Monday, December 31, 2007

Bookbinding as a Trade

I don't think this happens very much anymore - where somebody learns bookbinding as an apprentice to a bookbinder, learns everything there is to know about the trade, then eventually takes over the business and continues working as a master bookbinder for the rest of his life... The New York Times just published this article about Mr. Schnerb, a real old fashion tradesman making a living as a bookbinder. This has to be rare. It seems to me that for most bookbinders today who are trying to make a living, that a career as a bookbinder is more like a career as an "artist" rather than a tradesperson. Mr. Schnerb is not being presented as a book artist or as anything else with a similarly vague title - and there are no artistic pretensions to bother about...he is a bookbinder! Plain an simple. Which, in my opinion, is absolutely fabulous! A real, honest-to-goodness bookbinder. Ah, nostalgia. Why don't we still do this apprentice and master process for the trade of bookbinding anymore? Maybe it happens somewhere...but certainly not anywhere that is accessible to me. Too bad.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Collaborative Bookbinding

Just before Christmas, I had fun working with a fellow Canadian Etsian, designing and creating a special golf book. Her Etsy shop is called Neawear. She contacted me to see if it would be possible to create a book for her boyfriend, that he could use to track his performance when golfing.

This was a fun collaboration. She had lots of ideas to work with and after several lengthy convos where we hashed out the details for all the book's specifications, she designed the pages and printed them herself. Then she shipped them to me from Montreal. I sliced them and diced them and made the book.

I also put together a 2008 weekly planner using the same leather and same binding - both have a basic longstitch binding and a neat and tidy tab closure. So now he has this great set of books! He'll be the envy of all his fellow golfers, for sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

More time for bookbinding...

...because I have a floor washing robot! Super Hubby decided that the perfect Christmas gift would be a robot to clean the floors, whooop! And I thought I wanted a sewing machine....pfffft! That would have created more work for me. But this....check it out.

I call him Scoobie
It is hard to tie this in with my bookbinding projects....but I had to share. And now I can make books and clean the floor at the same time. Can't get much better than that!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Little Merry Christmas Book

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Inspired by the season, I made my Christmas book this past weekend. The signatures have been sewn to create the shape of a Christmas Tree on the spine. The cover is some shiny, almost glittery, green cardstock. The pages are a mixture of many different handmade papers in a variety of colours. The beginning and the end of the sewing threads have been finished with some little beads for a little extra festive bling.

I'm going to list this little book for sale in my Etsy shop, just for one day. If it is still there tomorrow when I get home from my mother's house, then I will keep it for myself! It was a fun little expiriment with the longstitch and I could probably do it a bit better next time....but it'll probably be about a year before I'll want to make another Christmas Tree book!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bookbinding 101 - Getting Started

I seem to get a lot of inquiries from people who are interested in learning how to do some bookbinding. It would be nice if I could just send these people to a single magic website for some good introductory bookbinding lessons; however, that website doesn't exist yet. There are some amazing resources online for bookbinders and lots of tutorials, but I have found nothing that is as organized and dedicated to teaching basic bookbinding as a face-to-face class or a good solid analog book! For people who have never made books before, I would suggest buying either Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz or Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden - these two books cover many of the same techniques so you would not need to have both (ok, so you can't afford to buy a book, well, you can probably get one of these or some other similar book from your local library). The Japanese Bookbinding book by Ikegami is another great book to start with.

Aside from having a good book, I think the best way to learn bookbinding is with an instructor so if you can find an introductory bookbinding class you should get in there! Being able to ask questions is important and it is the best way to get your hands on the tools and materials so that you know what you really need to get started. But if you are trying to jump into this without books or instruction, here are some online resources that may be useful:

The CBBAG Home-study programme:

A big list of bookbinding tutorials:

For people who have never made a book and want to try some online tutorials, I would recommend starting with pamphlet bindings and Asian stab bindings...for example...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WHAT Feature

The WHAT Media blog people contacted me today to tell me they had one of my books featured on there. A nice little post about getting your new journal for the upcoming new year. Some of the other members of the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team are also there. Fun fun. As it says... "2007 is coming to an end and 2008 awaits like the blank pages of these journals....ah quit the soliloquy already...." Heehe!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Leather

I buy all my leather online, almost exclusively from Ebay. There don't seem to be any local suppliers and I haven't even had much luck finding a competitive supplier in my own country. So I've become an importer of animal hides. This box of leather came in the mail this week, mostly deerskin, all wonderfully soft and rich amazing colours.

