Monday, 22 May 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. .... Mark Cockram.... so do books.

 Mark Cockram... and so do books, but books have stories to tell and so much more....
When you want a book to look like a ceramic pot...... Third image.. From left to right.... Book, Pot (ceramic vessel, not the other stuff) and tin can.

Friday, 19 May 2017


The 5 day module has been designed for the artist, graphic designer art printer etc, wishing to engage and work with the book format. Book styles will include single section books, Stub-non adhesive binding, Drum Leaf text blocks and case binding. Depending on the individual student it is expected that the student will make a minimum of 3 books. If a complete beginner then we start with basic formats such as Zig-Zag or concertina books moving on to more advanced structures.
Bricolage bookbinding and book arts
 Contemporary, Creative and Traditional  
Make your own Book cloth
Structures suitable for heavy papers 
The fee of £600 includes all materials, use of 
hand and studio tools and equipment.

The module can be delivered in a 5 day block,
individual days including weekends to suit the
individual student.

For further information please contact MARK COCKRAM

Monday, 15 May 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. Leather paring and respect.

A mixed day in the studio. First there was a gawper (gauper) who shouted through the window "What do you do?"... Their face being less than a foot away from a large sign.... Then followed a reflective 30 minutes. I have worked on the title for the new book and cased the text block in. In the afternoon .. leather paring. It is often said that one of the skills that has to be mastered in book binding is working with leather. I would tend to agree, though I am aware of those friends I have who for them leather is a no go area... I digress. I like leather work, for me it is a blend of understanding and respecting the material, use of the tools and how they are used.. That is was a living animal, that the animal was not just reared for its skin, but for it's milk, hair, meat etc... For example, the tanning of leather is an ancient skill. One also has to respect the tanners for with out them I would have to prepare my own skins for use in my work. And before anyone asks... yes, I have prepared my own skins ..... The knives I use have also been made by artisans. It is a reminder that without the skills of others I would not be able to do what I do. So, this afternoon has been taken up with leather paring. I have wanted to create an under texture from the leather paring.. How and why in a later post perhaps.....

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. Under the skin.

 Though not the binding for Pots Talk, it is an aspect of the work on the bench in the studio.  I really enjoy being able to create my own books, to make the complete work. More about this in later posts.

 I realise that much of the book binders work is never seen as it is hidden, in many cases, under the skin as it were. The Boards have been attached along with the spine piece. A good few hours of sanding have passed to achieve a smooth and seamless finish. Recessed areas to the front and back of the boards have been created by the removal of the sanded surface. I realise this may sound odd.... why waste all that time and energy on to remove most of the sanded area..... Well, for me it is not about what was removed, it is more to do with what remains. By ensuring that the surface was pefect before removal, I can be sure that what is left is as perfect as I can make.

The Swirls of leather (above) will be placed in to the recessed areas of the boards as part of the overall look and feel of the work. I am wanting the textures to play as important part in the is work as the colour and materials.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. Soil from Singapore.

 The three images above give some idea as to the 3 sort of grades or sizes of soil particles I am working with.

Some of the fine particles mixed with an acrylic medium. I am pleased with the wonderful reddish richness of the mix.... however we have to wait and see how it dries..... Please find following an a little bit of the back ground of the soil/mud/clay.....
This soil/mud/clay is from a hill in Sigapore. The name of the hill is Bukit Merah, literally translated as Hill Red (or Redhill)
This area is known for the reddish soil, and legends says that it was the blood of a young boy that stained the soil.
Because the king (or sultan) back then, was very jealous of this young boy. The boy helped to solve the problem of sword fishes attacking the fishermen along the shores. So he suggested to have the trunk of the banana trees put up along the shore, so that the sword fishes will get stuck and then die.
So the Sultan was terribly upset of the boy's success, ordered his men to bring the boy up to the hill and beheaded him. The boy's blood flowed down the hill and thus, making the soil red. Therefore, Bukit (Hill) Merah (red) Once again, thank you Adelene.

Singapore Folklore
 When dry the paint/earth mixture deepens in both texture and colour.  I am so pleased with progress.

First steps in mixing some of the coarser grades with the air dried modeling clay.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. I wonder if books do as well ?

 One of the little seen or even thought about aspect of the sort of work I do is the amount of experimentation I do before I even touch the book. It is not about being different for differences sake, it is more to do with the desire to be honest, to be able to find a solution to the question of design.

