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Author Archives: marthaschnare

This time around I wanted to make a standard hardcover book—mainly because I’ve never made them before. My idea was to make the interior less standard so it could be at least a little surprising. I think, if I had had the right equipment, this would have worked wonderfully. As it is, I didn’t. All of the materials work well together, but I don’t have a printer and that definitely made things much more difficult than they needed to be.

It wasn’t easy to figure out how to make a PDF from a PostScript file on InDesign CS6. I’m a master now, in case anybody has any questions about it. Even after that nonsense was figured out I still had to deal with a cheap printer that didn’t want to work with my watercolor paper. I think I can contribute about 80% of the problems in these final copies to the fact that I was struggling with electronics. That printer seriously didn’t want to cooperate and I ended up with some misaligned pages. My interior design isn’t too forgiving so what could have been a small problem is actually huge on mine, and results in a couple of the pages not being able to be read. Bummer. There is, however, one copy (#2) that works perfectly. Aside from the InDesign and printing trouble, I still like what I’ve come up with.

I pared down a short story from six pages to three very short “poems.” I guess they can be called poems, or maybe really extreme flash fiction. I was able to leave the protagonist mainly intact. I think a good portion of what he has to deal with in the short story is still in these much shorter pieces. So that makes me happy. The interior design also does a good job of reflecting one of the major obstacles  Douglas Linn is dealing with—jail. The cuts in the pages reflect the jail cell and they’re the reason I ended up rewriting the story the way I did. So content influencing form and then form influencing content. I’m glad it happened that way.

I chose the title Douglas Linn because that’s the original title I had for the story. It works well as part of the cover design, though. The man’s profile sketched on the cover would be pretty awkward without a name. There are basically no secrets hidden in the cover. I guess this design could be seen as predictable or obvious, but I like that there is a simplicity to this whole book. The sentences that make it up are simple and the design concepts are minimal. Still the book has to be read differently than a standard book. I think this contrast works, and that’s probably because it’s a reflection of Douglas Linn’s personality. It all ties together.

I’ve decided that there isn’t too much about this book that I’d change. I think I’ve come up with a pretty solid design here. It’s just a matter of me being able to use the computer well enough to make it work. Mainly, I need to buy a printer. I also need to align the title pages a little better. These are just technical difficulties, as far as I’m concerned. The typos of the design world. Overall, I think the form and content are working well together and that was my number one priority. The materials also work nicely. Another thing I need to work on is figuring out my spine gap, but I have a feeling I’ll need to make a lot more books. For some reason, this seems to be a really hard concept for me to grasp. I would have also liked to have given myself more time to press them. But my bookmaking skills have definitely evolved throughout the semester, culminating in this project, and I think I’ve come a long way.

My second mock-up is only halfway successful. The materials will stay the same and I’ve figured out the cover. I have a hand-drawn man’s profile in the bottom left corner that I’ll just keep transferring from the same image on tracing paper. So they’ll all be the same. The poor man’s stamp, I guess. The interior has been giving me some trouble, but at this point it’s pretty close to what I want.

InDesign, as predicted, was a bastard. After meeting with you, Meredith, during open studio hours, I went home and searched YouTube more. The link that’s on the class site did have a solution buried in there. Two actually. But it seems like the more permanent solution doesn’t work with CS6. So I had to opt for the second fix–changing the default dimensions in Acrobat Pro (recently added to the Creative Suite Cloud so I actually own it now) so that when I import the .ps file to convert it to .pdf it automatically arranges it as a landscape on letter-sized paper, instead of portrait.

I guess because it took me so long to figure that out, I was in a rush to finally cut my pages to size and collate them that I ended up cutting a couple incorrectly. The text doesn’t align the way I want it to. This is important because the reader needs to be able to read lines on two pages at once through cutouts (It’s probably easier to show this then to describe it in writing). I’m assuming it was just a trimming problem. But you might look at it and be able to see that it’s actually something more involved. Fingers crossed!

The last part of this project that I have to figure out is the display. Honestly, I haven’t even thought about this yet. The short story has been pared down to three short essays/poems so I have a lot less content to choose from. This is definitely one of the things I want to talk about in the 10-minute meeting. Besides the display, the only other element I’m concerned with is the alignment of the interior. These are the two things that will most likely give me the most trouble while I’m making my final drafts.