This box of leather came from Wholesale Leathers, an eBay store. I have ordered from here many times and always get great hides and can usually get anything I request even if it isn't listed in the eBay store - good customer service is a bonus. I think these are garmet-quality hides so they are really very soft. This leather isn't typical of "bookbinding leather" really...and by that i mean it probably isn't the best for hardcover full-leather casebound books; however, these hides work really well for my limp leather journals.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Filling a tall order

A while ago, a local college asked if they could buy journals for all their board members, to be given as Christmas gifts. So, 4 days ahead of their deadline, I now have 24 journals ready for them.

Ten of them are the "longstitch through a slotted cover" style (a better name is needed for this binding!) with a narrow strap and sliding bead closure. The other 14 books are all done with a combination chain stitch and long stitch, with a wide strap and "belt loop" closure. So at this moment, I have no orders pending. Phew. I may not make another book for days....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

124 Signatures

Seems like all i've been doing lately is preparing signatures! I have 128 of them here, to be used for 14 books. Ten of them are orders, the other four are just extra. I just poked holes in 80 of them. Incredibly mundane...not my favorite part of bookbinding. But it seemed worthy of a photo and blog entry, nonetheless.

Friday, December 07, 2007

B.E.S.T. Sale

The Bookbinding Etsy Street Team is having a sale this week. Dec 7-14th. So my Etsy shop now has a "10-15% Off section" where I've discounted some of my books. The following is a full list of the Etsy shops that are participating, so check them out. Visit the BEST blog too!


Monday, December 03, 2007

Little Books

I registered for a 2-day bookbinding workshop to make miniature books. Very miniature, small enough to use for ear rings. The workshop was scheduled for this weekend (Dec 1-2) but it was canceled. Bummer. So I made a couple little books anyway. These are not so miniature as the books we would have made in the workshop...these are about 8.5cm X 6.5cm (3¼" x 2½").

So here they are. One is hardcover with wood grain paper on it, the other is a limp leather cover. Both are sewn onto supports: the hardcover book is sewn onto some narrow ribbon; the leather book is sewn onto strips of leather.

The little hardcover book turned out quite well. The leather book, though, is crooked. I pasted the spine directly to the leather cover and tried to pull the leather tight over the supports to enhance the three bands on the spine but I distorted it mostly... I was able to trim the cover leather to make it look better. It functions well enough. I think I will use it myself, I need a new little book to carry in my bag.

Since the workshop didn't happen, I need to have a look at some of MissRuth's mini book photos to see how she making them.... they are VERY miniature. One of her books:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

CSB Hidden

I finally did the one remaining Crossed Structure binding on the list. This is the CSB Hidden. I have done two of these books now: one with a leather cover and one with a handmade paper cover. I found the paper cover worked better for me, probably since i was able to get more accurate folds and such.

So the sections are sewn onto the D-shaped part of the back cover.

The front cover is cut with an extension that folds over the spine and overlaps the back cover a bit.

It has little windows for the sewing to show through and the D-panel on the back cover to poke through.

The overlapping pieces on the front and back are then simply secured - I just pasted them into place. Cutting the front cover can be a bit tricky, requiring very accurate measurements for the various cuts. But overall, the process of making the CSB Hidden seemed simpler than some of the other CSBs. Here's the finished book, with the green apple handmade paper looking a bit better in the natural light outside...unlike the washed-out photos above.

So I've worked my way though all of Arregui's CSBs. I am planning to revisit the CSB Solo since i think I'm not doing it quite right. But otherwise, let me see...I think the CSB Basic is my preferred style to make - I find it very flexible and can produce several different "looks" with that structure; however, the CSB Protective and CSB Linked are my new favorites so I want to do more with them now. Well, maybe not right NOW...but soon. I seem to have agreed to make several books for a local customer...24 books actually, to be ready by I'm kinda busy with that for now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Snowy Owl for me

So for the book swap, I sent the leafy book to Uwe, and Cathryn sent this fabulous Snowy Owl to me.

Cathryn Miller is a fellow Canadian, located in Saskatchewan. On the CBBAG website, her artist statement appears thus:

I have had a lifelong fascination with paper. I enjoy not only making it, but 'playing' with it to create unusual 3-dimensional structures. I consider it to be not just a support material for other processes, but an interesting thing in itself. The sculptural possibilities appear to be limitless.

More examples of her work.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Secret Belgian Binding for Uwe

Over at the Book Arts Forum, I discovered that there was a book swap going on! So I jumped on board for the latest round. A few weeks ago, I made a blank book using the Secret Belgian Binding and sent it off to Germany.

The fabric on the spine and corners is some drapery fabric that I backed with mulberry paper and I matched it up with this other leafy Japanese paper. I am usually not so brave to combine prints like this, but I do like it.

