Friday, December 30, 2011

A Travel Present

Here's what I received from my family right before my trip from Romania back to Portugal.
Very appropriate :) Thank you guys!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Look what I found...

I found this poor thing last week at the fair. I don't quite understand, was this ever a book cover? Or just prepared to become one? There are no signs of use, no title, no traces of glue on the back. The front however looks like a hundred years old. I wonder what's its story. Perhaps it's just an old piece of leather that escaped slicing and came out so I can find it and give it a new life.


Old Leather Books

Finished these two the other day... simple, so to let the beauty of the old leather do the rest.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Temptation of Handmade Paper

Last week I went to see the atelier of Razvan Supuran, Romanian artist who makes paper by  hand. Or better yet, craftsman, as he considers himself. It was a fascinating experience. From the moment you enter the door of his atelier time seems to slow down. In a world of technology, there it's an island of peace and imagination that gives a different quality to life.

At the Romanian Peasant Museum, Razvan and his team make more than paper. They make art from it. They do printing, bookbinding, book art and much more. The best part is, you can just take your ideas and go there. For sure you will find a way to make them come real.

"Craft is learned and carried on. You give to others.

This is how the Book Atelier started. An idea continued with another, a hand came to help the other and the first papers started to show up: born from vegetables or reborn from their  recycled sisters. With respect, patience, joy. Through the practice of handmade paper."

 I confess, sticking my hands into the paper pulp felt utterly delicious.

I got home that evening with a pile of delicious handmade paper. I wanted to keep it for something special. But then I wanted to see how it folds. Then how it tears. Then how it is sewed. And in that same evening it turned into a book :)


Bolg Feature

Robyn from ArtPropelled wrote a wonderful post on journals and inspiring quotations and she selected for it some of the most beautiful journals I've seen in a long while. She was so kind to include some of mine.

I literary had to take out my journal and copy some of the quotes people left in their comments. My favorite for today - 

"I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie."

I Am Too Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke

I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
to make every minute holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
as it goes toward action,
and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your old and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
true before you.  I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at
closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day, like the face of my mother,
like a ship that took me safely
through the wildest storm of all.

~ from Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke,
translated by Robert Bly (Harper & Row, 1981)

Go over to Robyn's blog for some quality reading and to her website if you want to see the works of an incredibly talented artist who carves totems in wood.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Books with Memory

Yesterday it was Saturday so I went to the fair. It was not a really good day, full of finds, but I got these three photos. They are from the beginning of the last century, all mounted on cardboard, not in perfect state but meanwhile I already cleaned them and they look great. I have been collecting old photos since many years and I've always felt moved by them. But these three got me thinking so I finally shaped an idea that was going through my head since a while now. I don't want to make just books, but to restore pieces of history and create books with a story to tell. Books that have character, that have soul. Books with memory.

It's not just a matter of incorporating old photos into my books - I played with this idea before and liked it very much, but this is more than that. It's about everything, the materials I use and have a story to tell, even the design itself. 

And so I embark in a new journey. A slightly different concept, not necessarily new but rather an evolved one. "Books with Memory" - another project,  perhaps another book shop. This is a big fear for any business, especially among the Etsy shops, but why not? I like to think that this is only the beginning. For me this might be just the right time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Trio

These are the three books that came out of my last paper staining session. Monday we will fill the garden with paper again, probably for the last time this summer.

My personal favorite book of the Trio is the one below. We call it scarface :-)
A new approach, definitely something I will want to play with again later on.

 Thanks to my friend Liviu who bought it fresh out of the press.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The making of a book

A quick sneak peek :)

It all starts with the paper... tearing it into pages, staining it and folding it into signatures.

Then comes the sewing of the book block. 

Followed by the gluing of the spine and rounding of the back. Like so it goes into the press over the night. Meanwhile all attention is directed to the making and the tooling of the cover.


For this hollow back binding the raised bands are attached directly onto the spine.


Then one of my favorite steps, selecting the endpages... Gluing them will attach
the book block to the cover.


And finally, the last touches. The decoration of the cover with black and gold leather paints.

And look, how wonderful it shows its tea stained pages when it's open.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday's Fair Finds

Flea market was good to me today! I found all these goodies :)

Oh, that leather box! (nooo, I will not turn it into books!!!)

I was especially happy with this shoemaker's tools - I don't know if I'll ever use them but they are just beautiful to collect, aren't they?

