Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Craft Fairs: a grumpy grrface

(Actually that’s not a grumpy face, but it hadn’t started at that stage. The fair I mean…)

Having sat (stood, actually) through five hours of Craft 2.0, I have come to a conclusion I suspect I knew beforehand, given my dread: I dislike craft fairs. Perhaps bullet points will be my friend here:

1. For my own craftiness, craft fairs do not work with my books. People like them, people look at them, some people comment on them, but nobody buys them. This craft fair, I employed the tactic of attracting attention with the pretty, larger spiral-bound books, but provided a mini, cheaper version for those that maybe couldn’t afford the bigger one, wanted a piece of the style but had no use for a journal, or who simply wanted a $5 gift. Still no luck. OK, some luck. I sold one spiral bound book and seven mini books to complete strangers. Other sales were to my mum (2), my mum’s friend (1) and Louis’ uncle (5 mini books). I have also – maybe – secured a swap with my favouritest children’s clothing maker in town, free range baby, who was also selling. But again, that was something organised by Louis, I am always too scared to approach people for swaps. Sum total: $62 of sales to strangers = not worth the hassle of the craft fair.

2. Craft fairs are horrible. Even when the crowds have eased, I find it virtually impossible to properly look at things I might want to buy. (And let’s not even think about the crowded nature of your typical Wellington craft fair). I did a trade with the lovely woman next to our stall before the fair – three mini books for three cards – but once things got going I didn’t even purchase a cupcake! I just couldn’t handle it!

3. If I see another felted/knitted/crocheted/oldsock monster at a craft fair, I will scream. I think the world has quite enough of those now, thank you, and frankly, I’m surprised people are still making them. Say what you like about dated nana craft, I think each generation of crafters sets its own stylistic mousetraps and LET’S MOVE ON NOW PEOPLE.

But you know what I do like? It’s bullet point four!

4. At The Beach Store this weekend, I have sold two books! Sold, as in, they are no longer on the shelf. Sold, to complete strangers! And my remaining stockpile of mini books was snaffled gleefully by Bridey and John, who added another small sum to my hot chocolate and a ‘fluffy’ store credit tally. Having these two events in one weekend has really cemented my indecision about the business of selling my stuff. When it comes down to it, I really do prefer that other people do it on my behalf. Even if it means sacrificing that nice wad of cash for the delights of store credit.

5. I have tried very hard to keep this post diplomatic. Basically, craft fairs do not suit me, my product, my personality, nor my shopping style. I find that level of interaction exhausting, and the combination of bullet points 1,2 and 3 left me feeling rather depressed afterwards. Until I’d had two cups of tea, paracetamol and some corn chips, that is.

6. But you know what? Imogen, with her paper crane earrings, did very well at the fair. And because Imogen had put up posters, her stall fee was waived, which meant I could test the waters of Craft 2.0 without any financial commitment. And Imogen has offered to sell my books for me at future events, so that I may keep my face muscles relaxed and my nerves calm. And my screams of rage at felted monsters to myself, I mean, on the internet. So this post is really about Imogen’s generosity and persistence in having me sell my stuff next to hers. Thank you, Imy.



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New books

I wrote a long-winded draft the other night debating whether or not I wanted to keep making books. Now they’re finished, I think I’ll save that debate for another time. I’m really quite pleased with them.

I’d been having trouble getting motivated to make them, so on Sunday Louis and I sat at the kitchen table putting them together and I had them bound yesterday. It cost nearly five bucks to bind each one this time! I think I’m going to have to charge a bit more for them…

Here are some insides…

That’s some marvellous plasticky paper stock from the ‘D’ pile (for destroy) at my old work. Those lines are the contours of the land. It’s some part of the process in making maps. And very fun to play with and layer and whatnot.

And then… today… playing with all the scraps. Mini books!

Now I just need to trim them and do various little tasks associated with the grim business of craft fairs, and I will be ready for Craft 2.0 at the Dowse this Saturday.

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Dust Jackets dusted off.

The dust jackets of those books what I butcher have finally found a place in my production line!

I’ve had this idea for a while, using up those scraps from the larger bookmaking adventures, with a single stitched folio to make a teeny notebook. Yesterday I had a chance to go through the piles of paper, though it was really a case of finding the scraps first, when I wanted to finish a pile of books half-made from last November.

The idea of using dust jackets struck when WANDERLUST GOES SOUTH turned up in the pile just when I was wondering what piece of paper would work as a cover. And POW! suddenly the whole venture came together. As far as adding a string to the old book binding bow, it (now) makes sense to use the dust jackets (or thin covers unsuitable for the other two processes). WANDERLUST is quite shiny, and provided the cover has a good sturdy piece of paper behind it, cut to exactly the same size, I hope it can stand up to use.

But mostly it just keeps up the aesthetic of my bookmaking, while using up all those offcuts and small illustrations which don’t usually work in the bigger books. It’s also nice to have something smaller for the ol’ price range. Oh holy hell, I think I told Imogen I’d do the next Craft 2.0 with her… RIGHT. Better get back to work then.

