Friday, November 2, 2012

Doctor Frankenstein's Monster Book: Finished

My monster book is finished, and if I'm allowed a small self-congratulatory moment, looks pretty terrific! It takes an astonishing amount of pressure to sew the leather onto the cover, so if I ever do it again I'd definitely try simply sewing it to the paper, and then just glueing the paper to the cover, but I'm not sure how to get the placement exact enough to make that work. This way I was able to stretch the leather a little bit, and it fits very nicely over the book.

Here are a couple shots of the terrific paper I used for the endpaper. The anatomy poster looks great, but it was pretty thin, so I had to glue it to another sheet of paper before I used it, or ever single bump from the stitches would have shown through. I put the page at the back sideways because I wanted to continue the whole 'random recycled parts, use what's available' theme, a little like the way Doctor Frankenstein made his monster.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Doctor Frankenstein's Monster Book

I decided that the first thing I wanted to make in my new studio was a book. Just something small, to get back into creating things. 

I've had an idea in mind for a Hallowe'en themed book for a couple of years now, for the BEST Hallowe'en Contest, and I finally had some time to make it. I want it to look a little like a twisted journal, with scraps of leather sewn together like Frankenstein's skin, to form the cover:

I tore up random scraps of paper for the book block. Considering all the different papers, and how I was none to careful tearing it up, it came out surprisingly uniform:

I was originally going to bind it with a Raven's Claw binding, because it will be open and visible, but then I realized that if I want this to follow the Frankenstein theme, it should look like the binding was unintentionally left open. I used a French stitch instead, and it actually looks a little like stitches:

I'm quite happy with it, and I'm looking forward to finishing soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Studio

I have excellent news! I finally have my own studio here in Winnipeg. It's not much, but it's got plenty of room for all my toys, and more importantly, it's a place for me to work. I've hardly done anything in the past few months, between being in school and having no proper space to use. BUT that should change very soon, because now I have a dedicated spot, and need to justify the rent. So new projects/old projects I haven't worked on in a long time should be coming up soon!

Monday, April 30, 2012

How Doth the Little Crocodile - Cover

One of the things I want to ensure for this project is that I have done every bit of the designing for the entire book. For that reason I've chosen to make my own fabric pattern, and have it printed at Spoonflower. It's a great site where I can order custom made fabric. I have a few designs for sale there already. This design is only going to be for me, and only for this project. I'm going to order it in the cotton-silk blend, for that extra bit of luxury, and then make it into bookcloth. I'm going to do the spine in leather.

I wanted a William Morris style design, because it fits the time period of the poem, but adapted to the subject matter. I decided to use leaves in the shapes of card suites (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs) for the background:

The picture above is of the start of the design process. I pulled some colours from a William Morris print (the little picture to the left), which you can see above. Originally I had a dark blue background, with darker leaves, but it just didn't work very well. Also, I want the spine to be in dark brown leather, so I needed more contrast. I changed the colours around, it ended up closer to the inspiration print:

The final design is of different papyrus flowers, buds, and leaves on a light background. I think it works really well. The only thing I have to decided now is what scale I want it on. I made it in vectors, so I can make the flowers and big or small as I want without losing any detail. Then I can order a test swatch and see what it looks like in real life!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Doth the Little Crocodile - The Beginning

I have wanted make a book edition for ages. I even started planning one last year (Jabberwocky), but ended up making it as a one of a kind book, mostly because I choose a format that was much to elaborate to actually print with my somewhat limited space and equipment. And for that matter, experience. However, the idea hasn't gone away, and this time I've choose a better poem and format, and I've done several elaborate lino cuts over the past year, so I feel I will have much better success with this one. Also, I've discovered the website Kickstarter, and I intend to put the project up on there, because I want to see what happens if I do. 

Kickstarter is a really cool website that allows creative types to generate funding for their projects - many documentaries and video games get their start through it. Basically it works by people pledging a certain amount of money for the project, and if it gets it's base number, the project goes ahead. This is great for a book edition, because editions are much cheaper for people to buy, so it's more likely there will be a buyer than for my much fancier one of a kind books, I can set the amount of money I need to raise (so I don't have to buy materials without knowing there's a buyer), and I will know how many to make. 

With my project I'm thinking of offering several different items/packages to people who support the project:

Tentative Pricing
$30     A print of the title page of the book, which will be an elaborate lino cut
$80     A copy of the book (a max of probably 50)
$100   A copy of the book and a print
$500   A special edition of the book, including case (max of 5). More to follow about these ones.