The materials I’ve chosen this time around work well together, as opposed to my mismatched mid-term. So that’s a good start. The color scheme is a little different than I first proposed. Instead of gray, the artist paper I’ve chosen is white and translucent. It’s also delicate, causing problems with gluing, but I’m keeping it. Since the paper is partially see-through, I think I’m going to layer the cover design. I’m going to have as simple drawing (one I’ll probably draw on tracing paper and transfer to each copy) on a piece of white paper underneath the artist paper. That’s not on this mock-up, but will be on the next one. My original cover design hasn’t panned out. I’m not happy with the pull-tab trials, so I ditched it for the final edition of this mock-up. I might give it one more shot, but it’s unlikely to make it in as part of the final project.

The interior has changed only a little from my original idea. I’m using a lighter weight watercolor paper as the interior pages and tearing the pages to their final size instead of cutting them. This looks nice, but has made me drop my plan for a small flip book in the corner because the pages don’t turn smoothly enough to make it possible. I’m going to have to come up with something else to meet the image requirement. Or I’ll just have to cut the pages instead of tearing them—not something I really want to do. As predicted, my other snag is InDesign. I feel like such a noob trying to print this in booklet form. It will happen, just not this week. For now the text is glued onto the pages, but it will (I swear it will) eventually be printed on the watercolor pages. I also have to do one more edit of my story. However, this shouldn’t affect the form.

I’ve chosen, for my final project, to make a bradel bound book for my short story “Douglas Linn.” I like the size that we made in class, so I’m planning for a cover size of 5 ½” x 7 ¼”. The story is set during winter in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and in a county jail, so I’m mainly going to use different shades of gray (I hate using this phrase anymore, thanks E.L. James). But I’d also like one bright, saturated color to use as a highlight, maybe green, maybe purple. It depends what color I can find the book cloth in.

 

I want the front cover to have a pull-tab (kind of like a kid’s book) that interacts with the title. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this yet, so it could be dropped from the final product, but my plan is that it’ll be about 2”x3”. On the story’s pages I want to include a small flipbook in the corner. A simple one of a stickman walking up a slope, since the main action in the story is the protagonist walking up the mountain to the county jail every weekend. I’m not very good at InDesign yet, but I’d like to print this one as a booklet. My trials with InDesign have the potential to take up most of my time and effort during my production schedule.

 

Proposed Materials

Book board: $20

Chip Board: $10

Artist Paper: $5

End Paper: $3

Glue: $6

Paper for text block: $0, already have

 

Proposed Outline

April 10: Purchase materials that I don’t already have

April 11: Design interior

April 12: Figure out the cover’s pull-tab

April 13: Make first case

April 16: First mock-up completed

April 18-28: Revise the design and make as many copies as necessary until I like what I see

April 30: Second mock-up completed

May 2-5: Final design revision, possibly buy more supplies, make three final copies

This conversation of craft vs. art could go one forever, and I think that’s fine, but what interests me more is Peter Thomas’ quick and simple definition of what a book artist is: an artist whose medium is books. Nice, I’m on board. I also like that he talked about how there’s a need for different schools of book art a vocabulary with which we can talk about them.

I’m not sure I’m as optimistic that book arts will become the dominant art form in the coming century. I love his idea about how a book is one of the only 4D works of art. To me the fourth dimension of time is the most important part of a book. I spend so much more time, on average, absorbing a book than I do a painting,  sculpture, or most other types of visual art. And I think that’s why I love them so much. But I don’t think, even with the advent of computers to “free” books, that books will be able to reach the same level of appreciation that many other art forms achieve.

My only other reaction to Thomas’ lecture is that I don’t agree that art is better than craft. I see nothing wrong with calling myself a craftsman (or woman, or person) instead of an artist. To craft an item requires patience, skill, dedication, and creativity. Exactly the same things that go into creating art, in my opinion. So I’m not sure there is much difference between them and this is more of an argument over language than it is over quality of the thing being created.

Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday!

For this assignment I started by choosing which author’s work I’d like to try to transform. I ended up picking Donald Barthelme’s City Life partly because I’ve been reading it on and off over the course of the semester, but mainly because I knew I wanted to make an altered version of a Dos-a-Dos. His stories vary in form so I figured I had a good shot of being able to twist something of his into the Dos-a-Dos form. I decided on two of his shorter stories, “At the Tolstoy Museum” (I used this in its entirety) and “The Glass Mountain” (I only used the first few lines from this one). This worked out nicely. “At the Tolstoy Museum” is written in standard prose so this became the pamphlet side of my Dos-a-Dos and “The Glass Mountain” is written as a list so that’s the reason I chose a flag book for the second half.

