Monday, 13 May 2013

Making Spiral Books

It has occurred to me that it is ages since I gave any kind of tutorial on the blog so here is one on making spiral books. Well, sort of books. It is from the Paper and Beyond CD that Jane Wild and I made some time ago, so you may have seen it.

I am giving away the last ten copies of the CD soon – watch out for a blog next week. Can’t do it this week as I am about to go to Northern Ireland for a talk and mini workshop. Looking forward very much to that.

Spiral Books.

Consider the following when making books. A book doesn't have to be flat, it need not have 'normal' pages and, most of all, it doesn't have to be rectangular. A book is a means of recording or passing on information and this can be achieved in many ways, shapes and forms.

My spiral books are long triangles of firm paper glued to a batten of wood. It is an interesting concept because the inside as well as the outside is on show. Consideration needs to be given to the design and to the means of linking the outer and inner surfaces.


The basic method is very simple. Just cut a long tapering shape from firm paper or card.
I use Bockingford water-colour paper, weight 140 lbs/300 gsm. The diagram shows the
shape I used for the book shown. This was cut from a sheet of paper measuring roughly 56 x 76 cm (22 x 30 in). Don't worry about being too precise. Wavy lines are to be encouraged. Books can, of course, be cut to any size but the angle needs to be as shown for the shape illustrated.


Both the inside and outside surfaces will need to be coloured. Never one to paint on a flat surface when a more interesting one is available, I add texture using a Texture Gel and gesso before painting. These can be found in art shops - Liquitex or Golden brands are very good. In the piece shown below. Blended Fibres Gel was used, together with gesso which had salt sprinkled into it.

You can see below the process of applying the gesso with a palette knife. It is scraped into lines and textures with the flat of the knife. Gesso can be hard to paint if used in its pure white form so I always mix a little black gesso or black acrylic paint with it – see left pic, below. The blended fibres were also applied with a palette knife – see right pic, below. In this case, the fibres were worked around into swirls with the flat of the knife.

As the work was inspired by the Philip Pullman trilogy 'His Dark Materials', I wanted this piece to represent the abyss and the folds of the paper met to form it. This design was, to some extent, worked out beforehand and you can see my texture sketch below, right.

The piece did however take on a life of its own when the folding took place.

Allow the work to dry and then paint with water-colours, inks or acrylics. If you want to achieve a blended effect, use no more than three colours and first wet the surface of the entire piece. Just spray it with water before you paint. If you are using water-colour, you may find that a little acrylic paint is also needed to work into the textured gel area. Finish any further work on the front of the scroll. This could mean working into the textured areas with coloured pencils or soft pastels – see below, left. If the subject is suitable, use metallic waxes or a dry brush of gold, silver or copper acrylic paint.

Painting The Inside

Don't forget the inside. Paint this too with a suitable toning colour or perhaps with walnut ink, tea or coffee. This area of the book could be used to contain messages.

Don't forget that some of the inside will be viewed from the outside. In the book shown below, the inner surface is painted with walnut ink. Strips of lettering with suitable phrases, some hand-written and some using torn strips of computer printed hand-made paper, were attached. The strips were stitched roughly together before the bottom layer was glued to the inside area of the scroll.

Finally, the book is attached to a piece of painted doweling which my local DIY shop obligingly cut to size for me. Alternatives to the doweling could be the decorative beading sold in DIY or framing shops. A selection of these is shown, below, bottom left. You can also see details of the 'pages'.

To stick the doweling to the inside of the book, use contact adhesive such as UHU or Bostick. Place the adhesive on the edge of the book and on the doweling. Leave for a minute or two and then press the two together. Cover with baking paper and put under a weight, such as heavy books, for an hour. Then spread more adhesive over the next inch of paper and roll around the stick to cover it.

Hope you have enjoyed this and will experiment with gesso and texture gels.


Julie said...

Thank you for the tutorial Maggie. I had never thought of that definition of a book.

Heather said...

A wonderful tutorial - I love the textures you achieved for the cover and the idea for a scroll is very exciting. I have the CD and find it very inspiring.

Dee P said...

Thanks Maggie. This looks great. I haven't got all the stuff but enough to give it a go!

Robin Mac said...

Fascinating Maggi, I think I shall have a go at this one soon. I am so glad you finally got your facebook page sorted - what a pain though. Enjoy your trip to Ireland. Cheers
PS thank goodness the moderation has got rid of the numbers in the dark box which I could never see!

Anonymous said...

That's fantastic! I'm always on the look out for interesting book forms and this is just lovely. :o)