Monday 31 December 2007

New Year

Studio 5 would like to wish everyone a good New Year.

Saturday 29 December 2007

Not only blue but red also

Slightly bigger and red

I promise to get back to books and stuff soon.

Friday 28 December 2007

As Promised

As my camera and mac have now been joined together I am able to give you (as promised) something that is horny and a little blue.

Sunday 23 December 2007

In frozen Lincoln

Back up to my home city, tourist free Lincoln.

No work, no more running around, rest for a few days.

The Burning question, did I have the Horse meat ? YES and I have to say that I liked it. For all of us with delicate stomachs please do not read the following words...... it was raw, it was top.
Regular readers will be pleased to know that my camera has returned from India and when I get the thing hooked up to the mac I will be able to share with you some very horny images.... some of them a little blue.

The main reason why I was in Japan was to give a two day workshop in Arts and Crafts style, limp vellum binding. First I Had to print the text block.

First, as much of the work I do, was the research. As the work shop was to coincide with an exhibition of the work of William Morris and the Kelmscott Press, I wanted the finished work to have the flavour of the Arts and craft movement, not to slavishly copy it.

Once I had decided on the feel and the look I began to set the type, organise the pagination. This may sound simple but it can take some time, each individual letter has to be placed in the correct place, plenty of proofs to ensure that the balance is correct, I could go on but you may find it a little tiresome.

The Forme is loaded into the Adana ready for a final proof.

Okay so far. I had wanted to include a Lino cut for the frontispiece, an image of Morris. This is where I had to imagine if Morris, were he alive today, if he would have used the computer to aid his work ? I would like to think that he would have, not to manipulate or to use directly, more as part of the creative process.

After pulling an image from the Internet and bunging some software at it, I reversed the image and ran it through my trusty photo copier.

By rubbing cellulose thinners on the back of the photo copy I transfered the image onto a sheet of lino.

I was then able to start to cut away the lino. There is something very reassuring about the lino cut. The direct nature of the work, where you are in control, that every mark you make will be reproduced.I used the transfered image as a guide, however I chose what to leave, what to take away. This was the fun part.

Making the lino Type High would enable me to put it into the Adana, thus speeding up the print run. Again proofs had to be taken.

Once happy, the paper was cut and the graft began.

In total 31 copies were printed, There was more printing than shown here, a lot more.
There is much to be said for type set and simple printing techniques. The control, the smell of the ink, the skill in getting the pressure of the press correct, the ink mix, the choice of paper. All of this and more has to come together at the same time.

I am not a printer, but I love it so much (it is also a bit addictive).

Friday 21 December 2007

Back in the studio for a few hours

Having just got back from Japan I must apologise for not being in touch. The last few days were spent in the most charming Ryokan with no opportunity to update the Studio 5 Blog. If I am to be honest with you I did not really feel in the mood as I am now just learning to relax.

Friday 14 December 2007

Peripheral vision or when food looks back

Feeling much refreshed I feel that I am now able to describe my meal for you.

After wandering around the centre of Fukuoka looking for a suitable place to eat, we happened upon a sushi restaurant. We had been unable to find anywhere we liked the look of as any likely eating venues were full. We entered and asked if there was any room....Yes (in Japanese) but only at the counter, we agreed readily.

Now, let me explain some of the subtle nature of a good sushi restaurant. For groups of people who wish to talk with each other and have their food delivered on beautiful platters by Kimono wearing waitresses and have their drinks poured for them, two styles of room are made available.
The first is the western style, sit at a table affair with wonderful decor, full air con, flowers and you get to keep your shoes on. The second is the more traditional approach, tatami mats (which one must de-shoe to walk on), exquisitely thin cushions,sublimely simple decor and a low table of about12 inches, 30.5 cm for our metric friends, high. For those who have travelled with British Airways this will pose no problem. (I must learn to let go) Again there is table service.
The third option is the counter. The counter is best described as the Bar in an English pub. It is were the locals eat sitting on high chairs, enter into meaningful discourse after a drink or two. The Chefs hold court, passing on the wisdom of the sages of old, deftly preparing fresh food with knives that are outlawed in many countries.

One of my favourite foods is Squid. I love the taste and the texture. I asked if the chef if he had any squid as I was unable to see any in the chilled display cabinets that sit on the counter top, one is able to see the chef choose the best cut of sushi for you, you as the diner can also see what is available and have the benefit of being able to see true artists at work. The chef said he would check on the situation for me. I found this strange as I was sure that the chef would have been able to check the availability with a brief glance. He reappeared and said that he had one left and would I like it ? silly man, of course I wanted it.

