Saturday, January 9, 2010


my student loved using the bonefolder! his hands understood why it made folding easier and more efficient. i bought a few for students from a supplier, but my own bonefolders are just some of my favorite tools, maybe because i learned to make them from jim croft and made a passel of them. (i have a few made by jim, too.) shanna leino also makes wonderful folders and steel tools, too. (talas sells these under designer tools and you can purchase directly from jim or shanna.)

photo by hannah stevens
the top one is a multipurpose with a blunt, flat and rounded end and a more conventional other end. it's my favorite, sculpted by accident. the middle tool is a big folder, 9 1/4 inches long, for heavy work. the bottom is deer bone, rather than elk, and quite thin and a bit flexible. these are more ergonomic than the commercially made ones, i thought it happened quite accidentally as jim taught us students to work with the bone and we shaped tools. (of course, jim knew what would happen.)

using good tools, however, cannot substitute for craftsmanship. when i watch my friend carol blinn of warwick press fold up pages, i am in awe, her hands accurately and efficiently fold a pile of paper in a tenth of the time it would take me. her hands know exactly what to do and adjust to fit each job, and for her, a designer, printer, and binder, her livelihood depends on efficient work habits. i watch my students' hands working and am amazed at their various abilities. 

the morning sunshine is now touching the higher ground here, it's been light for sometime, but the sun is dancing on the snow burdened brush. it's been snowing for eight days with one little break. i will ski later, and then perhaps cuddle up with a book or some hand weaving around the woodstove. i am thinking about the making of things, why it is so important to have hand skills, where in my life i can push my skills. the 2010 pbi (paper and book intensive) has posted this summer's classes. i am dreaming about new possibilities. and once i figure it out i will make links. i am a slow learner.


jude said...

i wiah i was there. i would show you. everything seems effortless when you know how.

chuck bolyard said...

in 6 more school days the semester ends....i switch from teaching metal shop for half the year to my "leather" class for the next 18 weeks.......all of your talk about leather and pictures of bones got me to thinking.....i need to have the students use bones with our leatherwork to create something...i am not sure what yet....i am going to combine some woodworking with leather......but bones and leather would be something different.....i can shape and polish bones easily as my leather class is in my woodshop...i am both a certified art and industrial art teacher....all of my leather is of the "nature" tanned used for tooling and stamping..........any ideas?

PiecesofD said...

Aren't the simplest tools the best? They are to me. Your bone folders are very elegant. I'm going to have to check your sources... and those you'll be linking to. Thanks.

mjc said...

This is my third time trying to post a comment; for some reason, it hasn't been working for me. We'll see.
I enjoyed the teaching posts quite a bit...and also my session (and the resulting tools) with Jim Croft. (though farrier's rasps and lip-reading didn't combine need to keep your eyes on the work when using those puppies! )

Velma said...

thanks for the comments and questions. chuck, you could google moonbindery and my handbound books. both have etsy shops that show their nicely bound soft leather covered books for sale. clasps could be made of bone, kids could make folders, too. bone is brittle, and very sharp, and i'd not let my kids use it for carving. i learned carving from jim with hand tools, rasps and hatchets down to finer finishing tools like sandpaper. i have only cut bone with a band saw once. you could do all kinds of tooling the wrong way, making repetitive patterns with them for decorative covers, instead of wallets or whatever.

and thanks, jude.

Velma said...

oh, and chuck, although i know so very little about this, leather tooling can be done with bone folders. i don't know what tutorials, if any, are available on the internet.

chuck bolyard said...

thanks so much velma.........i checked out those sites you mentioned ....also sites about jim croft......really interesting.....i never thought about bookmaking as an art form before...and i realize how close it is to my own education, not just art but my industrial arts classes in college with printmaking... and then you bring back other memories of my weaving class (loom)......i had forgotten the variety of things that i learned 30 years ago....i am amazed at how much can be found on the internet since i have just started talking to you on your blog........ideas keep running through my head ......thank you

neki desu said...

there's a saying in my household:
you can boil water in a frying pan, but the existence of saucepans should tell you something.
i think it's easier to develop good craftsmanship if one has good tools.

Velma said...

neki, this validates my argument for providing kids with artists' quality materials-not the finest, but serviceable.

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