Thursday, March 3, 2016

Journal & bookbinding impressions

I've been quite busy lately but I'm still alive and, mostly, binding books these days. I'm afraid there aren't a lot of new fountain pens to show though I've acquired some, mainly demonstrators -. some TWSBIs and an Asa Galactic!

Working with my hands brings me more joy these days though. It also keeps me quite busy as it's complex stuff. Still no perfect specimen in sight!

Who knew that Carta Fiorentina is made in a variety of color ranges, like these autumnal shades of brown and yellow?

These endpapers are french marble with gold print. They remind me of lava veins.

I'm learning to make silk headbands. This has been one of the first ones. They are made by wrapping and typing silk threads over a core.

I choose the colors to match the cover. Luckily buttonhole silk is available in a myriad of colors and rather inexpensive. I bought a mixed lot off eBay.

The book block is held within the press so both hands are free for sewing.

The core can be vellum, leather, paper or a combination of those.

The finished headband. It's been a few weeks since I made this one and looking at it makes me cringe, my recent ones are much neater. Practice helps, as always.

Headbands in their natural habitat, ie the finished books. I really like the wide range of colors and designs that's possible. Ready made headbands frequently aren't a perfect match color wise.

Finally, a book! This is what it's supposed to be all about, right?
It's a small book, smaller than DIN A6, filled with about 400 pages of Tomoe River paper. I'm really having trouble with this paper, it's so flimsy and slippery!
The cover is terracotta colored Oasis goatskin and French marble.

Some more Carta Fiorentina with a dark brown goatskin spine.

Grey goatskin and French marble. This one turned out really well and makes me think I'm on the right track. The "getting there" part will take me a few years though.

Of course all of these books feature some kind of fountain pen friendly paper and I'm looking into options to purchase some larger quantities, maybe even some really nice paper like pure cotton which I'm a huge fan of.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

More Bookbinding & Bartering: Blue leather journal

Another bartering opportunity presented itself when I asked Volker (PenParadise) whether he wanted to trade some of my bookbinding work for a TWSBI Vac which I had coveted for a while. He agreed so as a part of the trade I made this journal in deep royal blue and radiant orange, some of his favorite colors.

The leather is some veg tanned and rather pricey oasis goatskin. The grain and surface are marvellous but it's much too thick for good results so there's a lot of paring to do beforehand. Luckily I own a Schärf-Fix (which is tricky to master but oh so powerful) now but even so I spent what felt like hours working on it, carefully skiving off layer after layer. It's so easy to produce holes and ruin the piece. Didn't happen here though - phew.

Inside there's chamois Karstadt System Inkjet paper with a custom printed dot grid. I hope Volker will put it to lots of use!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Weekly Pens, Week 45 2015: Sparkles & Demonstrators

As daylight is becoming increasingly rare these days my "weekly pens" shots have been rather subdued this week.

As the new pen roll (which is awesome and which I still haven't shown you in full!) holds 8 pens, consequently the number of inked pens has grown to 8 as well and I'm even having difficulties sticking to this number! This is partly because I'm having so much fun mixing inks and pearl luster pigments. I used to make my own teal & gold mix before Emerald of Chivor came out but Leigh Reyes's post about colorful luster pigments pushed me right over the edge into sparkles wonderland!

Maybe that's why I love demonstrators so much these days.

Sadly the Lamy Vista hasn't worked well with my sparkling ink mixes, when none of my TWSBIs had the slightest trouble with the amount of pigment added the Vista feed kept clogging up so I've cleaned it out and filled it with Stipula Zafferano. That one is very light indeed though so I might add some red or orange to improve legibility.

From left to right:
  • TWSBI Vac with IB nib, Octopus Karibik
  • ST Dupont Olympio XL with IM nib, Herbin Bleu Ocean
  • Pelikan Fantasia with IBB nib, Herbin Gris Orage
  • TWSBI Eco with 1,1 italic, Iroshizuku Yama Budo (+ sparkles)
  • Conway Stewart Churchill with IB nib, Octopus Karamell (+ sparkles)
  • Montegrappa Miya Argento with IB nib, Sheaffer Skrip Black (+ sparkles)
  • Lamy Vista with 1,1 italic, Stipula Zafferano
  • Montegrappa Extra 1930 with IB nib, Noodler's Cayenne

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekly Pens: Week 43 - 2015

It's been a while since the last Weekly Pens!

Here's the pens I'm using this week. It's a wild mix but consistent in terms of nibs - all italics.

Montegrappa Miya Argento - IB nib - Sheaffer Skrip Black with multicolored pearl shimmer
ST Dupont Olympio - IM nib - Herbin Bleu Ocean
Pelikan Fantasia - IBB nib - Herbin Gris Orage
Conway Stewart Churchill - IB nib - Octopus Karamell with gold shimmer
Lamy Vista - 1,1 nib - Iroshizuku Yama Budo with pearl shimmer
TSWBI VAC - IB nib - Octopus Karibik

I've clearly been bitten by the shimmer bug but instead of investing in the Diamine Shimmertastic ink range I've started experimenting with mica shimmer of which I still had a fair amount left from soapmaking (as I've realized I prefer soap without any color in it).
I make sure to use those mixes only in pens which I can take apart completely and scrub the feed clean if need be.

Admiring the sparkles float around in the ink I noticed that I "needed" more demonstrators so I got the Lamy Vista - my only Lamy pen, I'm not a fan usually but the eyedropper Vista looks cool and the factory italic isn't bad either.

