leather awl, I don’t remember clearly. It is one of the first I bought. The form of the handle is good for me, but the needle comes out at an angle from the handle which makes the whole thing quite awkward to use.

My favorite needle for pre-punching holes in leather for sewing is the “Pricknadel”. Apparently “prickeln” is something that German children do, but not English children. At least I cannot find an appropriate English translation. It works like that: You need a pricking needle, and a piece of a pricking felt which is thick and rather firm. There are pricking stencils being sold a lot, paper pieces with dotted lines on it. You place the paper on the pricking felt and then punch a lot of holes along the lines with your pricking needle. Depening on the template you can use this perforated line as a breaking point for pricking out shapes (like cutting out, just that you used the needle instead) but foremost it is used to created a pattern when seen against a light source. A common technique for lampshades and lanterns. Both, the pricking felt and the pricking needle can be useful for bookbinding.

Pricking needles are cheap and short, I can easily hold the end of the endle against the palm of my hand while holding the tip of the needle between index finger and thumb. This gives very good control over the needle, and I like that!

It is too thick for pre-punching holes in paper, especially if you want to do an exposed binding where blown out holes just don’t look that nice. What I like best for punching holes in signatures is a rig-up that I got to know through Nina Judin in her workshop: Take a screw handle of a paper knife (I used a martor boy handle) and put in a bookbinding needle. – Perfect! There is just nothing more to say about it than that. Perfect in every way. Just make sure you take a quality needle so that it doesn’t bend too easily. (See post about needles.)

The “paper awl” is one of the awls I bought recently while testing material for the kit. It has a short needle at the tip, The handle doubles as needle holder, and the screw off end holds an aid to thread a needle. Strangely, the needles inside all look like sewing needles, and the tip is completely blunt. I guess it is rather a sewing awl than a paper awl. But might be extremely useful as such.

I bought the small leather awl as well for testing and am very pleased with it. I like its size, and it is decently sharp. However, the needle again comes out at a slight angle from the handle which I find annoying.

The engraver’s needle looked very promising but bent on the first trial and wouldn’t punch through paper. – Not suitable.

The beading awl is what I ended up with for the kits for now. One of them is less than a pound. It is not very sharp, but has a sturdy shaft which should work well enough for a couple of holes and paper, although I wouldn’t want to use it to pre-punch a hole pattern for embroidering leather. And it is slim enough to also work for the paper.

By the way, if I want to make a real hole (not just a prick) in the leather, I am using a Japanese screw punch wich is the best I have seen for this job. I tried other hole punches, but… well, maybe that is another story that could be told another time. What kind of awl fo you use?

Oh, and while I am at it, in the last post I said I wanted to make more images of the latest book, the test piece for the kit. Here is one, and more can be seen here. (The link goes to the first photo, and then you can see the “next” by clicking on the arrow that appears when overing to the right of the window.) Still not completely satisfied…
simple leather kit 01 kleiner

Other than that, things are progressing slowly, slowly, slowly. There are some news with the project message in a bottle. I am going to update the blog there when I am done here.

I am still almost finished with 346, and slowly progressing. As you might know by now the book consists of 44 postcards (plus minus one or two, not quite decided yet), one for each day I spent lying flat on my back in hospital three years ago, expecting my twins. While I am working on it, I am seeing connections everywhere. I read “When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams and now finished Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”, and although I do not know yet how and where exactly, probably will have references to both in my finished book. Both just changed my view on this piece and my story too much not to be mentioned. But there is also this announcement by NASA that I found the other week, linked to on facebook. – Interesting. I can tell you how lying in a reclined bed for 42 days feels like. And as I mentioned on facebook: Eating in this position is not as easy as you might think, especially when the food it positioned on a tray above your head so that you have to go try your luck getting it on your fork because you cannot actually see it very well. In the end I even learned to eat soup that way (in the beginning I had it in a beaker cup). But I can tell you, all these are acquired skills.

