THE MAKING OF THE SWAMP RAT BOOK - IN DETAIL

THE STORY
Any difficulty with writing the story came from wondering
what could be left out, rather than what should be put in.
I have been observing the swamp rats daily for three years now
and never cease to be grateful for the opportunity to watch one or other of them
having their breakfast outside our window while I have mine inside.

I try to design my books around the subject, making all aspects of the book relevant.

THE HANDMADE PAPER FOR THE COVERS
The swamp rats live among the native tussock grasses on the north side of the house,
so it seemed appropriate to make some of the paper from these.

 

A large clump of grass was cut and then chopped up into 2cm pieces until I had a
solidly packed half a bucket of fibre.
After soaking for several days to soften the fibre, the grass was cooked in a stainless steel pot
on the rock outside my papermaking room for several hours,
with the addition of soda ash to help to break up the fibre.
When cool, it was rinsed several times and then put through a blender a handful at a time.

The sheets of paper were formed western style using a mold and deckle,
couched (turned out) onto cotton cloths until a stack of 10-15 sheets were done.

The stack was then pressed between boards using a hydraulic press.

While still damp, the stack of paper was removed from the press and the sheets
separated and hung individually,
still on the cotton cloths, until dry.
If I had wanted the sheets to be flat, I would have given them a second pressing,
but I wanted them to stay a bit crinkly and 'grass-like'


The kangaroo paw paper used for the cover was made the same way,
but had a second pressing to lie flat for gluing to the book boards.
 

THE TEXT PAGES
After the text pages were printed they were soaked for several hours in a strong tea liquid.
As I didn't want a consistent colour, some pages were put into the liquid so that they would
lie on top of another and thus develop light and dark patches.

When sufficient depth of colour had been achieved, the pages were laid out to dry,
before being folded ready for binding.

THE COVERS
The boards for the covers were cut from acid free board and the kangaroo paw paper was
glued using a 50/50 mixture
of bookbinders EVA glue and wheat paste,
with the addition of a few drops of oil of cloves. Placed under pressure until dry.

THE SPINE
Strips of Tyvek were cut to size and marked where holes would need to be punched
for the spine stitching.
Also marked for placement of the cover boards.
The Tyvek strip was then glued to the suede with 100% EVA bookbinders glue.
The boards were placed and glued and the suede spine
wrapped top and bottom to meet on the inside cover.
Placed under pressure until dry.

PHOTOGRAPHS
A strip of acid free tape was fixed to the top edge of each photo,
which was then attached to the text pages
.

BINDING
Each of the three sections was wrapped in an A5 sheet of grass paper.
A previously marked template was placed inside each section and supported by a sewing cradle
while holes were punched with an awl.
This particular binding was done with a thread with a needle on each end.

For any queries, please email Cecilia

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