The concept for my book was to create a small collection of poetry focused on Winter season and weather and all that entails—cold weather, lonesome days, overcast sky, etc. I wanted the book to be pretty minimalistic just like the outdoors during winter, but I also wanted a really “touchable” book because I think that’s one of the greatest things about handmade books.
The title of my book is “a traveling flake of snow.” It’s a line from one of the poems included in the book and I thought it was nice because the book itself feels just like a little tiny piece of winter floating around to my friends and family (I can’t figure out how to say that and now sound completely cheesy). I thought it was a nice title and because I chose not to pair it with any cheesy snow flake images, it still retains it subtle, simple beauty.
I chose Garamond (spelled wrong in the Colophon—really embarrassing) and Optima for my typefaces because of the delicate strokes. It reminded me of winter trees while still being beautiful enough for poetry. I think it looks really nice in the dark brown ink.
My concept is creative and original because I took this winter theme a few steps further by painting the pages with three and four layers of coffee to mimic the sepia tones of winter and I also carved a stamp to help the illustration.
I fully explored the form in trying to use different papers within the same book and playing around with a few different stitching patterns. I tried to really just invent my own in the end since the size of my book was a little different. I don’t know that I’ve fully stretched it the form because beyond using distinctive materials and a different pattern, I didn’t really try anything crazy. I’m not really upset that I didn’t push things further though, because I feel like now I have a much better understanding of the form.
I’ve painted with coffee once or twice before, but never to this magnitude. I also had never worked with linen paper or this binding technique (besides in class). Creating a handmade stamp was also new. So what I’m saying is that I was way overly ambitious with working with “new materials” which really challenged me. In the end I really needed three more hours to get the books as perfect as I wanted them, and the new materials did leave me with a few mistakes within a few of the copies, but I’m really glad I took on the challenge. I feel like I really learned a lot about these new materials and the best practices—all about giving things time to sit under large paper weights.
I think I brought a high level of effort to the book but my craftsmanship still needs a bit of work due to my limited background working with these materials. My cutting has gotten a lot better and I’m pretty proud of the stamp I made considering it’s the first one I ever made, but there are some pretty embarrassing errors floating around—misspelling one of my typefaces (only just noticed this), mixing up a few interior pages for back covers (my cute dedication now looks like a weird afterthought), and I didn’t give the actual placement of the text blocks much thought until I was gluing them on the paper. I don’t think any of these mistakes cause for glaring problems, but the book isn’t something I’d feel comfortable selling. I think I improved from my mock-up significantly, but if I were printing these again, I would allow for more time between steps to cut back on simple rush-induced errors. I think these materials and poems have potential to be really lovely and if I were to do this again, I would really want to push perfection even more than I did this time.
I would also of course budget more time between steps, and I would print like-pieces all on one sheet instead of 10 copies of the entire book on one sheet. I think this will make quick cutting much simpler. I’d also incorporate my tree stamp just a little bit more and add a collage element to the branches for a little more color. I think I would also try a new pattern as this one is okay, but it’s not overly beautiful.
I’m a little sad that the books aren’t as perfect as I wanted them, but kind of pumped up to try the process again with a few little tweaks to see if I can get a bit better at the overall structuring of the books. In the end I spent roughly 42 hours on this project and I’m really proud of the work I did. I think I learned a lot about the content and the form and I know a lot of that time was spent on trial and error. I can only get more efficient and better at bookmaking in general, so that’s pretty exciting.