Also I managed to barter for the TWSBI VAC which is awesome! Thanks Volker, your notebook is almost finished.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Handmade Leather Kindle Cover & Making of Pictures

About this time last year I got a half leather Kindle cover from Bomo Art. I loved it but it didn't hold up to daily use very well. My Kindle goes wherever I go and so does its case. It is pulled out of and stuffed back into my bag several times a day. A paper cover, even if reinforced with leather at spine and corners, is too flimsy for that so I decided a full leather cover would be better.

I measured my Kindle and cut some 2 mm cardboard for the covers and some slightly thinner one for the spine. For the front cover I made a debossed design similar to the red Carta Fiorentina journal from my last post.

In this picture the cardboard is ready to be covered with leather.
I chose thin calfskin in a very light natural tan tone but was looking for something a tad darker with an antique-ish finish. Back to dying with ink then! On my first attempt of doing that I merely painted the leather with a brush but I didn't like the durability, it really needed the Acrylic Resolene to stay put and not bleed, so I tried another method this time.
I used fountain pen ink again with good results, specifically Herbin Ambre de Birmanie.

Ink is rubbed into the leather with cotton balls (I'd advise wearing gloves)...

... let dry, then rubbed again with clear water. The dye is worked into the surface, excess dye is removed, making sure the fingers stay clean when handling the finished product.
Rinse and repeat until the results are satisfactory. As long as you don't soak the leather it will take this procedure quite well.

Leather is awesome for bookbinding but it comes with a catch: It's usually a little too thick and stiff, especially when covering the corners. To avoid bulky corners it helps to pare the leather down a bit, making it thinner and more pliable.

To do this you can use all sorts of knives and machinery. I like this little toy which is called a leather skiver:

A tool to peel leather like an apple. Works best with veg tanned leather.
Time for the results:

The inside is covered with bookcloth and marbled paper. The Kindle is attached using double-sided tape. I used bookcloth underneath it so the tape can be replaced without ripping anything.

Debossed design on the front cover

After the dying procedure the leather usually looks a little matte. With this one I didn't use any finisher products but it did regain some sheen with use from rubbing and hand oils.

I gave this one to my Mom meanwhile to replace her machine made cover. She especially likes the feel of the leather.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3 Takes on a Carta Fiorentina Notebook

This post is going to be picture heavy but I just had to take a lot of photos!

"Carta Fiorentina" is a range of traditional Italian paper patterns. They all have this cheerful but nostalgic vibe and I especially adore the floral patterns.
Also in my opinion they go really well with almost every shade of brown. To enhance their air of nostalgia I chose leather for spine and corners. They are approximately 21 x 13 cm - this is because the paper had an unusual format to begin with. They have about 140 pages.

I used two different leathers, natural tan calfskin dyed with ink (Diamine Chocolate Brown) and sealed with Fiebing's Acrylic Resolene and reddish brown sheepskin. Also I made some "fake nerves" for the spine.

Those two have hand sewn book blocks made of 110 gsqm grey-brown laid paper. It has nice deckled edges so I chose not to trim the edges. (Also I still don't have a good paper cutter so I'm having trouble getting straight and smooth cuts).

It was my first attempt at dying leather and if not for the Acrylic Resolene the color would bleed and rub off a lot. Since then I've tried another way to dye leather which worked out much better.

There are so many colors in the Carta Fiorentina pattern it's easy to pick one for endbands and ribbons.
The paper is a little on the rough side but it tolerates fountain pen ink pretty well.

The third take on Carta Fiorentina is somewhat different. I made a debossed design based on the floral vines and lined it with red book cloth.

It took me quite a while to finish the intricate details of the vine.

For the book block I used some Neusiedler Japan Post paper I had dyed and distressed using strong espresso. The paper is usually high white and now has a brownish tinge and some stains here and there.
The book is A5 size and has matching Carta Fiorentina endpapers. It has about 200 pages.

The bookcloth is red but with a layer of green underneath. You usually just see the red but near edges or when looking at the book from different angles you get a flash of the green from time to time.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Omas Outing

Went to meet some fountain pen friends and one of them wanted to see some Omas pens, so I grabbed them and took a family photo.

Omas Extra Lucens, Ogiva Autumno, Paragon Arco old style, Ogiva Vintage saft green

Only after I had packed them I realized I'd forgotten the Bibliotheque Nationale. Bummer.

I think the Extra Lucens is the star of the bunch though its partial transparency looks only half as great when empty.

Backdrop: My new and gorgeous pen wrap! It's still a little blotchy from the leather oil but that should have resolved itself by next week, then I'll show it in all its glory.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Benefits of Bartering

A friend who is really proficient at sewing is making me a pen roll - and not just of any material but of this amazing leather!

This will be the outside of the roll, the inside will be made of somewhat thinner natural tan leather and hold 8 pens, 4 thick and 4 slim ones. There will also be a flap to protect the pen's caps from rubbing against each other. It should be ready some time this week and I'm really excited! I've always wanted to have a pen roll but the ones I saw never appealed to me.

What's best is I'm allowed to pay for this with a handmade journal. I think the pen roll should be ready some time this week and the notebook is already finished: dark brown leather with Italian peacock paper cover.

A 5 sized journal with leather back & corners

This paper is gorgeous. I have some stationery with this motif and had been looking to buy a matching journal a while back but couldn't find a convenient option. Of course I'll have to part with this one - it goes to a young woman who is a psychologist -, but I have more than enough of this paper left to make another one for myself.

Sprinkled edges. At the far left: curious tomcat's whiskers!

I pressed the book block firmly between two boards using winches, then sprinkled the edges with watercolor in various shades of blue to match the cover.

I'm not sure how these ridges on the spine are called in English. (If you know, leave a comment!) In any case they complete the nostalgic look.

Spine and corners are made of heavy grain lambskin. It's a little hard to work with as it's quite stiff but I really like the look of it on the finished book.

I love bartering like this, wish there were more opportunities for it.