Sunday 23 August 2009

Hitting the books

A few posts ago I talked about getting How to Make Books as my choice from Woolley Wotnots' Bookclub, and now I can provide a little review and some pics of what we've been up to!

It's a lovely book to handle and flip through, firstly. The covers are thick card and the paper stock is lush and crisp; the spine looks pleasingly old-fashioned on my shelves. Craft books often focus on an existing interest to get you to pick them up at the expense of the covers; this book pulls at your senses too. However, personally I find the interior a bit cluttered with too many typefaces; trying a little bit too hard to be an artwork/quirky/show a sense of humour, perhaps. A matter of taste, really; as an ex-scientist I have a preference for clarity over pretty. The writing is also quirky; some interesting stories about how particular book forms have been made and used (although again, pushing it a little for my taste - I don't like to be sold to by frequent mentions of a company name unless I'm actually reading sales literature. Product placement annoys the hell out of me).

There are a number of really interesting projects, ranging from the "instant book", a quick-fold origami-type book to the more daunting-looking Coptic binding. The instructions are clear (though I would have prefered a glossary and list of tools at the beginning of the book rather than trying to fathom it out as part of the text) and fairly easy to follow. We made a handful of instant books very quickly whilst on a train journey simply by folding and tearing, and they are honestly an absolute doddle to do. K, who is three & three-quarters, delights in being able to draw her own stories and have them lettered for her, or create "spotting books" to tick off observations and so on. Here are a few of these:

Clockwise from left: Fish-colour-spotting book from a trip to Blue Planet; our first book of alphabet illustrations done on the train; K's holiday magnum opus "We Throw The Ball Outside", illustrated by herself and lettered at her dictation by me.

Due to much other busy-ness we haven't had chance to have a go at much else. We have made a couple of "Three Hole Pamphlet" books so far, which are very simply stitched. I am having trouble sourcing a decent bradawl (only being able to find a flat-headed thing at B&Q) and so books of more than a few pages are impossible for the moment. Here's our first pamphlet - a family friend requested some of K's artwork for his birthday, and here it is, neatly bound. Again, these are quick and easy to make and brilliant keepsakes for recording trips for young children - you could easily mount photos, stickers, entry tickets and so on into a book which consists of nothing more than a piece of card, three sheets of paper and a bit of thread. Easy and highly recommended!

With the finished portfolio of her work

The central pages, showing the tied-off binding

The final page - that is her own unassisted handwriting!

Would I recommend this book? Without a doubt, it's one of the most interesting and inspiring things on my shelf at the moment; a little irritating in tone but well worth it. I now cherish dreams of binding the printouts of K's journals; making appliqued cloth books for my classes (which have the advantage of being both chewable and washable!); and somehow finding a way to beautifully organise the heap of index cards covered in D&D spells...


x vInTaGe VioLeT x said...

wow i love your daughters artwork and double wow at her writing skills!

woollywotnots said...

Love seeing all that you've made. Your daughter's face says it all! She is so cute and adorable and clearly loved making the books. Fab!