Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dealing with a window

Here is a little demonstration of how to cover a board that has a window in it. I am not going to include all the steps of making this book. I am just dealing with the window.

First of all, there are a few ways to do this. The method I am using here is just one option. This method should work with most covering materials. Before you undertake a project, though, it is always best to practice with the materials so that you know how they behave.

Here is my case. As you can see, the back cover already has the covering material in place. I have another piece of the cover material cut and ready for the front.

Spread paste on the back of your cover material, and put it onto the front cover, like this. Right over the window.

Flip it over, trim the corners and turn-in the head, tail, and fore-edge.

Now, the window. Cut an X in the middle of the window. Be careful that you do not get too close to the corners. Leave a little bit of the paper uncut in each corner. Here is the window, after I cut the X.

Now you can gently fold in each of the triangle pieces. Do not worry about the corners too much. For this step, just leave the corners alone. Here, you can see that I have the four triangles pasted down, but the corners are still loose.

Flip over the case and use a bone folder to gently push the cover material into the corners.

Now the outside is finished.

But, we still have to finish the inside of the cover. I have applied the paste-down to the back cover and I have another piece of paper ready for the front cover.

We need to cut a window in this piece of paper before we glue it to the book. If you like measuring, you can do lots of careful measuring here to figure out exactly where to cut the window so that it aligns perfectly with the hole in the cover. Or, as I have done, you can carefully place the paper underneath and trace the window.

Now you can cut out the window. It should be bit bigger than the square you traced, about 1mm larger. You can discard this little cutout.

Spread glue on the back and place it onto the cover. Now the inside of the case is finished.

Here is the book, complete with pages.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Zhen Xian Bao on screen

I have written here previously about Chinese Thread Books, or Zhen Xian Bao. Of course, most of us learned about these wonderful folded books via Ruth Smith's research, which she published in A Little Known Chinese Folk Art: Zhen Xian Bao in 2012. It's an obscure Chinese folk art from a specific region of rural China, now popular with a niche group of folks who are interested in folded books.

Imagine my surprise, as my daughter and I were watching a movie at home this evening, and a Chinese Thread Book appeared on screen.

So, although Dolittle didn't quite become the smash hit they were likely hoping for, I am now a fan of this movie because they used a Chinese Thread Book as a prop! A nice little surprise in these quarantine times. Here are a couple of screen captures from the movie. These few glimpses occur between 1:10:50 and 1:11:00.

I have made a few of these over the past few years and you can see some pictures if you want to scroll through earlier blog posts. But more exciting, I acquired a real one a couple years ago. So, here are a couple photos of the real one that I have:

I mean, really it doesn't make much sense for Dr. Dolittle to have a Chinese Thread Book given where they originate and what they were typically used for. It does look nice on his desk, though.

If you're interested in learning more about these books and their Chinese origins, Ruth Smith has written a book of instructions as well as a book about the history. I believe you can purchase from her directly if you contact her through Instagram, username: foldedsecrets

Also, I hope you've had a great World Book Day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse, a film directed by Robert Eggers, was released in October 2019. It was filmed nearby and I got to make their prop books. The entire film was shot on black and white 35mm film and is referred to as a psychological horror film. I watched it recently and I think that's a good categorization.

Here are a couple of the books I made for them. The colour photos were taken on set during filming. The black and white images are screen captures.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Last Year

Every year I start by apologizing that I have not been updating my blog. There were a few things last year that I had intended to share here on my blog, though.

Hedi Kyle Workshop
I had the pleasure of attending this workshop last June. Hedi Kyle was in the neighborhood and conducted a workshop at NSCAD. She introduced several techniques and structures and folds that she has come up with over the years. Some of the things we did are included in her book, Art of the Fold, but she also had us doing some newer things too that aren't in that book. So that was a good time. Here's a sample of some of the things I made in that workshop.

Centre for Craft Nova Scotia
As usual, I taught a number of workshops at the Centre for Craft Nova Scotia over the course of the year. This included bookbinding, box making, and marbling. So, here are a few pictures taken during those workshops, showing what the students accomplished.

'Know How' Instructor Exhibit, Morgan Conservatory
Last year, the various instructors teaching at the Morgan Conservatory were invited to submit work for a small exhibit called "Know How," which was on display there last summer. I made these two books for that exhibit. They are both full leather, split-board library bindings. The larger book is a classic 1980s detective novel by Teri White, called "Bleeding Hearts." The smaller book is a blank companion journal, made to match.

Cleveland Museum of Art
When I was in Cleveland to teach at the Morgan Conservatory, I had a chance to visit a Medieval Monsters display at the Museum of Art. Much of the exhibit consisted of illuminated manuscripts like these.

Every day projects
In between the workshops and such, I spent most of my time just doing the work, day to day. This included making journals to sell in a couple of shops, hand binding lots of theses for local university students, plenty of book repair (mostly cookbooks and bibles), a few small editions, custom boxes, etc., etc.

I've probably forgotten something interesting, but that's a little taste of 2019 and a few examples of stuff that I could have posted about here on my blog, if I had been more organized. Onward into 2020!

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.