collecting and collections are things i have become ambivalent about in the last few years. as a child and well into my teenage years i was an avid collector of many things including:

-rocks and minerals
-foreign money, mostly coins
-fairy tale and victorian paper dolls
-stamps (sort of)
-porcelain figurines (mostly disney)
-books (ongoing, especially children's chapter and picture books)
-embroidered vegetables (ongoing)
-vintage dresses (possibly ongoing)
-voices/sounds (on pause, but ongoing)
-pez dispensers
-fall leaves
-old bottles
-old keys (never succeeded. just really wanted to)
-christmas tree ends (the part you slice off before putting the tree in water. smells so good!)
-maps/inserts from national geographic
-3-D puzzles (not as much, but i'd still like the Eiffel tower and the tower bridge)

for awhile, especially between the ages of about 11 and maybe 16, or through the end of high school, i was an enthusiastic thrifter and a lover of all things old. when amanda and i went to england at the ages of 15 and 13 respectively, going to antique stores to look for old keys was high on my list of priorities (along with riding on a train, which we did plenty of). i'm pretty sure that this inclination towards old culture and old fashions stemmed partly from my insecurity with fitting in to the mainstream, popular trends my peers enjoyed. there was safety (and also nerdiness) in being knowledgeable about and aware of something nobody else was. deliberately not fitting in was easier.

but it went deeper than that, as i am still a lover of many things old. it's interesting to see how that bent has played out in my life today (studied history, now work in archives repairing old books, love of old movies and old popular culture). but somewhere in there i stopped collecting. strangely (and happily), i didn't become the aimless, lifetime packrat i was well on my way to becoming. i became more interested and secure in bringing myself up to date and being more aware of the present. i also became interested in simplifying life and my surroundings. i have by and large stopped accumulating things, even books, but i still constantly battle with myself about what's important to own or not.

eight years ago i began working in libraries and also pursued museum work for awhile through classes and volunteering. my personal ambivalence about collecting transferred over to these institutions and their collections and collection development policies. right away i caught on to the conflict between missions to preserve and too much collecting; this conflict fueled my own ambivalence. i began to see how collecting could get so out of control and so aimless that things could not longer be preserved and stored properly.

having recently returned to thrift and antique stores as well as the library book sales, i feel i have run into my past self. and yes, for those of you who have met her before, it is largely my 8th-grade self. i don't know if it's because i've stopped being a ridiculously poor and insanely busy bookbinding student or because i've renewed friendships with collectors and others who love old things or because as a bookbinder i can find tools in antique stores now. don't know.

what i do know is that my love-hate relationship with the stuff that makes up our collective and individual pasts persists and intensifies. i also know that collections with clear focus and the intent to teach and shed light on past and present people, ideas, and cultures are the most relevant and ones i want to support and even build for myself.

i'm not sure what the fate of my old collections will be. i wonder if a time will come when i just want to throw it all out. the "love" and nostalgia kind of hope not--it's always fun to dig through those boxes, and it would be fun to show my kids. the "hate" and desire for simplicity hope otherwise.

we shall see....



The Land of Oz, the second in the voluminous Oz series, has a great, great twist in the end. this book was so imaginative, comical, and delightful to read. unique and unexpected characters. and, like i said, a fantastic twist that leads the book so easily into the next sequel. i can't wait to get started. Ozma of Oz here I come.


from the diaryland: fam and food

last re-post, i promise. too good to pass up. plus, it's appropriate because part of the reason i'm a reluctant bookbinder is because i would like to have more time and energy to spend on food--growing it, cooking it, baking it. (not books. you can't do any of those things to books)

but anyway, here's some old thoughts in hyperbole from december 2005.

food, 12.18.05

every single child and in-law in my family is truly obsessed with making, talking about, and eating food. our family gatherings are built around food, and not one goes by without some lengthy but fascinating discussion and analysis of delicious food eaten out or delicious food prepared at home. even today when only john and mom and i were sitting at the dining room table, we were still discussing food--fondu, sushi, and some swiss cheese thing! and just a little while later, mand called specifically to discuss the best way to melt baker's chocolate for moosewood brownies (in the microwave) and whether or not she should add the cinnamon. i then told her about a delicious pumpkin curry soup and about the greatest breakthrough in christmas-cookie frosting ever made that was happening right then and there in our kitchen! our entire conversation consisted only of food! and then we hung up. food is one of the flam's biggest connecting points. our best and most memorable times together are always around the table, in the midst of delicious concoctions and surrounded by each other's good company.

