Monday, 26 October 2020

Chapter 10: Bindings

 So now for some bound and stitched little books.  So much more measuring and precision needed in achieving a successful result. Making Books by the London Centre for Book Arts has been really helpful and their glue brush something no book maker should be without!

I've tried with this set of books to use as many of my own coloured papers as a can.  This and the papers I have in stock has led to an outside in and inside out approach: the size of what I have to hand determining the size of my book.

So for Sample 1 I wanted to play with the proportions of the book.  It's 5cm wide and 15cm tall, the proportions determined by the rag paper I had.  The cover is Brusho wash over wax resist, which gleams subtly and I find very attractive.  This cover paper, however, was quite poor and the inside would have been unfinished looking so I backed it with another piece from stock which also strengthened the cover.  Cover weight is something I'll return to.  Finally the signatures and cover are stitched with hemp, its colour and character works well, I think.

For Sample 2, again its dimensions determined by the paper I had, I wanted to extend my skills and also address some areas in the previous design, cover weight being one of them.

Books on book making mention weights of paper and card.  The "from what I have to hand" method I'm using does not allow for that even if I had the knowledge.  So a cereal packet it is!  This, of course, needs covering and for this I printed out on cotton one of my paper designs which I also stitched with a variegated machine thread and a further layer of nettle thread.  Rag paper was glued to the back of the cover. ( I have noticed that the PVA tinges the fabric slightly pink.) Finally it was stitched together with jute string, then scored on the outside so that it opens comfortably.

Larger pages seemed to require a stronger cover, however, in covering it with printed cotton, then applying an endpaper it became quite thick.  Add to this more pages which had a tissue wrap round each pair, putting holes through all these layers becomes difficult.  Later this problem is solved by the discovery of a Book Drill.

For Sample 3 I wanted to make a closed spine and incorporate decorative stitching as a way of fastening the signatures to the spine.  This will involve piercing quite a number of holes through the narrow spine thus weakening it.  The advice in Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz is to use buckram and fabric for the cover.  Vilene is the nearest thing I have in stock which together with more printed fabric is what I'm proposing to do.

I have already discovered that Vilene is not as easy to handle as I'd imagined: it has a spring of its own having been rolled and I should have pressed it flat before starting out.  Making the corners has also not been quite so straight forward.

The paper I've used for the signatures is Mitsunata Washi, which is 60 grams.  I bought this at West Dean when I was on a course there.  As you can see from the image the paper too was curled.  Even though I've tried to improve matters, both vilene and paper have a memory of their original shape.  A pity as the weight of both paper and cover material seemed ideal for the size of book.

 And why not heap another criticism on the whole thing?  The stitching really isn't significant looking enough.  I've combined the jute string used in Book 1 with a fine orange thread and the nettle thread used again in Book 1. Book spine size determines whether there is enough room for holes; the size of holes determines the thickness of thread and the hole also needs to accommodate double thickness of thread.

A redeeming feature is the use of a piece of old map for the end papers!

And now with a button button stitched on and a bunch of threads threaded through two holes the book works better.

An altogether better result is Sample 4.  The cover is tissue with subtle gold and white rubbings glued to card, thinner that cereal packet card, with PVA (as with all my samples).   The end papers and signatures are rag and fibre paper folded in half giving the same lovely hand made feel achieved in the Boro Book (image 10) in my previous post.  Even though I used the same papers in Sample 1 and 2 above somehow the marriage of colour in paper and cover is just right.  Added to that the spine is open and I used chain stitching with a thick twisted man made thread (viscose?) to complete the book.  Open spines are such a lovely thing: the colour and form of the folded papers is on show and there is further opportunity for stitching and embellishment.  The feel in the hand is soft too.

There were a number of possible pitfalls with this design.  The first is using tissue paper which stretches when in contact with glue.  I was lucky that only the back had a few wrinkles and I did press it well and ensured it was thoroughly dry.

The second difficulty was with the nature of the thread which can twist and loop and behave in a way that makes getting just the right tension tricky.

A great help with this book was the discovery in my tool box of a book drill.  It didn't impact on the tissue and it made holes just the right width for a needle and its double thickness of thread to go through.  And I won't be able to tell until I try how effective it might be with my own handmade papers.

Now for Sample 5 which is a response to the idea I put forward at the end of Chapter 9 in Thoughts on Book Making.  This is 11cm x8cm and uses thin computer paper marked with a wax candle and Brusho-ed over. Groups of high quality scraps of computer paper are cut in different widths.  The end of the top page of each section are decorated using ideas from the Edges Chapter.  Holes are punched on the spine of the book at close intervals and threaded through with dyed textured wool.  Sadly this doesn't allow for the loveliness of an open spine which I commented on in Sample 4.

I know the computer paper is all wrong -- too white, too smooth, too thin. The book needs the lovely Khadi paper I've used in a number of the examples above, but I was reluctant to start cutting paper into exact sizes before I was sure of the design.  I may well be able to make papers of the right size and so get the beautiful deckled edges all round.  Tearing is possible, but the effect just isn't the same.  Also with the right kind of paper the final stitched section might work as the contrast between stitching and paper would be less pronounced.  Another solution could be a soft wash of blue which is then stitched in to.  On the whole though if doubled in size it has the potential to be a characterful piece.