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Watch this space

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

It's not over yet! I'm still resolving what will be happening with my remaining prints. Keep an eye out for what I decide to do with them.

So far, I've come up with a rough plan - I never, ever do anything without a plan. And it's from having a plan that I can invite spontaneity.

Throughout the year, I kept this little notebook to jot down ideas, although, I'd also email myself ideas or keep notes on my phone. But I found having a little notebook really useful, as I tend to remember handwritten notes better than typed notes.

Here are a few process photos of following through on this plan. For my final, large-scale print on gampi paper, I needed to remove all of the wrinkles from the paper. This can absolutely not be done with an iron! It needs to be dampened and then allowed to dry. However, I made the initial mistake with using only water - which resulted in the paper pulling away from the edges as it dried. Continually wetting paper also removes sizing, making the paper weaker. The corners of the paper suffered and tore as I kept agitating it.

Learning my lesson (the hard way and twice), I finally mixed some rice paste into my water and - to be extra certain that the paper would stay in place - I used gummed tape to hold down the corners and edges. The result was a successful and completely flattened, silky smooth print, and was hopefully strengthened a bit with the addition of rice starch paste.

Next came the folding of the concertina pockets which will hold the four large prints. I always measure two or three times before folding - and even then, sometimes mistakes happen (particularly if I'm feeling tired). The book pages - at most - measure 16.5 x 21cm. So I decided that the concertina folds would be 16.5 x 20cm, and that the final folded prints would measure 15.8 x 19cm - to fit neatly within each pocket.

It's worth noting that once paper is folded, it cannot be unfolded! That crease is there to stay, so it's best to get it right the first time around.

Here you can see that I also photocopied each side of the folded prints, so I can map out where I'll be cutting away windows into the folded pockets.

And here's a photo of the concertina pocket page - I wasn't intending on this cosmic aesthetic. Actually I was wanting something a bit softer, but the colours are always richer when wet, so I'm hoping it lightens up as it dries.

Next, I had to make a decision on the book's end papers. I was resistant to going out and buying pre-made paper - I felt that it would be too jarring to the aesthetic of the book, and it would probably be more interesting if I added something I hand made, since the rest of the book is entirely hand-made.

I played around with my leftover prints. Realising that the colours were too loud on the 'right' side, I started flipping the prints over to see what they looked like on the wrong side - and they appear to be a perfect match for the covers.

After pasting down the end papers, I began transferring the 'window' designs onto the concertina pocket page. Here are a few photos of the process:

I first used a soft, 5B pencil and rubbed it on the back of the designs I wanted to transfer. After that, I lined each one up on their respective pages, and used a harder pencil to transfer the deigns. I ensured there was about a millimeter gap between the bottom edge and the edge of the design, as the additional bulk of the folded print meant that it wouldn't sit flush against the bottom of the pocket.

After cutting away one window, I popped in the folded print to see if it would line up.

I did this continually as I kept cutting.

Once I had the concertina pocket page entirely cut out, I lightly sealed the edges with rice glue, so that each pocket would remain separate from each other.

Finally, at long last, I came around to binding the beaded cover with the pages. I had to contend with a spine that was squashed beneath the pressure of the screws. This prevented the book from unfolding neatly. I had screw sizes in four different measurements (from 0.8 to 2cm), because I wasn't sure how tall the book would grow. Even though I could bind the book with a short screw, the squashed spine prevented the pages from turning neatly.

Here's how the book looked with the old cover (and before adding the new pages).

And here's how tall the book grew when I added all the resolved pages to the new covers - next to a set of screws. These are the tallest screws I have, measuring 2cm in height. I actually wanted to add a leather spine to the book, but I absolutely don't have enough room - and no screws! I might order some 2.5cm screws later on to make a nice, closed spine, but for now, an open spine will do just fine.

The spine grew quite tall, and the 2cm screws I have are 0.5mm wider than the old screws, so I had to re-punch every hole!

I'm using my hands to tilt the spine from left to right to allow the verso side of the book to lay flat.

Here's a close-up of the boxboard that helps create that extra gap for the concertina to rest.

Hooray! A nice flat spread.

A more elevated surface for the long book page to rest on might serve to present the book better.

Alternatively (and after some experimentation), I could eliminate the book cradle entirely, as the book doesn't actually need the additional support - due to its design and the thin paper used for the pages.

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