Will you be eating haggis or perhaps partaking of a cup of kindness on Burns night?
I associate Robert Burns’ poetry with parties, and family celebrations, I don’t think New Years Eve would be quite so celebratory without “Auld Lang Syne”. His poetry seems to me to be full of viguor and energy, sometimes amusing as in “Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie”, and sometimes gentle and romantic as in “ O My Love”, which is your favourite?
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!
Don’t you just love “Till a' the seas gang dry”, so much more lyrical than “Till all the seas run dry”?
Following on from the headband workshop (below), I decided to try to re-back the book I had used for the lesson. As we needed a book block to practice on, I had previously removed the badly damaged covers from an old but rather dear little book cloth bound book. I loved the very decorative cloth cover, so it seemed a shame to make an entirely new cover, better I thought to save as much of the original as possible.
First of all I removed the text block and because it was loose and torn, I also removed the cover. With a damp piece of cotton wool I gently dampened the cloth-covered boards in order to allow the water to eventually loosen the adhesive between the cloth and the boards. I needed to leave the covers for a while to prevent them drying out, so I wrapped them in cling film being careful to avoid over wetting. Several sessions of dampening was needed until eventually I was able to lift the cloth free from the boards. The original cloth was in a rather tatty state, so I carefully trimmed away the damaged parts before gluing to a new cover.
I hope that makes sense, I have seen this technique demonstrated by an expert which puts all my efforts in the shade. I am showing you my newly covered book not as an ideal example. I think I should have stuck the green cover a bit nearer to the foredge but no matter, next time maybe. I decided to choose a contrasting colour for the cover but you can if you wish paint the new book cloth with acrylic paint to match. On the whole I was quite pleased with the result but I don’t think I will be giving up the day job just yet!
Until I joined our bookbinding group some years ago, I had not really noticed headbands much. The more expensive hardbacks that sit on my bookshelves have the more usual mass produced ones, maybe some of the older ones are hand sewn, I am not sure.
The workshop that I attended yesterday was my first introduction to the art of headband sewing, using the same techniques that fine binders use to create their exquisitely bound volumes. I have been to numerous bookbinding exhibitions and have been impressed by the exquisite workmanship that goes into the creation of a fine binding and now that I have tried out some of these techniques I have an even greater appreciation of their skills.
We started by sewing a single headband and progressed onto a double headband, which we all found much easier, oddly enough. The single headband was sewn around a thin strip of leather, which had been backed with vellum. We used two contrasting threads to compliment the design of the book. ( I should say that stitching the headbands happens after the book block has been sewn and before it is cased).
Once the threads have been chosen they are cut to the desired length and knotted together. It would take too long to explain in detail the sewing procedure; suffice it to say that the threads are looped around the core alternately after being secured within the text block. The core can be made of a variety of materials, cotton, cord, rolled paper, vellum or leather. I have found a lovely blog which explains this in more detail, called Journeys in the Bibliosphere.
The second exercise involved sewing a double headband around a two cores of cord, one thick and one thin. This core can be made of a variety of materials, cotton, cord, rolled paper, vellum or leather. The threads can be made of silk, cotton perle or linen, anything that is not too fibrous.
I am showing you my own feeble attempts at this craft and hope that you will not look too closely at my mistakes, believe me, sewing hand bands by hand is extremely difficult. Now I can see my work in close up I can see all the irregularities and gaps in the stitching!
Here is my illustration for January, inspired by the soundless flight of a barn owl, clear and still moonlit nights, crystal snowflakes and snowdrops. I have used some of the illustrations in a little artist book entitled "Silent flight". It has been a joy to create several of these and experiment with variations for the cover design, each book will be slightly different. I have also used some of the elements in the design in my calendar.
I have come across a rather beautiful quote which has been attributed to Shakespeare; "When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew". However , despite many searches I cannot find where exactly this came from. Now I know that there are many of you who are more knowledgeable than I on literary matters and wondered if anyone could help me track down the play, sonnet or source?
As you can see, Ted and I have returned to work after the Christmas festivities. We have been making the most of this beautiful winter morning gathering reference material, well that is our excuse anyway!
I am sure this robin would like to appear on a Christmas card at some stage in the future.
Please click on the photographs to see more clearly.