Road Trip

October 19, 2008


For some people, and I'm one of them, few words elicit as much anticipatory excitement as "Road Trip." (Said with two LONG vowels and a gradual increase in volume.) And if you do enjoy going on road trips one of the best people to travel with is my friend Linda. First of all she likes to drive so I get to ride shotgun and sketch, eat Mounds Bars, or simply gab away. Second, she arrives with a printed out suggested itinerary of fun and interesting places we can stop (including phone numbers should you have to call while on the road).

There are lots of other reasons to go on a road trip with Linda, all good, but perhaps the best reason is that Linda understands my need to sketch something every so often. I try to not abuse this by sketching very, very quickly.

This Friday we drove down to Winona, MN to pick up a piece of Winona Travertine Linda had ordered from a quarry. The two-foot square slab will top a magazine rack of her design. For people not familiar with Minnesota, Winona is about a 2 hour drive, or so I believe. I don't really know because we made so many stops.

Knowing that we would make a lot of stops on the way down and back, I decided it would be the perfect time for me to take a small test journal I made with Saunders Waterford 140 lb. CP watercolor paper. The journal is only 6 inches wide x 4.25 inches tall. This is one of the papers I'm considering switching over to for both general painting and as a text paper for my visual journals.

Throughout the day I was able to work in the journal with different pens and watercolor and gouache. I liked the way all my favorite tools worked on the paper. I  only found one negative about this paper in the 13 hours that I used it.

When I bind a casebound book, I glue up the spine for extra strength. This keeps the signatures together in a nice, tight book. With some papers, however, when you open a book at this point, where the two signatures meet, the glue doesn't hold. You can open the book at that point and instead of the pages sticking together tightly very close to the spine, the pages delaminate from each other along that edge.

This can happen for a host of reasons. Sometimes there is too much sizing on the paper and the glue can't get into the sheet. Sometimes the paper is too soft on the surface and the fibers simply pull away. Since my working method is constant I don't worry about that as a variable.

With almost all of the papers I currently use for making journals the glue holds not only when I open the book to use it, but continues to hold throughout the life of the book, through many openings.

The Saunders Waterford 140 lb. CP received mixed marks. The space between the first and second signatures pulled apart immediately when I turned to that page. Other joins did so only partially, but if encouraged at all (i.e., a month of use was stimulated with a bit of nudging) I could get them to come apart.

Is this a deal breaker for me? Nope. A few years ago I did a journal using Twin Rocker's Simon's Green Paper: My Ten Days in Wisconsin with Three Bitches. This paper has trouble holding at this stress point. You can see a scan of a separated page in that journal selection. (I was able to solve this issue by using the lightweight version of this paper, also with a different surface set. Twin Rocker uses their own coding to denote surface texture and sheets can have a different texture on each side. I recommend you study their website.)

Sometimes, when I know I'm going to do a lot of collage in a book, besides taking pages out at the start (by cutting pages out but leaving a tab at the spine to hold space at the spine) I will add decorative papers across the gutter where two signatures meet. This holds them together through any heavy use I can deal out. You can see many examples of this throughout my journal selections on my website, but the Before and After Journal provides many examples. A good example is found here.

I still have tests to do with this paper. There are about 6 pages remaining in this small journal. Off and on today I have been working in it with additional tools and methods. I have the dip pen ready next. And I have to try painting portraits of some of the rocks I brought home using gouache. I think, however, that I'm won over. It comes in a 90 lb. CP. I would really like a 90 lb. HP. I'm not finding it anywhere so far.

I have some other sheets of paper I'm testing, all because I don't like the changes made to Fabriano Artistico. If you're looking for a new watercolor paper you might want to try this one out. If you make sewn on the spine bindings this would be an excellent paper (because there is no gluing of the spine to come apart).

