Growth of a Commission

OK, from the top:

The Base

The Base

I decided on basswood, since I was a little uncertain if I wanted to devote the time and energy wrestling with walnut or cherry, and I have a lot of decorative stripwood left over from the semi-abandoned dollhouse. What a treat! I can cut it with an exacto-knife!

The Top

The Top

I got a little ahead of myself and forgot to take any pictures. It looks complicated, what with all that step-back fancy trim, but it’s just a box and about a million 45 degree angle cuts. I made the uprights out of cherry, because I had some nice 1/4″ x 1/4″ stock. They wouldn’t play nice though, so I reinforced the bottoms with what will look like organic decoration, I hope.

Superstructure

Superstructure

The press board slides up and down on the uprights – cool, huh? I’m avoiding thinking about how the brass screw is going through the middle of the crossbar, and where can I find antique brass screws and wingnuts, anyway? Maybe I’ll paint first.

First Paint

First Paint

It’s a trade-off, paint vs stain. It can look plastic, or cheap anyway,but I don’t have to worry about glue stains. I used a thinned-down acrylic craft paint for the first coat.

Last Paint

Last Paint

I found a brass screw and wingnut! My father taught me: never throw away a piece of hardware. And I figured out how to accommodate the thickness of the screw.

The Finished Book Press

The Finished Book Press

The screw and wingnut worked out great. I added some brass trim and a couple of coats of varnish, and voila!

Glamor Shot

Glamor Shot

Glamor Shot, Cont.

Glamor Shot, Cont.

Just For Size

Just For Size

My little guy is about six feet tall, so I guess it could go in a dollhouse. Those are three copies of ‘Lost Cities’ in the press. The whole thing was surprisingly easy, so I guess that’s telling me to be more adventurous. Or to have higher standards.

I’ll be making more of these. Still can’t believe I’d never tried one because I thought they’d be too difficult.

 

Birth of a Commission

A friend of mine wants to commission me to make something for her, and I rashly told her, “You name it, I’ll play it.” This was her first idea:

Kepler's Pythagorean solids model of the solar system

Kepler’s Pythagorean solids model of the solar system

Well. I found a version:

Plastic model

Plastic model

. . .which is a 3d printout, I guess. You win, Kepler. Serves me right for having friends smarter than I am. So she suggested this:

Book Press

Book Press

Now that’s more like it. I might actually make a version of this and survive. I was staggered to realize that with all the bookish miniatures I’ve made, I’ve never attempted a book press. How hard can it be? Filled with zeal, I found some more:

Another Book Press

Another Book Press

And Another

And Another

I adore this one. These are standing book presses, but this is the more usual kind you see in antique stores:

A Common Book Press

A Common Book Press

In any case, I’ve drawn up the one my friend sent me:

Book Press Drawing

Book Press Drawing

I figured the books in the press in the picture looked like folios, maybe 18″ tall. I based my dimensions on that, but the damn thing looks enormous. I might have to make a paper model of this one. If this works, I’ll make more. The trouble is, I want it to really work. I’ll keep you posted.

Finishing the Box

I have had so much fun today! I fiddled and tweaked and redesigned and did-over and potchkyed around with this little box to my heart’s content. Tomorrow I have to fill it, but today, I did this:

Decoration

Decoration

I decided to take the horizontal strips all the way around.

The Footer

The Footer

I love the way this looks, but not the way it works. This was three-and-a-half hours out of my life I won’t get back.

The Bad Clasp

The Bad Clasp

See those little diagonal metal braces? I fell in love with them (I think I got them at Michael’s) and couldn’t source them.  I would use a thousand of them for campaign furniture if I could find them. The vertical, larger one is the turn-tab that secures the footer, but it had to be under tension to work, hence the extra wooden bar over it. I put cute little brass cap covers on the bar to hide the holes . . .

The Good Clasp

The Good Clasp

. . .and they all popped right off when I tried to swing it around.

Finished, For Now

Finished, For Now

A thin strip of leather through the top hole of the bar cleared the footer and the tension bar. I hid the sloppy joints with leather staps, and it’s ready for a good clean-up (it’s covered with glue boogers), a final light sanding, a final dose of stain, and then varnish!

I think it might be a Vampire Hunter’s Trunk, but I’m not sure. Any suggestions?

Building Things

After the buzz of making all ten deluxe copies of ‘The Orchard of Chance’, I’ve found it very calming to make a simple vampire hunter’s trunk:

Beginnings of the Box

Beginnings of the Box

The Secret Compartment

The Secret Compartment

The Fold-Down Desk

The Fold-Down Desk

The Open Desk and The Lid

The Open Desk and The Lid

The Bookshelf in the Lid

The Bookshelf in the Lid

More construction, and decoration, tomorrow.

Housekeeping

Like most people with blogs, I have little or no idea of the machinery behind it. A friend called me and told me that he couldn’t comment, and that there was a suspicious link in red type under the blog title. The comments are available if you click on the post title (at the bottom, below the post itself) and as for the Russian viagra ads, don’t click on them!  And if anyone with more internet chops than me can tell me how to block them, please help! They seem to be coming from spam comments – anyway, when I clean out my spam queue and refresh the page, they’re gone.

