Tag Archives: bookbinding


Back in April and May of this year, I did an experiment in bookbinding. I took lots of photos, with the intent of writing it up at some point.

Well, I’ve finally done it. “An Experimental Approach to Bookbinding” is up at last, complete with pictures and notes on techniques. If I can take enough time out from binding and chasing the bunny, I’ll add more projects, technical notes, and information on bookbinding. The ultimate goal is to have a really useful site for the amateur bookbinder. (Write what you know…I am very much an amateur!)

Have a look and tell me what you think. It will eventually supersede my old bookbinding page with something much more informative and comprehensive.

Many, many thanks, hugs & kisses to Martin for all the help and support on the Bookweb.

Going off to get a life now…

June and lovin’ it

I’m aware that I don’t blog enough. Martin’s always got something new up, and my last log is from March. Sheesh.

The thing is, when it’s winter, I’m struggling to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Commenting on the way things are going, or even standing back far enough to observe how they’re doing, is low on the list. I’m just too tired.

Then summer comes, and I’m doing all the things I couldn’t do during the dark time. And somehow, I get so absorbed in all the things that are going on that once again I can’t step back and describe them. I seem to be too busy.

Now is a good example. My mother’s over for a fortnight, getting her Alex time in. As with my Dad’s visit in January, Martin and I aren’t taking any time off. But we’ve taken Alex out of his nursery for the time she’s over. So I’m being a working Mom, a daughter, and a hostess all at once.

Plus I’m binding her a blank book as a birthday present. We’ve already been to the tannery to pick out the leather for the covers, and I’m most of the way through the bind.

But even when we don’t have visitors, we’re pretty busy. Not that I’m complaining – I only “work” (for pay) 3 days a week. Martin works 4. We both get to spend a lot of time and energy on Alex. On the one hand, it can be hard work – he’s well into toddlerhood, walking all over the place, demanding things to play with, and throwing the odd (brief, mercifully) tantrum when he is denied. On the other hand, time with Alex is tremendously rewarding, whether he’s sitting at his little table typing on a spare keyboard (just like Mom!), or sorting pebbles in the front garden. And he socialises well, riding in the backpack as I go around town or do lunch with family and friends. He’s even helped me with a geocache I’ll be posting soon. There’s a lot of hard work in there, but when he turns to me and gives me a huge kiss, I can’t seem to mind.

The days I spend at work are rewarding as well. I’m in a department I like, working with people I enjoy dealing with, on a steep learning curve. I can even wear black – unlike my previous department, where I felt too gothic, I’m rarely the only one all in black now. There are stressful times, but all in all, I find the work days flying by.

My current hobby – bookbinding – takes up a good deal of time as well. I’m entirely self-taught so far, and after six months I’m finally producing things that I’m willing to give away without apology. They’re still not perfect, but I no longer feel my recipients are being charitable by taking the books I bind. I bind for the pleasure of making things, of creating something beautiful. Being able to give them away is a bonus, and keeps me from drowning in blank and rebound books.

And somewhere in there, in hugs at the sink and long chats after the lights are out at night, I still have time to be amazed at the man I married. We spend a lot more time as comrades in nappies rather than smitten lovers now, but watching the way he delights in Alex is just another way of falling in love with him.

So this is a busy time, but every aspect of it holds some reward. And I have to get my joy in quick, like a grasshopper, before the winter pares me back to the bare minimum.

Bookbinding (old)

This is old news – for my current bookbinding work see the Bookweb

Since Christmas, I have been learning about bookbinding. I have bound the following items; each has been a learning experience in its own right. All but four of them have been hollow-backed case bindings, usually kettlestitched or sewn on tapes.

I have destroyed some of my initial work, particularly the binds of three sections of an English law book I bought used some time ago. Other volumes have been sent to various friends. I only have about a third of the binds I have done in January – February 2002.

Finished Works

  1. Cream card notebook sewn on external cords, with embroidered cover.
    Now used as a needle book in my bookbinding kit.
  2. Cream Coptic-stitched notebook with gold signature guards
    Still unused.
  3. Kettlestitched binding of 1/3 of an English law book, covered in ochre fabric.
  4. Tape-sewn binding of 1/3 of an English law book, covered in ochre fabric.
  5. Tape-sewn A6 notebook in cream laid, covered in blue paper.
    Sent to (darsi), a friend from my online community.
  6. Flexible-bound 1/3 of an English law book, covered in ochre fabric.
  7. Binding of editions of “Sirius Moonlight”, the fanzine from the St Andrews Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, for Martin’s four years at university. Tape sewn, covered in brown paper. I tried to trim the fore edge, but tore the edges as a result. The book was labelled with computer-printed titles on the spine and front cover.
  8. Grey leather and black wool quarter bound cover for the “Forma Urbis Romae”, a map of ancient Rome. Labelled with a computer-printed title on the cover.
  9. Tape-sewn A4 lined notebook, quarter-bound in grey leather and blue fabric, for Martin‘s role playing game, Edelvain.
  10. Tape-sewn A4 lined notebook covered in blue paper to use at work.
  11. Tape-sewn A5 blank book with false bands, quarter-bound in grey leather and rose fabric.
    Sent as a gift for my younger sister Kathleen.
  12. Tape-sewn A6 blank book with false bands, quarter-bound in grey leather and rose fabric.
    Sent as a surprise to Gritchka, a friend from my online community.
  13. Tape-sewn edition of Sherlock Holmes short stories, covered in brown leather with false bands. The endpapers are green marbled paper. I decorated the cover of this book with an outline of Sherlock Holmes, drawn in permanent ink. I then deepened the colour of the leather cover with the application of red-brown shoe polish.
    Currently retained, but may be given to the daughter of a colleague.
  14. Tape-sewn A5 blank book of white laid paper, with false bands and red-brown leather cover. Green marbled endpapers. I deepened the colour of the leather with black shoe polish, and added texture by pressing the covers with crumpled aluminum foil.
    Sent to Teiresias, from my online community, as part of a Secret Santa arrangement.
  15. Kettlestitched binding of Edgar Allen Poe’s humourous stories, covered in leather, with false bands. Blue marbeled endpapers. The cover is made of two colours of leather, in an abstract design loosely based on a vertical arrangement of the letters “EAP”. Sized approximately 147mm x 215 mm. (Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version)
  16. Tape-sewn blank book with guards, intended to hold materials and project notes from sewing and bookbinding projects. False bands, plain endpapers, and ribbon ties. Sized approximately 144mm x 213 mm. (Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version)

    This project was not entirely a success. The pattern was too interlaced, and too interdependent, and as the leather strips were pasted, they stretched. The result was poor joins at crucial points.

    In addition, there was not time to define the false bands well enough before the paste dried, due to the time it took to arrange the pieces of the design. Definitely more of a learning experience than a triumph.

Future Projects

  • Re-bind Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which was bought with a ragged spine and is getting worse
  • Two Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries (Strong Poison and The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club)
  • An edition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, currently paper-bound
  • An edition of Pride and Prejudicecurrently in flexible covers.