Sunday, October 13, 2019

Reinventing the Slot and Tab binding

Back in July, I went to the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio to teach a workshop. The workshop was called "Reinventing the Slot and Tab Binding." I first encountered a slot and tab binding, many years ago, when I got Alisa Golden's book, Creating Handmade Books. I really liked how it came together. The idea is simple enough and once you get the hang of it, making a book with this technique is quite easy and great for folks who don't want to do a lot of sewing. It looks like it has signatures (sort of) and it opens up nice and flat.

However, I was never quite satisfied with the cover options and I didn't like how the spine tended to 'creep' as the textblock gets thicker. And since it was a fully exposed spine, this 'creeping' was, well, fully exposed. If you've ever made one of these, you probably know what I'm talking about.

So I decided to seriously look at the binding to see if I could make it more satisfying to me. In the end, I came up with a number of variations. I was most interested in finding new cover options. And because of the spine 'creep,' I also wondered if a little spine backing might give it a more traditional shape. I don't really care for exposed spines anyway, so it didn't bother me to cover it up.

So, in July I took all this to Cleveland and taught a keen group of students how to make some of these variations. We did a simple wrapped cover version that looks like a basic pamphlet. We did a thicker one, with the exposed spine, with soft paper covers. Then we did two hardcover versions, one with a flat spine and one with a forced round. Then we made a simple slipcase for our set of books. It was a lot to do in just a 2-day workshop, but most of the students got everything done.

It was a lovely weekend. The students were really enthusiastic and my time at the Morgan Conservatory was great fun, as usual! Here are some photos taken during the workshop.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Fore-edge Marbling

I think fore-edge decoration is a wonderful thing. There are some rather amazing and beautiful examples to be found throughout the history of bookbinding.

My own experiments with fore-edge decoration have mostly involved marbling. I decided to pull together photos of some of the books I've done so that they are all in one place. As you can see, I like things to be matchy-matchy. Every time I marble a textblock, I always make a matching paper so that I can use it on the cover of the book.

Fore-edge decoration is not limited to marbling, though. There are many techniques including painting, speckling, gilding, etc.

There are some really interesting examples of edge decoration on the Princeton University library website, using many different techniques. There is also a good article on Wikipedia about fore-edge painting.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Happy New Year

To kick off the new year, I have two weekend workshops coming soon at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft.

First is Feb 9-10, when you can learn about the Early Coptic books, also known as the Nag Hammadi books. Second, is March 9-10, where you can spend the weekend immersed in the intricacies and elegance of Japanese bookbinding.

Visit the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft website for registration and for more information about these workshops and all the other workshops they are offering this winter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2019 Weekly Planners

I have my leather Weekly Planners ready for 2019! Currently available in my Etsy shop in these awesome colours: red, blue, yellow, green, brown, and distressed brown. Never too soon to start getting your new year organized.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Summer School

I taught two very different workshops in August. First, I went to Cleveland, OH to teach a workshop at The Morgan Conservatory. At this workshop, I taught the students a structure called the Library Binding. We did the books in quarter leather with marbled papers on the boards. The Library Binding is a very practical structure, and often overlooked (I think) as an option for binding. It was developed as a way of reducing costs and speeding up the traditional handbinding techniques used in the 1800s, while still producing a very sound and attractive binding for heavily used books. A few of the students in this workshop had never made a book before and this was not an easy binding for their first book! The books turned out great, though. Here are a few of the books made in the class:

Later in the month, I spent a few days at Sherbrooke Village in Nova Scotia where I conducted a rather comprehensive introduction to bookbinding over three days. The Sherbrook Village Writer's Guild had asked me to do this workshop for them, so I customized the various projects with them in mind. They were really immersed in the world of bookbinding over the three days and produced so many books! These are just some of the books they made. I definitely did not get photos of all their books, there were too many; but, this should give you an idea of how much they accomplished:

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Inventory sale!

Over the last few years, I have taught a lot of bookbinding classes. Every time I teach a class, I make samples of the books beforehand and then make them again during the workshop. As such, I have accumulated a pile of books that are starting to create a storage problem. And I really need only one or two samples of any particular binding.

