Bound Away by CAKE


At the beginning of the project, the members of CAKE met with us to discuss the layout, storyboard and design. We knew they were going to be great to work with when they talked about what color combinations could capture the mood of the song.


During that first meeting, Xan McCurdy, the guitarist for CAKE, was arranging the wood type we pulled out to show as an example of what was possible to print. After the band left and we went to clean up we noticed the word AWAY arranged in an interesting way. We kept Xan’s arrangement and used it to print the covers.


CAKE gives away a tree to an audience member at all of their concerts so we thought they’d appreciate making the books out of as many recycled and reclaimed materials as possible.

The cover paper is made from the band’s old cotton clothing (left). Right: we had to cut the clothes into one inch squares before putting them into the hollander beater where the fiber is beaten into pulp. We separated out the clothing by hue so that the colors would be preserved and we tried to ensure that all band members were represented in each batch. Recycled white cotton printmaking paper was added to the vats to extend the pulp and that’s why the finished paper turned out lighter than the actual clothing.


Our friends at Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco donated many jute coffee sacks to make the endsheets. Jute contains a fair amount of lignin which interferes with the hydrogen bond and produces limp paper if it’s not cooked out. We learned this the hard way after thinking we could skip the cooking step to save time. We saved time but ended up with paper that was only suitable for the compost bin. Always cook your jute!



Left: John McCrea, lead singer for CAKE, making paper from the band’s clothing. The guys picked up paper making pretty quickly and by the end of the day they were pulling sheets like the pros. Gabe Nelson, the bass player, surprised us all with his skills. Turns out, he once worked as a production papermaker. Right: the formed sheets are put under a hydraulic press to remove most of the water.


John double dips to make a two-toned sheet of paper using a mould and deckle. He really got into the papermaking.


All in a days work. You can really make a lot of paper if you have a whole band helping out!


CAKE’s aesthetic lends itself really well to block printing. The band had never carved linoleum before so we had them start out with something easy like the clouds. After they all had carved a cloud or two, they felt comfortable enough to move on to the more detailed images and by the end of the day they were carving the most complicated blocks. We carved all the imagery for the interior pages in one day–a total of 37 blocks.


John McCrea (Left) and Gabe Nelson, (right), print the pages of Bound Away on Vandercook proofing presses. We were able to print four pages per side with separate press runs for each color on each side. Total number of pulls on the press for the entire edition was 14,400. That’s a lot of hand printing!


Left: Close-up of the lock-up on the press. Handset metal type was used for the text.

Right: Gabe Nelson, shows off a sheet he just printed.


Once all the pages were printed, we trimmed them down to size and collated them according to ink saturation. This took many, many, hours but luckily we had the band on hand to help. Some band members matched up spreads while others folded pages. By the end of day one, Xan McCurdy, CAKE’s lead guitarist, told us he now looks at all books differently.


Left: Bound Away is a story of having one’s vocation take them away from home. To capture this sentiment in the binding, Pam handspun a hemp thread drawing on a connection to the hemp ropes traditionally used in the maritime industry.

Right: Pam sews text pages together with an endsheet using handspun hemp waxed with beeswax from her San Francisco beehive.


Left: We aligned the book board that would become the front and back along with a piece of recycled heavy card stock for the spine. We applied glue to the paper around the boards and carefully turned in the edges and corners to form the case of the book.

Right: A sewn text block is being glued to its case.


Pam DeLuco and Kate Nigro spend an afternoon binding books.


The stacks of finished books grow!


The books are numbered and wrapped and a colored car is glued to each book. The cars have the edition number written on them and the color indicates the color of the paper for the cover.


You may be wondering if the guys donated pink shirts and the answer is no. Along with the band’s t-shirts we used recycled white cotton paper so red shirts came out pink. Kind of like what happens when you put a red shirt in with your white laundry–turns everything pink! Red t-shirts never make really red paper anyway so we thought it was ok to aim for pink instead. And if you think the blue looks a lot like denim, that’s because it probably is! You wont be able to request a specific color but rest assured, they are all nice.


Bound Away is available for purchase via the CAKE website.


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