Sunday, June 16, 2013

My knitting was pushed aside this week,

In favor of books, bookbinding. So today I thought I would distract you all with images of the most recent, and the most challenging. That way you might not notice the lack of knitting content, then again ... given the title of the blog that may be a little optimistic.
When ever I'd Google for bookbinding information, especially for tutorials I'd find many many well put together and informative tutorials and helpful sites. Bookbinders seem akin to knitters, with a willingness to share that can only be called generous. Amongst the information I found there were almost always references to a binding called secret Belgian binding. At first I ignored those posts, the clearest instructions seemed rather confusing ... Diagrams showing many holes and a complex stitching path. So I found other bindings to practice. I bought bookbinding books. Then this week one of my students asked if I knew about the secret Belgian binding, and as a class we had one of those conversations about how nothing on the Internet should really be called secret. After that I thought I really should look more at what was so special about the binding ... And maybe even play a little with it.
I dug a little deeper, well rather I read all the posts I had ignored about the SBB, and found out why it was held in high regard by so many. I also found that the binding had another name, the criss-cross binding, and a few storys that explain different origins here & here. All in all the book seemed to have some clear benefits, pages that lay open flat, a spine as flexible as a Coptic bound book but all covered and protected with a hard spine. So I thought I would try to follow the instructions. It wasn't hard, just detailed, fiddly at times, and I found that I had to read the instructions and follow them - not anticipate the next stage. I was glad I had a few dozen books of different types experience before I started this one.
So I started, and committed to making an A4 book, folded from a brand new pad of quality A3 art paper (expensive!) and covered in bookcloth (also expensive - usually I restrict bookcloth to the spine to make my meager stash last longer). This is the equivalent of casting on with the best yarn in the stash. But unlike knitting, some of the materials can't be unravelled and returned to a neat and ready state if it all goes wrong.
I made the covers and prepared the pages, and then strung the covers together, in this binding the covers consist of a front and back board with a separate spine board. Holes are punched near the hinge edges of the front and back cover boards. The cover is assembled by lacing the spine between the front and back covers. One of those trickier to start, and tricker to explain but actually quite straightforward when underway processes. With the cover assembled the signatures - that would be sets of pages, are stitched inplace. In this binding the signatures are stitched to the lacing that holds the covers together.
I usually find curved needles tricky to use, I can't seem to predict where the point will go and find them much trickier to manipulate than straight needles, they rotate in my fingers and point in odd directions, but for this work I needed a curved needle. The shape was perfect for threading the signature threads under the cover threads. I laced the cover with dark navy and sewed the signatures with white thread.
Here is the book all complete, cover closed and neat. Now I understand the process I would make changes next time. Firstly I would punch with a much smaller hole, and I would use much thicker binding cord. This is ok, but thicker cord would make the binding more visable, more dramatic. I was worried about making the holes too small to pass a needle and thread through three times, which is what is done in this binding. Turns out with this size thread I could have had much smaller holes. Next time I will swatch the thread and hole size before I committ to punching the holes in the covers.
This is the interior view, see how nicely the pages lay open, partly because they are super thick 200gsm Fabrino recycled artists paper. Mostly because of the way the binding hinges each set of pages off a very flexible cord arrangement.
Below shows the rather neat first page view, how the pages meet the covers ... I like this very much. This book took much of today to make, mostly as I didn't know what I was building up to. I think this is a much more time consuming bind than the saddle stitched, Coptic or tapped signatures - and one I will work again. I think for me this may become my sketch book binding. But then again I'm just a learner ... At the start of a journey and I imagine there are many many more binding options for me to discover and explore.
Na Stella,
Take care

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