Tag Archives: binding

More bookbinding

Winter is a great time to look outside at the cold rain and bare trees and stay in and bind books instead. Below are three projects from last week.

Book 1

Upholstery fabric makes great book cloth. It’s thick enough that it doesn’t need backing paper to keep the glue from coming through. It’s substantial enough that it doesn’t tend to bubble or warp. And it often has interesting textures that work well for a book cover. I love the fabric for book 1, the way it fits on the cover, the feel, and the sheen. Upholstery fabric can be pricy, but the retail price is similar to prepared book cloth. The fabric for book 1 was an $8 remnant; this project took at most 1/5 of that fabric. That’s not bad at all.

I did a coptic stitch with red waxed linen thread. At $16 a spool, it’s pricey, but it is a lot of thread. I’d estimate one spool could sew very roughly about 50 books of this size.

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I did my very first box for this project, following this set of videos for guidance. Sage Reynolds YouTube channel seems like an excellent source for book binding expertise. I’m sure I’ll be back there.bookbind-04049 bookbind-04048

Book 2- Dragonfly journal

For Book 2, I did my first long stitch book. For this binding, you simply sew through the spine. It was quick and pretty painless. I added a dragonfly embellishment to the cover, which I designed in illustrator, and had my Silhouette Cameo cut out. Another use for a favored toy. (Read more on the Cameo.)bookbind-04040 bookbind-04037

Book 3- Mad Scientist Lab Notebook

Book 3 features more raised details. Again, I did a coptic stitch. The endpaper I printed using the Silhouette Cameo’s art pen. It took a long time to draw all those paths, but I am in love with the result. The black slipcase (my second box!) features a mushroom cloud, cut with the Silhouette Cameo.

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The cover features a radioactivity symbol. I’m really excited about the mad scientist theme, so I’ll probably do more of these.bookbind-04034

A little bookbinding

I really enjoy bookbinding from time to time, especially now that technical writing occupies the bulk of my time. It’s refreshing to complete something and see its completeness. It can be hard to feel holistic satisfaction from writing; there’s always one more thing to fix. Below are some photos of my recent projects.

The first two are books I donated to my local writing club, WriterHouse, for a charity raffle. The purple and grey book is a perfect-bound notebook with a bone clasp; it contains linen textured paper. The dusky red book has exposed linen tape to allow for a more flexible spine. It contains a slightly warmer-colored linen textured paper. I made a similar book for myself a few months ago–having something beautiful to take notes in is a great incentive for me.

The third book is a copy of my novel draft to send to a friend who until now has been reading from a pdf. I used a red poppy patterned paper for the endpapers–I love the pattern but it’s a slick paper that can be hard to keep flat. I was pleased with how it turned out. The book’s cover is black imitation leather.

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Miniature Books!

This weekend at the festival of the book, I saw an exhibition about miniature books. The exhibition is a traveling show from the University of Akron including about 80 small or odd books. At the exhibition, Molly Schwartzburg, the curator of the miniature books collection at the University of Virginia, gave a talk about the exhibition and about mini books in general. The university has a collection of several thousand miniature books, which by their definition means no bigger than 3″ in any dimension when closed. Some of the mini books are made for artistic purposes, and others for practical purposes. The Knights of Columbus used to send miniature books containing short stories to soldiers during WW1, packing the tiny books with cigarettes. The Akron exhibit didn’t adhere to the 3″ limit, but all of the books were eccentric.

Below are a few pics from the collection.

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This does fold flat- “Solar Terms” by Ling Luo

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“Altar of Transformation” by Cathie Bleck

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A bunch of accordion style mini books.

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“Pig, hog, bacon” by S. V. Medaris, showing the life cycle of a pig on one side and bacon on the other.

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“I went to the mountains, but they were not there” by Rachel Mausier- a really cool combo of book arts and something more like origami.

 

Making Lovely Books

As my blog might reflect, I have a tendency to lurch from one area of interest to the next. Last week, my interests moved again to bookbinding. The pile of lovely paper and fabric sitting in my office called out. (hollanders.com has some lovely stuff.) So I tried a few new things.

The book below is covered with Japanese linen. I used an exposed stitch on the spine, and exposed linen tape. This is the first time I’ve cut a hole in the cover. Appropriately (see last week), I found a Hiroshige painting in the creative commons to use in the hole.

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Next I made a book that closes in the front with a bone clasp. The cover is black imitation suede.

