Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Necklace

Last week I saw on facebook an event at the Arts House.

via The Thistle Bindery

Make an arty statement with your very own Mini Book Necklace! Participants will learn to create their own case bound book and to accessorise it with unique metal trinkets and cords.

I couldn't resist anything with "trinkets and cords" so I immediately signed up. The first time I learned bookbinding was April 2013. (I blogged about it here) Good grief. That was 3 years ago. Has it been that long?

These 3 books were binded using the Japanese stab bookbinding method. It's the most basic method for decorative bookbinding. Since then I've made a number of books using this method.

I don't remember when I made this version but this was the last book I binded. This is closer to the kind of books I like. I think I drew the cat using Photoshop Elements and printed it on my inkjet printer.

Last year I attended another workshop at the library on bookbinding but it turned out to be far too basic, almost like kindergarten level. I honestly didn't learn anything new. Anyway, since then, I've always wanted to learn another method of bookbinding and finally the opportunity came.

The Book Necklace Workshop was part of The Arts Open House on Saturday. There were a number of events taking place the whole day at the Arts House but I was too hungry to stay and linger around.

 These were some of the samples at the workshop.

I chose to make this version because I liked the print of the cover paper.

It's a real book with pages.

The workshop was conducted by Ian Tan who learned book bindery when he was studying architectural conservation in Edinburgh, Scotland. He operates The Thistle Bindery as a hobby. I don't know what's his full-time job but I heard him mention project manager or something. Anyway, it's quite apparent he likes playing with paper.

I was a little early for the workshop so I could get a good seat. I chose the 2nd chair away from him so my good ear could hear him.

All the tools needed were provided. I wasn't sure if a metal ruler would be provided so I brought my own. Yes, I felt a little stupid carrying the long metal ruler in my bag and constantly getting scraped by it.

There were lots of charms provided. I finally picked the heart on guitar. I would have loved some skulls but there weren't any.

The first part of the workshop was spent creating signatures. A signature is just a fancy word for two or more sheets of paper stacked and folded as a group. Mine has 3 folded sheets per signature. We made a total of 10 signatures. (it's just folding the paper in half)

Sewing the signatures together come next.

There were lots of glueing. I didn't enjoy glueing because I don't like the feel of glue on my fingers.

After more glueing to create the book cover, we had to make an eyelet.

The eyelet is for the necklace. Yep, I used a hammer!

It took me 2 whole hours to make the book necklace. It's really cute and just to show you the scale, I've photographed the book with a spool of thread.

Now that I know how to make this case bound book, I will make a smaller version in future. Maybe a miniature book for one of my dolls?

Saturday, March 19, 2016


In my previous post, I wrote a long detailed story of how I ended up getting vaccinated against Shingles. Do you know that us Chinese call Shingles, snake? When I was young, I remembered someone in my village contracting snake. I forgot who it was, probably one of my relatives. It sounded very scary and for quite a long time, I feared that I would contract the snake disease. I wished someone had educated me then!

Why is Shingles called snake disease? There is a myth that the ring of Shingles (which resembles a snake) will cause death to the victim when the head meets the tail; possibly by suffocation? The way to avoid death is to prevent the snake's head from meeting the tail. Some traditional sinseh use incense/joss-stick to burn the snake's eye to blind it. Others use a needle. I believe in modern Singapore, there are still people who seek traditional treatment for Shingles. Others might want to play safe and get both a doctor's and a sinseh's treatment.

For me, I cannot imagine allowing myself to be burned by incense/joss-stick.

Still on the subject of snakes. Have you eaten snakes? In Singapore, it's quite common to eat snake. Actually, I don't mean it literally. In Singlish, to eat snake means to skive. I have skived plenty of times in my life. Speaking of eating snakes literally, I can't even.

Tomorrow I'll show you a book necklace I made today.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Who's afraid of needles and heat?

Dear friends,

March hasn't been good to me. It has been incredibly hot. I'm born and bred in Singapore so the heat isn't new to me. However, this time around, it's slightly different. For the past few weeks, I have been experiencing daily hot flash. Hot flash plus hot weather - you can imagine how volatile I have been. Grr.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has predicted the temperature over the next fortnight will hit a high of 36 deg C on some days with other daily highs of 33 to 34 deg C. I wish NEA could predict which day will hit 36 deg C so I'll go hide in the public library. It's usually shivering in there.

If I continue to get hot flashes the next 2 weeks, I believe I will be roasted alive.

I'm thinking the same thing you're thinking. I must be experiencing perimenopausal symptoms. I've not yet hit menopause because you know that thingy... well they're still making regular appearances. I'm not enjoying aging at all. It's utter crap.

The hot flashes must have damaged my brain because I voluntarily went to my GP to get an injection. Since last year, my GP has been nagging me to get the Zoster Vaccine.

I contracted chicken pox in my 20's as my neglectful mother had not informed me that I hadn't caught it during my childhood. As such, I never got the chicken pox vaccine. Anyhoos my GP said I had better get the Zoster vaccine to prevent shingles as I already suffer from myofascial pain syndrome as well as the gastritis induced headaches and stomach pains. If I get shingles on top of all that, it would be hell.

But I am terrified of needles and other than the mandatory vaccines and blood tests/IV drips, I rarely allow myself to be poked with a needle. So I kept putting it off and putting it off. Thank goodness, the hot flash zapped my brain and I found myself holding queue no. 2 at the GP's waiting room one morning. The elderly woman ahead of me went in for a very long time. When she finally emerged, I saw she had plasters all over her arm. She probably had like 3 injections, minimum. My legs immediately went weak. Very quickly, I was called in. The GP assured me she would use the tiniest needle known to mankind. Also, seeing how scared I was (tears were already streaming down my face and I had curled up like a fetus), she sprayed my arm with something to numb it. Thanks to these measures, I physically barely felt the injection although mentally, I was on the brink of madness. After I left the examination room, I felt a wave of nausea. Honestly, I was just psychologically making myself ill. The nausea went away very quickly.

The injection site on my arm did ache a little for a couple of days but other than that, I did not experience any other symptoms.

My GP recommends zoster vaccine for anyone 50 years and above who has contracted chicken pox. However, there are some people who may not be able to get this vaccine. E.g. those with HIV infection, allergy to gelatin or neomycin, those on medication which weaken your immune system, pregnant women and those with active tuberculosis.

I'm just glad it's over for me (it's a single dose) and hopefully, this jab will prevent me from getting shingles ever.

I don't know if it was a combination of the heat and hot flash but March was a little dark for me. I went from sadness to tiredness to lonesomeness to hopelessness and all sorts of other ness.

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again
Fortunately there's always yam ice cream

<Notice how melted the ice-cream is? That's how amazingly hot it is in Singapore.>

Despite the threat of soaring temperature, I feel I'm starting to pull myself out of the ditch. I've been sewing test bags and kicking around some other ideas.

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