Monday, May 11, 2009

Weighty Matters

This is easily one of the most efficient, effective pieces of equipment I have in my studio -- a book cloth covered brick. Bigger than an ashtray, smaller than a book press, the simple brick does as much to make finished work look professional as careful cutting and measuring. Your paper and board projects, especially those that have been glued, can be placed under one or more bricks for several hours and will emerge nicely flattened every time. This is the antidote to those papers that wrinkle terribly when you first apply glue; a little weight, properly applied early on, can do wonders for final appearance.

I have a cart of these in my studio, about 25 in all, so that I always have plenty for myself and for visiting students. The bricks come from the home improvement store; usually under a buck each, or maybe you already have a stack in your garage. Be sure to use only the smooth, solid ones, not the ones with holes in the center or grooves cut into the outer edge. I cover the bricks with unlined book cloth (no paper on the back) but you could also use the lined version. Book cloth is preferable to paper, as you'll be placing the bricks on damp surfaces which may damage a paper covering. You'll need a hefty portion of PVA for the job, along with a wide (1 1/2") inexpensive paintbrush and a pair of scissors.

Treat the brick as if it is a package you are wrapping, and cut the book cloth accordingly. Apply a lavish amount of PVA to the cloth as you wrap--the brick absorbs an incredible amount of moisture, and will soak up more glue than you might expect.  Instead of folding and overlapping the two short ends of the "package," cut from the edge of the cloth to the brick at each of the four corners, then glue on the resulting four flaps one layer at a time. Your brick will be prettier if you arrange for the cut edges of cloth to end at an edge of the brick.

Allow your newly covered bricks to dry overnight before using them to press projects. You can turn them to expose another surface every hour or so to speed up the drying process.

Be sure to wrap any project you place under brick weights in a waxed sheet before you apply the weight. If your project is larger than one brick, just put another one (or more) side by side to cover the full surface. For thicker projects, you can stack bricks two layers high. On slow days, when nothing needs to be pressed, place one weight in each hand and repeat: lift left, lift right, lift both -- get those endorphins flowing so your creative juices will return!

I have a field trip tomorrow! 


  1. I've got to go and buy some supplies!! I need bricks and lots of them!!! And a day trip to the art store~~~like I need an excuse!!! Blessings, Deborah

  2. Just found your blog (hooray!) and think this is a FANTASTIC idea. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Can't justify the expense of a "real" book press, so I bought the parts to make one. It's all in the garage, waiting for me to get busy, but I'm thinking this will be more fun, colorful and easier. Thanks again. I'm thrilled. Happy day to you and yours.