Friday, 25 September 2020

Chapter 10: A Review of Book-type Structures

 Quite a considerable time ago I started making some book-type structures using whatever was to hand.  Initially these were simply folded. They all had soft covers which were made from carrier bags, paper wrappers and the like, the pages inside computer paper.  As time went on glueing and stitching became part of my repertoire and I searched out other papers for the pages.  Making these books gave me the opportunity to play with a range of materials and simple techniques.

Origami books: above (1) two trials with computer paper printed with my own photographs.

Below an origami book (2-6) using a Jigsaw carrier bag.  The design appealed and tempted me to add words on translucent paper -- sadly the paper strips didn't adhere too well.

Below a Snake Book (7) made from brusho painted computer paper over wax resist, finished with stamped words.  Each tiny page is wired to its neighbour.

The Fishtail (8) using Japanese paper glued to a scrap of something for the cover.  All materials were too soft.

A Concertina Book (9): beautiful Florentine marbled paper glued to thin card.  The brown paper pages were chosen for their colour, but they are soft and floppy when compared with the cover.  Superficially it looks good, but . . . 

Mood meets form and form function (10 and 11).  Below I've used handmade paper, coloured and stitched.  A strip of the paper binds the book.  It's then threaded through with dyed sari silk.  I feel this is really successful: the content, feel and look of the cover and pages are in perfect harmony.

Stitched Postcard Book (12 and 13): making straight folds in the thick card was probably the most difficult aspect of making this book.  Stitching for the same reason was troublesome.

Simple Stitched Book with One Signature (14):  here the cover is made with painted vilene, the pages of dyed lining paper.  The weights of both are a good match though I feel the vilene is overly heavy for its function and it lacks that special feel in the hand, so important given the book's contents (war poetry).

Wrap Cover (15 and 16): how lovely it is when things arrive through the post demanding something be done with them, they're far too good to throw away.  The cover below was a magazine wrapper.  The circular motif I cut from another part of it glueing on a piece of raffia by way of a tie.  Inside is light Japanese paper which compliments the cover well.

Dos-a-dos (back-to-back) pamphlet, (17): weigh and crispness of cover and pages are balanced.  A very handy design, though the squarish format is unusual.

Kantha Book (18 and 19) in stitch only: I included this because it made me consider more fully the feel of books in the hand.  Here not only has the stitching mellowed and integrated the colours, but working the fabric has softened it too.

Finally, Embroidered Book (20 and 21)using fabric from Module 3 stiffened with vilene and with fabric pages, an Ann Wood pattern.

There's so much learning in writing up this set of samples that I must note things down while things are clear in my mind.
  • The type of paper dictated the success of the fold: too soft and definition is lost, too thick the fold might not be straight.  Too thick paper can also create stitching problems.
  • Follow the grain, if possible, when folding -- grain parallel with the spine.
  • The weight of cover and pages must be sympathetic.
  • The feel of a book in the hand is very important.
  • Nothing should be disregarded as bookmaking material.
  • Consider stitch as a way of enhancing both the look and feel of paper and cover.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Chapter 9 : Stitched Edges

 At the end of Chapter 8 I took everything off my display board and made a new assembly of the samples that please me most and the stepping stones that led to their making.  At the top I have a phrase "Mood meets form".  I'm not sure where I found it or who coined it but the words seem to be good to hold in my mind as I work through Chapter 9.

So here are the factors I took into consideration:

  • what will the subject of the book be?
  • will the stitching be round the cover or individual pages and on all sides or some?
  • what about corners?
  • the weight of the paper will be significant and might work better with some ideas not others
  • the colours and materials used will need to complement the subject matter
  • when does an edge become a border?
  • have I the tools I need -- single hole punch, stiletto, pliers as well as needles and sewing machine?
Once started the ideas flowed and seemed to group themselves under a number of headings:


1.Rolled and machine stitched
2.Torn, folded, strung and knotted


3.Torn pieces, inked edges, fly stitched
4.Pleated torn strips with coloured pulp and cross stitch

Beaded and Looped

5.Wired on bugle beads

6.Looped on seed beads

7.Cord looped in two direct


8. Tape
9. Tufts of withdrawn threads
10.Small knots, piercing and ink edge

Stitched Writing

11.Paper String
12.Thicks and Thins
13.Thicks and Thins scaled up
14.Scrafitto and Stitching
15.Wax Resist and Stitching
16.Machine Stitched Zigzags
17.Machine Stitched Lines

Examples of Combinations

18. Lines and Zigzags
19, Loops and Wax Resist

Thoughts on Book Making

I think all of the edges above have writerly rhythms and it was really interesting to try out so many different materials and techniques.  Some of the paper is my own, but I've also used some Khadi Paper 150gsm.

My favourite of all the edges  is 18, the combination of two machine stitched samples.  Compared with many of the samples it is fairly flat and as an edge to a book page would work well.  Others are thicker and would rely on spacers within the book if they are not to be crushed.  However.  the book design could have decorative edges only along the page side opposite the spine.  These could also be of increasing width so that they stick out beyond the book cover.  As each page is turned the combination of edges is reduced.

A further consideration of this idea is the reverse of each stitched edge.  This could be tidied up under strips all decorated in the same way with, for example, the wax resist sample without any stitching.