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About Me

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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).



Monday, September 26, 2016

web hosting comparisons, or stop throwing money away

Simplicity is a wonderful thing.  There's so much in life to grab our attention and time and finding simple solutions can be like a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes it can even save money, like when you buy both popcorn and a drink at a movie and save a buck.  That’s when you know society has reached its zenith.

The popular trend in websites has been web based programs like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly. There are several others as well.  I think they are popular because they are simple for two reasons.  One, they rely on templates so there is no need to figure out how you want your site to look.  Secondly, they require you to place your site on their hosting service.  Often there is no charge to create your site, instead they charge for making the site available to the world.

Now, everyone has their own motivations, points of view, and priorities. Thus they make different decisions. I suppose that’s part of what makes life so much fun and so diverse.

When I had to rebuild my site when Freeway went out of business I looked into many options.  I did the same test I had done when I went to Freeway, I spent two hours on various programs and saw how intuitive they were, what they could and could not and considered their cost.

I was not interested in a template driven site because it seemed much more work fitting my site into someone else’s vision.  I think both iWeb and Freeway had made me crave total control over my site, something that a template could never provide.

I experimented with Blocs, which seemed like it was half template driven in that one built a site by adding blocks of content onto a page.  Nice idea, but not for me even though it is pretty modifiable, if that’s a word. RapidWeaver was template driven.  Wordpress seems popular because so many people use it, not because it’s all that great. Or so it seemed, at least when I wasn’t reading about how its security had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

As I wrote a few weeks back I found Sparkle which didn’t take two hours to figure out it was perfect for me.  It has free templates available but they are not necessary and I think they are available because some people feel they them.  After about fifteen minutes I had it mostly figured out, it was really no different than creating a Pages or Keynote document.

But then I looked into the cost of web based programs and stand alone programs.  Not because I was going to consider Squarespace and the others but I wondered how much folks were paying for their simplicity.  It ends up that it’s like paying triple for a popcorn/soda combo in exchange for a sense of ease.

But, to me, it’s not more simple than Sparkle at all unless you have a complicated site with lots of e-commerce. Selling a couple of things is pretty simple, like this site:  But if you have a site like Hewit where you are selling a couple of hundred items you would need something more complex than Squarespace as well. 

The real cost of a stand alone program is that you need to find your own hosting site.  I’ve been using MeccaHosting for ten years now.  It did take about five minutes to figure out where and how to post the site.  I know friends who run screaming when they have to learn one more thing to make their phone do something, but the savings in taking that five minutes can be substantial.

But maybe that’s the question:  what are you willing to do in order to use a self standing program which is easier to use than a template but that requires you to spend five or ten minutes finding and setting up a hosting site?  

The cost breakdowns are below.  I selected the hosting options which were most comparable with my needs and what I'm getting currently with my program and hosting site.

Sparkle & MeccaHosting

Sparkle does not come with attached web hosting. Sparkle is $80. MeccaHosting (whose support is as fast as Sparkle, meaning they almost answer before you hit “send” on your question) charges $5 a month for hosting and $2.50 for email. There is no question that Sparkle updates will add some to this expense over five and ten years.

The numbers:

Year 1:                              $170  (80 for Sparkle;  60 hosting;  30 email)      

Year 2:                               $90  (60 hosting;  30 email)                                             

After five years:                 $440                                                                             

After ten years:                  $985                                                           


This is template driven and one uses their hosting service in exchange for the program.  I chose the level that I would need for my business site.  Email is, I think, 50 a year.

Year 1:                               $266  (216 hosting; 50 email)    
After five years:                 $1330                                                                                  

After ten years                    $2660                                                                                   


Same as Squarespace. Templates, need to use their hosting service.  Email is also 50 a year.

Year 1                                $254 (204 hosting; 50 email)     

After five years:                 $1270                                     

After ten years:                  $2540                                 


Templates, need to use their hosting service.  I think it includes email.

Year 1                                 $300 hosting                                                                             

After five years                   $1550                                                                 

After ten years                    3000                                                                

I find all these questions interesting.  A bit of a personality flaw, I'm afraid.  Personally, if I can have more creative freedom with less effort and can save a chunk of money at the same time, well, that’s for me.  Clearly others have divergent views, and good on them! 

For me, I’d rather spend my money on a vacation.  

My post on finding a new web design program can be found by clicking here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Guild of Book Workers awards

Some time ago I received an email asking me to vote for somone for an achievement award. For a minute I thought the world itself had turned into the People's Choice Awards.  Not a pretty sight.

It made me appreciate how the Guild of Bookworkers decides on their two awards: The Laura Young Award, for service to the Guild, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the field.

