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A Case for Ergonomics and Some Paper Fun

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Above: Three journals I made a week ago. The book on the left is made with Gutenberg for text paper. The scraps from making that book were used to make the narrow book on the far right. The center book uses Stonehenge from a new batch I'm testing. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

The other day I received a note from a reader asking why I wrote in a post "when I no longer make my own books." I wrote back explaining that bookbinding can take a toll on your body, especially your back and your hands. Today I wanted to urge all of you to consider the following when setting out on the adventure of binding your own books.

1. Set up your workspace so that your table is the right height (no excessive bending).

2. Set up your workspace so that you are not reaching wide distances to pick up heavy things (a sure way to tear your rotator cuff.)

3. Pace yourself. I have trouble with this one folks. I start a batch of books and then just get carried away and want to finish them all as soon as possible. I'm getting better. Please trust me on this. Break up your work flow into different activities such as tearing or cutting paper, then folding, then sewing, then casing in. Do all of these activities for short periods, taking breaks to rest your back and hands. Repetitive stress is lurking out there waiting to happen.

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More on Schmincke Pan Watercolors

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Above: Another "chart" I made when testing Schmincke pan watercolors in December 2007. I'm mixing new selections with colors already on my palette. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I thought it might be helpful for people to see the other types of tests I put watercolors through when making a selection for my palette, so I have included in this post two additional "charts." I put charts in quotation marks because I am not trying to make a formal, tidy, structured chart for the most part when I do these tests, I'm just interested in blending colors together and seeing what happens. A lot of artists I know take a much more orderly approach to these types of tests and put them into columns and boxes and apply a lot of order. While I love order probably more than the next person I'm happy to just get in there and mix. I think each artist has to do what is most useful to him. (My colored pencil charts are extremely orderly!)

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