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Isabelle
05-01-2011, 01:43 AM
Ello :)

Writers love books...so do any of you make them?!

I've always had a bit of a thing for stationary, and especially notebooks. About three years ago I found a little how-to guide on bookbinding, and thought I'd give it a go. I fell completely in love - it's one of those things that, once you've got the techniques down, you can do absolutely anything. Over the last couple of years I've been making notebooks on commission and selling a few in a book shop - it's so nice to make a few extra pennies doing something you love. (and by a few pennies, I do mean only a few...)

Has anyone else tried it? If not...DO!

Medievalist
05-01-2011, 02:12 AM
You want to PM AW member evilrooster; she's a bookbinder and a writer, and utterly fabulous.

icerose
05-01-2011, 03:37 AM
I bought a "bookbinding" book and it was really an art gallery sculpture made to have book themes. Ticked me off so bad. I still want to learn, but it will take some searching. My friend though does book binding and loves it, she promises to teach me this summer along with papermaking.

Medievalist
05-01-2011, 03:41 AM
Ask at local libraries and antiquarian book stores.

Book binders are everywhere, and they often teach.

Isabelle
05-01-2011, 09:24 AM
The book I started off with was called The Bookbinding Handbook by Susie Dogget - it was really good for learning the basics. From there I learnt more from a friend of a friend who is a bookbinder. It's so nice to be able to make your own books, exactly the way you want them.

evilrooster
05-04-2011, 12:33 AM
One of the books I started binding with was Bookworks, also by Sue Dogget. She does very good explanations of a variety of low-equipment, easy and rewarding projects. I also had a copy of The Craft of Bookbinding, by the pricelessly-named Manly Banister.

If you decided to learn binding on your own, there are a number of excellent books out there. Keith Smith has a set of books on low- and no-adhesive structures that really work for a lot of craft binders. Because they're dry bindings, they don't require presses. Most of them can be done at your dining room table with a needle, thread, and paper.

You can also do more traditional bindings (that's what I do) without formal instruction. There are a number of excellent books out there, such as the Thames and Hudson Manual of Bookbinding, and Bookbinding: A Step By Step Guide, by Kathy Abbot, which will take you through the various traditional and fine binding styles.

The main thing to do is to find something you like and do it. Do it a lot, become good at it, use the things you make (or give them away), and have fun.


You want to PM AW member evilrooster; she's a bookbinder and a writer, and utterly fabulous.

Sheesh, now I'm blushing. You can tell because my userpic is red.

muravyets
05-04-2011, 02:46 AM
I make books! I'm trying to raise the money to buy Keith A. Smith's Non-Adhesive Binding (http://www.amazon.com/Non-Adhesive-Binding-Books-without-Paste/dp/0963768263) set. The first book I learned from was Creative Bookbinding (http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Bookbinding-Pauline-Johnson/dp/048626307X), Pauline Johnson (Dover), and my next was Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Bookbinding-Instructions-Master-Craftsman/dp/0834801965), Kojiro Ikegami. I love that book. It's my go-to reference. I adapted one of its bindings to a mini artist book I have on my Etsy shop. Link (http://www.etsy.com/listing/25923438/the-dolls-house) to see what it looks like.

My passion is non-adhesive bindings, and I'm on a mission to discover a simple, strong, functional, quick, and inexpensive glue-free binding. A while ago, I geek-gasmed over this article republished on the site Conservation Online (http://cool.conservation-us.org/): 18th and 19th Century European and American Paper Binding Structures: A Case Study of Paper Bindings in the American Museum of Natural History Library (http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v14/bp14-06.html). @.@

I'm so excited by some of those bindings. I'm working with them now, but a big problem is that it's very hard to source a modern cover stock that isn't too brittle for the creasing at the stitch points, which the old heavy papers could handle. For now I have to laminate the spines to reinforce them, but someday I hope to achieve a 100% paste-free book that functions better than a coptic stitch binding.

This reads like I'm panting a little, doesn't it? ;)

ETA: I should add, as Evilrooster suggets, it's dirt easy and lots of fun to learn bookbinding, on your own or with a class. The beauty of it is, it's just paper, so you can fiddle around with it to your heart's content. You can pick up a book with instructions that make sense, maybe take a weekend workshop if you like, and then just go to town, learning by doing. I even dismantle my prototypes and reuse the materials when I'm experimenting with forms.