The Guild appoints three members who are established in their fields.  A book artist, a binder and a conservator ideally, though often the fields overlap a bit.  Then they put out the call for nominations, gather them and decide amongst the three of them.

No campaigning, no organizing, nothing.  The decision is made without any influence, the comittee is left alone to decide.

If you look at who has received the awards you'll see how well they've done over the years.  You can see here:

This year Peter Verheyen is being given the Lifetime Achievement Award and Catherine Burkhard is receiving the Laura Young Award.  Perfect choices, both of them.

Makes one kind of proud of the organization, I'd say.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kennedy newspaper treatment

I've received several questions over the years about the blog entry on The Christian Science Monitor newspaper encapsulation and binding project I posted a while ago. That post is here:

Over a year ago my intern, Bailey Kinsky, did a similiar project with a couple of newspapers on the Kennedy assassination.  Except what she did was a bit more involved.  I thought it would be interesting to see a more complete explanation of the process.

The first step is to separate the pages by cutting along the fold.  One needs a sharp blade or the paper will rip and tear rather than cut and then paper repair would be needed.

Next the pages need to be interleaved with polyester.  When the pages are being washed they cannot be handled. Wet paper tears! But wet paper will stick to this spun polyester.  One sheet of the polyester is needed for each page being washed.  The poly needs to be a bit larger than the sheets being washed.

Interestingly enough washing pages involves placing them into water baths.  I didn't have a sink large enough for this project so I made one 4 feet square using melamine and 2 x 2s along with a bit of silicone caulk. 

Each page was washed in three baths of water and then sized (a topic for another post).  After being washed the pages were placed on photo screens to dry.  At least initially!

Unfortunately I only had twenty screens.  So we made do by using the polyester rolls as a drying base by spreading it around the bindery, holding them in place using weights.  It sort of filled the bindery.

After the pages dried over night the encapsulation process began.  Encapsulating is not laminating!  The pages end up floating between two pieces of inert plastic, formerly called mylar.  Well, still called mylar even though the offical name has changed.

Double sided archival tape is then applied to the mylar a few millimeters out from the page.  This work is done on a pattern which was drawn on a piece of craft paper.  By working on a pattern the pages and the tape will all align when the work is completed.

This picture shows the relationship between the pages, the tape and the mylar.

Once the pages are all encapsulated they are attached to each other.  Often filler is necessary along the spine edge so that the spine will be as thick as the pages.

The pages are then sewn together. This style of binding was developed by Bill Anthony and shown to me by Mark Esser.

A cover is made, which in this case was a bit of a project in itself.

The cover was attached to the text block and a label applied.

The beauty of this process is that the pages are pretty much untouched in the binding. They can be removed quickly and easily, unlike laminating where they are stuck between plastic and cannot be easily removed.

This is an extremely fun process to go through, I wish I could do it more often.  Recently I did a binding of this type which had some rather extreme challenges.  I'll post on that in the future.  It's yet one more example of dare devil bookbinding!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Season's greetings!

Season’s greetings, everyone!

In honor of the start of football season here’s a project I did while I was a student.

My parents had season tickets to the Washington Huskies. In 1990 they attended the USC game played at Husky Stadium on the shore of Lake Washington. Probably the most beautiful site for a football stadium in the country. And that’s not just my opinion.

After the game when the USC quarterback was interviewed, he said, “All I saw was purple. No jerseys, no numbers, just purple.” It’s going to be like that again this year. Promise. (If you want to learn more about the game look here: )

That game helped to foretell great things. The team won the national championship the next year.

At the game, a commemorative program of the team’s first hundred years was given out, and my folks sent me their copy.

Later that year at school, I wanted to do something special with it because of how events had turned out in the following months. I was kind of into making pastepapers, and thought that would be a good medium for my idea.

I made this:

I put down yellow paste first, to hopefully give the field some depth. After that I mixed the green and put it down by stippling with a brush.  Then I made a frame of sorts so that I could put a ruler above the paper to draw the yard lines. I didn’t want it to look perfect. I wanted it to be a bit less formal, so I drew the numbers on the field and the lines with a bone folder. Pretty much free hand all around.

The structure is called a four flap. The football field is a hard cover. Inside is a softer board which folds open to reveal the program. It is held together with ties. Purple ties, of course.

The writing in the end zones was done with frisket.

My teacher saw the completed project and gave the highest compliment: “I hate football but I really like this.”

I enjoyed making this four flap immensely, but don’t ever bring it out. Maybe I should at this time of year. It could be a ritual of sorts. Maybe it’s the kind of thing that can help the Huskies go 12 – 0, win the national championship, and make everything the way it should be. And hopefully without the ethical lapses of the SEC schools, that would be nice too.

Go Dawgs.