Friday, November 13, 2009

Making Your Mark

Do you sign the books that you make? My bookbinding teacher, the late Shereen LaPlantz, taught us how to compose a colophon at the end of our artist's books, giving the reader information about how the book was made, what materials were used in its construction, and other pertinent details such as the names of the typefaces or fonts used in the text. At the bottom of the statement, you'll typically find the number of books produced and the specific number of the book in hand, along with the date it was created and the artist's signature.

This is all well and good if you are making books with content, but what about your unreadable books? Those blank journals and class models into which you've poured many, many hours of labor, don't they deserve your signature as well? As a producer of mostly books without words, I like to think that all work deserves the final mark of the artist's hand. Of course, you can simply pick up your favorite pen or marker and sign your name, but here are a few ways you can add your signature without lifting a pen to give your books a spiffy, if not official-looking, finish.

Rubber stamps. Some of you are accomplished eraser carvers, so you'll have no trouble creating your own design, and you'll have the finished product to work with as soon as you're done carving! If this isn't your cup of tea, go ahead and splurge on your own custom rubber stamp. Every small print shop and office supply store makes these; just create your art in the size you wish and take it in for an estimate, or choose from their stock template designs. If you decide to have a stamp made, it usually takes just a few days. Order it as a stand alone stamp, as opposed to a self-inker, so you can play with lots of different stamp pad colors when you stamp your books.

A company called Expressionary offers a fabulous line of pre-inked round or square rubber stamps with cool designs and type faces. I recently had several of these made, not only for my "signature" stamp but in address stamps for the studio and my summer workshop logo. The service was fast (about a week) and the stamps produce very clean, sharp images.

A friend of mine visited China a few years back, and brought home chops (Chinese signature blocks) for several of us. They are carved into stone, with amazing handles ... little works of art on their own. I love to use these on my Asian-inspired binding projects. If your city has a Chinatown, poke around the shops and you'll probably find a supplier who can make a chop for you.

You can also consider having an embossed image created with your logo. These look great pressed onto the first or last page of a book (I like to use them on gift journals), and you can also use them in conjunction with metallic seals to create fabulous packaging for your books, or to seal wrapping paper around journals given as gifts. Williams-Sonoma, the kitchen shop/catalog, offers a nice range of embossers that you can personalize with one of their graphic elements as well as a good color selection of seals.

If you make fabric books or other cloth creations, why not have some cloth signature labels made to complete these works? Of course, you could make your own with a personal labeling machine that takes iron-on tape, or you can custom design your label with companies that offer lots of sizes and design options for tags and labels. You can find ads for label suppliers in the back of any good quilting magazine; Sterling Label made the labels shown here. Delivery takes a little longer for these products, but it is a very exciting moment when your personal label shows up in the mail.

Enjoy branding your books with your personal marker!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thanks for these wonderful and inspiring ideas!!