Thursday, August 30, 2007

CSB Linked

The next Crossed Structure binding that I tried was the CSB Linked. The result is very clean and tidy, which I like.
In this structure, the two covers are cut separately; one with strips for sewing. The other cover has slits cut for the strips to slide through.

The covers are thus linked prior to sewing, unlike the previous CSBs that I have described where the second cover is attached after sewing is complete.

The sewing strips are slipped out and in though little slits in the front cover. Because the covers are joined before the textblock is sewn on, the covers are very secure. I made two of these, here is the back cover of the grey book, and the front of the brown book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bookbinding Etsy Street Team

A brilliant idea spearheaded by Flurrsprite. She has initiated an Etsy Street Team for the bookbinders and book artists (B.E.S.T.), with a new EtsyBooks blog and everything. Thanks maiko!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bookbinding 101 - Water Lily Book Tutorial

I prepared a guest tutorial for the Sixth&Elm blog, showing how to make an Origami water lily. Now I have a new tutorial ready showing how to make a book using those water lilies.

Before starting this tutorial, you need to make three water lilies, all the same size, using the "Origami Water Lily Tutorial" first. You'll need some Origami paper to make the water lilies, or any other nice lightweight Japanese paper like the pretty pink paper used in this tutorial. So, go make 3 water lilies, then come back.

A single water lily:

When the three water lilies are finished, attach them to each other, back-to-back. Place one flattened lily in front of you. Apply paste to the flat surface of the lily and stack the second flattened lily on top – make sure to align them so the lilies both open at the same end. Apply glue to the surface of the second lily and stack the third lily on top. When they are all attached, they should open up like the first picture below.

The point where the three lilies meet is the spine of the book. To give it some stability, cut a short and narrow strip of paper and paste it over the spine. Use paper that is the same as the liles or similar in colour to keep it unobtrusive.

Click for larger photos.

Now the text block is finished and the covers can be made.

Cut two covers, the same size and shape as the flattened text block. Use binder's board or heavy cardstock. Also cut two pieces of decorative paper for covering the binder's board. These pieces of paper should be the same shape as the binder's board, but about 10mm wider all the way around. Cover both boards as you would for any other book. If you've never done such a thing before, follow the next few steps.

Once you have the decorative papers cut out, brush paste over the entire surface of the binder's board.

Lay the binder's board paste-side-down onto the back of the decorative paper. The edges of the decorative paper need to be turned in to cover the sides of the board, so start with the two longest edges. Bush paste onto the paper on each side then fold it over the edges.

Cut notches in the paper at each corner. Apply paste to the paper and then fold it over. Cutting the notches first will help the paper lie flat and make neat corners.

When both covers are done, it's a good idea to press them under a weight for a while, perhaps over night, to let the paste dry.

Now the lily-textblock just has to be attached to the covers. Place the flattened lily-textblock in front of you, and brush paste onto the flat surface – don't get any glue on the other parts of the lilies because you don't want them to get stuck together. Place the paste-side of the lilies onto the back of one of the covers. Then brush paste over the other side of the lily-textblock and stack the second cover on top.

That's it, it's done.

The whole thing should be pressed under a weight until the paste is dry. This will do two things: it will consolidate the bond between each of the pasted surfaces and it will prevent the covers from warping.

The water lily book in its plain ordinary closed state:

The water lily book in its fun flourishing open state:

When I first prepared this tutorial, I had completely forgotten where I'd originally seen the idea for this book. I came across it this morning so I wanted to add it here. It was an article by Viva Lloyd in Bound & Lettered. Thanks :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Using Leather Scraps

I was going to call this post "scrap booking" just for fun, but decided that I didn't want to attract the wrong crowd. Scrap booking bothers me - because it shouldn't be a verb and i really think it is just a big money grab for the people making the "supplies" - $1.75 for a single 12x12 sheet of paper??? Wouldn't real "memory items" like your actual ticket stubs be a better keepsake than some fabricated die-cut pretend ticket stubs? Come on.

Oh, that rant really has nothing to do with anything. Apologies to all scrappers.

Sometimes I need to do something different, and sometimes I feel like trying to use some of the small pieces of leather that accumulate around me. So I've made this bunch of books using leather scraps. I think the red book is my favorite of these.

I arranged and adhered the various pieces onto some nice St Armand handmade paper, then pressed them and let them dry for several days. Before making the books, I also coated the covers with PVA (!) then sprayed them with an acrylic matte spray. That seems to consolidate all the different pieces. And just for fun, when everything else was done, I used glitter glue to outline the blocks on the blue book.

For a change, I suppose structure wasn't my main concern this time around. So I kept the binding simple; all are bound with a very simple longstitch and link stitch combination.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

CSB Protective

I'm really happy with the Protective version of the Crossed Structure Binding. I think this will be a great structure for some of my journals.

The back cover is cut with strips for sewing.

The front cover is just a square with slits for the strips to poke through.

The attachment of the front cover piece to the back cover surprised me, but it works. It just folds over the spine and is stitched in place. I used PVA on there too.

Then the strips are used as closures on the front, attaching to buttons on the wrap-around flap. Very medieval-looking.

