Thursday, February 25, 2010

My life this week was all hockey. And a book.

Somewhere in between watching the Olympics non-stop this week I decided to try something I've had on my mind for some time now. I ordered some silk thread off ebay a couple weeks ago and it arrived so I could begin! So I embroidered leather to make a book cover. I really wanted to wait until the silk got here because it's simply so much richer than cotton. It look terrific next to the leather, what a great contrast! I'm glad I used the good stuff, because it took freaking ages.

I love Moroccan design, so I choose a pattern I like, made it more complicated (because that's what I do, just because I'm me and like making things difficult) and then did it in different colours while I was at it. I found a nice Moroccan-themed colour swatch that made choosing the colours very simple. The embroidery itself is not terribly complicated, just rope stitch for the outline and lazy daisy inside. Just painstaking and well, painful. I couldn't find my thimble and sewing through leather is tough! It's also kind of weird because every single pinprick will leave a mark, and too many stitches close together will simple punch big hole in it. Which is why there's no filling stitch, just pattern. Which will make things interesting if I don more of these because I'll need to figure out how to fill in the spaces without, well, filling in the spaces.

After the spine was done I wanted the covers to have some attention as well, but not more embroidery, so I did a pattern under the leather, simply cutting out a thin piece of cardboard into more Moroccan shapes (a simplified version of the spine) and putting it on the binding board so that the leather took up the pattern, but subtly.

Continuing on with making the whole thing look very rich, the inside cover got a couple different papers. A richly textured handmade green to match the main thread, and a lovely neutral marbled paper that picks up all the colours. I'll admit, I did cherry pick the marbled papers from everything sent in for the paper swap because it was the only thing that matched. (By the way, I should have that all ready to go Sunday, I took the day off so that I can watch the game).

All in all, I'm fairly happy with how it all turned out. Luckily, no one can see the back of the embroidery, which got messy pretty frequently. It's hard to work on this stuff! And it didn't take many tried to figure out how many threads I needed to achieve the proper weight for the outline. If I manage to figure out an easy way to get my pattern on the leather then I'll really be rolling. Or at least creeping along a little faster, I'm trying not to think of how many hours went into this. But all in all, a successful attempt!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Contests

Ahhhh well, now I'm getting a little obsessed with contests. I really like contests, I get really riled up. And I'm enjoying designing fabric. So here's another one. This one is for a children's nature themed fabric, and the winner will be used on a baby carrier. It's also on the Spoonflower blog, just like the last one. So go vote for mine! No seriously, this one has a $500 prize.

Anyway, it's supposed to be dandelions or Queen Anne's Lace, tossed about in the wind with little birds in between. I'm not much of a kid person. At all. But I thought it was cute.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Because I'm Awesome

I'll right, so I was going to title this something less egotistical, but what the hell. Anyway, voting closed on the etsy team's Carnival challenge and my Harlequin Boxes won! I'm excited that other people enjoyed my project as much as I did, especially with the other very beautiful entries.

Monday, February 15, 2010

That's Not a Book!

I do, in fact, make things other than books. And I found a contest to design steampunk fabric and got a little obsessed. Moderation is not something I do well, I'm either extremely passionate or don't bother. And this piqued by interest, especially since I'd been thinking about a design of this type to embroider anyway, I had a great idea, and then of course got very ambitious.

It's complicated to do a repeating pattern that intersects at so many points and needs to be an interesting design when repeated. It took hours just to figure that out, and many many more to make all the little circle designs in this.

The design is based on Romanesque swirls, damask patterns, paisley, and of course, some steampunk Victorian stuff thrown in. All the little circles were where I decided to add the industrial feel. I wanted them to look sort of gear-like, but not be gears. I don't like how most steampunk stuff is just a bunch of useless gears stuck on top of things that don't actually have moving parts. And as a disclaimer I should say that I love gears. I freaking love gears and watches, I adore skeleton watches or open case-back watches where you can see the movement working, because then there's an actual point to them. I mean my to-do list when I win the lottery is basically my watch wishlist (and I work in a swanky jewellery store so I know my watches), Habs season tickets, and a loft in Vancouver. Probably in that order. But let's keep the gears where they belong and try to move beyond something quite so clich├ęd, eh?