There followed what I will only be able to remember as a Tommy Cooper moment. Sporting gloves and a bright orange, children's fishing net, he removed the top of a huge fish tank that I had failed to notice. The squid had seen all of its friends disappear in said fishing net and was having non of it. After a hunt that was a little one sided the chef eventually bagged my squid, much to the delight of the well versed and appreciative audience.

There then followed much knife wielding and artistic display with sea weed and choice of plate and with little fan fare (the true artist needs little or no fan fare) my squid was placed in front of me.

As I began to savour the freshness of the meat, the subtle tastes and textures, I perceived a movement on the outer limits of my peripheral vision.

The squid was still alive or at least the nervous system was in operation. The tentacles moved in automatic response to being touched,the part of the squid I had been eating was skillfully detached from the 'live' bit. This brings a whole new meaning to the words 'Fresh Fish'.
Now some may find this sort of thing bad, forgive me, I enjoy my food and would rather buy my food thus, than from some super market chiller, wrapped in plastic with god knows how many chemicals pumped into it, to give it a longer shelf life and enhance its colour.

I asked the chef if I could eat the moving bits. Much to his credit he gave me the sort of look that any good UK barman would give a tourist if said tourist asked if he could have a cherry with his pint of award winning ale, but refrained from using the same sort of language.
The chef, slowly, replied that he he would cook the 'moving' bits when I had finished the 'non moving' bits. I must point out that this conversation was performed in Japlish with much assistance from the whole counter area, to all of whom I am much indebted

It was the best squid I have had to date. The same restaurant has horse on the menu, that should be interesting.

Thursday 13 December 2007


So after a few days rest the jet lag has finally been conquered and my stomach has got over the material that British Airways refer to as in flight meals.
Perhaps it is my age, perhaps it is because I expect more but flying is pants. It starts at the air port, I know, I know that with the enhanced security measures that check-in and all of that takes longer but once 'Air side' one is faced with the joys of the departure lounge. Departure lounge - who thinks of these names, I would like to state that my lounge at home does not have thousands of people walking around, clutching an assortment of duty free products (that would cost even less in the country they intend to visit). In Japan, my brand of cigarette costs 320 yen per pack of 20. The exchange rate is approximately 220 yen to the GB pound, you work it out.Lounge, holding pen more like.

Once one has boarded the plane the conditions and treatment don't improve. I realise that for an extra fee one can up-grade (for extra fee please read second mortgage) but for ordinary people who do not work for a multinational (who in turn charge their customers over the odds because the management, from tea boy up, have to travel in a less vertical position and with four more inches of leg room than their customers and the people they represent) have to travel in conditions that would disturb very small contortionists.

I am sorry to go on but the joy of travel can leave a very disappointing after taste.

JAPAN (Tokyo) What a delight to be back, the first day and a half was spent sleeping. The third, eating some fantastic Korean food with Atushi ITO, a very good bookbinder and top friend. It would be true to say that we did have one or two drinks and perhaps we did eat a spot too much and perhaps we did bore everyone else in the restaurant with tall tales of 'extreme bookbinding' but we had fun.

Today was spent traveling to Japans tenth largest city, (as everyone is quick to point out around here)Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu. We have been for a meal that was extraordinary for a couple of reasons....but first I have to sleep as a day of work is creeping over the horizon.

Monday 10 December 2007

Back in Japan

It only seems like a few months ago that I was in Tokyo, come to think of it , it was.
As you, my regular reader will know, food is important to me. My first meal on reaching home is a boil in the bag Indian curry. Oh the delights of Japanese food. When I have fully got my act together I will recount my journey here and the delights of British Airways food (thank heavens for boil in the bag curry)

Thursday 6 December 2007

First rounded and backed case binding

The studio also has a number of students that are beginners. Amongst these is Ella Kilgour.

This is Ella's first rounded and backed case binding. The binding is in 1/4 cloth with hand printed, soft plate off set cover papers. Ella took the initial image on her camera phone, using various computer things we were able to make up some plates for printing.

For a first rounded and backed book I am impressed. The use of the materials and the print work is fine, and shows what can be done with simple techniques if applied with care and deliberation.

Wednesday 5 December 2007

An other Studio5 member

Next is Tatjana Gretschmann. Once again the designer bookbinders competition book.

A full leather binding with inlays and debossing. The pale areas are hand coloured (Not onlays as described in the exhibition booklet)

The endpapers and doublures are hand printed with a leather joint.

Tatjanas's use of colour, techniques and design was recognised by the judges and I am pleased to say that Tatjana was amongst the prize winners.

