Book with Leather Jacket
A journal I made in 2009

Above you see a journal I made in 2009. It was one of the first I made in a coptic stitch. When I made it I had not heard yet about 2-needle bindings, and thus this one here has a simple 1-needle stitch. But on the other had I added a fly leaf. – Before learning Coptic bindings I had been making case bindings, and making a book without a fly leaf just didn’t seem prudent. Now that I rediscovered the construction in this book, I think I ought to introduce that in my current work as well. As you can see it is a rather plain design. That is because I had added a leather cover. At the time I thought was a clever idea, but it turned out not so very beautiful after all, and I couldn’t sell it. And I rather dislike any book covers. (I tend to remove all dust jackets from commercial books as well.)

Maxi Book
I used the red journal as a size comparison for other books I made at the same time in this photo here: my oversized sketchbook, a smiley oracle and a teeny tiny mini book.

So this book entered my “to do” pile in my studio. I inteded to give it a new finish by adding a lino print on the front cover, thus making it easier to hold it the right way up when picking it up, as well as making it more interesting. It sat in that pile, and sat, and sat, and never anything happened with it. I moved it from here to there, moved it from my to do pile in Bonn to my to do pile in Nottingham, but somehow it always seemed more convenient to start over completely rather than decorate this older binding.

Now let me take a break here, I’ll come back to that later, first I need to change the subject.

346 wip
346 scroll: all paper printed and sitting on one of the dowels

Pain is not a nice topic to write or read about, at least when referring to the English word, rather than the French. You can see it in my title line nevertheless, – I hope that putting it beside the word sourdough didn’t make your cringe and turn away on the spot, and since you are reading this, I was successful it seems. You’re still with me? – Thanks. So, I have been in pain for four weeks now, suffering from really bad lower back pain. It doesn’t seem to be the average lumbago since it started off easy and then slowly got worse. And it is bad: I have difficulties with personal care like dressing and washing myself, but I don’t want to go into too much detail here. I am on pain medication now, which makes it quite bearable, really. But the pills also make me dizzy, and let me do crazy things like putting dirty socks in the fridge instead of in the washing machine, and generally they don’t let me think straight. – They puts me in a happy but neither very dependable, nor very productive stupor. And so I am trying to balance being happy and relatively pain free with being there for my children and getting some work done. – And surprisingly I did get some work done: Those who followed me on facebook saw the “346” scroll getting thicker and thicker until it was finished. I am currently editing it – though this takes a lot of time currently due to the forementioned stupor I am in most of the day.

jeansbooks wi kleiner
Three pairs of jeansbook covers finished

And I also finished three pairs of jeansbook journal covers, all “size M” (the books not the pants), and more in other sizes are planned.

My work was about that far progressed some time in the middle of last week, when the pain got worse, I needed more medication, and I saw myself unable to stand and work without medication, or concentrate enough to work with medication.

And so, being unable to bind books or edit 346, I started something new (because I just can’t do nothing. What do you do when you do nothing?): Baking, making bread. (Not French bread though, it would have been nice to say I turned pain into pain.)

Sourdough Starter
Two different sourdough starters dubbed Paul (left) and Herbert (right), different recipes and therefore different levels, the lefts wants me to toss half each time it is fed during the first stages, the right is being added to constantly, when done I will have about the same amount of sourdough from both recipes.

And since the first couple of experiments using fast action instant dried yeast were pleasant but not totally satisfying, I started to read about how to make sourdough bread. And it sounds easy enough, and so interesting: the chemistry behind it, the history, experiences of other amateur bakers… M. asked me this morning to please stop talking about sourdough. Apparently not everyone finds it as interesting as I do. I understand won’t bore you with more details. But, and now I am back on track, I felt I needed a journal for the dough and my experiments, so that if something goes wrong, I can track back my mistake.

sourdough diary kleiner
decorated cover, already with sourdough smudge

And so I took one of the books from my pile. – It happend to be this red journal I talked about in the beginning. I briefly thought about it, but cutting a stamp just seemed over the top, and so I just gave a ballpoint pen a try to decorate the cover, and it worked! I am rather happy with the result. Now, this open weave book fabric might not be the best to use in the kitchen. It can’t be wiped and dough and other dirt tends to stick between the fibres. I certainly wouldn’t advertise it for kitchen use were I to sell it. But for my personal use it is good enough. Actually I am really happy with it. – Well, my pain medication make me really happy about anything at the moment šŸ™‚ I hope to get more meaningful work done soon, and then show off my first complete 346 copy, or a pile of jeansbooks.

On the way to there I’ll probably need help to eat all the bread I will have to bake soon. If you are near you are welcome to come over, try some and possible take some home!

I am wishing you all a happy and productive week

A loaf of whole wheat bread I made the other day – not a sourdough bread yet, but those should be soon to follow after


4 replies on “Pain and Sourdough”

  1. How wonderful that your long-neglected red Coptic book was just waiting to become your new recipe book! But, Iā€™m sorry you are in such pain. My husband lives with pain everyday with little to no medications, so my heart goes out to him and you and all others with this problem. I am glad you can do a bit of creative work. The blue jean covers look great, also!

    1. Hello Gina,
      thanks for your comment! Sorry to hear your husband has chronic pain. For me it has just been four weeks, and I hope that this will heal and stop, hopefully not too far in the future. Being in pain can have a huge psychological impact as well as physical, so Kudos to him for managing everyday life with a condition like that.
      Thanks for your compliment on the jeans covers. I hope you’ll like the books I am planning to make with them!


  2. Sorry to hear that the back is still such a problem: I had hoped that a solution other than medication might be on the way!
    I am glad the book found a role in life, and disappointed that we are no longer close enough to ride our bike over and test your bread. ; ] I used to be the bread baker in our house until David was given a batch of “historic” (on the go since before he was born) sourdough starter. Now he bakes all the bread, because you have to keep the starter going!
    The original starter is no longer with us: David was baking a batch of bread while suffering from the flu and forgot to take some to save from the sponge that rises over night. A second starter (culture brought by a friend from San Francisco which has a history of sourdough bread from the Gold Rush days) died in the freezer while we were away on an extended holiday. The current one (started by David in what looks like the Paul jar) has been going for quite a while.
    Glad you are still managing to get so much done despite the back. (Which I hope gets better soon. You would probably be quite able to cope with the level of chronic back pain I live with –without pain meds, and I hope there is a way that will be possible really soon!

    1. Hello Cathryn,

      I’ll see the GP about my back today, and I hope, too, she will have some answers other than more pain meds. According to NHS online resources, they only start diagnostics after 6 weeks, though. I’ll see.
      Interesting to hear you also tend to a sourdough. But I am not surprised šŸ™‚ I am curious: did the bread from your different sourdough bases really taste different? That is one of the reasons why I currently have two starters, to test whether the bread will taste different. Also I am a bit susicious about Paul (recipe by Paul Hollywood, hence the name) as it contains grated apple. By now most of that seems to have been consumed or tossed now, it seems. The other dough is made from wholegrain, that is why it looks different. To me it smells better, too. Tomorrow the first should be ready for a first baking, I can hardly wait!

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