Someday, I’ll get a new, professionally designed website and blog. Buy lots of miniature books so I can afford it!

The Orchard of Chance

The Deluxe Edition

The Deluxe Edition

I’m delighted to say that it was all worth it. Prue Batten’s ‘The Orchard of Chance’ is finally published as a plain (100 copies) and a deluxe (ten copies) edition.

The Plain Version

The Plain Version

I had bought this paper earlier this year, not knowing what I’d use it for. It’s perfect for ‘The Orchard of Chance’.

Three Slipcases

Three Slipcases

I was so dissatisfied at the workmanship on the deluxe editions that I kept starting over, until I realized that I was trying way too hard. My embroidery skills got better on every copy, and the less I did the better they looked. I’ve finally got ten that I think look good.

A Deluxe Copy

A Deluxe Copy

They’re all fundamentally the same, but bound in slightly different fabrics and stitches.

The Interior Binding

The Interior Binding

When I read the manuscript, I was struck, as I always am in Prue’s writing, at how beautiful her descriptions are, especially of clothing, color, scent, and texture. I wanted so much to design the costumes for this story that I decided to use the costume drawings as illustrations.

The Swanmaid's Robe

The Swanmaid’s Robe

Maeve Swanmaid’s description puzzled me until I remembered that in Australia, swans are black!

Adelina the Embroiderer

Adelina the Embroiderer

The story is set in Prue’s fantasy world of Eirie, and if you’ve read those books (and if not, go immediately  to Prue Batten on Amazon) you’ll remember Adelina and the Stumpwork Robe, and they both play a part in this, along with several other (and Other) beings.

The Beginning

The Beginning

They’re up on the website now: the plain version and the deluxe version.

Technical Difficulties

The first deluxe copies. . .

First Attempt

First Attempt

. .  .looked like whipped shit. Too lumpy, too heavy, too overworked, too crowded. I sent the pictures to Prue, and she very generously offered to embroidered the covers for the ten deluxe copies. After picking myself up off the floor (Prue is a genius embroiderer) I decided to muddle through myself, and give up, if necessary, at some future point. So, this was round two:

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

Front

Front

Other Front

Other Front

Window

Window

Other Window

Other Window

Better, but . . .

My problem is that I’m working so hard on this project that I can’t seem to relax and have a good time, and it’s showing up in the work. Every attempt has some little almost-fits, close-enough, it-won’t show, too-large, too-small problems, and with each iteration, they add up. If I’m going to be satisfied with this, I’m going to have to go back several steps and clean up. The glass windows are an example – the fit-and finish will never be right, and I’m not sure they add anything to the magic of the piece. It may just be something I fell in love with and don’t have the guts to throw overboard in order to ride higher in the water.

So I’m taking a few days off to sleep, pull weeds, wrestle with the dog, love on my husband, read funny books, and eat. And have a really good glass of wine.

But to tide you over, here’s the inevitable map:

The Map

The Map

The First Copy!

I made the first copy of the trade edition:

The Front

The Front

The Back

The Back

Which was yesterday. Today I tackled the deluxe copies.

Here’s my plan: to do some decorative beading and stitching on the spine of the books (blush beige silk shantung with an overlayer of iridescent gold net),

Spines

Spines

and bind the rest of the book with the dandelion paper. I slipped the paper labels between the net and the silk, which gives it a very dreamy effect.

Label

Label

Spines Glued to Paper

Spines Glued to Paper

And Cut Out, Next To The Paper

And Cut Out, Next To The Paper

With Contrasting Silk Ribbon

With Contrasting Silk Ribbon

The spines were a bit pinker than the paper (blush beige silk) so I put a green silk ribbon barrier between them – that matches the silk I’m going to use on the slipcases!

The Front

The Front

The Full Width

The Full Width

Then I’ll do a slipcase with more cloth, embroidery, and beads, and insert a vertical glass microscope slide (1″ x 3″, such a handy size as the book is 3″ tall). The front label on the book will be visible through the glass. That way the book can be read without worrying over the beads and such. I’m not sure if I have the strength of character to finish all ten copies of the deluxe-edition book before I try the first slipcase.

 

 

Further Into The Orchard

I had a fierce couple of weeks working on the illustrations for ‘The Orchard of Chance’. I was having so much fun that Prue had to tell me to slow down and have more fun. But here’s what we’ve got so far:

Maeve Swanmaid's Cloak

Maeve Swanmaid’s Cloak

The Mysterious Gown

The Mysterious Gown

The Moonlight Scarf

The Moonlight Scarf

The Stumpwork Robe

The Stumpwork Robe

Adelina's Portrait on the Title Page

Adelina’s Portrait on the Title Page

 

Most of the elements of these illustrations came from paintings and antique and vintage clothing. I’ve bound the first copy of the trade edition (of which there will be 100 copies), and I’m beginning work on the deluxe edition (ten of these – slipcased and hand beaded and embroidered). More pictures of these soon!

Magic Trees

I’m starting on the illustrations for ‘The Orchard of Chance’. I tried to find some magical program or Photoshop action that would turn pictures into embroidery, and ended up with a computer-full of trashware. After cleaning that up, I invented my own.

Ymp Trees

Ymp Trees

(Ymp trees are the Eirie version of pleached fruit trees.)