Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hot Rods

I wish this was my car!  It's a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, and I saw it at the 47th Victorian Hot Rod show last weekend at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

I've always wanted to go to one of these shows.  I know nothing about cars, but I love looking at all those shiny 1950s ones.  There were some amazing cars on display.

This is another Chevrolet Bel Air, but this one is from 1960.  Love the colour and the swooshing arrow up the side.

Another Bel Air from 1959.  Although the coloured cars are great fun, I love classic black.  This looks like something Morticia Addams would drive!

This 1955 Cadillac Coupe de Ville was so long we couldn't understand how you could ever park it!

Love the all aqua interior, the steering wheel is pearlised an it even has aqua carpet.

A 1959 Plymouth Belvedere.  Look at those fins!

I particularly like this 1961 FK Holden Special, not only because it was in my favourite colour outside

AND inside,

But because it also came with a matching esky with the Special logo on it, and pinstriping on the lid!  Awesome.

There were some amazing paint jobs.

I wish more cars looked like this, how much more interesting would it be?

I actually saw this car driving down High St, Northcote a couple of days before the show, and admired it a lot, so it was rather cool seeing it up close.

The upholstery is a great touch - white leather with Mexican woven fabric in matching blues.  Ah, one day I will have a car as nice as this...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Making a Hardback Book from Loose Sheets

Just before Christmas, I was approached by someone at the University (where I work) who wanted to have some drawings of his daughter's bound up into a little hardback book.  Would I be interested?  I'd never bound loose sheets before, so I said I'd have a go.  Here are step-by-step instructions on making a small hardback book with loose leaf pages.

First assembled the following supplies:
  • white A4 paper (for making the hinges between pages)
  • cutting mat
  • stanley knife (or any disposable blade knife)
  • metal ruler
  • PVA glue and a flat brush
  • bone folder
  • linen thread and bookbinding needle
  • strips of buckram (for tapes)
  • A2 sheet of coloured paper (for endpapers)
  • sheet of box board
  • buckram (coated fabric used in bookbinding)

The first 16 pages of drawings were on single sheets of paper about A5 size. The final 8 pages were on 4 sheets of A4 paper, folded to make a little booklet.  In order to bind all the pages, I needed all the pages to be in little booklets (or signatures). To do this I had to join each pair of the A5 sheets together down the spine, so they would make an A4 sheet, which would then be folded in half and become the left and right pages of a book.

The idea was to make two little booklets of the 16 loose sheets. Firstly, I divided these pages in half.  So one group was pages 1-8, and the other group was 9-16. I took the first group, and matched up the pages: 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5.  This is so when they are are folded along the hinge (or spine) and then placed one inside the other, they will retain the original page order (I did a little drawing in case that helps you to understand).

Cut the hinges -  8 strips of A4 paper, 1cm wide, and about 1cm longer than the pages are tall.

Glue one side of the paper strip with a light coating of PVA glue.

Put the first two pages together (here pages 1 and 8) and stick the strip of paper down the middle of the two pages.  Only 0.5cm of each page is covered by the paper, so it won't really show that much once it is bound.

Trim the top and bottom where the hinge is a bit longer than the pages.

Now fold each double page in half, and arrange them into a signature (ie. page 1-8 is on the outside, 2-7 is within that, 3-6 within that, and 5-6 is in the middle).

I repeated the above steps with pages 9-16, and along with the final 8 pages, I now have three signatures.  Time to stitch them!  Arrange the signatures in the order they will be in the finished book.  Cut two pieces of buckram, about 1cm wide and 10cm long.  These will be the tapes.

If you look closely, you can see where I have marked the sewing holes on the fold of the signatures.  Mark them in pencil.  First mark a point 1.5cm from the top of the spine, and another the same distance from the bottom of the spine.  Space the two tapes evenly between these two marks, and mark on either side of the tapes.  You should end up with 6 marks on the fold of each signature.

I like to punch the holes before I sew them.  Using an awl or just the needle you are going to sew with, open each signature up, and poke through all four (or however many) layers at each pencil mark.

This is the thread I use for bookbinding.  It's made by Barbour, and is a tightly spun and plied Irish linen thread which is unbleached, undyed, and unwaxed.  I get it from Leffler, which is a leather supply place in West Melbourne, but you can buy it from most bookbinding suppliers.  The needle is a bookbinding needle, which is quite long and sharp, with a large eye.

Thread up your needle with about 1m of thread (any more and it will get tangled).  Start with the bottom signature in the stack (the last one in the book) and thread the needle through the first hole on the left.  Pull thread through, leaving a couple of inches hanging out.

The basic rule when sewing is "in, out, in, out".  So because I went "in" on the first hole, I now come "out" again on the second hole (next to the tape) and "in" on the other side of the tape, trapping the tape against the signature.  Repeat on the other tape, and then come out the end hole.