Much more on all of that later, but for now that's how it stands. I'd probably set $750 as the minimum price to justify going ahead with the project, since that will cover all the materials and a good start on my time. (And lets be honest, I'm going to put a ridiculous amount of work into this whether I get paid or not, so I'm more worried about covering the cost of materials. But it would be really nice to actually have something to show for the hours too).

So, what is the actual book going to be?

I've chosen a nice short, well-known (public domain, of course) poem: "How Doth the Little Crocodile", by Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Thanks for the suggestion Andrea!

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

It's going to be a simple, traditional book style instead of some kind of fancy binding, because that is easiest to print, bind, and ship. The entire book will be hand-printed via lino cuts, some reduction and some traditional.

I've done a bit of research into Alice in Wonderland, and the poem specifically, in order to get some ideas for imagery. Here are a few things I want to play around with:

1. Contrasting scales
2. Things the look like other things, or are only defined by negative space. I'll do some MC Escher research for this
3. Puzzles. This will probably fit into the MC Escher influence

There also some images to include (besides the obvious ones pulled directly from the poem) to tie it into the larger Alice in Wonderland story:

1. Bees. "How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a parody of "Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts, which begins with "How doth the little busy bee"
2. Suites of cards
3. Mushrooms
4. And I'm sure I'll think of something else soon...

I've collected a few pictures to get started designing the pages. I've been looking at a lot of Art Nouveau for the period, as well of flora/fauna illustrations, and plenty of other stuff, too, of course. Now to start sorting through it all! Here are a few things I've found:


William Morris designs:

Egyptian designs:

Antique fish:
Mushroom illustrations:

Any feedback is much appreciated, especially if you've done anything along these lines, because I'm just getting started on something completely unfamiliar!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - The End

So. I finally made it to the end of the last page in my sketchbook. I didn't have any fabulous brainstorms for the final page, so I simply wrote 'The End' in the same style as the title page, to form a nice bookend (no pun intended).

So from there it needed a proper cover. I kept with the grey, of course, since that's the theme (or, mostly grey anyway) and did a quick watercolour wash. When it was dry I went over it in pen, simply following some of the more obvious lines between different shades and brushmarks. I've used this little method tonnes of times and it always turns out really neat. Here's the cover:

This it what it looks like rebound and finished:

And finally, do you remember when I said I found this boring, but had something up my sleeve? Well, this was the moment of truth to test my theory. First, I added a bit more colour throughout the pages, though, just to punch things up a bit. The real trick, though, was taking all the pages apart and rearranging them, so that all the pages had new partners. Turned out kind of neat, and definitely helped the interest factor. Here's what the new arrangement looked like:

And now it's all sent off, catalogued, and ready for people to check out. The tour starts next month, and unfortunately won't be coming anywhere near Winnipeg, but it'll be all over the States, a couple places in Canada (in the cool cities, not mine) and internationally. Check out the Art House Sketchbook Project's website for the dates.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Windows

More patterns. I don't have a lot to say on this one. I looked up some gothic windows and architecture, and used the designs I found. ummm, yup. That's it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Moroccan Pattern

Freehanding patterns is HARD. Normally, and ideally, I would use a ruler for this type of thing to insure that everything is even. One of the most irritating things I think people say to artists, when describing their own artistic skills, is "I can't even draw a straight line." Neither can I. That's what rulers are for. However, I didn't really feel like it for this one, though, and was kind of curious what I could do by myself. So it's a bit off, but I don't think it's any the worse for it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Raindrops

This is just a fun little pattern, trying something a little different than the all-over pattern of the previous two pages. I also like the proportions, with the giant raindrops next to the small umbrella. The idea for this one came from one of my original ideas for the them of this sketchbook, which didn't work out. So it made a cameo here instead.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Paisley

I'm a little (a month and a half? oops) behind putting up the pages from my Sketchbook Project book. I don't think there's much to say about this one, I find it a bit boring, which is strange, because normally I love this type of pattern. Oh well, once the whole book is finished, I'll see if I still feel the same way.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spaceman Spiff Evolution

This was a fun little design that came about, like so many drawings lately, as I was waiting to fly. I was thinking about flying, and that brought to mind a character that also spends a good deal of time thinking about flying. I love Calvin and Hobbes comics, especially the ones about Spaceman Spiff's adventures. So this little design is a version of those "Evolution of ...." designs, but with Calvin's amazingly transformative cardboard box, becoming Spaceman Spiff's spaceship.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Take Me Away

I was sitting around thinking about another t-shirt design, and looking at some of the most popular shirts of redbubble, when I came up with this idea. It's very very geeky. It's a combination of my favourite ways to escape reality, the spaceships and quests I wish I could be on, all made into balloons to carry me away. Clockwise from the top that's Serenity (from Firefly), the one ring (from Lord of the Rings), the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars), the Nimbus 2000 (Harry Potter), and the TARDIS (Doctor Who).