So -- I have just listed 25 books in my etsy shop. They are all at least half price, and I'm offering FREE shipping to Canada and USA. If you ever wanted a nice handmade book, here's your chance! Or if you are one of my bookbinding or marbling friends and you think you might like to trade something, I am totally up for that!

Follow this link to see all the books on sale:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bookbinding Materials and Techniques 1700-1920

Bookbinding Materials and Techniques 1700-1920 by Margaret Locke is a book published by CBBAG and it can be purchased bound or in sheets (available through the CBBAG website if you're interested). I purchased an unbound copy ages ago. The sheets sat on my "shelf of unfinished projects" for a couple years, actually. I bound it, finally. Using a split board library binding, quarter leather, and my own original marbled papers. I even marbled the edges of the textblock to match. Now I can read it!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Converting an adhesive bound paperback to a sewn hardcover

I taught an interesting workshop this weekend. A few of my regular students had asked me about this technique in the past, so we decided to offer a workshop on it. The goal was to convert a glued paperback to a sewn binding with a hardcover. This technique is not meant for small pocket paperbacks but more for larger, heavier books like trade paperback editions, cookbooks, dictionaries and some textbooks where the softcover, adhesive binding has a tendency to crack and break. This is a typical example of what happens to these heavy glued bindings:

We started by taking our books apart and removing as much of the old glue as possible and the pages have to be grouped into sections for sewing. We sewed our textblocks onto flat linen sewing supports as per so many other binding methods. The main difference was the extra whip-stitching used to bind each section of pages. It is not a pretty sewing.

That was the hard stuff. Then it was just a matter of rounding and backing, constructing a case and casing-in like any other case binding. Most of the students in my class had some bookbinding experience but one of the students had never bound a book before and hers turned out beautifully, as did all the others! Most were quarter cloth with marbled paper, and one was bound in full cloth. The blue book in the next photo is the one made by the first-time binder. Pretty impressive. And she marbled that paper herself too!

These ones even got the titles on the spine, which is a nice touch.

And here's the full cloth version, and another of the quarter cloth with marbled paper.

Very impressed with all their finished books!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Shopping for books

There are a few specific bookbinding books that I would like to acquire at some point. So occasionally I check Better World Books, which stocks used books so their inventory changes all the time. I like to support that site. Getting used books suits me fine and I like the programs they have developed with the drop box program, literacy programs, etc. And they always have free shipping everywhere! I came across several bookbinding books that are currently listed with decent low price tags -- these weren't the ones I was looking for so I thought I'd share them here in case any of you are looking for a new book.

Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz

The Art & Craft of Handmade Books by Shereen LaPlantz

Basic Bookbinding by A. W. Lewis

The Encyclopaedia of Papermaking & Bookbinding by Heidi Reimer-Epp, Mary Reimer

At Home with Handmade Books by Erin Zamrzla

Bookbinding Basics by Paola Rosati

Bookbinding as a Handcraft by Manly Banister

Bookbinding and the Care of Books by Douglas Cockerell

Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Congratulations to my winners!

Congratulations to Nancy Akerly and Morag Schonken who are the winners of my 2018 Weekly Planner Giveaway! From my facebook page, my blog, and related twitter follows, I had 110 entries. I made a list and numbered all the entries and then used to pick two numbers which corresponded with Nancy's and Morag's entries! Thanks everyone, for your interest!

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 Weekly Planner Giveaway!

Happy New Year! I'm going to start off this year with a giveaway!

I made a batch of these hardcover 2018 weekly planners for the holiday market season last Fall. I have two left. I want to give them away while there is still time for them to be useful to someone.

So, if you like this offline method of keeping track of your life, leave me a comment here to have your name entered into a draw to win one of them. I will draw two names on January 31st. You can also follow me on Twitter (@rhondamillerMHB) to get two entries into the draw. I will also collect entries on my Facebook page. The first name will get the beige planner, and the second name will get the teal & orange planner.

These are handbound, hardcover books. The cover features my own original Suminagashi marbling and the year printed in gold or silver foil. There is a ribbon bookmark and a two-page spread for every week. Book size is about 18cm x 10.5cm (or 7" x 4").

Comments are now closed. Winners will be announced shortly.

