Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Paper cutting and book making

A papercut for one of my short stories

Well, a week off from Mind and Language after National Blog Posting Month felt more like a week on with everything else. Luckily the everything else was creative too, though not all of the kind I enjoy. I have been wrestling with Adobe Indesign for the first time, trying to format my picture book (see the ‘papercuts’ tab above for a couple of images). I knew I could get frustrated with computers, but this took the stress to new heights, not helped by attempting to finish it within the 30 day limit of the software free trial. But, I’ve got something resembling a book, in electronic form at least, though I doubt the next stages will be any easier.

During the E17Arts Trail this year, when over 100 venues opened their doors to the curious, I visited an artists’ studio where they have an ancient traditional printing press. I won’t be able to use that to print from a PDF, but they also have a professional guillotine that can slice through inches of paper (or fingers) in one ker-chunk, and I am hoping they will let me use to cut the edges flush on my picture book. 

While I was there someone also showed me how to hand stitch a slim booklet spine, so I plan to retrieve that memory from wherever I lodged it and do the same. She made it look so easy...

So, my self-imposed Christmas deadline is looking unrealistic, but I’m on course to make my own book, which will be immensely satisfying. I’ve already started paper cutting for the next one, so I need to prove to myself that I can reach a finished product and all those hours with the craft knife will not have been in vain!

In the meantime a couple of my papercuts will be published in an anthology of stories and illustrations, Duality 6, one of them to complement my very own short story which is also in the book. You can see my hopeless attempt to photograph it above; it will be interesting to see how different it looks in print from the excellent photographs my brother took of my paper cuts for my own book. It was such a painstaking process that I intend to document it here fully for the benefit of other papercutters, so watch this space if you are interested in such obscure matters.

Paper cutting is a far more serene activity than it sounds. I imagined it would be horribly stressful – just one slip with the knife and hours of work is potentially ruined (I’m resisting that ‘on a knife edge’ pun), but actually it is so absorbing as to be meditative. In that respect I find it quite addictive and it is a great antidote to writing. I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to thinking in shapes rather than words, and it’s difficult to overcome the urge to make notes and instead start sketching. Still, I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief when this messing about with publishing software and printers is over and I can return to a sheet of origami paper and a craft knife.

1 comment:

  1. I just looked on Amazon at paper cutting books and was surprised there were so many - but was interested also to see that Hans Christian Anderson had been an expert cutter, and it brought back vague memories of a book we had as children with prints of his woodcuts.