This is my original sketch. It didn't change much from this to the final version. I thought about switching Serenity and the broomstick, because I thought it might be hard to identify the ship without the nose, but then the similarly coloured balloons would all have been side-by-side, so that wouldn't have worked. I move Serenity up a little, so that it's more visible, and I think with the detail anyone who's seen the show will be able to tell what it is.

Purchase this shirt at Red Bubble.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Memorable Introduction

This is a little t-shirt design I did this morning. It's a polished version of a graphic I did waaaaay back in high school after watching Dr No. And I mean, who doesn't like James Bond, right? I'm not normally much of a minimalist, but I think this is a pretty neat little design based on that amazing opening. It's a version of the gunshot sequence, and the dot pattern during the theme song. I took the colours from my trusty Retro Graphics book in the section on 60s posters.

Purchase it on Red Bubble.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Evolution of the Guitar

I'm still not flying, so I have tonnes of time to keep drawing. This idea occurred to me last summer, but I just didn't get to get until now. This idea is the the guitar starts off very traditionally, echoing it's roots as a string instrument, and then morphs into an acoustic guitar, electric, and finally Guitar Hero.

It's available on Red Bubble!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moose Milk t-shirt

Yay! More t-shirts! So I'm stuck around in Portage La Prairie (read: middle of nowhere on the prairies) waiting for my first flight training, so I have loads of time to do some drawing (and avoid studying). The idea for this design came from the fruitful night that also brought about the Teamwork shirt. Moose Milk is a drink that originated either with the RCAF or RCN, and is basically a mix of milk, ice cream, and a few different types of liquor. The recipes are all a little different. The idea was to make a fake, vintage looking label, as though it were an actual brand. The slogan came from a mash-up of a few different things I read on old snake oil bottles while I was doing the research for this. It's dated to 1909 because that's a date of the establishment of the RCN, and I've always heard it most closely associated with the navy.

Here's a picture of how it started out. This is where I realized that I would have to use computer generated text, and adjust it to look hand drawn rather than actually drawing it out. This is the first design I've done by hand out of the last few t-shirts because it needed that imperfect, vintage feel:

So I kept the outline, adjusted all the text to look less computer-generated (holy labour intensive), and added some colour:

Even though I put a bit of a vintage filter on it, it just wasn't enough, which is why I ended up actually cutting out some of the label for the final version (at the top), so it looked really worn out. I'd originally thought about having it on a light shirt, but as it turns out is also looks really good on some of the darker colours.

You can pick out the colour yourself, though: Purchase it at

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - William Morris

This is my favourite page. The colour is a little off - I really really am going to find a scanner soon, I promise. I based this off a William Morris design, though I simplified it a little because I wasn't going to sketch every little frilly bit. I not only like the shape of this the best, but I also like the way the writing looks on this one better than the other pages. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Tree

I tried something a little different on this one, changing the way the text way incorporated. I kind of like the way it comes off the tree, though overall I find this page a little boring. Actually, I've been finding the entire thing a little boring, but have no fear, I've got something up my sleeve, but I'm going to try it out first to see how it goes before I tell you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sketchbook Project - Pow!

You might remember that I got a sketchbook for The Sketchbook project many months ago, and have had only moderate success getting anything done in it at all. But I have high hopes and lots of determination! I'm going to have it ready to go by the deadline. And with that attitude, I got to work on this page. It doesn't look like a whole lot, and I'm not wild about it, but anything done was better than waiting around for the "perfect inspiration," which never happens anyway. If one sits around waiting such a thing, nothing would ever get done at all. The halftone dot pattern was quite difficult to make look even somewhat correct. I penciled in a grid, and put the dots in the centre of the squares in something of a diminishing scale. hmmmm. Not a terrible system, and it certainly wasn't meant to be exact.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Teamwork to the Rescue

I'm really enjoying designing t-shirts lately. This idea came from a night at the pub listening to a couple fantastic bands. A few of us were discussing the Angry Birds shirts I did, and then we saw the stamps we'd been given at the door were of a little monkey. We started talking about monkey t-shirts, and someone suggested turning the Barrel of Monkeys monkeys into SARTechs. SARTechs are Search and Rescue Technicians, and pretty much have the coolest job in the CF. They where bright orange suits, hence the colour, and SAR aircraft are painted red and yellow, hence the barrel that's been turned into a Cormorant helicopter.