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The curse of almost finished

a view at my sideboard. Other than usual this time you can even zoom in to see some of what I put into the boxes if you keep clicking on that photo.

a view at my sideboard and a lot of almost finished project (not qute up to date picture). You can zoom in to see some of what I put into the boxes if you keep clicking on that photo, nightmare actually got finished in the meantime

I guess this is something we all know. – Or is that just me? I can gather up quite a force to finish a project. When I see that there is only like 20 hours necessary to finish a project, then I can add a night shift, really focus on a project going without checking email for hours,forget the time and sometimes even forget to eat, I go until I am ALMOST finished. All that is left to do is THIS tiny thing that doesn’t need extra effort. What IS left to do could be: be reading over the text one more time, adding that last image, assembling everything that I cut today, whatever.  The pattern is always the same. After an extra effort and at a moment when I am almost finished, and I feel that what is left can easily be done anytime. And that is the crux – when is “anytime”? It would be tomorrow as planned if there had not come in this urgent order of thread which I promised to post the same day. I say to myself: “It is o.k. to squeeze that extra thing in, I can finish that project anytime.” And then I have this new idea which needs a lof ot thinking and effort and is so much more interesting than performing the finishing touches of that project. And then, slowly, I realize that it has become another abandoned project. I am just not in the flow anymore. What seemed a few boring tasks at the time, a thing just needed to be done, has become a real task again, with thinking involved and getting into needed. And the worst is, when I realize the thing happening again and I still cannot stop it…

With 346 I am not quite down that road yet, and I hope I will be able to still make it. – I am almost finished now, I think, just a weekend maybe of concentrated work…I have admittedly not come any further with the writing of the Coptic binding instructions I was going to write. (My motivation to do so vaned with the recent VAT changes in European law regarding ebooks.) In the meantime, however, about 2 weeks ago, I was asked to design a D.I.Z. binding box for a small company (I’ll let you know more, when I know that the deal is on), and I decided to give it a go. – I am almost finished with 346 anyway, so I have the time now, no? I am feeling the curse of almost finished gathering force. Making the boxes in record time, including the writing of a 17 page instruction, the kids and I being sick in the last week (with antibiotics and all), is taking its toll. I am beyond tired.

But I finished the requested 5 sample boxes minutes ago. The printer is spitting out the last copy of the 5 sets of instructions, tools are bought and distributed over 5 boxes, leather cut, templates drawn, a sample book made (to include photos of the making), sketches drawn. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that those who will try it for that company will like it, and they will think their costumers would like it. – I have many more ideas for paper, print, and bookbinding related DIY boxes that I find to hard to do by hand on a 1-1 basis, but which could work great on a bigger scale. I would love to do some idea and design work for them – and they organize the production and distribution. Dreams…

Now I just got to keep the things going and really finish 346. I want to. My body wants me to rest, it says so very clearly. I do not want to go into whiny details of an old lady here. Anyway, tonight I am going to celebrate the finishing of the boxes. The photo below shows the prototype, the first blank book I made in a long while. I love that little thing. It is not fancy, but the leather is great, and it has a great, simple feel about it. Unfortunately it is already late and dark here, and photo, made with the help of flashes doesn’t do it any justice. Will have to try again in the next days.
a book

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Erased – Copy 2 made by me. Making of a parchment folder

How To Make Coptic Headbands by H. Kurzke
You might remember that I was going to post a making of the copy of erased that I bound (and maybe you are surprised by the first image you see here). Please accept my apologies for letting you wait for so long. – And yes, this is that post, it just starts with a side note. My excuse for being slow is the usual: Things have been crazy here in the last week. One of the craziest things is a new EU law that will come into effect on 1st of January 2015. It has passed parliament already a couple of years ago, but I only got aware of it in the past week. And it is absolutely crazy. I will spare you the details, in short it will make selling ebooks to EU member countries that are not my resident country (UK) so unpleasant and inefficient that at this moment I see no other way than disrupting service to these countries from next year on. So if you are somewhere in the EU but outside the UK, and you always wanted to purchase one of my ebooks, now is the time. Here is a link to my Etsy-Shop, where you can now still conveniently grap a copy. And now follows the post you have been waiting for:

Einige von euch haben vielleicht auf diesen Artikel gewartet (und sind jetzt vielleicht überrascht von dem ersten Bild, das hier auftaucht). Meine Entschuldigung dafür, dass ich mal wieder so langsam bin, ist wieder die übliche: Die Dinge haben sich in der letzten Woche mal wieder überschlagen und ich bin einfach zu nichts gekommen. Und ja, das hier ist der Artikel, auf den du gewartet hast, es gibt nur eine aktuelle Ankündigung als Vorlauf. Eines der verrücktesten Dinge der letzten Woche ist ein neues EU-Gesetz, das eigentlich schon vor Jahren beschlossen wurde, aber ich habe erst letzte Woche davon Wind bekommen. Es tritt am 1. Januar 2015 in Kraft und ist einfach total verrückt. Ich möchte dir die Details ersparen. In Kürze: Es macht den Verkauf von Ebooks in EU Mitgliedsstaten außerhalb des Landes in dem ich meinen Geschäftssitz habe (UK) so unattractive, dass ich ab 1. Januar Ebooks nur noch in UK und außerhalb der EU vertreiben werde. Wenn du also in der EU und außerhalb der UK bist, und schon länger mit dem Gedanken gespielt hast, ein ebook von mir zu kaufen ist jetzt der richtige Zeitpunkt gekommen! Hier ist ein Link zu meinen Shop, in dem du zur Zeit noch problemfrei ein Exemplar erwerben kannst. Und nun zum eigentlichen Inhalt dieses Artikels:

Erased - View of the cover

Erased by H. Kurzke

In my last post I already talked a little about the poem itself. For this copy the text was written by hand with rubbing ink on waterford watercolour paper which I gave a thin coating with gesso. (The gesso, by the way, was a bad idea: It looks nice but writing on it with a pen is awful.) The poem was then erased by painting over with gold coloured acrylic paint. The backsides of the pages are covered with an acrylic wash with it deliberately staining the front page, and here and there are golden fingerprints or waterdrops.

It has this atmosphere between precious (the gold) and discarted rubbish (good paper, but looking like rough cut-offs). And I wanted the cover to reflect this by choosing a precious material (well, semi precious) but I wanted it to be not quite there. So I decided to stitch parchment pieces together to use for the cover.

After having decided on a parchment cover, I consulted Monica Lange Berg’s Limp Binding from the Vatican library, remembering that one of the descriped bindings featured a collection of unbound pages. And indeed, accoring to the book, S. Maria in Cosmedin XIII 2 consists of two volumes of loose leaves, each held together with a ribbon, and then both of them held inside a parchment cover with another ribbon. The historic binding has turn-ins with yapp edges and a lining from thick paper or cardboard. I was going for a completely non-adhesive version.

First I made a paper model (can be seen lying to the left in the image below), to get a clear picture of how large a continuous piece of parchment would need to be. Then I sifted through my stashes, arranging this and that on top of the dummy and finally decided on two pieces with a diagonal stitching line across both front and back cover. I chose a black linen thread for the stitching to emphasize the seam. And this is how the result looked like:
Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

In meinem letzten Artikel habe ich ein schon über das Gedicht Erased gesprochen, und spare mir das deshalb hier. Nur soviel: Der Text ist von Hand in Reibetinte geschrieben und dann mit goldenen Acrylfarben übermalt, hier habe ich damals Bilder von den fertigen Seiten gezeigt. Sie haben für mich diese Atmosphäre irgendwo zwischen wertvoll (repräsentiert durch das Gold) und Abfall (der ausgestrichtene Text, Fingerabdrücke auf den Seiten und Büttenränder, die mal abgeschnitten sind und mal nicht,…). Ich wollte dass auch der Einband irgendwo so dazwischen rangiert. Daher der Gedanke, Pergamentstücke zusammenzunähen und daraus dann einen Pergamenteinband zu machen.

