Book making workshop with Polly Alizarin Harvey at TVG 19/5/18


My OCA peer Holly Woodward has been tormenting me with her beautiful hand-made books ever since she did one of Polly’s workshops with the OCA SW group, and I was not about to pass up the opportunity to learn for myself.

The OCA Thames Valley Group is open to students from all disciplines and meets monthly in Bordon, Hants. I believe that OCA funding had been secured for this one, and as normal the room hire cost was split between the students attending, resulting in a cost to me of £9 plus a few materials and transport. An absolute gift, considering the learning that I achieved, and I am very grateful to Richard Down for organising and Polly for leading and bringing some tools and materials to help minimise the cost.

It was great to have a non-photography tutor. It turns out that precious few of us sketch, or at least owned up to sketching,  (Polly is an Illustration tutor for the OCA) and thus I have the side benefit of once again being inspired to pick up my pencils and practise. Polly runs a number of workshops both through the OCA and via her own practice in Somerset and I now hope to attend some more of these, perhaps mark making, collage or printing. She was incredibly patient as we tested our dexterity and ability to create lined up holes through two covers and various pages and then sew them all together.

The pop up book was not one of my bigger successes technically but I am very excited by the potential. It reminded me a bit of Moyra Davey’s work Seven where she cuts and folds up photographs, posts them, and then reassembles. I think it could work with my A3 self portrait, either by printing and folding one photograph, and using other smaller shots or a printed calendar on the front and book, or by using smaller images on the two squares that don’t fold into triangles and then images or calendars on the outside covers. I need to use covers the same size or only slightly larger than the folded quarter pages as mine doesn’t open smoothly due to overlap.  Also, it only needs one diagonal fold but I used two by mistake. I also need to work out the best photographic paper that will allow prints to be folded without excessive damage to the photograph. I made this book with the instructions panel from an old panettone box (my covers were just a little too big to use the more interesting marbled sections) and the instructions sheet from inside one of the Lidl paper crafting packs that I’d brought with me. I really like how you unfold this little square and the big page unfolds in front of you, I think that would be very effective with photographic work, there’s a “reveal” that you don’t get from a normal flat print.

{photos to be added once uploaded}

The next book was a very simple booklet style, using A5 pages for each double spread and a cover made of slightly heavier paper or card. The cover could be the same size as the pages, or cut slightly larger to allow borders or wider still to make a flap that can fold over the pages at the front/back or both. This book used an awl to make the holes, with a template to put the holes in the right place (remember to remove the template before sewing. For this one I used basic inkjet paper for the pages and the cover was made from a square of decorative light card with a lime green flocked finish that has evoked something of a love/hate reaction from those who’ve handled it. Video below, in the wrong orientation.


My last book of the day (as I didn’t have enough time to make the fourth accordion fold one which I’ll do at home) was a Japanese stab bound book with hard covers and a hinged front. This book makes me happy, I liked the interaction that there is between the print on the outer cover and the print on the inner cover. I would be curious to try this book out in a portrait orientation with either Polaroid emulsion transfers on watercolour paper, or actual polaroids mounted on a heavy paper or light card. Incidentally, I think the screw punch tool would be great for getting holes punched in Polaroids, which I have struggled with in the past. For this one I used some of Polly’s mount board as my card wasn’t thick enough, the outer cover was a sample of dolls house wallpaper and the inner cover was a square of scrapbooking paper.

I’m very excited by the potential that these new skills can bring to my practice. I enjoy working with paper and have a variety of papers that I can use, including old maps and atlas pages, I’d also like to include blueprints and possibly fabrics too. I like the idea of including different types of pages in a book – so perhaps different weights and colours of paper and maybe some translucent or transparent pages, something where you’re confronted with a different kind of page. I’m intrigued by the way that books can both transmit and receive and would like to explore this further, so perhaps adding map pages to a notebook, something that isn’t obviously relevant. Wouldn’t it be great to make a sketchbook with the odd page to inspire or make you think, little hidden treasures? Gazetteer pages that are smaller than the map pages are fascinating.



5 thoughts on “Book making workshop with Polly Alizarin Harvey at TVG 19/5/18

  1. annag1611 May 20, 2018 / 5:11 pm

    It’s great to see that you got so much out of the session, Kate. I missed the OCA SW one because my daughter was getting married & this one because I can’t drive post-op! Polly is doing a block printing workshop with OCA SW on 13th October so you might like to attend that one.

    • Kate May 21, 2018 / 5:04 pm

      Thanks for your comment, I hope you recover fully soon. I shall watch out for that one, thank you. Polly’s based in Frome which isn’t far from me at all.

  2. Catherine May 20, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed the day as well. You used some great papers for the covers and your ideas for future projects are so interesting. I sometimes use Canon high resolution paper which gives good colour and is 120 gsm so should be good for folding I think. £13.27 for 20 sheets on Amazon, but £6.45 if you can get it as an add-on item. Could be worth a try. I think the screw punch tool is great – much better than hitting an awl with a hammer!

    • Kate May 21, 2018 / 5:06 pm

      Thank you Catherine, it was such a good day. I’m sorry that I didn’t finish everything but I was very happy with the three books I did finish! Thank you for your recommendation on paper, my printer is arriving on Tuesday next week! Luckily I’m going for January assessment so plenty of time to get familiar with the printer.

  3. sarahdandrews May 26, 2018 / 7:14 am

    So creative Kate and great learning and inspiration. I love the idea of mixing paper, fabric and stitching in this way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.