Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How I Learned to Make Books

My Journey--Learning to Make Books

Thirteen dead. Twenty-three more injured. All between the ages of 15 and 19, except three teachers. A city in mourning. A river of tears and a field of memorial mementos. It was a day we remember just as vividly as Kennedy’s assassination. A day simply known as Columbine.

I learned of it at 11:30 that morning while on my lunch hour. A friend’s daughter called on her cell phone to notify of the news. The news that spread like a brush fire. Although not proud of my first reaction, “oh, not again” as I flashed back to such events as Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, it didn’t take long to become intimately attached, realizing that my 14 and 16 year old boys could easily have been the victims. As I saw those young faces splashed across the TV screen, my heart extended the breadth of the city wanting to connect to the mothers of the dead and injured. I live only 30 miles away from Columbine High School.

Before long a website garnering thoughts and prayers was linking people around the world to this horrible event that was happening so close to home. I added my prayer to the ever-growing length of cyberthought extending itself to wrap around these people—both the victims and the accused. But it took some time for it really to sink in and for me to determine a way I could contribute.

It happened one morning at work as I was drawn to revisit the website that I signed. A divine hand had taken mine returning me two weeks later to see how the site had grown.
At the top of the page, in bold red letters, was a call for a printer or publisher to compile the thoughts and prayers on those cybernet pages in a hard copy book. I raised my hand so quickly, “I wanna do it, I wanna do it.” And the next day I had drafted a simple book cover and submitted it to the asker. Three days later I was in charge of a project whose direction I had no idea its destination.

The logical beginning was to “lift” the thoughts and prayers from the website first. That accounted for 190 pages of heartfelt outpourings on 7” x 9.5” landscape pages. Then I endeavored to create meaningful front and back matter: title page, credits, a recap of the heart-wrenching, thought-provoking song, Friend of Mine, that two young Columbine students wrote to honor those affected in this egregious event. On to the dedication, note from the creator of the website, preface, and photos garnered from 9News for which I received permission to print, and a single page at the end about the creators of the book; there were three of us.

Most of it was straight-forward, but I needed to figure out the pagination, so the numbers were on the bottom right of the rechts pages and the bottom left of the verso pages. I also added an image of flying doves next to the page numbers on each page.

This book decided it wanted to be spiral bound so it could lie flat while open and the cover would be hard. Adhering the paper on which the cover design was printed to the book board was a bit of a challenge because the spray adhesive made the paper curl and I had to work quickly to attach it, but before I knew it, 19 copies were made, one for the family of each student and the teacher who died, and 2 each for the three of us involved in the project.

This was just the beginning though ... the first step in my journey of making soft-cover handbound life story books. Now that process was a bit more involved. The layout was relatively easy as my creative juices just flow in this arena, but designing the first book cover was literally like reinventing the wheel. I managed to design a front cover, then I did a back cover, and then a spine—all in separate Word files. Once I printed them out and cut the pieces, I glued them onto a piece of poster board. It was only then that I realized I had to figure out how to create all the pieces in one file so that it printed as one continuous image that could be wrapped and glued around the pages of the book. To this day, I laugh about these humble beginnings. Needless to say, I figured it out and have been creating books the way it was done 600 years ago for the past 6 years. It’s one of the grandest accomplishments of my life—teaching myself to make books.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I'm on YouTube!

It's really exciting to learn new things and when I get an idea that fascinates me, or should I say once I've bought into it, I'm like a dog worrying a bone! My first experience on YouTube threatened to put me off forever. There was so much vulgarity there I wondered if I wanted to expose myself to it, but then I found a few things that were really worth watching. See some of my favorites at:

Well, now I've got my own space out there so why don't you take 4:25 minutes to watch me grow up!

I hope you enjoy learning new things as much as I do ... finding the excitement that gives you a reason to wake up every day.

Keep writing, my friends.