Pull the thread so it is tight (but not too tight), and then put the next signature on top of the first one.  Repeat the "in,out, in, out" steps back the other way.

When you get to the end of the second signature, tie the two ends of thread together tightly with a knot.

Put the third signature on to of the other two, and stitch across in the same manner.

Now, to connect the end of the second and third signature, you need to do a kettle stitch.  Follow the example above, and pull tight.  If your book has more signatures, you just keep adding them on, sewing across, and kettle stitching at the end of signature. 

So there is my (very tiny) book block, all sewn up.

Put the book block on the edge of a table, so it's just hanging over about 0.5cm, and squash it down with a heavy book (I used The Passage by Justin Cronin, which is about all it's good for, and a 3kg hand weight for good measure).  Paint PVA glue all along the spine, making sure it gets into the cracks between the signatures.  Leave it to dry for at least half and hour, a couple of hours is better.  When it is dry, you can trim the pages if you like.  Use a metal ruler and a very sharp knife, and don't trim too much off. 

While that is drying, you can get on with the endpapers. For this we need two endpapers, each twice the size of the bookblock paper, folded in half.  The grain on the endpapers should run vertically, so you generally can't use actual A4 paper, as the grain runs along the longest side, and thus will be horizontal when the paper is folded in half.  You will need to get a larger piece of paper (for example A3 or A2) and cut the endpapers from that.  Here is a good article on how to find the grain direction of a piece of paper or board.

Cut out two covers from your box board.  They should be the size of the bookblock, plus 3-4mm on the top two sides and one of the longer sides (the non-spine one).

Cut a piece of buckram a bit bigger than the two boards laid out next to each other, remembering to leave space for the spine between them.

Glue the right hand board (the one which will be the back of the book) into place with PVA.  You have to work fairly quickly and use a large brush, as the board absorbs the glue.

To place the second board correctly, put the book block on top of the first board.  Glue up the second board and place it carefully on top of the book block (glue side up of course!) in the correct place, then wrap the buckram over and smooth down.  You should end up with a perfectly sized gap for the spine inbetween the two boards.

Line the spine with a strip of stiff paper (the paper you used for the endpapers is fine, it won't be seen).  Cut the corners on an angle to within 2mm of the board, and leave enough on each edge so that you can turn it over the boards.

Glue the top strip of buckram and fold it down neatly and tightly over the boards, pressing it firmly into the spine.  Repeat for the bottom strip.

You now have to turn each corner.  It's very difficult to explain, basically you have to just do what I'm doing in the picture, use either your thumbnail or the pointy end of the bone folder to tuck the corner in.

Glue and fold over the two remaining edges, doing that tucking thing on each corner.  Smooth them down with a bone folder to make them nice and neat.

Your cover should look something like this now.

Now to attach the endpapers.  This is called "tipping in".  Put a piece of waste paper on top of the book block so that just 2mm of the left side is visible.  Glue that exposed bit.  Remove the waste paper and attach one of the endpapers.  Do the same thing on the back of the book block.

This is called casing in: Spread glue on the back of the book block (on the last sheet of the endpaper).  You will probably need to insert a sheet of waste paper below that sheet so glue doesn't go on the rest of the book.  Remove the waste paper, and very carefully place the book block down on the cover.  Remember to leave the 3-4mm around the outside edges!

Now glue up the front endpaper, and (again, very carefully and accurately) fold the cover over to meet the glue.  Yay!  Hopefully you have glued the whole thing together without making a horrible mistake.  DON'T open the book up fully yet!  Let it dry first.  Press the book between two smooth hardback books (or pieces of box board) and stack a whole lot of books and weights on the top.  Leave overnight.

The next day, you should have a lovely book to look at!  If you are interested in bookbinding, there are heaps of tutorials out there on the interwebs, or you can do what I did, and do a class.  I highly recommend the Introduction to Bookbinding short course available at RMIT.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dita Watch

Everybody's favourite stripper burlesque artist, has been very busy since last time I posted about her outfits in July 2011.  She even managed to squeeze in a trip to Australia!

  Let's see what she's been wearing...

Dita at LAX International Airport on 8 July.  As usual, Dita keeps it simple at the airport with a stunning black bead-trimmed coat.

Her bag is a Goyard Saigon, personalised with her initials, DVT.  For those of us plebs who don't keep up with luxury brands, Goyard is a French luggage manufacturer, established in 1853.  Their symbol is the Goyard chevron, seen here on the canvas of the Saigon bag.

Dita is an ambassador for Cointreau, and they've even named another cocktail after her, the Cointreau MargaDita.  She was in Dallas, Texas at the Rosewood Mansion to celebrate the launch of the drink, wearing a stunning vintage dress, paired with a Louboutin feathered clutch.