(Productivity in this new house reduced by 60% when the internet arrived. Before then, I was making a cushion cover every night out of sheer boredom, and the desire to cover every cushion in the bag (11 in total) so there wouldn’t be this giant bag of ugly cushions taking up space in my sewing room. I got three done before we were connected. And none since. Photos of completed cushions, garden I am building and new, glorious sewing room to come…)

These books and more are now on sale at the Beach Store, for $8 each! They have been beautifully displayed in an old CD rack, and when I took my mum to see them (and buy an ice cream) she bought one! Sneaky…

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On sale now!

For anyone ogling the books in the next two posts, they are now on sale at The Beach Store in Paekakariki. (Minus ‘Gravity is a Mystery’ which was quickly bagsed by my friend Aynia, via Facebook). By all means, wander down there, have a delicious coffee, look at pretty things and pat the dog. I can also recommend the underpants, made by Holly – truly they are the best in the world, and thanks to the Beach Store stocking my creations, I have two new pairs!

I’m currently making a big mess on the floor in Rata’s room, organising all my fabric and bagging up the fiddly scraps. So, maybe I’ll have some sewing to show off soon – though really I should just stop procrastinating the hemming of my new dress…

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Ringbound books arrive

Four books came back from the copy centre today, out of the six I took in – the other two had covers made from cardboard unsuitable for the hole-punching device. All up, that’s a pretty good success rate, and the paper from them can be trimmed to other covers with thinner, less dense card. So no love lost. When flicking through the beautiful completed items, I found an interesting trick of the blind cutting:

“and give pleasure with their acrobatic acrobatic visitor nuthatch”

Meanwhile, more pictures of books and less snickering.


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Crafternooning at all hours!

Oh, August you say? Yes, rather a slack poster of late. There was a trip away to twiddle my thumbs in Taranaki, score some mean fabric and baking tins, eat whitebait fritters and let Rata push her trolley all over the place. Then I came back to find that the Beach Store in Paekakariki had sold all the books we made for them earlier this year, and would we like to make more? I ditched my craft malaise and got busy, albeit in a tidy, orderly fashion. Something that is utterly beyond me in sewing (and baking) but seems easy in paper craft.

Here, arranged on the ironing board, which incidentally is one of the few surfaces that Rata cannot in any way reach, are my chosen books from the archive of ‘things to cut up’. The Monkeys, Gravity is a Mystery, High Roads and red book on the right with hands were liberated from their spines and will be ring-bound. The others I carefully removed their innards leaving their covers pristine. If you don’t like talking about cutting up books and maps and stuff I think you should probably look away now…

Fortunately I had the good idea of choosing books that were only two sizes to cut paper for, marking the dimensions on the cutting mat and cutting my chosen paper stock to each book size. It turned out that by doing this I was more efficient in use of resources, working out quickly how many pages I could get out of each large piece. I was using old maps, ship engineering diagrams ripped out of books, aerial photographs, interesting pages from encyclopedias and annuals, mixed in with decent drawing and water colour paper.

Once I had some decent piles of materials,  divvied them between the five covers with their spines intact, to put together folios to fold, sew and then glue back in. Basically repeating the construction of the original books, but for the purpose of drawing and introspection.

I then set to work on the books to be spiral bound and have sworn NEVER AGAIN will I do spiral bound notebooks for anything bigger than 10x15cm. I started making them to use up the scraps of paper from the hand-sewn books. When you get to cutting paper especially for larger books, the endeavour loses its sheen. It is a lot of cutting, and while you quickly get to a books’ thickness when you’re folding pages, with spiral binding there is no such luxury. Then you must trim them without the security of stitching. And then pay for their binding. The original attraction of this style of bookmaking – to use up entrails – is lost, and what’s more they look cheaper than the beautiful hand-bound books. Lose lose lose. But this bit was fun:

Anyhoo, enough ranting. All up, it hasn’t taken as long as it has in the past, being an efficient production line of sorts. I mean, it has taken me two weeks, but that’s just an hour here, ten minutes there, sneak a bit of cutting in before I realise Rata is eating the nappy cream. It must taste really good, she always makes the most of any opportunity.

Anyway, I’m one session of glue away from five completed books – three have been weighted overnight, one is hanging out under some heavy books as I type, and the fifth is having its spine glued like this:

Then we get to this stage, where you question what you are doing hiding something so beautiful away forever:

Problem solved:

Now for some finishing touches, such as gluing in old library card envelopes and putting in our ‘card’, saying our email address and whatnot, and we are done. And dusted. And ready to make more books.

I’m waiting to hear back from the copy centre where I took the spiral bound books. I happened to talk to the most experienced ring-binder of them, who was going away for a few days but asked if I could wait until next week so that he could do them himself. Sweet service! So photos of those to come…

Can you see your house from here?

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One of the great things about being a no-good book-butcherer for the sake of making new journals and stuff is the hoards of leftover paper. You get random colour plates, off-cuts, old bits of atlas, marbled end pages and of course, dust jackets. This beauty came from something awesome in the pile of ‘good covers for journals’ (there is also a pile of ‘good paper-stock’ as Louis calls it) and another of ‘covers I will cut up for smaller journals’ where the binding of the original book is either too cumbersome or completely shot. So, I do like wrapping presents these days…

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