from the diaryland: an old dream brought back to life

tonight i have been reading diaryland entries from this time of year three years ago. i love reading old journal entries, especially my online ones, which tend to be more interesting (likely the effect of knowing there's the immediate audience of friends). i love seeing what's changed and what's the same.

anyway, this made me laugh so hard, that i thought i'd repost it here (especially since no one has access to "thebid" anymore).

dream, 12.13.05

umm. in my dream this morning i seem to remember crystal and kari and i were entering I-15 southbound from I-80 westbound in a canoe. yes, a canoe. for some reason the canoe was tipped up almost vertical and kari tumbled from the front (the top) all the way to the back, almost tumbling all the way out.

how she tumbled past crystal or me without taking us with her, i'll never know.

why the canoe was tipped upright while entering a highway full of speeding cars, i'll never know.

where the canoe came from in the first place is a huge mystery.

where crystal and kari came from....even huger!


A Birthday Story For Biddy, Love, Ellis

(for those of you who don't know, Ellis is my three-and-a-half-year old niece. she lives and writes in China)

Now, this story is about my bears. And the mice come over, and they make pies and books, and they celebrate winter.

Now, Melissa Bear was looking for somebody. She lived all alone.


"Oh, bother," thought Melissa, when she heard the noise. She had bumped her elbow when the noise surprised her.

"Knock, knock. Ding, Dong!" It was Angelina. She was standing outside on the front porch. She had bumped her elbow, too, and that's why she squeaked.

Now do you know what? Melissa Bear opened the door. It was not just Angelina. It was Norman, too. He's Angelina's friend. Then all the other mice came. Mickey and Minnie, Dame Mouserink and Mousekin.

Meanwhile Teddy, Zero-unheart Bear, Honeydew, Bearymore and Heart Bear came down the stairs. It so happened for them that they were celebrating wintertime. Of course Melissa's birthday is in wintertime, on Christmas. Melissa Bear was excited to open presents even though it wasn't her birthday yet. It was only the middle of December. Some presents were wrapped, but she didn't know which present was for her. But Bearymore knew. He had wrapped all the presents up and tied them with a ribbon. And then he hid them under the Christmas tree. Now, meanwhile, Melissa dreamed about her birthday—that after they had had cake and ice cream and birthday soup, they would open the presents. In her dream, Melissa knew which one was for her.

All the mice and bears wanted to go outside to celebrate wintertime. So they went outside. But they accidentally got lost. It was a little bit cold. The only flowers they found were pansies. Princess Biddy finally found them, and when she found them she said,

"What are you guys doing out on a night like this?" So they got all in a row with Biddy at the end. "Hold my hand guys," she said. Two of them, mice, held her hands. Soon they came to a bright red door in a white fence. So they knocked and ding-donged. They wondered who lived there. Suddenly they heard a noise upstairs. They crept up the stairs and tip-toed quietly. Melissa Bear was quite scared. But actually they realized it was just Mowgli the rat. This was his house and it was just in the middle of the forest. Princess Biddy had shown them where he lived. Princess Biddy was a friend to rats.

Everyone ran back downstairs. Mowgli knew it was Princess Biddy's birthday. He was in the middle of making cheddar cheese pies. He showed them how to sprinkle apples over. Melissa started to bake a cake. She put the candle sticks on and lit the candles, because she was making a birthday cake. It was Princess Biddy's birthday! The animals sang happy birthday. The song was a little bit pretty.

Melissa Bear started making books, because of course Biddy had taught her how a couple weeks before. Now she was making a special one. First she chose some colors—blue and pink. She made the cover pink and inside the pages were blue, and the picture was blue also. It was a fairy tale book for Biddy because it was her birthday. Biddy was very surprised.

"Thanks guys," she said.

Everyone got to stay the night.

That was the end of the story.


from the lab: the springback lives!

the moment we've all been waiting for, the culmination of the last 8 or 10 weeks obsession with the springback binding. my interest began because there are zillions of springback account books in the church archives. i've been examining them and wanted to learn how to make them (also in hopes that i would learn how they might be repaired).

so the springback binding came into being around 1799. it's a binding style developed for account and ledger books. the book literally springs open and lies flat. as you can imagine, it's imperative that an account book stay open, and if it doesn't open flat, the accountant can't write all those important little numbers way into the gutter, wasting as little paper as possible.

the most prevalent styles (if not the only) are, as usual, German and English. i have now made models of both and am now just realizing that i've forgotten photos of the lousy excuse for a german springback binding i made a month ago. anyway, see below for some illustrations of the process, and check out the link in the "favorite book structure" section on this blog.