Monday 3 December 2007

Some of the Studio 5 members work

While I wait for my lunch (Pizza) to be delivered I thought that you may like to see some of the Studio 5 members work.

First is Soohee Kim and her binding for this years Designer Bookbinders Competition. The set book is supplied by the Folio Society, this year being ' The Somme an Eyewittness Account'

Soohee has bound the book in a reverse goat skin with applied panels of hand worked pewter and soft plate off-set prints.

Detail of the back board panel.

Detail of the spine area, with Blind Tooling.

Detail of the pewter and off-set printed panels to the front board.

Front and back endpapers and doublures.

This is Soohee's first Designed Binding ( I think she did okay ) and it is on exhibition untill the 12th of January 2008, along with a lot more wonderful bindings at the John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH (UK)
The John Rylands Library is a fantastic place to visit for any book lover, wonderful architecture and atmosphere.

Must dash as my Pizza has arrived.

Sunday 2 December 2007

The last day before the rest.

Today is the last day of for the studio to be open on a regular basis until the middle of January 2008. I wll be in Japan for a couple of weeks,teaching at a university in Kyushu ( one of the islands to the south ). It will be the first time I will have been off the main island ( Honshu ) and am looking forward to the event.
I will be updating the blog with the students work and any other interesting bits.

Then back to the UK to be with parents and family over the Christmas period, back to work on the 27th of December. The studio has had the stuffing knocked out of it over the year and is in need of some T L C. How I love refurbishment ( not ) At least I will be able to find lost equipment, brushes, knives and who knows, perhaps the odd lost student. If I am honest, the studio is in better condition than I am. Perhaps 2008 will be not as active as 2007.

Thursday 29 November 2007

The final stretch

The following day brought us to the making of the cover, boards were cut, leather was pared and paper glued. The lack of equipment was overcome by using what we could lay our hands on. Rocks to take the place of presses being just one example

The students, Mr Penton ( Mr Penton is the man with the pale hair to the right of the image ) a first rate assistant and photographer, Mme Nikita, students and the books.

There was one final call I had to make, back to the cobbler who had supplied the leather. At first he did not believe that we had made the books and that the leather was from his store. As we explained the construction details, material manipulation and with the aid of the digital camera how we had made the book, he began to understand and enthuse about the project.

So what is next ? well I am hooked. Of all my teaching experiences this has to the most rewarding. There is so much more to do.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

After the chop

Okay, so with all body parts in place we began to round and back the text blocks. In Studio 5 we have a number of specialist presses that we use to get the perfect shape. The text block was rounded in the hand and once again the blocks of wood came to the rescue. The text block was placed in between the blocks and pressure applied. The sewn sections were manipulated with a bone folder so that the sections gradually bend away from the middle, until the first and last sections are bent over at a sharp angle.

We then applied a spine lining of linen and had tea. Tea time was fun as it allowed us to catch up on the previous stages of work, questions and answers, more tea, more questions and answers. Once tea was finished, the text block was secondary sewn. Further spine linings of paper were applied and allowed to dry.
Thus ended our first day of working together, I had enjoyed the experience and had the fortune to to be with some cracking students. What they thought of me I have no idea.

It must be pointed out that whilst we were making books the rest of the unit was hard at work making greeting cards. The cards are made from recycled materials including straw and X-ray plates. X-ray plates I hear you say, yes X-ray plates. They have a lot of X-ray plates because they have a hospital in Anandwan. All mod cons. But not only cards they make decorative panels and stuff.

Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Later that day

With a class of mixed skills and abilities, new skills had to be learnt from both the student and the teacher. Once the the texts blocks were sewn the spines were glued up and pressed. This particular operation did pose one or two difficulties as we did not have a press. However, with two blocks of wood and a willing student, wonders can be achieved.

After sewing the text blocks were trimmed. I usually do this by hand or with a state of the art guillotine with flashing lights and all manner of safety features. There was a guillotine on site. I was told it would make short work of any cutting that had to be done.

Yep, it worked, oh how it worked.This is one of those times when I thought it prudent to let the students get on with things in their own way. One can just make out a swastika painted on the guillotine ( a religious symbol in the shape of a Greek cross ) The only other times I saw this symbol were on the front of huge lorries, cars and motorcycles. In the main these modes of transport were driven with the sort of elan that would make any stunt driver blanche. The symbol is used in the belief that it will bring good luck.
I suppose that it was one of those times that I had to forget my sensibilities, to use what was available and get on with the job. As my time with the students was limited I could not afford to be prissy.

Saturday 24 November 2007

Getting started

The first meeting.

