Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bookbinding = Joy

A couple of weeks ago I attended a 2-hour bookbinding class. It was rushed, slightly stressful, and showed a very quick-n-dirty approach. No written instructions, no precise cutting or time to take care, just 18 people frantically trying to keep up with a harried instructor who had a plane to catch. At the end of it, though, I had an intriguing little book, and had learnt (more or less) how to do a multiple-needle coptic bookbinding stitch.

I went home with another bookbinding kit in my bag, and googled around for some instructions I could work along to (the multiple-needle coptic / chain stitch *is* complicated at first). This time I carefully cut everything with unerring accuracy, worked at my own pace, and found the whole process throughly enjoyable.

I made some mistakes, and will be re-stitching the book with different thread, but for my second attempt at making a book from scratch, I was very pleased. I had decided to make a fabric-covered book, as I have some taupe suede which makes very pretty fountain pen cases, so I figured a matching book would be nice. I also stitched on some little floral motifs using contrasting thread for some added interest.

The cover:

The back:

The spine:

Detail of the spine, showing the braid formed by the coptic stitch:

In the class, we used a heavy black 5-ply Barbour waxed thread and darning needles. It is incredibly strong thread, but very thick and a bit unwieldy. I won't be using it again for any projects, as I have found nicer 3-ply and 4-ply threads in a bigger colour range that are better suited to the finer finish I like for my books. I have also invested in proper bookbinding needles.

Some other books I have recently made appear below.

My first book made in the class. The coptic stitch allows books to lie open flat:

Trying different thread and cover designs:

A book for my plein air pen and ink work:

A new book with A/S Colourfix coloured pastel paper sheets separated by glassine paper for plein air pastel sketches:

Some helpful links:
Instructions vary, but I prefer to start with the front cover first. This way, your final tie-off knots end up inside the back folio or section, rather than in the front.