Christine Cox

Archive for September, 2017

Spraying Polyurethane

I’ve been using spray paint for years, but I’ve avoided polyurethane sealant spray. It’s a whole ‘nother beast and I could never quite get it laid down right. It’s thicker than spray paint so my efforts tended to look spotted or to have drips. Unacceptable!

I recently spent 2 days practicing on small pieces of metal, and, sisters and brothers in art, I’ve done it! I now feel very good about my polyurethane spraying abilities.

Notes from the field:

  • Use a raking light so that you can watch the polyurethane land on the piece. You’ll be able to see the wetness of the spray as you apply it, allowing you to spot fix anything missed. Watching the spray hit the piece will also help you judge the correct distance and speed.
  • Ignore that 12″ to 14″ instruction on the can. For the small pieces I just finished, spraying from 8″ was about right.
  • To get rid of dust, use a can of pressurized air on the piece right before spraying the polyurethane.
  • The room needs to be 70 to 90 degrees (and well-ventilated). This helps the polyurethane self-level. I rigged up a little heat lamp over my spray station.
  • Wearing an OptiVisor is a necessity when spraying small pieces. Tiny surfaces mean no room for errors.

Happy spraying!

By Christine Cox

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Bookbinding, Metalsmithing and Glass
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Alice Comes To Life in Books


In August, bookbinder Fran Kovac taught a class at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation in Cleveland, OH (

The class focused on various decorative techniques, such as framing, attachments and foundation molding, and worked with leather, paper and book cloth, as well as various charms and illustrations suitable for Alice in Wonderland.   The text blocks were made using books-in-sheets from Volcano Arts. The students added illustrations throughout the text before sewing, and the books were sewn with the French Link stitch on parchment straps.

Each student took home their own bound and decorated copy of Alice in Wonderland.”

The students were Edith Briskin, Michele Cotner, Margo Libman, and Amy Fishbach.

Beautiful work, ladies! Thank you, Fran!

Post by Fran Kovac and Christine Cox
Sponsored by Volcano Arts




Hint from a Book Artist: Board Sizes and Unsupported Stitches


The book on the left has pages and boards aligned at the tail edge. The book on the right doesn’t, and therefore sags.

Hint from a Book Artist:
Board Sizes and Unsupported Stitches
By Christine Cox

“Coptic” and other link stitches are easy to sew, flexible, beautiful, strong, historic and the fact that you can incorporate the board attachment into the sewing makes them a logical choice for a lot of projects. Because these stitches are not sewn over tapes or cords they are called “unsupported,” meaning that the spine will naturally move fairly freely over time.

Because the stitch is so beautiful, book artists often choose to leave it exposed at the spine, which reinforces this weakness from the unsupported sewing.

When a book that hasn’t been rounded and backed sits on a shelf for years, it sags. The weight of the paper pulls the book block down, making the thread stretch. Sooner or later, the book block will sit down on the shelf and the formerly straight line of sewing will curve down in the middle (see photo). In addition to being unsightly, the stretched out thread loosens up the book even more.

Gravity at work makes unsupported stitches an iffy choice for books you’ll want to keep for a long time, but sometimes artists make compromises in the name of art, and not all books are meant to last forever.

Keeping in mind that unsupported link stitches were abandoned historically for a reason, the secret to preventing the sag is to make the boards and the book block almost flush at the tail (bottom) of the book. In other words, the boards are the same height as the book block, plus the normal square (the measurement from the edge of the book block to the edge of the board) at the head, plus a smidge extra (maybe about 1/16″, depending on the size of the book) at the tail. Don’t make the boards and block completely flush because any misalignment in folding the paper or sewing the sections will stick out beyond the board edge.

The squares at the head and fore-edge will still match, so nothing will look odd.

To recap, the fore-edge and head will have squares. The tail will be almost, but not quite flush with the boards.

This tiny, 1/16″ adjustment in the relationship between the sizes of your boards and paper will make your book weather the years looking better and staying a little tighter.


The book on the left has pages and boards aligned at the tail edge. The book on the right doesn’t, and therefore sags.

Sponsored by Volcano Arts

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