This is available on

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Angry (snow)Birds

I enjoyed my last Angry Birds t-shirt design, and decided that the cute little Snowbird needed it's own design I love how it turned out! So, go buy one right away.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

RCAF Birds

I put this new t-shirt design up on Red Bubble. It's based on the game Angry Birds, but I made all the birds look like different RCAF aircraft. The idea for this came from the patch I'm designing for the nav course I just started. We wear a course patch on our left shoulder of our flight suits, which we (and that'll mean me) choose and design. We were talking about doing an Angry Birds theme, and I said I would make one that looks like a Dash 8, because that's what we fly in for training. It went well, and now we just need a motto before we can get them made. I enjoyed doing it so much I decided to make a few more, and see what kind of design I could come up with.

This is the first version of the planes I came up with. They're based on (left to right) a Polaris, Hercules, Aurora, Cormorant, Tutor, Sea King, and F-18. I tried to choose different types of aircraft used for different purposes. to have a good variety. I couldn't do one of everything because I was limited by the number of birds, and it just would have gotten to be way too many planes to make into a nice design. I decided it would be nicer to limit the numbers and do something cool to the layout instead.

Some of the plane/bird pairings I choose because they went really well together for more than just shape. The Polaris is used for air-to-air refuelling, so the bird that lays eggs was a good match. In the final design I used a trail of little clouds, similar the the ones the game uses to show the path the birds take in the game, to 'connect' it to the F-18.

The Cormorant is used for Search and Rescue, so it's painted yellow and red, and it's similar in shape (or as close as you can get in a game made of geometric birds attacking pigs) to the triangle.

The Tutors are the small planes used by the Snowbird acrobatic team. The little blue bird that splits into three was perfect for that. They're my favourite.

The Sea King is based on the exploding bird, which I kind of thought was funny because they are so old and we always joke about their state of repair. I originally had the explosion from the game behind there, but I though it was too close, in regards to copyright, and figured it would be a good place to put the RCAF rondelle. I used the yellows from the Cormorant, and the vintage maple leaf to get get a bit of the 'explosion' feel.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Books Reduction Lino Print - Winner!

I just drew for the winner of the Books lino print, and Lizzie, a fellow bookbinder who write the lovely Lizzie Made blog, was the winner! I hope everyone enjoyed the posts as the print was being made, and that Lizzie enjoys her new print. That you for all the comments!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Books Reduction Lino Print - Finished!

I apologize for the delay posting this, I only just got back to work after Christmas break today, and as I don't have my own scanner, I had to wait. The colours are just much closer to real life when they're scanned instead of photographed. So here it is, finally finished! I'll admit, I was getting a little sick of it by this point, and I got a little more ink around the edges than usual, but the majority of my fingerprints and whatnot will be covered by the mat, assuming these get purchased and framed. The series went quite well, and the registration stayed perfect the entire time. I still have to go through them and see if there are any to discard because the ink didn't print well, but I think there will only be one I do that to. Awesome!

It's now available on Etsy. You can go buy it, or, if you'd rather just win one, leave a comment because I'm going to give one away. You have until Wednesday night, when I'll draw the winner!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Books Reduction Lino Print - Darks

I'm finally getting to the dark colours, the ones that will give some actual shape to the neon rainbow that is my print. First the dark red, which printed very badly. I think it's because the only red ink I could find was in the squeeze tubes, instead of the jars, so wasn't nearly as thick as the other colours, unfortunately. 

I ended up printing all the dark reds twice, but I neglected to take a photo after the second time, unfortunately. I do have one of the dark green, however. And that means there is only black to go!

I want to give away one of these, so if you want one, leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Books Reduction Lino Print - Blues

One of the books is blue, which of course means I have to print two versions of that hue to give the shape it needs. First the bright one, which will actually a little bit of the shading on a neighbouring book:

And then the shading:

I'm going to give one of these away when I'm done, and you get an entry for each comment you leave in any of the posts about it!