One thing I like to do is take apart old bindings. It goes against me to take apart a book, generally, so I dip into used bookstores' "as is" bins. I can often find bindings that are so badly damaged they're coming apart anyway. Dismantling and refurbishing them is a great way to learn the construction of books.

Alessandra Kelley
05-04-2011, 03:09 AM
a big problem is that it's very hard to source a modern cover stock that isn't too brittle for the creasing at the stitch points, which the old heavy papers could handle. For now I have to laminate the spines to reinforce them, but someday I hope to achieve a 100% paste-free book that functions better than a coptic stitch binding.

This might be an ignorant question, but have you tried sheepskin parchment? It feels like a somewhat stiff, heavy paper, but it's incredibly strong. You can't tear it to save your life.

I'm only a dabbler in bookbinding -- I made one for my nephew when he was born. I stand in awe of those who do it regularly.

muravyets
05-04-2011, 03:16 AM
I have not tried sheepskin parchment, mostly because I haven't found an affordable source for it. My major stumbling blocks are availability and price points. I could get 100% cotton, acid-free stock that would do the trick as well as the 18th century papers, but I can't afford them. Not only am I pathetically broke, but the other part of my goal is a handmade binding that will be profitable to sell at the small artisan level. Keeping materials costs in line is key.

Filigree
05-04-2011, 06:23 AM
I have a couple of the Keith Smith Books, as well as an old Dover publication on bookbinding, plus a lot of specialty journaling and fiber craft books. Penland's Mastercraft Bookbinding is an awesome resource, but expensive. Likewise with the Ikegami book! If you're just starting out there are a lot of more-approachable resources in print and online.

Online, I'm a big fan of the Book Arts Web at www.philobiblon.com, or Artists Books 3.0 at artistbooks.ning.com/

For the most part, I make one-of-a-kind and small edition book art sculptures, and sell through a couple of galleries and agents. I adore glue-free bindings as well, relying on wooden, leather, or fabric covers,
as well as linen and poly cords. You can see some of my work over at www.vampandtramp, under 'Crane Designs'. I've been doing book art and bookbinding since 1998.

Binders have to decide early on what their target market is, or if they'd rather just play for a few years. Etsy is a fabulous way to develop a following for lower-cost blank books, that people can use as journals or gifts. Because my fiber, leather, and wood books take so long to make compared to my paper books, I had to focus on the gallery/museum/ university special collection markets. There, I can sell a themed mini-book for $150 easy, on up to 2K or more for a larger piece. It's also a great way to use my original prose and poetry, for way more than the one-cent-a-word I might get if I published in a poetry journal.

muravyets
05-04-2011, 06:42 AM
Filigree is right. I use Etsy basically to clear my studio of the simple notebooks I make because I like to make them, as well as lower cost, unlimited edition mini-books. More intensive handiwork, as well as one-off or limited edition multiples of artist books are better served as gallery pieces. None of the books I put on Etsy take more than half an hour to make.

I like to use book construction to build sculptural objects, and to alter books into art objects, but I also like a book to be a book. In that part of it, I feel that bookbinding can be a very friendly craft to take up.

And yeah, the Ikegami book is expensive, but I got mine used at a big discount. I was lucky that way.

Filigree
05-04-2011, 07:01 AM
I lucked out and got my copy of the Ikegami book at Halfpricebooks in Arizona, at some ridiculous discount. Made up for the $50 I spent on the Penland book, but I'm a sucker for anything with Shana Leino and Dan Essig books in it.

Sometimes, I just want to make books, not do tons of research on text and theme. Then the pure joy of bookbinding comes in. Years ago, a friend gave me hundreds of little 1"x1" red cedar tiles. Last year I drilled a bunch of them, ripped some strips of cream Somerset Rag, and coptic-bound twenty 1"x1"x1" books with red linen thread. I gave away some as gifts, and sent some off to a gallery in NY, where they've all sold out at $30 each.

That was a happy afternoon.

muravyets
05-04-2011, 07:20 AM
Nice! They must have been so cool.

evilrooster
05-04-2011, 09:53 AM
My passion is non-adhesive bindings, and I'm on a mission to discover a simple, strong, functional, quick, and inexpensive glue-free binding.