There is a discussion thread over the Book Arts Forum concerning the Secret Belgian Binding and several links have been posted to information about this kind of book. Today Uwe shared a link that he found to this Secret Belgian Binding tutorial. I am amazed that it is being done so differently than the way I do it! I took several photos of Uwe's book as I was making it and it is my intention to post a tutorial here...but that will take some time to prepare. I am now intrigued about this other approach to the structure...must investigate...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Apprentice

My little boy is 2 years and 10 months old and today he asked me to show him how to make a book. So we embarked on a 3-hole Pamphlet Project.

His technique with the bone folder needs some work but this was good for his first try:

We used the Japanese Screw Punch to make three holes.

We chose to reclaim an old poster to make the cover. Then he selected pink string for the binding.

Of course he doesn't know how to tie knots but he concentrated very hard on this for a few minutes before passing it over to me for the knot.

I think the scissors were his favorite part.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More Books for Sale

Once again, I packed up my books and set up at a craft market this weekend. Although this particular event was not as well attended as the show I did a few weeks ago, I had more visibility and made more sales. So it was quite a different experience.

The photo of my table looks very much the same...I suppose because it is mostly all the same stuff I had at the previous show! However, this was a somewhat bigger space and it was not as crowded for either the sellers or the buyers, there was better lighting...just better overall - even though the number of buyers wasn't as great as the previous show. People were giving me suggestions for additional craft shows that might still have space available. But I think that's it - no more this year.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fluffy Secret Belgian Binding

This is another one of the group of non-leather books I made recently. A few years ago, I acquired this amazing fabric from a box of stuff at my mom's house but never did anything with it. So I decided to finally use it. Obviously I also decided to experiment with the fluffy stuff too. I wanted to do the visible sewing in green, and this Turkish fibrous stuff was the perfect colour so I decided to try it. Since the textblock is sewn separately, it is still bound using ordinary linen bookbinding thread. So although the characteristic thread pattern isn't as obvious, the yarn still works adequately for attaching the covers and spine pieces like this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Paying it forward

Kaija, of Paperiaarre, got her PIF action together really fast! I was unexpectedly greeted with a package from her this morning. Beautiful before I even got the package completely open.

Inside the pretty package I found this beautiful, elegant book! A work of art, really. Kaija, you are too kind, thank you so much.

If you want to join the PIF fun, you can follow the trail. I joined on Kaija's blog and then 3 others joined on my blog:So check out their blogs and when they post their PIF offer, you can jump on board.

Now I should get to work.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ethiopian Chain Stitch

A green and silver chain stitch binding that I did recently. I have done a bunch of non-leather books recently, mainly because I had someone ask me to make something that their vegan friend might like. Obviously, the leather books that I make would not be suitable gifts for vegans. This is one of the books I made after getting that request. She didn't buy this particular book for her friend, though, so I still have this one.

Covered with pale green handmade paper that has silver star-bursts on it. The spine edge of each section is also reinforced with some light green handmade paper. I decided to use silver and green metallic embroidery thread for sewing. Generally that made everything really difficult and I don't recommend it. This is sewn with four needles using an Ethiopian chain stitch binding.

I summarized some historical information about chain stitch bindings like Coptic and Ethiopian bindings, for the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A book for Remembrance Day

I am wearing a poppy today for Remembrance Day.

This is a book by Jenny Gunter, a bookbinder I've met through the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team. A very pretty address book covered with poppies. Jenny did the poppy design herself! Wonderful faux raised bands there on the spine too. This is just a tiny example of her work, she does some amazing books with wood and leather. Very nice stuff.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Case-Bound Books

Although it seems like I spend most of my time making books with limp leather covers, I still enjoy a good case bound book from time to time. They are more satisfying than the limp leather books - probably because they are so much more effort! So I recently made four hardcover case-bound books. I am not exactly sure if this particular method of binding and casing in a book has a special name...the spine is sorta hollow, does that make it a hollow back? Probably not...I definitely need some education in this area. But I was pleased with them in the end, regardless.

I tried to do some rounding and backing...although two of the books I was working on here have just 8 signatures and didn't round very well. The two other books had more signatures and my rounding attempts were more successful. But I worked on the spines, attached some false endbands, layered on some pva and paper.... Briefly, I considered the possibility of attempting to sew my own endbands...then the feeling passed, very quickly. Phew.

The fun part of making these books is mixing and matching book cloth, leathers, and Japanese papers in pretty combinations.

I did two books with leather spines, and two with book cloth on the spines. All four have Chiyogami paper on the covers.