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Jessica Art Blog

No Books Were Harmed in the Making of This Post

by Bookwyrme , October 30, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: Watch Out for Whales, book arts, show

I've spent the last month working on "Watch Out for Whales," a rhyme book illustrated with collage images. It started out to be a stab stitch book and ended up an accordion book because I got to liking the bright illustrations and thought they looked well spread out on the table.I've had a lot of fun and, of course, some frustration. The fun is obvious: What's not to like about painting, cutting, and gluing?

The frustration? Well, gluing doesn't always work as well as one would like. I've had a hard time getting the back and front to lie flat together against the joining ribbons. I've been working on is an accordion book & a fairly big one. I've been saying all along that what I really need is somewhere to spread it out flat, but I just didn't have one. Today, by co-opting the kitchen table, four tray tables, and about half the books on that shelf you see back there--the entire gardening section, several phonebooks, most of the hardcover science fiction and fantasy, numerous mysteries, plus a few "assorted," and by taking up the entire room, I managed.

I think it worked, too, and just in time, as the book goes off to the show tomorrow. There, I am afraid, it will have to go on the "Do Not Touch" shelf. I wanted people to be able to handle it, but with so many layers of paper involved, the glue just doesn't dry quite fast enough and I do not think I quite trust it in people's hands. Not yet, anyway.

This is also the anxious mama speaking: The other two books I have in the show, stab stitch books I do want people to hold, are older and I've had the chance to let go a bit. "Whales" is still new, still my baby, unsupplanted as yet by other projects.

Oh: And thanks to the careful use of the paintbrush and miles of wax paper, no books were harmed in the process. Everyone is back on the shelves and glue-free. In fact, the books may be better off than they were before: I dusted them a bit as I took them down and put them back.




  Mary Lawler ( homepage )

11/05/2008 * 14:12:57

Thirteen feet! Wow that is a big project to handle. I have a book that I store with wax paper between the pages, it's a good idea, especially if it gets humid.
I can't wait to see it!


  Jessica Greenlee ( homepage )

11/03/2008 * 19:13:09

Well, that's a relief! I'm quite fond of my book (Which I just really realized the other day is thirteen feet long). I do see places where it curves & I wish it didn't. Next time, perhaps!

When I get it back from the show, I'm going to try spraying it with acrylic spray that they told me at the store would help. We'll see. I don't think I'll ever risk storing it folded up without wax paper between the pages, though.


  Mary ( homepage )

11/02/2008 * 22:38:17

No,no Jessica,
The book will be fine. You may see it cracking a little in time, maybe it won't fold and unfold very easily, and the surface will most likely stay a little tacky. No one else will even notice it.
I use the gel medium as glue. It doesn't work very well as a top coat, I have the same tackyness problems. Most of my work ends up under glass but I have lightly sprayed some open collage work with acrylic spray varnish, matte finish. I'm still asking around about recommendations for protective finishes.


  Jessica Greenlee ( homepage )

11/02/2008 * 11:10:19

Oh dear! Does that mean the book is doomed to fall apart despite all the weighting and work?

Do you use Golden Gel Medium for the gluing as well as the finish?


  Mary Lawler ( homepage )

11/01/2008 * 18:33:13

Ah, that answers a lot. Yes! glue is OK for some things but it can be finiky and brittle in a lot of instances. Then layering Moge Podge over the Yes! didn't do you any favors.
For collage I recommend Golden Gel Medium, matte finish. It has a creamy consistency and dries flexible, very important when layering together different kinds of paper. They all dry at a different rate and can pull at each other. I will send you a sheet about paper grain, it is super important that the grain be running the same way or again, they will curl and pull at each other. I am still in search of a good top coat that doesn't dry at least a little tacky. I'll do some research.


  Jessica Greenlee ( homepage )

10/31/2008 * 18:11:48


I used YES! glue for the actual collaging & tried using it to glue the pages together.

That part suffered partly because I did it in a hurry: The paste-paint was too thick & I think that pulled the back into more of a curl than would otherwise have happened & I did not have time to make another set. Or so I thought, anyway.

I used Mod Podge to seal it off, and, on reading around, I find that probably makes it permanently tacky (oops) without another layer of varnish, which I'll apply after the show is over. I still don't think all the layers are fully and completely dry.

Grain of the paper: I do not know. How do I test? The two were the same kind of paper, but from three or four different pads.


  Mary ( homepage )

10/31/2008 * 15:32:11

This looks like the coolest ever! I hope when you get it back from the show we can see more photos.
What type of glue were you using and was the grain of the paper consistent on front and back? Gluing can be a big pain in the #*& but there are a few things you can consider that will ease the frustration.

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