And keys, many little rusty keys... in an old nivea box. So cute!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coffee or Tea?

This was the question of the day while staining paper... coffee or tea? It was a great day - a mixture of paper, sisters, fun and lazy cats. At the end of the day it was unanimously decided that tea was the best choice for paper while coffee was better to drink :)

The most serious results of our work are yet to come, as the piles of aged paper are still in the press, waiting to get flat and ready to be bound.

More pics freshly uploaded on Flickr.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Long time no blog

Last couple of weeks have been so busy for me that I have neglected my blog. I just returned from vacation back to the online world and wow, I see so many things have happened. I hope I can catch up with you guys!

I couldn't wait to get my hands on a book... and here it is, my latest creation, a miniature journal inspired by a wonderful 19th century photo found at a flea market in Bucharest.


More soon :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Paris, oh Paris...

What an amazing place. I have returned to Paris after 8 years. Many things have changed meanwhile, but not my desire to stay and live there for the rest of my life. It's not about the zillion places to see, but about the things you can do. It's amazing! And that city... it just feels right to me. In the crowd of the streets by day or by night I didn't feel stranger for a bit.

Surely compared to Portugal life is considerably more expensive but still I managed to come back with a few goodies. Here they are... well, the book related ones!

Treasures from the Vanves flea market

Supplies from incredible fine art and bookbinding stores

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sis!!!

Ok, I know it's not very imaginative from one bookbinder to another, but this year your present is nothing else but a journal :) Still, I wanted it to be special so I made it with handmade paste paper covers and leather spine. You can imagine that it also has a chip in there somewhere so I can track it anytime ;) just like in our childhood, only a bit more sophisticated :)

Happy Birthday dear sis! I miss you and love you very much!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trying my hand

It's been too long since I haven't painted. At least on something other than my books :) One of my early fascinations was illuminated manuscripts. Many years ago I made copies from Byzantine manuscripts and had them exhibited in club from Lucerne, Switzerland. With help from my friends in two weeks I sold almost all my works. It was such a great experience for me at that time, as I was a fresh graduate from university. Now, the preparations for the medieval fair opened my appetite for medieval manuscripts again. So I made these small reproductions from the Bestiary of Aberdeen, an English manuscript from around 1200 available online here.

I really enjoyed to paint these details. The copies measure around 4 x 4 inches and are painted in egg tempera on golden leaf.

And below, a few archive images that I am lucky to still have. They are from the expo in Lucerne in 2003. All I had at that time was a floppy-disk Mavica that did its best :)

   Magdalena Club, Lucerne, 2003.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just Joined the Ranks of Facebook

It was about time, right? I'm still trying to sort things out with my page but here's a preview

Who's willing to help me change that nasty "0 people like this" ? Come visit here :) 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making Books is Fun! (to watch)

Just discovered this great video and had to re-post for my bookbinding friends :)

"Back before inkjets, printing was a time-consuming laborious process, that took teams of people working together to produce just one book. Now days, any crabby person can sit at home and crank out stuff on a blog or even make internet video. This movie will make you happy as you watch others toil for 'The Man' under primitive conditions."

Such a wonderfully tedious process. Impressive, isn't it?

Friday, June 3, 2011

My First Fair

And not any fair... it was a medieval one, with costumes, music, dance and lots of fun. I participated with my friend Zé who makes the amazing Machado shoes. My books got along very well with his shoes, happily sharing the same booth for 4 full days. It was a nice experience, a bit exhaustive for a novice like me, we had sun, we had rain, and some pretty funny adventures. We also had some sales, and that was the best of it :) 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Playing with Leather

Last winter during my trip to Bucharest and my weekly visit to the local street fair I was lucky to find a letterpress printing plate. I have no typographic skills or knowledge except for a few printing trials made during my graphic classes in university, but I instantly figured out a use for it with my books. And it was fun!

I did not want to simply print onto the leather. I was looking for something a bit more abstract than that, so what I did was to press the clean plate until it formed an imprint into the leather. The leather I used was natural soft caw hide, without previous dyeing or any other treatment. After obtaining the imprint, I went on and applied leather colors onto the surface with a hand roll. I mixed several colors in layers and voila, the final result.


I’m still planning the best way to use these for book covers. Steampunk journal? Hard cover book? Not sure yet, but will post soon!