I just bought half a Cow and not a steak in sight

Last week I went on a spending spree through the town of Melbourne.

I bought many things, but the most exciting was half a cow. Apparently it was an upholstery cow, who would have thought cows had an affinity to interior decor.

This is the first time I have bought ‘new’  leather,  previous books have been clothed in recycled leather or leather that has come from recycle stores such as Resource Rescue in Bayswater North in Victoria, Australia.

I would highly recommend the adventure. I went to Leffler Leather in  West Melbourne, and was fortunate enough to have someone show me all the different types of leather available. Firstly the leathers are differentiated by the animal lucky enough to have their skin used. Then the differences are  colour, texture, thickness, size and the chemical used.

Being a poor book binder, only just starting out, I went straight for the bargain aisle, admiring more expensive leathers along the way, and there were so many. I went for half a cow cause I would get the best bang for my buck. (no pun intended).

Mildly overpowered by the smell of leather and the fact I was parting with lots of money I chose my cow.  I did not intend to spend so much of my hard-earned money on leather but the minimum purchase was half a hide, so I decided to go the whole hog and get two cow halves, brown and red. The red is a  lovely deep cherry and I have already done one custom order with this leather. The brown leather is one that has had minimal tannery procedures to enhance the leather. You can still see  the skin creases from the cow and it marks easily, but when you apply warmth the marks disappear. This shows the beauty of leather.

I use leather as well as board covers for my books and when they come with me to an outdoor market, I see the organic nature of leather at work. If the market morning is damp, many of  the book pages tend to ripple a little (a subtle version of what happens to a book if you take it in the bath); but not the leather books. The leather acts like a skin around the pages protecting them from the little ravages of life and weather.

It is easy to see why people are enamoured by leather bindings and feel a book is worth more if it is bound in leather, they are always my best sellers.

Here is a photograph of a book made from the Brown Leather I purchased.IMG_5262 (778x1024)


The Day I Made My Own Wormhole

I think I have created a wormhole and am in danger of falling into it. You might well ask how a book binder can delve into such science, and it is because of an app that I discovered. It was not called ‘Make your own Wormhole’ but rather it is a list making app called ‘Wunderlist’.  It seemed to have enough functionality  to appeal to my organisational self so  I downloaded it and that is where my wormhole problems began.

For any list makers out there, take care, this is how it worked.  I made a list of things I needed to make a list about. Then I entered into each item on that list and made a list. But it did not stop there. Upon viewing each item on the sub list I realised i could  refine it by adding  a further to do list. To begin with I thought I may be in heaven but something tells me I may have stepped over the line and am currently on the slippery slope to entering the Wormhole.

I wonder if there are organisational experts already trapped in the wormhole who are frantically making lists to enable their escape while at the same time knowing they are creating their own inescapable tomb.

I leave you with this question, if I succeed in completing something on my to do list but don’t tick it off, did it actually happen?

Five Rules for Using a Blade in Craft

I managed to ruin my thumb a couple of weeks ago when I thought ” I’m only cutting a small line, let’s just cut horizontally”, then…..there was blood, pain and feelings of stupidity as I held my hand towards the sky to stop the bleeding.
I would share with you the wisdom that I myself am yet to accept.

The five rules to cutting anything paper /card using a blade.

1. Always cut down. This means the cut you are going to make should be as vertical as possible in relation to your body. It is easier to cut a straight edge this way and also easier to see what you are

The right way to cut.

The right way to cut.

2. Use a guide, be it a ruler, a plastic straight edge, something the blade can rest against ( I like to use a quilters square because the edge is thick and the area I can rest my steadying hand on is wide). This means there is less chance the knife will jump the edge and attack your hand.

The wrong way to cut.

The wrong way to cut.

3. Make sure your blade is sharp. Sounds a bit silly to suggest having the sharpest blade possible when I am advising of the best ways to retain all of your fingers but there it is. Less pressure will be needed and less repeated runs of the blade if you are cutting thick card.

3. Know where the pressure you are exerting will send the knife/blade if it were to jump the guide and come for you. When you realise the potential trajectory, make sure your hand is not in the way. That way, you’ll only have a nasty slice on your ruler/guide and not on your very precious skin.

I wish you the best of luck with your blades. Feel free to check out the outcome of my blade adventures; my beautiful books- all guaranteed blood free at alchemyboundbooks.etsy.com