Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Book-cloth (again)


I've made book-cloth before using fusible web to back the cloth with paper. This is a different method.

The cloth is a light cotton fabric that I found in a rack of swatches at Spotlight — probably intended for quilting or something. They're 600 x 450 mm, sufficient to cover a couple of A5-ish books, or one A4-ish.

I lay it out flat on a polypropylene sheet, and then use a spatula to drive a 50/50 mix of acrylic medium and 4% methyl cellulose paste through the weave, right across the whole surface of the piece. 

Then I turn the fabric over, smooth it out again on the polyprop sheet, and with a wide, flat brush I brush more of the paste/medium mix across the whole surface. You can see the brush marks reflecting in this photo.

The paste mix glues it to the backing sheet, but it won't stick to the polypropylene and can be peeled away after it's dried.

When it has dried thoroughly, I'll peel it off the poly backing sheet, roll it up loosely, and put it away ready for later use. The paste mix forms an impermeable barrier so the cloth can be glued to boards without the glue striking through the weave of the fabric. It also provides a measure of protection for the cloth from dirt and grease, and makes it easier to clean.

This process can alter the tone of the colours of the printed cloth, usually darkening them somewhat. That's something to be aware of, and if it is crucial that the colours be maintained, it would probably be better to use the fusible web and paper method.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

New Sketch Book


Because I don't already have too many empty sketchbooks, I felt that I really should buy this one.

It's soft-bound, stitched 16-leaf signatures of 90gsm laid paper, with the signatures alternating between bright white and ivory (cream) coloured paper. It has 192 leaves, 155 x 205 mm.

The cream-coloured sheets are dark enough that three-tone drawing would work well, but not dark enough to be overwhelming.

The paper is fine for drawing on, being fairly smooth but with an adequate tooth, but it is really too light for wet media. Its surface is okay, but it does cockle quite a bit with moisture.

It's a very convenient size to slip into a bag, or even a (fairly large) pocket.

I quite like it, though I'd like it better if the paper was heavier — say 110 to 150 gsm.

I like the format of this book. It feels a bit more spacious than an A5 book (though in fact it's pretty similar in size), but is more compact and convenient to carry around than an A4. I could wish the paper was a bit heavier, but at least it's of good quality.


Copic Multiliner 0.3mm and watercolour wash.

The paper accepts watercolour well enough, but it is really too light for liquid media, and it cockles quite a bit.

Faber-Castel 14B pencil.

I'm not enthralled with it as a graphite support. It's not terrible.

The light weight of the paper means quite a bit of show-through from the page below.

Copic fibre-tip pen and Faber-Castel coloured pencil.

It's okay for this sort of thing. Nothing special.

Dip pen and indian ink.

The paper really excels for this medium. The paper surface is quite hard, and doesn't grab at the croquil nib the way that softer papers can, and the pen leaves a very clean, controllable line. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Dip Pens


I really like the line created by a dip pen.

My favourite of these four is the second from the right; my least favourite is the right-most one.

The one on the right is made from stainless steel I think, and it's quite stiff and unresponsive. The other three are made from very thin, springy carbon steel, and they'll give me a beautifully fluid and variable line.

They take a bit of getting used to for anyone used to drawing with, say, modern fibre-tipped pens or the like. The croquil nibs are very sharp, and will dig into the paper at the least excuse. If the tip catches, the springy steel releases very suddenly and can spatter ink a surprisingly long way. They require a very sensitive and delicate hand, and unlike a ball-point pen, they can't just be scrubbed around in any old direction.

I've had these pens for years, and I love them, but the nibs aren't immortal. They do wear out. And I know remarkably little about them as a class of tool, so if I have to replace them I'd really be flailing in the dark a bit.

I think the one on the left is a Speedball Hunt nib, but I couldn't swear to it. The second one to the right has 66 (or maybe 99, but I'm pretty sure it's 66) engraved on its barrel. What that means, I have no real idea.

Next day...

I had a go at making a holder for my favourite croquil nib from a fragment of oak. It works well and feels good in the hand, though I think I was a bit timid about thinning down the tail — that could go a little further.

The nib is held in place in its 6mm hole by a short oak plug. It's pretty firm. I bored the hole a bit too deep, which made getting the nib in the right place more troublesome than it needed to be; in future I'll measure the length of the nib's barrel before I bore the hole.

Buying a commercial version of this thing would be about ten bucks, which means that making my own isn't exactly fiscally viable if I was charging minimum wage for my own time. However, it is satisfying.

Horses For Courses

Output —
my hands aren't as steady as they once were

Right to left:
Hunt 101
Speedball 99
Speedball C-5
Speedball D-5

It goes without saying that different nibs give you very different results. The two croquil nibs (the 101 and 99) are very similar, with just a difference in average line weight. The C-5 provides much less line weight variation, though there is a little. And the D-5, with its disc-end, gives a very heavy and consistent line, varying only because the disc on the end of the nib is oval, not round. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Hand Rails


I made this pair of hand rails for the steps up on to some friends' verandah, so that their 90-some year old Dad can get up and down without toppling into the garden.

They're just treated pine, and they'll be painted. Eventually.

The one on the left will also have a grab-rail mounted on it; I haven't yet fully decided how that will be achieved. A few galvanised plumbing fittings and a length of threaded pipe will probably do the trick, though it wouldn't be all that difficult to do in wood either.