Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: The North Wind

I posted earlier about a sketch for some embroidered bookcloth and the new fabric I'd bought. The sketch was inspired by the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," and it's of the North Wind blowing the golden apple across the covers of the book. Here are some photos of the embroidered realization of that sketch. :)
Still in the hoop:

The full view. Needs some ironing, doesn't it? This will span from the back cover, over the spine, and across the front cover, blowing that golden apple away.

Here's a close-up. You can only see two kinds of stitching here: stem stitch and split stitch, but I also did a couple lines of chain stitch too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making MtG (or any other card game!) Deck Boxes

I spent the weekend working on deck boxes. They're made to hold Magic: the Gathering decks, but they could really hold any cards you happen to have, including those Pinochle cards you have wrapped in a disintegrating rubber band in your junk drawer.
These are my two test boxes, since I wasn't positive that the measurements were perfect. Good thing, too, because they're definitely not perfect. The first box was made out of my yellow-green and gold vine paper.

There were problems with the hinge, so the lid of the box is a little too high at the hinge and juts out over the front. See?

Not to worry, though. I fixed that problem with my second box, so the hinge is the perfect size.

You can see that the lid isn't raised at the hinge, everything is flush (although the box is open a bit in the picture). The only problem with this one is that in the back, the spine is about 1/16" short. You can see that in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture. Hardly noticeable, but still there. The next one will be perfect.

Even when they're not perfect, I get so much satisfaction out of making something with my hands and seeing the finished product. And just the four boxes I've made show so much improvement.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Once Upon a Time Challenge, and Melissa Nucera

I just joined the Once Upon a Time Challenge (just click on the picture above for the link), reading four books between now (the challenge started on the first day of Spring, March 21) and the last day of spring, June 20. The challenge includes several different levels, or quests. I am doing Quest the Second, to read at least one book from each of the four categories: fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and mythology. It shouldn't be too difficult for me, because that's what I love the most, but I've also added the Short Story Weekends Quest, where I will read a short story each weekend. I will post about it on Mondays. This weekend will be the first.

The challenge is sponsored by a fabulous artist, Melissa Nucera. I looked at her Etsy page, ThisYearsGirl, and I found myself writing stories in my head to go along with her work. In May, when I've got a little extra money, I'm going to purchase one of her prints. I think the piece called Unwritten Tale is hauntingly beautiful. It's the kind of art that you think about for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Warbreaker: How audio book readers can ruin a good story

I'm currently reading three different books at once. When you're me, this happens. I started Path of Daggers, by Robert Jordan first, but we only have the pristine first printing of the first edition copy, which, needless to say, can't exactly be stuffed in my purse to read on the bus or during lunch. So I started reading Anna Karenina, which I am surprisingly enjoying and am quite far into by now. On vacation, we started listening to Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson (he's finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series with Jordan's notes).

I like Brandon Sanderson. His writing is a little overly explanatory and his language often strays into overly formal or absurdly casual, but he tells a good, creative, interesting story and he writes strong, well-developed characters whose good/evil factor is always somewhere in the gray zone. His Mistborn trilogy was phenomenal, and if you even think you might like fantasy, you should read those books. I was excited when Warbreaker came out, but like many bibliophiles, I was already reading four other books and haven't gotten to it until now.

And let me say, the audio book sucks. I'm so disappointed in it. The reader is supposed to be this uber-talented actor-type, so I was looking forward to it, but the reader pauses in the wrong (and distracting) places, reads some characters with a stereotypical dumb surfer voice (no, they're not surfers), puts question marks into sentences where there is only a comma, and drones when he reads Sanderson's frequent explanations of what's going on and how things work. When I picked up the actual book yesterday, I got sucked right in; it's just as good as his other writing.

Brandon, please find another reader to do your audio books!

*As an aside, the readers who did the entire Wheel of Time series, Kate Reading and Michael Kremer, are spectacular, and their interpretation of the inflections, tones, and accents only benefited the story.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anna Karenina: Halfway-through Review

I intended to read Anna Karenina for a book club I really want to join, but I started the book far too late, and although the meeting has passed, I am finishing the book. My partner says it's a terrible book, but I'm actually finding a lot to like. I'll tell you what I think about it, but have you read it? Did you like it/hate it/spend a lot of time thinking but never come to a conclusion?

I read Tolstoy's War and Peace in college, and I really hated it. At the end of the semester, I still had 50 pages left to go, and you know what? The slip of paper I used as a bookmark is still sitting in the book, 50 pages from the end.

In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy does still meander off-course and from topic to topic, some of the dialogue is nonsensical (a character will say one thing, and the character responding will say something on a completely different topic), and there are several storylines. However, since that college course, I've discovered a fondness for plots that involve multiple storylines and characters connected by a single character or a few characters, or even connected only by a single event; stories that show the threads of commonality between people everywhere. There are fewer characters and fewer storylines in Anna Karenina than in War and Peace, so it's easier to keep track of them, and they are also more interesting. I've also developed a respect for Tolstoy's way of diverging from the plot to tell the reader what he thinks about humanity or what other people think about life. It's a truly fascinating read, and I don't regret all the time it will take to read this giant of a book.

I hope I have time after finishing Anna Karenina to read the next book that book club is reading!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sketches for Embroidered Book Cloth

I'm so happy with my productivity yesterday evening! I went to JoAnn for some new colors of fabric to embroider on (it was on sale, so I bought 1/2 yard each of four colors for $4.12 (woohoo!): gray, dark purple, green, and sky blue).

Then I came home and designed a new pattern to stitch on my next bookcloth. Those two vertical lines are where the spine will be, so this design will span the entire cover.

Then I tore apart the last of those magazines I found and salvaged the last of those sweet pictures on the covers and inside. Can't wait to turn those into books and boxes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bookbinding update

In the middle of stitching on Friday evening, my last needle threader broke (it's lasted me for months, so I wasn't that surprised), which put a huge damper on the stitching process. However, I got a ton of other stuff done on Friday evening and got new threaders on Sunday. The weekend was soooo productive! I cut papers and book boards, folded signatures, and stitched and glued textblocks for five books!

I also finished the compass rose, and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I want to get some more colors of fabric to stitch on. Sky blue, leaf green, stormy gray, butter yellow...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: Compass Rose Progress

Just a short progress update on my compass rose bookcloth. This photo was taken on Wednesday, and this weekend, I'm hoping to get the stitching done then cut pages and get the signatures ready for casing in. I'm currently pretty broke, so we'll see if I can afford to purchase some paper to adhere the cloth to.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: A Bibliophile's Craft

Since I took my first bookbinding class, I've been fascinated by the idea of making my own bookcloth. I took up embroidering last year, and something I've been wanting to do is to make a series of embroidered books all centered around a single theme.

I adore fairy tales, folk tales, tall tales, myths, and all their incarnations and reincarnations. They're the inspiration for many of my ideas, and they're the inspiration for this latest one.

The first fairy tale I'm doing is "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." It would be too long to provide a synopsis here, but if you've never read it, I highly recommend taking ten minutes of your time and doing so.

I'm embroidering several pieces of cloth with images from the story. The first image is a compass rose, and I'm working on that one now. After that, some of my ideas are a golden apple, an aspen leaf, a candle dripping drops of tallow, the face of a white bear, and the face of a man combined with that of a bear.

Here's the progress on the compass rose so far:

And a close-up: