Archives for category: Thesis Project

sewn signaturesLast night I finally finished watching Battlestar Galactica. Oh, and I also finished sewing all my thesis text blocks as well. But who’s counting?

I am. It took me around twenty hours spread out over two days to finish sewing all these puppies together. And by “puppies” I mean “books”, not actual “puppies.” (Pictured Below)

Red Clover puppies 154



Also, here’s what the outside of my thesis notebook looks like:
image-1 image


And here’s a picture of the awesome pens I’ve been using on all my charts and diagrams:

What a crazy, science-filled two days of bachelor party “action” that was. I thought I’d share some images of my trip to the USSRC that began my “research” for my thesis. Anyone reading this in the Book Arts program, you’ve probably seen these pictures in one of my many presentations, and you’ll probably see them again at my thesis presentation. Just letting you know.

Here we are in real space suits.

Leaning up against an F-1 engine. The same type that took man to the moon. The engine makes us look slightly cooler.

Leaning up against an F-1 engine. The same type that took man to the moon. The engine makes us look slightly cooler.

In the rocket park.

In the rocket park.

More rocket park.

More rocket park.

The majestic Saturn V.

The majestic Saturn V.

The majestic Saturn V at NIGHT!

The majestic Saturn V at NIGHT!

And again.

And again.

Us waving to the crowds as we board the Space Shot.

Us waving to the crowds as we board the Space Shot. Four seconds after this photo was taken I would begin screaming my lungs out like a dying rabbit.

Us actually on the Space Shot."There are no atheists on the Space Shot" I quipped, seconds before we were dropped three stories.

Us actually on the Space Shot.
“There are no atheists on the Space Shot” I quipped, seconds before we were dropped three stories.



Me with John Young's space suit.

Me with John Young’s space suit.


The Apollo 16 Command Module.

The Apollo 16 Command Module.

Me inside the Command Module. (Not Really).

Me inside the Command Module. (Not Really).

A picture of me having my picture taken with some kind of proposed rover.

A picture of me having my picture taken with some kind of proposed rover.













I believe I mentioned that my thesis exhibition will be held in University of Alabama’s observatory, right? Well just in case I didn’t, now you know for sure just exactly how “cool” I am. Anyway, I went to meet with the observatory director the other day so I could take some measurements and get an idea of how I’m going to hang and light my work. I think I’ve got it all figured out. And how else would you expect me to do this other than by using a lot of colorful charts and graphs? You know me. Come on.

hanging options

This is how I think I’m going to hang my work. With a lot of clamps and fishing line.

Below are diagrams I drew of the observatory. The first one is in pencil and the second one is in colored pens. Just LOOK at the difference. The first one: YAWN! The second one: WOW!






And here’s a picture of the observatory. The reception (read: food) is going to be on the roof. Unless it rains. Then it will be in the control room below the observatory.

observe THIS!

observe THIS!


So anyway, I’m trying to get Neil deGrasse Tyson to come to my show opening since it has to do with space and he seems to be into that. So if anyone knows him, just drop him a line. He can always crash on my couch.




ALSO, I finally finished my first LEGIT mockup complete with slipcase and adhered mission patch. Here’s a picture of it. Pez John Adams makes the whole thing look VERY presidential.

Pez John Adams and book in background

Why don’t you just fold the papers? Why do you need a folding jig at all? Since when did folding paper become soooo complicated that you need a “jig” to do it?

These are all fair questions.

Well, what happened was that I didn’t exactly center my text or images on the paper while I was printing.  As a result, both sides of each page have a slightly different center-line, which I’ve labeled “B” and “F” for “Back” and “Front”.

image (1) folding jigIt’s made out of .059 binder’s board. There are two lines in the center marked “F” and “B”. These are the center-lines for the two types of pages. The page is placed on the jig and butted up against a second layer of binder’s board running along the bottom and right edge. The two lines on the right side are also marked “F” and “B” and indicate where each page should be folded to.

first folded signaturesHere are the first signatures I folded using this complicated jig. I quickly decided to simply use the jig for marking the top and bottom, or head and tail, of each page and  just folding to those lines since the whole thing is going to be trimmed anyway. Oh well. The jig will still look good in the display case at my exhibition, which is in 38 days.

Less making basically useless jigs. More book binding.

But wait! One more thing before you go. Just so you don’t think all my jig ideas are crap, I want to show you one that I made that was actually extremely useful.

mylar jigThis is my Mylar alignment jig, and, as far as I’m concerned, the BEST use of Mylar ever invented.

mylar 2

mylar 3I would use it by placing it on top of prints to make sure everything lined up. As you can see, all the text pages had at least two colors, the main black text and the red side text. It was very important that these be consistently placed. Also, a couple of the pages didn’t have any text at all , only images, but still needed to line up with the rest of the text in the book. This helped me to judge where to place those images.

Saturday was my final day of thesis printing. (Whatevs.) ((No bigs.))

Don’t worry. I kept track of ALL KINDS of “interesting” statistics, such as: number of press cranks, average precipitation, miles driven, $ spent on ga$oline, temperature on my most efficient day, and MANY MORE! I won’t put those statistics on here until after my public presentation on April 8th. I want everyone to be “surprised”.

ally cleaning my press out of the kindness of her heartMy girlfriend got to fly down here from Texas and hang out with me during my final eight print runs. I was so happy to have her there and she even cleaned the press for me a few times because she is so amazing. She also read my thesis text, which is kind of a big deal since it’s partially about her. She was going to wait to read it until I was completely finished printing and binding, but she decided she couldn’t wait anymore.

final print

Here’s me casually posing before printing the very last page of the last print run.

And here's me celebrating finishing the printing of my thesis with a Cadbury Cream Egg. Delicious.

And here’s me celebrating finishing the printing of my thesis with a Cadbury Cream Egg. Delicious.


Well, you know it's true. Even Pez John Adams thinks so. Roll Tide.

Well, you know it’s true. Even Pez John Adams thinks so. Roll Tide.

Alan Shepard with the fourth and final color layer.

Alan Shepard with the fourth and final color layer.


Al Shepard - 3 layers

Al Shepard with 3 color layers. One more to go.

Saturn V with 3 layers


I re-watched From the Earth to the Moon this weekend. Is there anything Tom Hanks can’t do? What a class act.







saturn V black and white


saturn V color


Al Shepard red

First Alan Shepard color layer.
*Note* I know, I know. He looks like our President.



Mercury 7 red

First color layer of the Mercury 7

old glory sans stars

Old Glory sans stars

color chart

These are my color swatches. Picked em up at the Home Depot





That’s a really good question. I’m so glad you asked.

Well, I’ll tell you.

I got to do a lot of really cool, space-related things this summer. Not because I’m cool. I just got lucky. For example, I got to go to Houston and visit the Johnson Space Center on an all day, behind the scenes tour. I got to attend the Space Academy for Educators at Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which is really just Space Camp for teachers. While I was there I visited the Rocket Center’s archives and sifted through box after box of Wernher von Braun’s personal papers. I got to visit the “suit morgue” where they keep all the space suits that aren’t on display in the museum. I just got really lucky.

While all this was happening, I was also falling love with a girl I’d known for years. I won’t tell the whole story here but basically I didn’t think she liked me as anything more than a friend. She’s the one who invited me to go on the special tour at NASA. I knew she was special, but I still didn’t think she liked me. We spent four days together in Houston and then I left to go to Space Academy and she left to go to Europe.

My thesis is all about parallel stories and what goes on under the surface of things.

Al Shepard page


The main text is black. It’s all about the space-related things I did that summer as research for my thesis. The red text in the margins is all about what was going on in my head the whole time. It’s all about my confusion and self-doubt and I hope it comes off funnier than the way I’m describing it here. I wanted it to be funny, but I also wanted it to be very personal. This is without a doubt the most personal piece of art I’ve ever created. Only my proofreader and I have read the text in its entirety so far, so I’m a little nervous about the public presentation I have to give. My girlfriend, the girl from the story (oops, I just ruined the ending!) hasn’t read it because she wants to be surprised.

I hope she likes it and I hope people want to buy it. I don’t want to be stuck with fifty copies and have to use them to level tables and whatnot.

I just wrapped up printing the text for my thesis and now I’m moving on to the images. Which is good because my defense is in APRIL. April 8th, actually. But my show has to be set up and open to the public on the 4th. I’m having my show in the university’s observatory. I’m pretty sure this is a first for both the history of book arts AND The University of Alabama. (Roll Tide)

Yesterday was my first day printing any images so I took a few pictures.

The Prints

Al Shepard page

This spread features one of the 4 color prints. It’s the first American in space, Alan Shepard. Let’s light this candle.

Al Shepard plate

This is one of the polymer plates for the Al Shepard image. This is the black layer. For more information on photopolymer plates, please see my “Award Winning” post on photopolymer plates!


This is one of the images of the moon that will be in my book. I was having paper problems, so Sarah Bryant suggested I “ink the hell out of it”, and I did. And it’s beautiful. There’s so much ink on this print that you can actually feel the moon’s craters. Which is an added bonus.


moon plate

The Charts

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to talk to me for five minutes, you’ll know that I love hand-drawn, needlessly complex, multicolored charts. I love them so much that I show them to anyone who will look. I figure this is a good opportunity to show the whole world.

standard deviation

This is my standard deviation chart. Don’t be fooled into thinking I have only one of these. If you look closely at the top you’ll see that this is the “OVERALL” standard deviation chart. I also have separate deviation charts for the text portions and image portions. I like to know how many I screw up and this helps me visualize that. For another “fine” standard deviation chart, you should probably look at this other post.

print settings

This helps me keep track of all my settings. Unlike the standard deviation chart, this one is actually quite useful.

color distribution

This is my color distribution chart. It tracks how many times each color appears throughout the book and how much of that color appears on any given page. Usefulness rating: 4 out of 10.

best chart ever

This is quite simply the best, most useful chart I’ve ever created. It shows the front and back of each spread in the book. I constantly use this as I’m printing to make sure I’m printing the correct thing on the back of some other correct thing. It also helps me keep track of which portion of each page I’ve completed via a complicated series of color-coded marks below that page. This book has 3 different colors of text and four different colors for images, so things can get pretty complicated pretty fast. Anyway, I love this chart. After this is all over I’m having it framed. Or maybe bronzed. Or both.