At the very least, in a world of changing art materials I'm keeping this paper on the list of possibles. Just an added benefit of going on a road trip. (On a beautiful, 52 degree, fall day, I might add. Take our route down the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. Stop in Alma, WI at the Pier 4 Cafe and Smokehouse for a great pulled pork sandwich and killer fries. Continue along the Mississippi before crossing into Winona on the Minnesota side. If you return to Minneapolis on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi you can stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Continue north to Pepin Heights Orchard in Lake City and stock up on some apples! The Honey Crisp really are the best, besides being our state apple. If you stop at Lake Pepin and go beachcombing be prepared to be shocked by the billions of zebra mussel shells littering the beach. This invasive species has had a disasterous impact on the freshwater river pearl industry. The St. James Hotel in Red Wing has great burgers in Jimmy's, the fifth-floor "pub.")

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz,
    I remember you saying in Danny’s podcast that you have gotten rid of a lost of the traditional aspects of binding a casebound book to come up with the Roz method.
    When you glue the spine do you still place a piece of mull or cloth over the glued area?
    I often dispense with the mull which I find just gooey when covered in glue and use a piece of left over book cloth for the spine. I was thinking the other day that tyvek would work well too (fedex envelopes)

    • Roz
    • October 19, 2008

    Janice, while I do leave a lot of traditional steps out of my binding process, I think backing the spine is critical for strength. I don’t sew the mull into the first and last signatures, which I believe is the strongest way to proceed, but I do use mull as part of the spine backing.

    I work a lot with Tyvek, but not for this purpose. For me and what I try to do on the spine I want something the glue can go through and Tyvek won’t allow that. While Tyvek is very flexible and strong I also have a problem with its slipperiness. But that’s just me. I have lots of friends who use Tyvek to back their spines and aid in the construction of the book.

    If I were going to use it I would definitely use it sewn to the first and final sigs, personal taste, more stability and less slipping. But again, that’s just a matter of taste. And slipperiness can be controlled with patience and careful work habits (I guess I just want to speed through the process).

    Bookcloth would add too much bulk the way I do the spine, but I’ve seen people use it to good effect.

    (Tyvek would be less bulky, but again, I have that taste issue with it for this purpose.)

    I would purchase Tyvek from Talas or some other source and get the light weight version to cut down on bulk if you decide to use it. I wouldn’t use the printed envelopes as I don’t know what types of ink they are using. Seems to me they might not be acid free and that might cause some issues later in the longevity of your book.

    Good luck with your experiments.

  2. Reply

    Roz. I think I should make a rubber bracelet that says, WWRD? Because I actually say those words in my heads, Hey, “What Would Roz Do?” and I come to your site and look things up. This time I looked up Saunders Waterford and came across this article. I mean really! Why the heck don’t you just live down the street instead?

    I have been using SW HP 140lb. paper in my books and like it a lot. I have not noticed my glued text block delaminating, but then, I paint, glue and collage right over my gutters and may be missing an important link. When Jill Berry saw I worked right over the gutter she was floored and gently told me this was not good for hand made books. I am undeterred. I mean, what the heck, a girl has to be who she is, right?

    I did think of you this weekend as I have been fast and furious in knocking out pages, using acrylics and matte medium and… well… a couple of my pages weren’t totally dry and well… I think you know what I am about to say. No I won’t even go there. Suffice it to say that because I am writing a book, those pages now have protective surfaces between them. It was my fault and not the product this time around.

  3. Reply

    Well, Melly, through the magic of the internet I do live down the street! I’m glad you found some TH Saunders Waterford Hot Press!!! They just don’t carry it anywhere local.

    I don’t know Jill Berry, and I don’t know what she does in books (I’m assuming she makes her own?) but you go right ahead and work across the gutter. It’s fine for the book (the only exception being the glue seam area, which I describe above, which can be problematic with some papers—and now you know how to fix it. I have have a video on it!)

    Sorry about the sticking, but it’s hard to not be enthusiastic and work quickly when you’re in the zone!

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