 A close up of the fore edge to try to show the textures created by not sanding the edge to a glossy sheen. When sanded, the edge was painted over with titanium white acrylic. The brush lines have been deliberately left.
The front end paper. choosing the correct silks to sew the end band is so crucial. The end bands are one of those "Devil is in the detail" parts of bookbinding.
One of the nice aspects of having students and ex-students dotted around the world is that if I need something......
.... say some soil or clay from Singapore, then I would ask the wonderful Adelene Koh of dddots bookbinding..

Iskandar Jalil. Pots talk among themselves in silent conversations. Mark Cockram. I wonder if books do the same.... or grains of soil.
Soil, stones and Singapore. One of those days in the studio of drying out and sieving soil from Singapore... pretty ordinary really.
 Detail of the Stones and larger grains of sand having had a quick wash. I am just loving the absolute texture and the fanfare of colours. From the humble shard of brick to the multi faceted and coloured grain.
 The soil/clay and the larger material from the 1.3kg package will be used in the final work.  Iskandar Jalil likes to use local clays and materials in his work. I shall do the same. Tomorrow will find me on the banks of the Thames....

Monday, 10 April 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Kembara Tanah Liat ( Clay Travels ) The end papers .... Never throw anything away.

Never throw anything away... All last night I had this thought, something was nagging me about the end papers. In my back eye I kept seeing the end papers but when I looked at what was on the painting surface.  This morning I sat down and looked at the previous days work.

There is nothing wrong with the work but there it was not balanced.  I then looked at what the painting surface had been resting on.

The paper had been one of the papers I had coloured using oil based printing inks. The re-worked with white spirit and left to dry. The results was not what I was looking for... So I used it as a cover to save the work surface from getting paint drips and stuff on it.

I had kept seeing it...... Obvious.

From top left clockwise.... front end paper, back end paper and finally detail.

Exactly what I am looking for.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Kembara Tanah Liat ( Clay Travels ) The end papers half finished.....

 Layer upon layer... texture and more texture.

Now is the time to let everything rest and dry. Tomorrow will see the near final layering and colours with the endpapers made last thing. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished result. I am particularly pleased with progress so far.

Iskandar Jalil. Kembara Tanah Liat ( Clay Travels ) Work starts.

 I have the idea, the theme if you will. My starting point is usually the end papers. The end papers are the joining element of the binding to the text block. I have decided to combine techniques and mediums to achieve the desired effect.
 Jalil's work continues to delight me. The extremes of textures created with the hand, the tool, the clays and glazes blend beautifully.
 These images show the early stages of the end papers. I tend create by layering colour and papers, collage. 
 The full sheet of paper (above)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Iskandar Jalil. Kembara Tanah Liat ( Clay Travels ) New commission.

One aspect of my work that I enjoy is the fact that often I find myself either due to self interest or being encouraged by others or situations to discover new ways of manipulating materials to achieve a desired effect or result. To explore new directions... To find out more. This does not mean that every day throws up challenges that I have to tussle with, no, it is more that I enjoy following the journey as much as I do the end result. Having said that.. I do enjoy a good tussle every now and then.

 One new commission I have undertaken is an exhibition record of a ceramic artist. I have to say that unlike many bookbinders I do not undertake every commission I am offered. Nor do I replicate the same style of binding or decorative technique time and time again. I do not like boring. I also have to like or have some feeling for the book, contents.... there has to be elements that I connect with. I realise it sounds a bit Arty Farty but there has to be an understanding. In short it is easy to see when a binder, artist or book artist has just gone through the motions. No thought, no effort. Such a disappointment.
 One couple that have been commissioning me from my early days have always managed to find the right book for me to work with. I will refer to them as S and P.. they know who they are and I have a sneaky suspicion who is the boss ;-)

So to the commission, perhaps it would be easier for me to provide a link or two. Jalil Wikipedia  Short film.

I hope it is easy to understand why I like find so much to like and why there is so much  scope for stuff to happen and directions to go in and explore.

For the last 2 or so months I have been thinking about the book, what I would like to do with it. The overall feeling I want to go with. My initial thoughts are now becoming more and more concrete.

First to print the end papers.......

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Bookbinding workshop. Manila.

Workshops Progress (Ortigas Foundation Library, Manila. March) In the first image we see the set up of the tools and materials, the workshop leader is making sure all is ok. The 2nd and 3rd images finds us during demonstration mode, concentration and explanation. Image 4 and the cameras are reversed. The fifth image illustrates the little known book binding and book arts move, The Crane. This stance takes incredible skill and is not to be attempted without a safety net.... The day moves on with information on forth coming attractions.. Image 8 is with Jazz hands and certificates of participation. Finally image 9.. My work here is done.
Many thanks to all who took part. Thanks to Clarraine Tonog for the images except number 4... I took that.