It's not entirely adhesive-free, but have you tried sewn boards binding? You use a "signature" of stiff card as the basis for the boards, then tip/pitch on papers to cover it. There's some fiddling around the spine to give it a decent opening profile, but it's quick, lies flat, and very low-adhesive.

I ran across it in a workshop, so I don't have a book reference to suggest.

(And Ikegami? Wonderful.)

Isabelle
05-04-2011, 04:04 PM
Yey bookbinders! I'd love to see pictures of some of your work if you've got any about?!

muravyets
05-04-2011, 05:43 PM
It's not entirely adhesive-free, but have you tried sewn boards binding? You use a "signature" of stiff card as the basis for the boards, then tip/pitch on papers to cover it. There's some fiddling around the spine to give it a decent opening profile, but it's quick, lies flat, and very low-adhesive.

I ran across it in a workshop, so I don't have a book reference to suggest.

(And Ikegami? Wonderful.)
Yes, it's one of the bindings in the conservation article I linked to earlier. At the moment, I'm messing around with another binding in that article with a sewn-on wrap cover. I've found I can sew the signatures and sew the cover onto them in one operation, minimizing knots, even down to one knot to hold the entire thing together - though I'll probably use two threads and two knots mostly.

But that's the binding I need better cover stock for, because it sews directly through the cover stock at the point where it is creased. I'm working on that.

The sewn boards is the next experiment. I like both styles because they work with Ikegami's multisection book stitch, which is my personal favorite.

Isabelle: Sadly, I only have pics of a mini book using the alluded to Japanese multisection binding, a mini accordion fold book, and some pamphlet stitched notebooks on my Etsy shop, which is also linked in my first post.

ETA: I found a pdf on the sewn board binding, in case anyone wants it. Link (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDMQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.arts.ucsb.edu%2Ffaculty%2Free se%2Fclasses%2Fartistsbooks%2Fgaryfrost-sewnboardsbinding.pdf&ei=y1jBTa-DPIXUgQertvHWBQ&usg=AFQjCNET3992vJNtfIwEl0X4y6BYy6CuFQ&sig2=2bk1XQ2MttIqrDoKZAgwUA). I hope that link works.

Filigree
05-04-2011, 07:42 PM
I devised a box-spine construction out of wood or wood-and-leather that I used for probably 70 of my 100 books-to-date. But it requires carpentry and gluing and clamping, and a lot of patience. Since I discovered single and double-needle coptic biding, I've been going crazy with it.

evilrooster
05-04-2011, 10:24 PM
Early bindings here (http://bookweb.sunpig.com/gallery/index.htm), slightly newer ones here (http://www.evilrooster.com/). I haven't been as good about posting and describing things these last few years.

(And the Japanese-style binding of The Dream Hunters? Neil Gaiman bought it at the charity auction. I danced around the kitchen when I heard that.)

muravyets
05-04-2011, 11:31 PM
Beautiful work, Evilrooster.

Filigree
05-05-2011, 07:13 PM
Very nice work, evilrooster. I'd be dancing around tables, too, if Neil had bought my binding. Beautiful, detailed, and well-finished -- it's a joy to see
binders who aren't sloppy.

evilrooster
05-06-2011, 12:24 AM
Very nice work, evilrooster. I'd be dancing around tables, too, if Neil had bought my binding. Beautiful, detailed, and well-finished -- it's a joy to see
binders who aren't sloppy.

Oh, I've done plenty of sloppy bindings. The first link is to my earliest bindings, with ruthless dissections of what I did wrong in them. I leave them on the internet because people email me and tell me how reassuring it is to see someone start with so many mistakes and visibly improve over time. Gives them hope.

And that's the key skill, you know. Not controlling thread tension, or understanding the way that paper grain and texture affect the book block, or paring leather. All of those things are very nice, but hoping, trusting that your bindings will improve when you lose heart, is the most important one.

In that, it's a lot like any skill, including writing.

missouridalton
05-25-2011, 10:06 PM
I learned traditional bookbinding while studying abroad. Unfortunately I don't have all the tools to do it at home, but I'm working on that. I also enjoy doing craft bindings--though it isn't quite the same as binding a leather book from start to finish...