1. construct endsheets. these are cool new endsheets i've never made. they consist of made fly leaves (i.e decorative paper laminated--or glued--to one of the endsheet leaves) with a cloth fold (the red)........

and a strip of cotton along the back of the fold for extra strength.

2. After cutting, folding, pressing, and trimming sections, and sewing them on four linen tapes (those googly strips of cloth dangling from the book's spine), i squared up the book and glued up the back with gelatin. gelatin is animal glue. you heat it in a double boiler. it's delicious. joke. it's just a fact of bookbinding.

3. Once glue is set but not totally dry, chop the head, tail, and foredge of the book so it has clean edges. in fine binding and most other binding i've done, this trimming has been accomplished by ploughing (shaving off the uneven edge with this blade set in a contraption) or trimming beforehand. with this binding--which would have been produced en masse in a trade bindery--i wanted to keep things authentic and do what they would have done. so to the guillotine we went, and in three swift cuts, the deed was done. i love the guilltoine. this particular one is from palmyra, ps.

4. I forgot to take photos, but the next step would be to hammer some round into the book while the gelatin is still relatively flexible. The springback is unique in that it is only rounded and not backed. You'll notice later on that the folds have not been knocked over. an astute bookbinder's eye will also notice that i did not leave enough swell in the the sewing for a good round. Springbacks were typically overrounded. not mine.

5. So here pictured is the first part of the "spring" of the springback. it's that buff-colored piece of cardstock glued there. it acts as the lever for the spring.

6. i forgot. i did also paint the edges after chopping them and rounding the book. seeing as i was in trade binder mode, i did a half-baked job (which i'm not supposed to do) and didn't sand properly. more typically the edges were painted green.

7. the sewing tapes are glued to the cardstock "lever", the waste sheet that the "lever" was glued to is folded back over the cardstock and glued there, and a leather lining is glued to the spine of the book. the leather lining is a wonderful thing. it is one of the few compressible spine lining materials. but i'll spare you the mechanics of the spine. i'm obsessed with it, but i'm pretty sure those of you reading this aren't.

another view of lever and linings......and lack of round. you'll also notice that the edges aren't painted yet. they should have been, but i did them later, which was very difficult with this thick flap. but that's another story.

8. the tragedy. see those notches that are cut out? i wasn't supposed to cut them all the way off. oh well. i guess "the tragedy" should not be a step in the process. one shoudn't plan on tragedies in bookbinding. actually......maybe it's more realistic if you do.

9. the spring! i loved this part! i mean, when will you ever get to use a broom for bookbinding?! the spring in the springback is layers of paper glued together and then wrapped around a round dowel about the same as the spine and let to dry so it will keep the shape. historically, the spring was sometimes metal. in the german style, they build the spring onto the back. it's kind of like a cast. so the spring is under the ace bandage, waiting to emerge.

the spring born at last. the cotton lining is what i used to attach the spring to the book. this is the inside of the spring, just so you know.

10. ten steps later, the spring has been attached, followed by the boards. the boards consist of a thick board and a thinner cardstock. that big flap gets glued between them. for those of you who know, it's the same as a split board. the pencil lines mark where the leather will go. i also glued false raised bands on the spine to create that classic look. everyone loves those bumps on the back of a book. well, it's also what the trade binder would have done and did do.

here's a close up of the spring and the edge. the edge of the spring is supposed to form headcaps, but it was thick and uncooperative. you an also see the second, thinner cardstock board.

11. paste on the leather spine and corners. then i filled the cover in with cardstock the same thickness as the leather. the leather is only edge-pared for maximum strength. again, it's an account book. it's gotta survive super heavy use.

12. after letting the leather dry overnight, i covered the rest of the book with cloth, let it dry, and then glued down the decorative endsheets and let them dry. then it was time for tooling. a straight line gets tooled along all the edges where leather meets cloth. oh boy, did it feel good to have that finishing tool in hand again after five months!

the book in the finishing press, awaiting tooling along the false raised bands

.......uhhhhhhh..........ridiculously, i have realized, i have neglected to produce "finished" photos. so stay tuned for the final installment of Springback: A Story of Obsession

at least i'll say this has been a fantastic project. it's so rewarding to work on an historical binding structure but with actual examples close at hand to aid in making things accurate and authentic. it's also an enormous challenge to teach oneself a binding from written directions only. takes a lot of patience and reading and re-reading and frustration. nevertheless, i definitely plan on making more of these soon.