When I was a little girl my mother sewed. She made me lovely little halter dresses for summer and pretty, fancy, dresses for the holidays. I remember going to the fabric store and helping her choose fabrics. Oh, how I loved the fabric store! Aisles and aisles of color, pattern, texture and spools of ribbon, lace and buttons – what is it about buttons?
Fast forward to seventh grade and an elective class appropriately named, “Beginning Sewing.” I discovered in this class that I did not inherit my mother’s ability to sew amazing garments from sketches and ideas. In fact, even with a carefully followed pattern and a lot of hand-holding, my efforts rarely resulted in anything resembling the picture on the pattern package.
Between seventh grade and my first handmade book were many years of sewing projects that reached a point of no return and ended up in a box. I once made a “Quilt In A Day” out of a Woman’s Day magazine and, after 14 years of partial completion and storage in a box, I finally gave it away. I never gave up though, I can’t resist fabric.
In the first book arts class that I ever took, at the San Francisco Center for the Book, we used bookcloth. A pretty and basic cloth that reminded me of library books. The instructor, Laura Russell, gave us a list of book arts suppliers including Talas and as soon as I got home I started shopping online.
The first thing I did was order a swatch book of samples of Dover cloth, because of the broad range of colors. I was so tickled to again get to choose fabrics — but this time in a way that I could be successful!
A few orders from Talas later, I ordered the Asahi bookcloth swatches. I can’t even begin to tell you how tickled I was with this swatch book. These beautiful washed silks, slubbed fabrics and iridescent shimmering squares made my heart sing. Right away I ordered a teal silk that I used for a book I was making about my niece, Samantha’s, transition from adolescence to adulthood called Pendulum:
I recently ordered Asahi cloth in a delicious burnt orange, an intense burgundy, a lemon-lime green and more of that teal silk. Honestly, I can’t resist. If they weren’t so expensive I’d order some yardage of each just to have them in my studio. Here are the covers I made with some of those bookcloths:
And this last order? Well, I resisted the swatch book for the Genji cloth because although it is truly beautiful, at $42, $79, and $95 per square yard, it is beyond my budget. But I did splurge on the Texlifil (vibrant wildflower colors) and the Chromo (very high-tech and futuristic feeling) swatchbooks and now I’m just itching to design some books around them. In fact, I may need to change one of my current projects to the Chromo. Hmm.
Do you have a favorite book cloth? A favorite supplier?