The Cuthbert Modern Doctrine Engine

As HER loyal subjects, it is our duty to HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA to maintain an obedient and steadfast household, free from the undue influence of subversives.

To aid in this task. A.C. Cuthbert & Sons of London present a SUPERLATIVE NOVELTY in MECHANICAL AUTOMATA, the Cuthbert Modern Doctrine Engine.

Keep abreast of HER MAJESTY’S latest proclamations and an eye on your household with this capitol apparatus.

— Completely automatic operation, requires only 200 drams of whale oil a day.
— Stately modern appointments and a handsome enclosing cabinet, fits in to any decor.
— Fully serviceable by household staff and common laborers alike.
— Licensed and approved by Her Majesty’s Ministry of Information.
— Couture and haberdashery of the finest Egyptian linens. Numerous styles provided for the discerning buyer.

An Instrument of HER MAJESTY’S Evangelism for the Modern Home.


VIGILANCE AGAINST SEDITION is every loyal subject’s mandate.

Summer Movie Trailer

As a warmup exercise for animation this semester I created this mock movie trailer. The scenes are cut together from various sources, mostly other movie trailer. After you’ve watched it through, you can click over the the Vimeo page where I have a listing of all the sources. If you can, watch it full screen and with the volume turned WAY up.

I will give you one clue to listen for, see if you can spot the bit from Muppet Treasure Island.

Western Book Structures

Along with the Japanese structures, in book making class this summer we also explored some western methods.  This is a case bound sketchbook. Follow the picture above for a few more angles.

The book block in this structure consists of a number of signatures or gatherings of pages folded in half, in this case 11 of them containing 2 sheets each.  It’s hard to find sketchbooks with thick velvety paper so I decided to go all out on this one and use a grey Rives BFK, a cotton based print making paper that feels more like cloth than paper.

The gatherings are stacked, and then sewn onto tapes—ribbon like stripes of linen which give the book its structure. This design allows the book to be strong, even with a large number of pages, and still able to open flatly.

The term “case-bound” refers to the cover, which is constructed from thick chipboard, here covered with backed fabric.  I found these great prints in a local quilting supply store.  The front side has a bright strip, this red flower pattern, while the back has some colorful stripes.

I also had the chance to hand sew the headbands for this book.  Headbands are those little stripped bits of embroidery at the head and foot of the spine, just inside the cover.  In the past they added strength to what is an often manhandled part of the book, but today they are often simply decorative items.  Usually they are machine sewn onto tapes and pasted in, but these headbands are hand stitched and extend down into the sewing stations on the spine.

Japanese Book Structures

I just finished a fascinating class on paper making and book structures, and I hope to be posting some pictures of some of my final projects over the next few days.  To begin with, here are a few glamor shots of a small Japanese 4-hole style stab bound sketchbook, along with a few of the sewing models. Follow the picture above to some other images.

Each of these sewings is based on 4 simple holes stabbed through the book block (hence the name).  In Japanese this method is called yotsume toji (四つ目綴じ).  The pattern used on the final book is called the tortoise shell.  The design is based on Kōjirō Ikegami’s book Japanese Book Binding.  Although it looks very strong, this treatment is basically decorative.  The pages themselves are held together by other means.  In fact, it is common practice for these bindings and decorative covers to be cut off of old books and replaced regularly as they wear out.  Because the covers are soft the book is fairly floppy, and this is a must because the binding is ridged, and does not allow the book to lay flat.

The pages of the book are separate leaves like in a western style book, however, they are folded at the fore-edge, making each page double thickness.  This allows a blotter sheet to be slipped between pages while writing in ink to prevent bleed through.  Clever, don’t you think?

I used basic sumi-style rice-paper for the book block, and decorative printed paper for the covers.  You’ll also notice some red coloring on the head and tail of the spine.  These are small squares of backed fabric folded over the corners for added strength.

We Made a Book—And I Helped!

It may surprise you to learn that not all books are grown in the orchards of the Publishers islands, or farmed in small local coops by teams of biology grad-students.  Nope, instead there are still people out there making books the old fashioned way, with great big clangy printing presses.

I had the opportunity last month to take a class called “The Illustrated Book”.  Over the course of the month we each designed a 2-page illustrated spread around a short bit-o-text about creativity (cue echo).  I learned how to set type, how to set up a printing press, how to carve linoleum blocks, and the fine art of appeasing the ink fairies for a prosperous press run.

our book

Here you can see the cover and my spread.  My text was borrowed from the introduction to John Hodgman’s book The Areas of My Expertise, a favorite of mine.  There are a dozen or so more photographs if you follow the image above.