Anyway, I'm sure the voting will start soon enough, so check it out on the spoonflower blog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Postcard Potfolio

I've been trying to find ways to display paintings in the fantasy artist portfolio I will someday make myself when I came across this tutorial. I really liked how it looked when it's all done and it looks easy to add/remove/move pages while still displaying almost the entire page, plus the back-to-back display means you don't have to see the blank back of the sheet of paper. But I didn't like the folded look, that the corners could still flip up, or that the back stayed very tight together.

So instead of acheiving this with origami I made the elements seperately and sewed/glued it all in place. The corners that hold the postcards are sewn in the centre so everything stays in place very very well. I wasn't 100% on how it would look with the back of the accordian fold not held together in some way, without the postcards in it it bulged out too much and had no shape, but now that it's done it fans out so beautifully to display everything that I'm really really pleased. Experiment succesful! This will be perfect for my portfolio.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Carnival Entry - Harlequin Box

Here we are finished at last. I posted some close ups of the individual books that make this up previously, but here it is allput together. This was made for the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team's Carnival Challenge. Take a look at the group's blog and feel free to vote for mine! It was just supposed to be one book... but I got a little carried away and started experimenting and ... yup, here it is, sort of over the top.

The theme of the challenge was carnival and I went with a traditional harlequin pattern and colour scheme. The piece is inspired by carnival's anarchy, disguise, mystery, games, and wonder.

The larger structure is based on those cubes they sell in museum shops - you know the ones that open different ways and reveal different paintings depending how you move them. It is made up of 8 smaller cubes that are hinged to open in different ways.

Inside each one is a different type of book. They are all usable, but they are designed to be confusing, clever, and odd. Some are difficult to get into, or out of, or figure out how to put back together!

This view shows (left to right):
1. A book in the round - no covers.
2. A back-and-forwards series of books with a spine the switches to be on all four sides.
3. An accordion book that falls apart and fits in a square and is very strange.

And here you can see:
1. A 'Jacob's Ladder' style series of books with double hinges so the books flip back and forth.
2. A folded maze book that meanders all over.
3. Four small books that look pretty normal until you open them and they become star ornaments.
4. A 'Jack-in-the-box' type book that unwinds. It does come all the way out, but will take some coaxing.

The last cube is empty and just has a lid so things can be kept in there.

The paper is used is both patterned, with a gold coloured print and reminds me of the patterns on Venetian masks, which is why I used it, and plain textured. The white stuff really seems to attract every bit of lint and dust and dirt in the house, though. ugh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jacob's Ladder Book(s)

Here's another of the little books that will eventually make up my larger Carnival project for the BEST contest. This one is based on a Jacob's Ladder toy. I was originally just going to make plain boards covered in paper but I didn't want to make something that boring and didn't really have enough decorative paper for all the borders, never mind the amount of ribbon putting it all together to be big enough.

So after plenty of staring at the already cut boards (of course I started before I figured out what I planned to do) while watching Secert Diary of a Call Girl (bit distracting) I decided to make a series of books. Two hours spent pretending I was going to go to sleep and not getting anywhere I'd decided to alternate black and red paper, and decorative and plain paper. This was in order both to make my little bit of remaining paper to go further, and because, given that the books have a very obvious front/back the ladder would not work quite the way the toy does and give the illusion of one block falling all the way to the bottom. I opted to go for confusion instead (which still fits very nicely with the overall theme of the larger project because carnival is about disguises, wonder, anarchy and all that other good stuff). I was going to checkerboard it, but the like the idea of it flipping back and forth between the colours better.

So, there you are. It actually didn't take nearly as long as I thought to put the whole thing together. The majority of the work on this was simply the figuring out how and what to do. I'm very pleased with the result, everything works together very nicely. The only thing is - it doesn't actually work. The books open so you can't actually make them fall like dominoes, you have to flip it one at a time. So it's really just a complicated series of miniature double-hinged books. But still, it's pretty cool. I think it might be worth some more experimenting, maybe with just three books and more strands of ribbon. I also don't think I'd put the ribbon the outside cover next time around, I just did it here to mimic the toy. What do you think?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back and Forwards

This is a little book (books?) that will be a part of a larger project for the BEST Carnival Challenge, a contest for carnival themed books. It's due Feb 11th and I'm going nowhere fast... but here's one finished bit at least! It's only about 5 cm coptic stitch on four changing sides so it was a kind of hard to keep straight, but I think looks good in the end. Might be kind of cool to try something like this on a proper scale because it would be fun to write in it. It would certainly be easier to make too, books this small try my patience.