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Finally I did a more formal binding of my Zish and Argo story. It’s a pretty simple binding with only a single 7 page signature, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. In the second picture below, you can see one of the spreads. All of the illustrations are digitized watercolor paintings.

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New books in the Etsy store

I’ve been busy binding and I have two new kinds of products in the Etsy store.

  • Canvas-bound journal with original photo cover: a 90-page lined journal with a durable and colorful canvas cover.

  • Mini sketch book: 72-page 4.25″ x 5.5″ sketchbook with Strathmore sketch paper. Bound with a Coptic stitch for a very flexible yet strong spine.

 

All available books are listed here, or can be found at the Etsy store ViroBooks.

 

Beautiful Books

I love a well-made book. There is something awesome about a book with golden edges and an embossed cover. I like pages with heft and texture, and books with color illustration. However I am also a great fan of classic science fiction, and 1960s scifi seems rarely to intersect with fine binding techniques. I often go to the used book stores and find paperbacks with yellow cracked pages and broken spines. The cover art is often wonderful, but these books are dying and falling apart. Many of these books have not been reprinted recently, or are offered only for outrageous prices as ebooks.

Lovely books were always a source of inspiration as a kid. This Tasha Tudor fairy tale book was my favorite (and was a big source of inspiration for my own collection of fairy tales). I hope with the rise in ebooks, we will see a rise in beautiful books. When you need not spend space on books, perhaps that space will be spent on books that are also art objects. Lately, I feel like I’ve been seeing more attention towards the appearance of books. Right now it’s more limited to literary classics, but I hope it will grow towards science fiction, which seems like it could benefit from such visualizations. Here are a few pretty books I’ve noticed:

  • Hiroshige, by Taschen (pictured above). This book is gorgeous. Bone clasps hold together the cover, and the book is bound in the traditional Japanese stab-binding style. The paper feel like it is cotton, and it really suits the art it bears. Also at $40, it isn’t insane, and it’s even cheaper on amazon.
  • Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics Series. There are a ton of books in this series, from Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arabian Nights to Foundation and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. One complaint: it’s very hard to judge the contents from the web. I found in person that the older out of copyright works had many more illustrations inside. I especially like their Arabian Nights. Most of these are around $20, so they are affordable.
  • Basically anything by Folio Society. I am particularly intrigued by their Foundation Trilogy, which has some fun-looking illustrations. Folio Society is a bit pricier, so I haven’t gotten anything from them yet.

I would love to hear about any other finds as well. Good hunting! (And here’s some lovely bookcases as well.)

Upon Book Binding- Getting started and some useful things

Book binding is pretty simple. I do not mean it is necessarily easy or fast, but that you do not need much equipment or knowledge to get started. I think when I first started binding (not much more than a year ago) that this knowledge was a big surprise to me. So, if you are interested in trying your hand at binding, take heart!

Most of what I have learned came from three sources: observation, YouTube videos (such as this one on the coptic stitch style), and this nice book on book craft. With the help of the library, this info is all free.

I once imagined that bookbinding required extensive tools. It is true that the books themselves take certain special materials (you can’t fake nice paper, for example), but the tools required for putting them together is dead simple. I use four g-clamps and a couple well-bound oversize books, shown below. Every book I have ever made was with these four clamps and these two books. Very soon I will be making myself some new presses according to this tutorial, except that I intend to use cutting boards instead of fiberboard.

The only truly essential materials are strong thread (beading thread or linen thread works well), paper, an awl, a cutting board, a cutting implement, book board, and copious quantities of elmer’s glue. I like to order my decorative papers and cloths from Hollanders, and most other supplies like book board, elmer’s glue, and linen thread from Amazon.

The first few times I made books, they were not great looking. There were two primary reasons for this: 1) I did not let the glue dry sufficiently before moving to the next step. Then when I did the next step, the unset material would wrinkle, bubble or tear, and 2) Some papers are really unforgiving and will bubble and wrinkle very easily. Copy paper for example is not designed to be absorptive, and thus takes some skill to handle. I recommend starting with drawing papers or high cotton content papers. These papers will not buckle with too much glue or bubble with too little.

Below are four books I did in the first six months of learning. You can’t see here, but all of them have some little wrinkle or foible here or there. Each was still really exciting; I still had made books! I hope this little discussion is helpful to anyone who is interested, or getting started. I find joy in every book I put together, sometimes to an extent that seems strange. For more pics (of more recent efforts), or if you are interested in my books, check out my Etsy store.