This blog post was originally going to be about the different types of rulers and why some are better than others for book folding. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it's the accuarcy that a ruler can help us to achieve that's the important thing here, not the ruler itself. So I decided to broaden the subject to include other factors that influence accuracy. Read on and I'll share what I have learned so far in my quest for the perfect book fold.
Clear Your Workspace of Clutter
I must admit to being a bit of a messy worker so clearing my space is always the first thing I need to do. Not only does it help to clear my mind of other projects spilling out over my desk, it also gives me space to swing books, rulers and arms when needed to achieve the right angle.
A drink to hand is a must for me but I keep it well out of the swinging arc and preferably on another table. Coffee dripping from a near completed book fold would be a tad frustrating and something I, thankfully, haven't experienced as yet and I'm happy to make the extra reach for refreshment to avoid such a disastrous out come.
Tools At The Ready
Have all the tools that you're going to use within easy reach. I normally start with them in my 'tool holder' which sits within arms reach next to my immediate workspace. I have recently bought a universal knife storage container, the type with the vertical rods, to hold all my tools and find it to be a neat way to keep them altogether. I bought mine from here
It Sounds Obvious But Make Sure You Can See Properly!
I have a continual struggle with my aging eyesight and being able to see the degrees of mm that I work with (more on degrees later). When you're looking to achieve the best accuracy possible in book folding it's all about the detail. If we can't see the detail then we won't achieve the the accuracy in our finished book art. I'm best folding without any glasses or contact lenses although I need both for everyday general situations. If I try to fold with any other combination I can see the diminished accuracy in my work. It's obviously a personal thing but make sure you find the best solution for you because it will, undoubtedly, affect your accuracy.
Light is another important issue. It's lovely to have the sun streaming in through the window across my desk but it creates shadows just where I need the light! An artificial light doesn't help in this situation as the sun is too bright. I have a certain amount of flexibility to move around but sometimes there's no option but to close my book, go outside and gently swing in my hammock until the sun moves round. It's a hard life but there are times in our lives when we just have to injure the pain in our quest for perfection.
On a dull day, or at night, a bright, artificial light is a brilliant (excuse the pun) asset. One that can be angled and/or pivoted is ideal as you can normally get it into the perfect position to eliminate those nasty shadows.
Make Sure Your Book Is Stable
I looked at aspects of the condition of the book in Lesson 2 of my Basic Book Folding Course but you should also make sure that you're book does not move around when your working with it. I solved this problem by using a non-slip mat. The type you use to line cupboards etc. I bought mine from The Range (UK) which cost about £1.00 for a half a metre (ish) roll.
The Smaller The Measurements The Greater The Accuracy
When I first started creating patterns I used to go to the nearest mm. Which is fine and doesn't necessarily affect accuracy per se but the more degrees you go to the more detailed your book fold will be and, therefore, appear more accurate.
I now create patterns to the nearest half mm. I find these result in a much better finished book fold but you still have the option of ignoring the second number after the decimal point if you prefer.
I'm currently working on a project for someone in the US and have been working to an accuracy to a quarter of a mm. I'm now thinking of offering this as an additional option in my patterns as the finished book art is looking amazing so far. I am using a 'newish' ruler which makes measuring to this degree of accuracy easy. Read on to find out more about this amazing ruler...
Does Your Ruler Measure Up?
So now to the inspiration for this blog post. The fabulous, the amazing, the incredible Incra Rule! Designed for the woodwork trade, the Incra Rule gives us book folders an easy and accurate way to measure from 1 mm down to a quarter of a mm. They are American based so measurements in inches are also available. They also come with a T-bar (this option is a must) which sits on the upper edge of the book making it quicker to position it for measuring.
I've been using mine for about 3 months now. When I first started using it I thought I'd made a complete mistake in investing in it. However, I soon got to grips with it and now find it easy to use. If you decide to get one and experience the same initial frustration then persevere, it will become second nature.
As it's from the US the Incra Rule is not cheap as conversion to £'s, customs and shipping inevitably reflect in the price, US readers have the advantage on cost. If you're just doing the odd book fold or two then it may not be worth the investment unless of course you're fanatical about accuracy. If you're addicted, as I am, and you're doing a lot of book folding then I would definitely recommend delving into the depths of your purse.
I bought my 30 cm T-rule from here, the US website is here.
Be A Cut Above The Rest
If the pattern you're using involves cutting, make sure your scissors are nice and sharp for a precise cut and that the blades are long enough to allow you to make the cut in one snip. I find that a pair of hairdressers' scissors are ideal as they also have a finger rest for more control. My favourite are by Fiskars.
Be A Master of Your Trade
Measure twice cut once, as they say in the trade. Checking your measuring can avoid mistakes. This is a case of do as I say not as I do as I often cut 1 cm either too high or too low.
Develop attention to detail and be as accurate as you can be at each stage as all the little imperfections add up.
Check you work as you go along, look back and check that the folds or cuts look right and are forming the pattern they should.
Practice Practice Practice
Practice makes perfect and you'll find that the more you do, the more accurate your results will be, as long as you follow the above tips of course.
Enjoy It. Book Folding is an addictive and rewarding hobby. If you find yourself getting frustrated then put it to one side and have a break. If you need help ask for it.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful. I'd love to hear what you think and if you have any tips to share.
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Catch up soon, Maria x