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Nostalgia Bound

June 16, 2011

Photo: Kirk McKoy

Having a friend and colleague like Jeannine Stein is a humbling experience. Not only is she a terrific writer-reporter, beyond-great crafter and funny as hell, but she’s also a published author of books on the art of bookbinding. Her first, ‘re-bound’, featured an impressive array of projects that were colorful, textured, witty, intriguing and beautiful. So, last year when she announced that she was doing a second book, I was very excited for her … then, she asked me if I would be willing to do a project for the book, and of course I said yes! The project, to create decoupaged front and back cover boards for a bound book, was a simple one, but it had to be special … So, I chose to do something I’d wanted to do since junior high school …

I would create a surreal, psychedelic landscape based on memories of the concert posters and album covers I admired so much as a teenager. At that time, being too young (and, too Pentecostal) to participate in the acid-dipped revelry I read about and saw on TV in the late 1960s, didn’t mean I wasn’t turned on by their swirly energy and trippy imagery. Now, to capture that feeling again … For source images I turned to a book that contained Jules Verne-meets-Victorian-meets-scientific engravings from the 1900s. Although the engravings were black-and-white only, I knew the complexity of the piece would lend it sufficient oomph despite the lack of color. To begin, I cut out images I liked and moved them around on boards supplied by Jeannine. Very soon a scene began to take shape, and it featured a snake-adorned moon goddess, a mad scientist and his wise chimpanzee-assistant, an evil grinning skull wearing a topknot of a jeering rose, a magical-mechanical bunny conjuring up op-art whirlygigs from his crater hideout, and other floaty planetary bodies and terrain. To contain the trippiness I framed each board with old typographic sample sheets, purposely using letterforms that had a bold, almost angular-Aztec feel or a squiggly wrought iron effect. Satisfied with their placement, I took all the elements off the boards, praying I’d remember how they fit together, and began gluing them in place, one by one. For both the gluing, and the multi-coated, final sealing of the piece, I used a product called Mod-Podge (doesn’t that name just scream ’60s decoupage trip-out party? Click here for their official blog). Super easy to use, it’s like a creamier white glue, that dries quickly, and clear. Once all the pieces were fully glued to the boards, and I’d applied 4 coats of the podge as a sealer, they were finished. I delivered them to Jeannine and she ultimately bound them into a large sketch book featuring red waxed string detailing in an X-pattern on the spine. She explained that she chose this simple binding treatment so that it would not interfere with the pattern and design of the decoupaged scene, and I love it … but, best of all, I get to keep the finished sketchbook!

I’m proud of Jeannine on the release of this second book, ‘Adventures in Bookbinding, Hand-crafting Mixed-Media Books’, and even prouder that she asked me to be a small part of it (that’s me, page 107!) Like her first, it’s full of projects that produce amazing books anyone would be pleased to make, own, or give as gifts …  Both books are available on Amazon, of course; click here to order …

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 3:20 pm

    Groovy Cool! I love it!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 16, 2011 3:41 pm

      Thanks, Ginny! I bet you’ve done some decoupage in your time, right?

  2. June 17, 2011 3:16 pm

    I have! Mostly doing things in photoshop now, but there is something about having different pieces in your hands and manually manipulating them that is more spontaneous.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 17, 2011 3:38 pm

      I have to admit photoshop is a pale comparison to the tactile experience of cutting actual paper … I didn’t know just how much I missed that feel …

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