A Bookbinder’s Tool

Tuesday 07.15.14

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I recently took a short but inspiring bookbinding class in upstate NY. It was hosted and organized by J. Morgan Puett, of Mildred’s Lane and The Mildred Complex(ity), and it was taught by one Leon Johnson. He, along with his wife Megan O’Connell, and son Leander, are the founders of Salt & Cedar, a letterpress studio located in the Eastern Market district of Detroit. They produce custom design work and printed matter – an extremely prosaic way of saying that they are extraordinary designers and  thinkers. They also appear to have created a modern day salon of sorts, encompassing performance, food, film and more. This scarified hunk of beeswax is one of Leon’s tools. Bookbinding uses waxed thread as a means to hold together the sets of pages, which are called signatures. You can buy prewaxed thread, but most serious bookbinders prefer to wax their own. I was told that this piece, which, at the time I saw it only measured about 3.5″ x 2″ x 3″, began as quite a large block. Figure one or two pounds. It wasn’t just the beeswax that caught my attention. It was also the way Mr. Johnson used it to wax the thread. When someone is so accomplished at their craft/artform, they do things with complete ease and confidence, and a kind of artful rhythm. A ritual motion that is part of them, unlike the halting actions performed by relative neophytes.

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Midday Monday Signage

Monday 07.14.14

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Just what it says: a few signs to liven up a hot humid Monday.

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Malolactic Chromatography

Friday 07.11.14

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Chromatography is a broad range of testing methods which helps separate or analyze complicated mixtures. Malolactic Chromatography is a specific test used in winemaking which aids in determining the presence of malic acid and lactic acid, and hence gauge the stage of fermentation for a particular wine. It is both complex and simple. If you wish to know more, there is a wealth of information available on the Interwebs. Thanks Jennifer and Andrew of Eminence Road Farm Winery for drawing my attention to the accidental beauty of this test.

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Hotel Soap

Monday 07.07.14

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A few months ago, my husband and I were in Madison, Wisconsin. We were staying at the Hilton Hotel. Never one for heavy fragrances, when I travel I tend to bring my own stash of soap and shampoo. But there was no soap by the sink, so I ventured to open what was clearly intended for the shower and bath. This is what emerged from the package: a “massage bar” by Peter Thomas Roth. Whoever he is. Not too stinky and fairly effective at cleaning my hands. But surprising and odd nonetheless.

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Curves Ahead

Thursday 07.03.14

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Garlic scapes are crazy and curvy, not to mention tasty. If you aren’t sure what they are, let me explain: scapes are the young flower stalks that emerge on hardneck garlic in early to mid summer. They get snipped off so the plant can direct more of its energy towards the bulb still in the ground. They are a fresher, milder version of mature garlic. That nature can produce these swirly beauties is astonishing. Some VERY generous friends dropped off an enormous bag of these the other day. Before whirring them into parsley, almond, lemon pesto, they had their moment in front of the camera. Karl Blossfeldt sure had the right idea when he turned to nature for inspiration.

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Bad Bathroom

Tuesday 07.01.14

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A moderately sad roadside rest stop at exit 5 on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. I wonder why they didn’t bother removing the adhesive padding on the wall next to the Gojo dispenser. Though, I do enjoy the graphic on the pull down shelf.

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Work Clothes

Wednesday 05.28.14

I wish I could remember where I found these photos of old denim work jackets. All the pieces shown here are made by different manufacturers, displaying subtle variations in fabric, stitching and design. What’s most appealing to me is that all of these articles of clothing were made to last.

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