Monday, May 25, 2015

Making easy fabric covered books


 - a 1000 batik covered book art installation in Brighton by Yinka Shonibare.

We have gorgeous batik and wax print fabrics like this at every little market here in Ghana. So I've made many pretty books - some from scratch in the Midori style, and others by gluing fabric on hard cover books.

I will blog both methods. Here's the first (and easiest).



Fabric, any kind of white glue or matte medium (I actually prefer the glue - it's a bit stronger), pencil, scissors, and a foam or soft brush (not pictured) for spreading glue. 

It's best not to use glue or medium with a shiny finish. If that's all you have, then consider putting a coat on the entire book when done so everything is uniform.


Place the opened book in the center of your fabric and draw about 1 1/2 inches around the outside. cut out the piece of fabric.

Using any kind of brush (or your fingers) spread glue on one outside cover of the book. Press the fabric into the glue and gently smooth it into place. Try not to stretch the fabric. Don't worry about the excess fabric around the edges, we will be turning that under next.

Continue gluing the outside front cover, spine and back cover. Smooth gently, shaping fabric into the book's grooves.


To begin to turn under the edges you must first snip fabric to the edge of the book along each side of the book spine. Trim the small piece that will tuck into the spine so it is about 1/2 inch long.


Using glue generously, turn the fabric edges to the inside of the book and glue them down. Just do a simple overlap at the corners but make sure all raw edges are glued to the inside of the book cover.


You could miter the edges here if you'd like a more professional inside finish. There are online tutorials on how to miter - search for one and experiment. It would be a nice addition to this process.

But I'm doing the quick approach - and it's still very beautiful because we will be covering the raw edges to hide most of the corner fabric.

I just overlap the folds at the corner, tucking the raw edges so they won't hang over the edge of the book and use plenty of glue on all layers to secure everything. I press and tuck the fabrics and work it as best I can into a nice flat corner. Glue is magic!


Spread glue on the inside of both book covers (one at a time, of course) - spread glue close to the edges. Then secure the first page of your book to the inner cover. Press firmly and smooth with your fingers or a brayer if you have one. As the glue dries, you may need to go back and smooth bubbles or gaps. While the glue is wet, I'd try opening and closing the cover to be sure the glued pages fit well in both positions and don't wrinkle. Make adjustments and touch up as needed. 


Using plenty of glue, work the little piece of fabric we snipped earlier into the gap where the pages meet the spine. Some books have more gap than others so it might be a bit challenging, but remember that glue is magic so keep working the fabric and it will stay put. There may be some raw edges showing from the cuts. Just glue them down and you won't notice them when everything dries.


Let the whole project dry, keeping an eye out for puckering, bubbles or gaps (use glue).


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ghana Batiks

I've been working with my daughter Jenny to design a Ghana batik artisan collection for Taylor Joelle Designs. Our first collection goes on sale tomorrow!

Reid and I photographed the process and here's a step by step description on creating batik fabrics. The artistry and effort are unbelievable.

Everything is made by hand by the batik artist Prosper, his wife Evelyn, and a few helpers. Propser prays every day for the success of this collection because it supports his family. The older girl in the picture above is Prosper's daughter.


Diane works with Jenny to design the motif. She sketches it to scale and then one of Prosper's helpers carves the motif, in reverse, into a foam block. 


Dye the fabric red. Prosper buys imported 100% cotton white fabric. It has to be just the right kind so the dye will absorb well. He works with 12 yard lengths of the white cotton fabric.

Then it is time for the first dye. Prosper hand mixes the colors - just like an artist mixes paints. The cloth is soaked in the red dye and laid out to dry.


Stamp the watermelons. The watermelon print has two stamps - one for the pink part and one for the green rind. So the first stamping with hot wax is on the red dyed fabric to protect that motif (resist the next dye). 


Dye the cloth green. This is tricky because Prosper has to find a green dye that covers the red without looking muddy. He did it after lots of experimenting.


Stamp the rind shape in hot wax to protect the green. 


Dye the fabric black. The wax on the red and green shapes resists the black. But it cracks a bit so you get interesting crackles that are part of the batik look.


Boil the fabric over a wood fire to remove the wax. 


Sew! The sewing is done by very small family businesses. The sewers (moms) don't use patterns. They can sew anything from a picture. African dresses are almost always custom made. Our sewers used very high quality techniques on our items including French seaming.

Mom has her little helper - every step of the way. Isn't she darling?


These beautiful products are sent to Taylor Joelle Designs in the USA as our Taylor Joelle Artisan Collection. We are honored to work with such beautiful entrepreneurs.