Friday, December 01, 2017

The Dart Tower at The Dart Gallery

The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is presenting a collection of artwork inspired by Stephen King. I have to admit, I am a big fan of Stephen King's novels, especially the Dark Tower series. When I did my Bachelor's degree in English, I focused some of my work on the fantasy genre and wish I had read the Dark Tower series at that time! I came to them later, though, but still appreciate the complexity of the stories and the incredible new world that he creates within them.

When I saw the call to submit work to this exhibit, I knew I had to do something. So I tore apart my paperback copies of the first four books in the Dark Tower series and rebound them in quarter leather bindings. I used my own marbled papers on the covers, all greyscale, but increasingly detailed patterns from Book One to Book Four. I also carved some small lino blocks to print an appropriate image on each cover. To finish them off, black goatskin with gold foil lettering on the spines.

If you're near Dartmouth, I suggest you check out the show, which continues until December 7th. Here's a sneak peak that the gallery has posted on their webpage.

The stack of my books is visible in that shot, but here they are again, a bit closer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Morgan Conservatory Workshops

Just a few photos from the workshops that I taught last month, at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, OH. I had a great time at the Morgan, as usual.

First, I conducted a miniature bookbinding workshop with a dozen participants. Everyone made at least three different kinds of miniature books. We started with a pamphlet stitch, binding a little copy of A Visit from Saint Nicholas or A Model Millionaire. Then we all made a really tiny blank book, about 20mm tall. We finished by each binding a copy of Kipling's tale of How the Leopard got his Spots, as a miniature hardcover book. Certainly a very productive workshop for everyone.

The second workshop was making two different Crossed Structure Bindings. We made the first structure with a paper cover (using lovely Sainte-Armand handmade paper). The second structure was made with a leather cover. The students' previous experience ranged from some who had never made a book before, up to folks with years of experience. These are wonderful and versatile bindings so I hope they will all try these bindings again in the future!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Wooden Board Binding 13th-15th century, at PBI 2017

The thrid workshop that I had at PBI this year, was making a wooden board binding based on those made between the 13th to 15th centuries in Europe. The instructor was Renate Mesmer who is Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. The workshop spanned four full days but as Renate warned us on the first day, four days is not enough time to make this book. And indeed, nobody finished it. At the end of the four days, the participants had books at various stages of completion, but none were done entirely or complete with clasps. We did produce a stunning white library shelf, though, in my opinion.

We bound the sections with a herringbone sewing on double raised cords. And headbands. We did a fancy headband with many cores. Not sure I could duplicate it today.

I have this complex headband finished on just the head of my book. Although I also did a quicker bead-on-the-front headband in matching colours, at the tail of the book.

Working on the boards alone, took quite a long time. It's hard, working with hardwood. This photo shows the book after the boards are laced on and you can see most of the work done on the boards (shaping the spine edge, the indents at head and tail and fore edge, as well as the holes for lacing, pegging, etc) the spine lining, headbands, etc.

We did a full covering with alum tawed calf. The covering and tying up were the last steps that I completed.

Ideally we would have made and attached two fore edge clasps and then finished the interior paste downs. I did start a bit on one of the clasps but the four days just were not long enough! Nonetheless, thank you Renate, for such a challenging class!

I have more photographs from this workshop on my Facebook page if you would like to see them.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Durable Paper Bindings, at PBI 2017

Another workshop that I did at PBI in May was on paper bindings, taught by Henry Hebert. We made two different books, a stiff board case binding and a flexible laced paper case. Although I have done similar bindings in the past, there is always something new to learn. Henry is very knowledgeable about these bindings and had a lot to share about the mechanics and construction as well as the history and variations of them.

The laced paper case was sewn on alum tawd thongs with a linen lining, with a basic bead-on-the-back endband. I used some awesome paper from Hook Pottery Paper for the cover.

The stiff board binding was sewn onto recessed cords. We made stuck-on endbands by oversewing onto linen and we made our own decorative paste papers for the covers. Well, traditionally the German paper bindings had rather drab paste papers on them actually - not very decorative, just serviceable really. So I went with drab.

I have posted several photos related to this class on my facebook page if you want to see more.

Henry has a blog where he has posted a lot about paper bindings in the past, and it is a great resource if you're interested in knowing more about them. Thanks for this great workshop, Henry!