 Cointreau MargaDita Recipe

1oz Cointreau
1oz Silver Tequila
1oz fresh lime juice
bar spoon (0.5oz) Monin Rose Syrup
1 pinch Chipotle spice (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled coup glass.  Garnish with yellow rose petals.  For added kick, add a pinch of  Chipotle, and salt rim.

In August, Dita went to lunch with a friend, wearing a 50s-style floral print dress with a square neck and wrap-style skirt.  Interesting lime-green shoes too.

 The next day, she was snapped leaving a pilates class.  She is wearing a wonderful vintage circle skirt that I have seen before a few times on the internet!  It has a print of a letter, and inkwell with a quill feather, and some roses, which is repeated around the skirt.

Here is the skirt in a different colourway - pale pink and brown.

And a photo from Flickr of the exact same skirt, here worn by Denisebrain.  I soooo want one!!

On 8 September she wore an Elie Saab cocktail dress to the premier of God Save My Shoes in New York, which has a rather  1940s look to it, but without the dramatic shoulder pads.

She is holding a Lulu Guiness 'Lips' clutch, and wearing Louboutins (when is she not?).

Leaving a pilates class.  God I love the way she still manages to look polished even after exercising!

Out and about in LA with a friend, Dita wore a summery Maxime Simoens Spring 2011 dress and paired it with nude pumps.

Dita's bag is a Dolce & Gabbana Miss Sicily, but I can't seem to find the exact model.  You can see in the picture that it has lace detail and a clear panel, but on the flap, not the body of the bag.  This is the closest one to it.

Wearing Elie Saab again at the L'Officiel magazine's 90th anniversary celebration at Maxim's in Paris.

In October, Dita was photographed at Paris Fashion Week, attending the Alexis Mabille show, wearing (of course) Alexis Mabille.  This striped satin dress is from the Spring 2011 Ready to Wear collection. 

I think I like it better on the flat-chested model, I think Dita's maybe a little too busty for this kind of babydoll look, but the stripes look lovely on her.

Next up, Dita jetted off to Madrid to launch the Cointreau Mini Bar.

I adore the shoes she is wearing - the're Louboutins of course - but look at the backs.  Those shoes are at least a size too big for her.  How she walks in them I don't know.

The mini bar Dita was launching, is actually known as My Cointreau Travel Essentials.  The coffret (that's French for 'casket'), consists of a white leather, hatbox-style box that opens up to reveal a glossy gold interior.

The set includes a limited edition bottle of Cointrea, a silver shaker, a jigger, bar spoon, two glasses, a Cointreau perfume atomiser, and a leather-bound notebook for jotting down innovative recipes.  The whole thing retails for $399.  Now you can have cocktails wherever you are!

Dita at Radio Deejay studios in Milan.

Launching My Cointreau Travel Essentials in Milan, wearing a Herve L Leroux gown.  It's a bit bandage-like for my tastes, but her hair looks fantastic.

The earrings are vintage Schreiner. The Schreiner jewellery company was started by German immigrant Henry Schreiner, who began designing jewelled shoe buckles in the 1920s. Although he died in 1954, his daughter and her husband continued to design costume jewellery under the family name up until 1975.  The work was always hand-done and never mass produced, and the large, showy pieces are collectors items today.

Launching her perfume at Soho House in Berlin.

Official picture for the perfume.
"The self titled perfume opens with a head note composed of fresh peonies, bergamot, and slightly spicy Bourbon pepper. The heart of the perfume is a combination of Bulgarian rose, Tahitian Tiaré petals, and fresh jasmine. And in the base note, the mystical and warm scents of patchouli, musk, and smoky Gaiac wood and sandalwood."
Here's a picture of the bottle, very Art Deco.

At the Cointreauversial Cocktail Party in Singapore, wearing a Roland Mouret dress.

Dita wore this Gaultier dress twice in one week (shock horror!), once to the opening of the Gaultier exhibit in Dallas, and then three days later to the Museum of Contemporary Art Gala. 

 Here is the original dress from Gaultier's 2002 Couture collection.

This image from Dita's book Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese.  She said that this is one of her favourite dresses, which she actually owns, and "when a dress costs as much as a Mercedes, you want to wear it more than once."

Heading to the Pantages Theatre to see the Cure.  I like how she's matched her black lace gloves with black lace shoes!

At the launch of the Cointreau Prive pop-up bar at The Pigalle Club in London.

The very glamorous dress is by Tadashi Shoji from his Spring 2012 RTW collection.

 On her way to the Playboy Club Christmas Party in London.  I like how this dress has a very pale pink satin slip under the black lace.

Out and about in Paris just before Christmas.  What a cunning little hat!

I couldn't resist leaving you with this picture, tweeted by Miss Von Teese herself, of her wearing a glorious turn-of-the-century silk velvet dressing gown.