I took a little time this week to engage in what I consider ‘playing’. It’s actually crucial to developing new skills (or refreshing old ones) and vital to developing new work. The advantage of thinking of it as playing is that it doesn’t matter if a finished product results. Scientists call this ‘research’.
You may recall the wax paper/crayon hearts post where I mentioned the lovely book by Haley Nagy shown above. The book is made —so far as I can tell— by layering pigmented wax between thin sheets of handmade paper during the couching process. The layers seal together and completely enclose the wax, which is then melted into the paper fibres.I spent some time playing with wax crayons and assorted papers. A page folded for a Japanese book might achieve a similar effect. I chose 4 papers, based entirely on what I had in the way of white/off-white scraps. Here are the results photographed against a white paper background and against a window.
The first paper was a ‘parchment’, stiff and about 118 gsm (80#) text. The paper took a long time to heat through, and when it did, the red and maroon waxes melted in a ‘flood’. When I got better results with later samples, I thought it might be a question of ironing technique. I went back and added yellow, which was a little more controlled in the melting but still not what I wanted. The paper tended to buckle quite a bit during cooling.
Plain copy paper, 90 gsm (24#) bond. This paper produced a similar effect, with a little more control in the later application of the yellow wax. Still rather blurry, and it buckled during the cooling stage, though a bit less than the parchment.
Ginwashi, unbleached (weight unknown). The paper heated through quickly and the wax bled into it less than the previous two. There was a small amount of buckling, but I think it could be eliminated by damping and pressing under weight.
Unidentified Japanese paper. I bought this from a local art supply store, so I can identify it if I want to get more. Best results of the lot: very little bleed and almost no buckling. (The smudgy area is where I mistakenly touched the iron’s surface directly to the paper. Keeping several sheets of newsprint between the iron and the paper’s surface is obviously a better idea!)
I think this has potential. I might try another test sometime using paper that has been wetted, then had all excess moisture rolled out with a brayer. My theory is that the moisture might reduce both bleeding and buckling, but it needs to be tried.
This week I sent off one of my Valentines with a hand-written message.
It will probably arrive a bit early, but that is definitely better than arriving too late!
In other book arts news:
In 1995 UNESCO declared April 23rd to be World Book and Copyright Day. World Book Night is an offshoot, promoting reading and adult literacy. If you live in the U.K. you may find an event in your neighbourhood by going here. If you don’t live in the U.K. you can still participate in an artist’s book project organised by World Book Night United Artists.
If you want to check out what people have already contributed, there are images on Instagram.
I spent some play time (part of an afternoon) producing a partial site map of the shipwrecks in the harbour.
If you want to play too, you can find the full call for contributors here.
In knitting news:
I washed and blocked (and gave away) the purple shawl.
The wool/alpaca/silk yarn was one of the nicest I have worked with; it feels beautifully soft on the skin.