Friday, July 24, 2009

Cool Guys

I love watching husbands/boyfriends helping their best girls succeed in the Makin' Stuff business. I'm honing in on the helpful dudes because most of the crafters I've met, or am stationed by at the market, are women. (I'm sure there are helpful wives/girlfriends too.)

At every event I see partners set up displays, deliver lunches, and even help run the business. One vendor told me her boyfriend quit his job to help with her full-time craft gig. Another lady's husband shows up at 7:30 a.m. on market days to assemble her booth, and again at 3 to take it down. Even if they're just picking up cornstarch for a certain glue recipe, I think it's fantastic how these guys support their partners' endeavors. Three cheers for you, cool guys.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Homemade Glue

I made my own glue a few days ago, something I never planned on doing in life...turns out it's not only possible, but kind of important if you want your books to survive in a nasty world.

So this first batch looks like porridge. I don't know what it's supposed to look like. It was hard to find a glue recipe online; I thought the internet could help you make anything, geez. Anyway, I did some experiments, and the paste worked surprisingly well! Impressive stuff, really -- and it's only cornstarch and water. Crazy! You could eat it if you wanted to.

So why bother, you ask? Because all the other kinds of glue I've tried can't take much abuse. Abuse from the weather that is -- humidity is hell on paper/glue combos and causes book covers to ripple and bubble. Not that people keep their journals outside, but I want to make the books as durable as possible. Then someone told me that ripples and such don't happen when you have just the right paste, and you can make it yourself. Plus it's difficult to acquire...not many places sell "bookbinder's glue". Fabulous thing is, homemade glue is really cheap and really green -- no chemicals here. The books smell like potatoes, fancy that.

But I'd love to hear from someone who knows what they're doing. Got any tips -- better yet, recipes? Seriously, is it supposed to look like that?

A Note About Vinyl
A reader asked me about the vinyl books I made, whether the vinyl contains PVC -- a normally very toxic chemical compound. Here's an update: the vinyl is a PVC product, but it's a biodegradable version that, when decomposing, does not release any VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). And bonus: the inks used are an eco-friendly, corn solvent-based product.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Make It + Handmade Nation

Of all the ways to Stick It to The Man, makin' your own stuff is my favourite one.

This Saturday the 18th there's the Make It craft show at the TransAlta Arts Barn -- and there's a reason behind this event besides the selling of crafts. Make It celebrates the premiere of Handmade Nation, a documentary about the growing popularity of buying and selling handmade goods (or the Makin' Stuff Movement, as I've just now decided to call it). Here's a blurb I found about the film:

"Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos...Participants in this community share ideas and encourage ment through websites, blogs, boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs. Together they have forged a new economy and lifestyle based on creativity, determination, and networking."

As for the Make It sale, it's "not your granny's craft show," as a the website puts it. The Make It sale boasts a live band, a wine bar, and trendy/quirky crafts that especially appeal to hipsters and artsy folk. You'll definitely find cool, original stuff here! Show up between 10 and 5, and later at 8 for the movie. Visit their cool-looking website for more info:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm trying a new thing, which is vinyl book covers. This is instead of paper, which usually decorate Sushi's handmade books. The designs on the covers are done by me, and this particular line of books is on the quirky side. The pages inside are still 32lb text with a smooth finish. However, the pages are lined and have design elements the reflect the cover. The books measure 5"x 7", nice and compact.

The vinyl is quickly growing on me because it's so durable -- I don't have to stress so much about spilling on or scratching the cover. These can take a lot more abuse than the paper ones, which is ideal when you can't leave your home without jamming a few notebooks in your bag like a writerly klepto. Plus, doing my own designs is an interesting break from using paper swatches designed by other people. They boast some really rich colours, thanks to some expert printing.

If you'd like to meet one, come see me at Edmonton's downtown farmer's market on Saturday, July 11, or at the Make It sale on Saturday, July 18. (More about that cool event later!)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kids Making Books!

I'm normally about as comfortable around kids as a birthday pinata. Then my friend asked me to teach some of them a craft, as kids camp activity. Scary as that sounded, I agreed to build some character (mine) and teach them how to make books. Because that's what I know! What I didn't know is that these particular kids are extremely capable with scissors and fun to hang out with. Here's what tomfoolery occurred.

To be specific, we made made "chapbooks", which are small books with just one signature (one folded stack of pages). The pages and cover are held together with a really simple stitch. Anyway, after presenting the kids with a mess of offcuts and oddball-sized papers, I had them go to town decorating the book covers. We had quite an age range, from tots to preteens, but they all held their own, even the small ones! I only helped with stitching, really. And word spellings. The result was some neato books, some with their destiny already chosen; one kid announced that his book was for "jokes and feelings." Awesome.

Time flew by -- pretty much incident-free, no less! Many thanks to my husband, who was my designated helper. Without him being around to supervise I'm pretty sure somebody would have lost an eye/caught fire. Not really, but he did fetch extra supplies and make the kids laugh. Thanks baby!

I brought the stuff, but these guys brought the fun. Oh, but I did not bring snacks, as the little girl with the tiara pointed out. Oops, next time. Because I might actually do something like this again! Maybe.

Have you guys ever done a craft with kids? Any tips for smooth crafting?