On the extreme right is Mme Nikita and to her left Mr Amru. Mr Amru is the head of the Greeting card and silk screen printing unit. A very busy man. We set out the plans for the work shop, the things that we would be needing (paper, adhesives, thread and the like) work space and possible equipment.

Next came the Cobbler.

Another unit, this time making shoes for the residents. One of the issues with leprosy is a loss of sensation in the digits ( feet,hands etc) To get over this problem the unit makes shoes without using nails that could puncture the wearers feet and can lead to infection.
I was on the scrounge for leather (we were to make 1/4 leather bound books) Mme Nikita and I were shown the leather store.

I had decided that we were to use only the materials that were on site, it would have been a waste of time for me to have taken materials from the UK. The leather was for the most part, offcuts that had been given to the unit from local businesses. After some rooting around we ended up with a carrier bag full of leather that had potential.
I must say that the cobbler was not sure as to why I wanted the leather. After many explanations we left him to his shoes with the promise that we would return with a finished article.
The rest of the day was our own, David and I making our way back to our rooms to make ready for the evening meal and plan the next day.

Our rooms wre situated in an enclosed courtyard a few minutes walk from the workshop, flowers everywhere, birds flitting from one bush to the next. Having just arrived from a bleak, mist shrouded UK, 85 f in the shade came as a welcome change. The orange dresses have nothing to do with me, orange not being my colour.

FOOD is very important to me having mastered the spoon at an early age along with the knife and fork.
Chop sticks (ohashi) being conquered some 16 or 17 years ago, I felt confident with my abilities at the table. Now, things are different in different parts of the world.

This eating technique I found easy, only two things to remember. The right hand is for eating, the left hand is for, well not eating......if you get my drift. The most obvious benefit is less washing up.
All the food is grown on site, it looked good, tasted good.


A fantastic group of people, enthusiastic and welcoming.

The first step was to fold the sections and sew them together.

Everyone helping each other or possibly getting in the way.....

Friday 23 November 2007


Now, I have to be honest. The images you are about to see are not mine, as you may remember my camera is still in India. These images were taken by Mr David Penton, a fellow bookbinder and friend, he being the man who first aroused my interest in ANANDWAN.

This is a remarkable place and you can find out more by visiting their web site:-

Things started well, we arrived on time at Heathrow airport, checking in was the first of many queues......We had seats with Jet Airways to Mumbai (Bombay as the locals call it) and then onto Nagpur. Nagpur is in the centre of India with its very own international airport, currently undergoing modernisation. Once at Nagpur we took to the roads for a two hour journey to our final destination 'Anandwan'. From Heathrow the flight was fine, the television did not work, I read and slept. The food was, well, airplane food but the staff were happy to help. A five hour wait in Bombay for the connecting flight to Nagpur was spent in a hotel lobby, so it was only having finaly disembarked at Nagpour that I had my first taste of India.

To sum up in mere words would do an injustice to this most wonderous country. So I shall not bother.

Waiting for transport to Anandwan outside the bamboo clad exterior of Nagpur airport.

Up to this point, David and Penny Penton had been the perfect traveling companions (Penny was visiting Anandwan to touch base with a project she had been working on and to do some clinics, Penny is a TOP person) As our four wheel drive ambulance turned up ( I kid you not ) David suggested that I should have the front seat 'As it was my first visit' and they felt that I should have 'the full benefit' of the two hour journey. How kind, I thought!
For those thrill seekers amongst us I would suggest that you forget the theme rides of the amusement park, white water rafting is nothing more than a paddle in the local Lido when compared to the rigours of the two hour journey that awaited us.

One of the four wheel drive ambulances.

I grew to admire our driver, a man of skill, dexterity, vim and swerve. His driving was without compare, unfortunately he had only two methods of driving. The first was fast, the second being very fast. The road was undergoing widening and repair work, this resulted in oncoming traffic vying for the right of way. Long stretches of the road were made up of rough hard core, testing the construction of our ambulance and my nerve. I have to say that it was fantastic. The countryside was breathtaking, the lorries a riot of colour and sound, the oxcarts making their way along the roadside with timeless dignity.

Now for some important....

On arrival we were shown to our rooms. After a short rest we were shown around the complex to acclimatise and get our bearings.

The Dye Shop.

One of the spinners

Spinner and daughter.

Carpet and Rug Weavers.

Fantastic colours and they are huge !

The rug weaving unit was one of many enterprises that make up only part of Anandwan, please check out the website for a more overall coverage. Next on the itinerary was the the unit that I would be working in for the next few days. During our tour we had the company of the sublime Nikita. Nikita is a whirlwind of a person, truly a top lady.