Nachdem ich einmal auf diesen Gedanken gekommen war, habe ich mir Monica Langwe Berg’s Limp Bindings of the Vatican library zur Hand genommen und durchgeschaut. Ich meinte mich zu erinnern, dass darin eine Bindung beschreiben wurde, bei der das Buch aus einer Loseblättersammlung bestand. Und tatsächlich: S. Maria in Cosmedin XIII 2 besteht aus zwei Stapeln aus losen Blättern, die jeweils mit einem Band zusammengehalten werden. Beide werden dann mit einem weiteren Band in ihrem Pergamenteinband gehalten. Bei dem historischen Einband  wurde die Innenseite des Pergaments mit dickem Papier oder dünner Pappe hinterklebt. – Ich dagegen wollte gerne komplett auf Klebstoff verzichten. Auch um den ephemeralen Charakter zu unterstreichen: Es sollte glaubwürdig bleiben, dass sich in dem Umschlag etwas befindet, das verworfen wurde.

Nachdem aber die Grundstruktur klar war, habe ich erstmal ein Papiermodell gemacht (im Bild oben und auch unten gerade so am Bildrand zu sehen), um mir einen Eindruck zu verschaffen, wie groß mein Stück Pergament denn werden soll. Dann habe ich meinen Vorrat durchforstet und Stücke auf dem Modell hin- und hergeschoben. Letztendlich habe ich mich für zwei Stücke entschieden und eine durchgehende Naht, die quer über Vorder- und Rückdeckel laufen würde. Im Bild oben sieht man die zusammengenähten Stücke. Dann wurde beschnitten:
Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Above you see the cut version. After deciding where to cut, I first un-did the seam and made a new knot and then cut the parchment. Then the folding started, and the interior ribbon that will hold the package in place is attached with parchment tackets. You can see Monica’s book opened for reference on my working table.

Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Oben sieht man wie ich die Kanten schon gefaltet habe. Einige Änderungen habe ich vorgenommen: Zuerst habe ich über die ganze Länge eingeschlagen, aber das ergab ein zu steifes Gelenk am Rücken, und ich habe mich entschieden das Material dort zu entfernen. An den Ecken dagegen habe ich weniger Material als vorgesehen entfernt und mit Tackets aus Leinenzwirn zusammengenäht. Am Rücken ist das Band mit Pergament-Tackets befestigt, das dann die Seiten im Inneren festhält.

So sehen die Tackets am Rücken aus: Ich hoffe, dass das in der Tat “richtige” Pergament-Tackets sind. Ich habe intensiv die Bilder angestarrt, das Material manipuliert, und das hier ist das einzige, was ich dachte, dass es sein könnte. – Hält verblüffend gut!

Ich habe dann länger darüber nachgedacht, ob und wie ich einen Titel auf dem Einband unterbringen soll – und mich dann komplett dagegen entschieden, ganz im Sinne des Titels “erased”.

Mehr Bilder vom fertigen Buch und dem making of gibt es in meinem Photostream bei ipernity. Und für die Zukunft, wenn die Bilder nicht mehr ganz oben im Stream zu sehen sind, gibt es hier einen Link zu dem ersten Bild vom fertigen Buch. Von da aus sollte man sich ganz gut durch alle Bilder durchklicken können.

Danke für dein Interesse!

Binding of Copy 3 of Erased (or copy 2 depending on how you want to count)

Above you see what the spine looks like. I pondered adding a title and my name to the spine or cover but then decided against it. It didn’t seem to fit in the illusion of something that wasn’t meant for keeping.

More photos of the finished book (as well as one more making of) can be found in my photostream on ipernity (and for the future, when they are no longer up on the top of the stream, here is a link to the first photo of the finished book, from there you should be able to navigate through the stream).

Thanks for your interest!


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