Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pencil Me In: CW Pencil Enterprise, NYC

We've returned from our annual pilgrimage to New York City and walked our thirty miles. We don't see shows and sit, we see stores and museums and walk. On our list was the pencil store, run by Caroline Weaver (there's an interview with her here). We knew we were going to buy pencils, but I really didn't have any idea what kind or how many.

The proprietor sits neatly behind her desk, directly across from customers who have walked up stairs and through the glass door. A customer sits in a chair in front of her, signing a receipt for $140. The proprietor wraps the purchases in yellow envelopes fastened with pencil-yellow washi tape and tied with black and white twist twine. Sun streams in, lighting up the front displays, making patterns on the clean walls. 

"What is your best-selling pencil?" someone asks. The proprietor gets up and moves to the displays to point to it.

"Why are your pencils so expensive?" asks a young man. "I can get these at Staples or on Amazon for less."

"I can't control the prices other people charge," says the proprietor. "The prices are based on what they cost me." 

The young man seems to want his grievance and tries to argue further. But has he really looked around? This store, the size of my little living room, has pencils, pencil grips, sharpeners, notebooks, erasers, and their relations from all over the world. All sizes, hardnesses, colors. Here are sparkly pencils, a chalk pencil, Danish voting pencils with tiny holes where they are tied to voting booths, water-soluble pencils, tiny slim pencils, multicolored pencils and a machine where, for fifty cents, you get a surprise pencil. (I was so distracted I forgot to try it out.)

My question: "What is your current favorite pencil?" She says it is only fifty cents, but shows me the pencil from India with a sturdy lead that writes extra dark. I take two and thirty-five more dollars worth of atmosphere, happiness, pencils, and potential.

If you are interested in reading more about pencils, Caroline Weaver has written a book you might enjoy, The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon

Monday, March 20, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Box Hybrid: Cigar + Clamshell

Five years ago, I posted some instructions for making a cigar box, based on an actual wooden box but made with book board. Recently, I took out the Pantone postcards I had bought and saw that the box with the hinged lid had come apart. 

When things fall apart it gives me an opportunity to contemplate how they were put together. I can see how the ribbon was attached and how much of the case I need to cover. This box was a cross between a cigar box and a clamshell, but easier to teach than either.

I've already started printing on the Pantone postcards in preparation for creating a unique book with them. I knew I wanted to put them in a box, so why not reference their original container?

It's a nice clean, quick box. You build a four-sided tray. You make the case. Here, I've added a piece of museum board to make a relief image on the cover and stripped out some recesses for title strips to add later. I use a brass spacing bar that is three board thicknesses to help with the measurement between the case boards.

You make a slit in the side for the ribbon that will help lift the book out of the box.  Thread the ribbon through and glue it down. Add a strip of self-adhesive linen tape to secure it. You don't have to wrap the outside of the left edge of the tray.

Glue the endpaper across the joint of the case and line the tray. Glue the tray to the case.

Then glue the side to the spine. 

And there it is.

Just a preview. I still have title strips to glue into the recesses and a few more details. Oh, and the book, too. 

More detailed boxmaking instructions may be found in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Star 82 Review Spring Issue 5.1 Is Live Online!

I'm happy to report that the seventeenth regular issue of Star 82 Review, the online and print magazine I founded, edit, and publish, was released today! This issue revolves around substance and sustenance: walls and food. We have some thought provoking and poignant stories, poems, and art surrounding perceptions, stereotypes, and recipes, immigrants, human bodies, and bodies of water.

Read online at Star 82 Review
Support the project with a print copy at CreateSpace
Or four-issue subscription on Etsy

And follow our news on Facebook!

José Angel Araguz
AJ Atwater
Devon Balwit
Kay Bradner
Natalie Campisi
Simona Carini
Sanchita Chatterjee
Steve Colori
William Cullen Jr.
Christina Dalcher
Robert Del Tredici
Merridawn Duckler
Carrie Foulkes
Ame Gilbert
E. Laura Golberg
Jayne Guertin
Grace Hwang
Jeffrey Jullich
Rebecca Landau
Anna Lewis
Tom Montag
Rebecca Oet
Ajay Patri
Anthony Sandy
Ray Scanlon
Shunmel Syau
Chris Wu