These are my new favorite books. Since I've never made a book like this before, it seems really neat and novel right now and I will certainly be doing more them. But I still plan to do all the different CSBs - I think the CSB Linked is next.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

CSB Basic

I am planning to work through each of the crossed structure bindings now. Arregui details seven different ways to make a crossed structure binding and I have only tried two of these. The one that I use most is the Crossed Structure Binding Basic (CSB Basic). So I have done this a hundred times but I went to Arregui's website to see the instructions again and discovered that it isn't so basic. She actually shows how to do the CSB Basic with three different sewings. So I did all three. And surprisingly, the way I usually sew them wasn't included so I did that too, resulting in four different books just to cover this one binding!

One big difference between this CSB and the others, is that the front and back covers are cut at the same time. For all the other CSBs, the covers are cut separately. I started with this template and used it for all the books, in four different colours.

I have always used the 3 inside strips for sewing but discovered that Arregui also shows how to sew the book using the other 4 strips. This makes an obvious impact on the appearance of the finished book. So I sewed two of these books on 3 strips, and two on 4 strips. And all four books are actually sewn a bit differently, one of each using kettle stitches and one with some extra wrapping around the strips...Arregui says this can be good in thick books to keep a consistent swell. Not necessary for my books but I did one like it anyway.

Then I just had to attach the front covers and I have four very different books all made using the CSB Basic instructions.

I like the alternate sewing on four strips and it seems to make the spine a bit sturdier...CSB Protective comes next.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ceramic books

The first time that I participated in the Volcano Arts blank book swap, the book I received had ceramic covers, made by Bley Hack. Both front and back covers are ceramic, with a star detail on front, and it is bound using a chain stitch.

I showed this little book to my aunt, Ellen Fisher, who is a potter. This is a little collection of her work:

After I showed her Bley's book, she accepted the challenge and made a few ceramic book covers for me to play with. Each cover has a different detail. Shown here are the swirl, goose, and owl.

Only the front covers of our books are ceramic. I made the back covers with binder's board - this reduced their weight compared with Bley's book - as an attempt to make them a bit more practical. And they still weigh about 0.5 kg (about 1 lb) each. All of ours are bound using the Coptic stitch.

So I listed four ceramic books in my Etsy shop. The three above are still for sale, but this turtle book found a new home and it was actually the first non-leather book that I ever sold on Etsy.

Ok, so they are breakable. Who would want a breakable journal?! Doesn't matter, they are original and fun and different, that's what matters!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My Girdle Books

The Girdle Book was the last item on my original list of historical-bindings-to-do, and now they are finally finished. I have experimented with the Girdle Book a few times before, but these are certainly the most refined. This is also the first time that I have used any embellishments. The dark brown book is made with deerskin, a very thin suede split. The white book is lambskin, also a thin suede split.

These are not technically "bound" like Medieval girdle books. I just tried to make books that look like Medieval girdle books.

In The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, Szirmai dedicates a few pages to the girdle book. It is a late medieval book structure, most originating during the 15th century, and it was represented widely in paintings - there being over 800 documented visual depictions of the girdle book. In the artwork, it is usually being carried by biblical figures, clergy, monks, nuns, etc. There are just 23 extant girdle books now and all but four of these are religious texts (Szirmai 236-7).

Generally, the girdle book was a small book, covered in leather with a long extension of leather at the bottom of the book. Sometimes the extension was left loose and just carried in the hand, or it was knotted so that the knot could be tucked under the belt (i.e. the girdle). So the book would be hanging upside-down. So if the carrier wanted to use the book, he could just reach down and bring the book up and it would be upside-right, and it never has to be detached from his belt. It seems like an efficient model. Imagine how easy it would be to read while traveling. If he was on the back of a mule (or whatever he would have been using), he could just read and not worry about dropping the book. As long as his mode of transportation has eyes, this would be ideal.

Some of the girdle books were very plain, but there are some examples of highly decorated girlde books with brass corner pieces, engraving, tooling, ornate fastenings and clasps, and maybe even a coat of arms or other adornment in the center of the cover. I kept my books embellished with the basics: corner pieces and one fastening. Medieval books typically had two fastenings - but I just play the "artistic license card" whenever necessary.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I keep buying stuff

Since I seem to be buying lots of stuff online, I am able to eagerly anticipate the mail delivery. If I didn't buy anything online then the mail would be just junk and bills. And that is no fun.

Yesterday I got a heap of mail!

I can always justify buying supplies, and I had recently ordered a few items from Volcano Arts. There is really nowhere in this city to buy bookbinding supplies, other than a few basics. So I got some great new colours of linen thread. I also got a bunch of silver corner pieces - which means I can finally finish a project I've been working on for ages.

Now, an online purchase that was entirely unnecessary, was this little collection of wooden printers blocks! I don't need these. I have no idea what I am going to do with them. But they are great! I bought these on Etsy from Sweetkate who has more of these and I am trying to think of a reason to buy them too.

Then there was a surprise package in the mail as well.

My Great Aunt sent a book to my son, the new children's book, "That Stripy Cat." The author of this book lives in Halifax (same city as me) and the illustrator, Tara Anderson, I have met her through Etsy. My aunt didn't know that, it's just a fun coincidence. I have one of Tara's paintings on the wall in my kitchen actually. Check out her stuff on Etsy, where she has lots of stripy cats. Her shop is

So it was a pretty good mail day.