My choice of typefaces isn’t all that inventive, but they function the way I intended. I used a simple sans serif (Avenir) for the stories because it compliments Barthelme’s blunt writing and I wanted it to be easy to read even though it would be small (10-point). But I’m more of a serif typeface kind of girl. That’s why I used Georgia for the title, copyright, and colophon pages. Had to get my fix, and I like the clash of the fonts. Much of this book is at odds with itself. Unfortunately, this resulted in the pages refusing to lie down nicely together. But the other contrasts work better. I like that I used the atlas pages in different ways, but that they appear on both halves. I also like that the topsy-turvy (and maybe crudely drawn) cityscape on the pamphlet cover prepares the reader for something of an unbalanced book.   Fun fact: the coordinates on the title page for “At the Tolstoy Museum” are for Moscow and the coordinates for “The Glass Mountain” are for New York City. Honestly, I can’t prove for sure that Barthelme was talking about New York there (though he does give this intersection: Thirteenth Street and Eighth Avenue) but I pictured New York while I was reading it. The coordinates are just small details, but I’m glad I thought to include them.

My book’s title is Barthe’s Cities because I didn’t want to stray too far from his book’s title. Plus it applies. These are two of the cities from City Life and they are his interpretations of them. He took two major cities and made them his own in these stories. I sort of made them mine, but I still feel they mainly belong to Barthelme–hence, Barthe’s Cities.

The next time I make any book I’ll keep in mind that one mock-up isn’t enough. I should allow myself plenty of time to make two. And the second one needs to be as close to what I was envisioning as possible. As it turns out, I have a couple of copies that are pretty miserable. I don’t feel they represent what I wanted the book to be and that’s because I didn’t take the mock-up process as seriously as I should have. Lesson learned.

I also wish I had chosen a thicker stock to work as my cover. It was easy to work with (probably the only perk) but that meant that all of my interior pages also had to be made from lighter weight paper. Well, the printer paper that was available to me was either super cheap Xerox paper, or a slightly heavier cardstock. Since I chose the cardstock, the interior is a little too heavy for the exterior to contain. I really like the cardstock and the MiTeintes paper I used for the interiors. In particular, the cardstock works well for the flag book pages. However, the book looks badly out of balance so I have to assume this is from my choice of cover paper.

I also would like more dimension on my cover. Maybe I should have included some white in the drawing. Maybe I could have tried adding a second sheet of paper with a contrasting color. Everything just looks flat. This is a funny considering the book will probably never lie flat. This brings me to my next point. The next time around I will also give myself more time for pressing the books. Can you tell that I’m annoyed at how springy the book is? I will also use a printer that isn’t Inkjet. The ink was easily smudged for about two days, resulting in my thumbprints on some of the pages. Or I can use an Inkjet printer and plan for a couple days of rest. Again with the timing. I guess that’s the largest rule for me now in regards to book-making: allow as much time as possible, almost twice as much as I would assume I need.

After making my mock-up I now know the following:

  • The atlas pages won’t contain text–it was totally illegible. They will just be the end pages.
  • The flag portion of my book is too busy. I’ll need to figure out how to condense the pages, possibly by writing on the front and back. Or I’ll make more accordion creases to give myself more space to work with. I still have to see which works better.
  • The metal binding probably won’t make it to the final drafts, unless I figure out how to make it look neater. Right now it looks too messy. If I decide not to use the wire I’ll just use a simple white linen thread.

 

I still like the concept behind using two different book types and the two I chose for this project will work well to highlight Barthelme’s two very different short stories. I also like the finished size that I chose, though it would make my life easier if I were to add a little height to the book to better accommodate the flag pages. Most importantly, I need to work on my InDesign skills because the printed pages turned out wonky. The pamphlet side needs to be aligned closer to the spine. The left margin of the flag pages got totally screwed up when they printed, to the point where it cut off the line numbers. Though after seeing the piece without its numbers I’m considering getting rid of them. However, I’m not sure how much we’re allowed to alter the original text to fit in with the book design. I plan on asking about this in class. If, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “hell yes”), I had to rate my preparedness to start making 10 copies of this book I’d have to say I’m sitting around a 5. Yikes.