Book Talk, Bookbinding, ceramic, handmade, Projects

Ceramic Book Covers

ceramic book1 a

A few weeks ago I bought a few old hardback books from junk shops and car boot sales that were embossed or foil blocked. The books themselves were generally knackered, so I had few qualms about removing the covers ( the text pages will be used for something else…) From these I made rubber moulds, with limited success, as the heat from the rubber warped the covers, or destroyed them completely, separating the buckram cloth from the boards. I did manage to get two reasonable moulds though (note to self; use plaster next time) into which I filled with slip (liquid clay) and left to dry. I left them a little too long though, and they curled as they dried but this has added another interesting dimensional element.

To create this first one I brushed on an oxide (some leftover mix left out – I don’t know exactly what oxide this is) and then wiped it off with a damp sponge leaving the oxide in the embossed areas. Then they were given a dip in a clear glaze and refired.

ceramic book 2

The binding technique is called Belgian Secret Binding, and the pages are attached to the cover through the loops on the inner spine. I am going to attach some handmade paper with deckled edges to this in a week or so, but I was so pleased with this I thought I’d share it with you now. The beauty in these is in the surface texture and finish, so here are some close-ups.

ceramic book 3

ceramic book 4

ceramic book 5

The next covers are coated with iron oxide and wiped of as before, but not glazed. They are also thinner and have warped much more, however, when they are put together as a book they close up a little like a clamshell, so I will make maller, thicker pages for this one and the cover will enclose them.

ceramic book 6

And more close ups.

ceramic book 7

ceramic book 8

I will post images in the Projects section when they are complete…

Today I made a few sample covers using slabs of krank clay and have begun exploring coloured slips for decoration. I may feature them at another time if there is any demand.


11 thoughts on “Ceramic Book Covers

    1. Thanks Amanda, the images do show the detail well, but I am still marvelling over the real things – so very tactile. I aim to do more of these, so keep checking in.

    1. Many thanks. I am about to start making the paper that will complete the book. I’ll post more when it’s complete, along with a couple of others I’m working on.

  1. These are wonderful Chris. Ceramics and bookbinding what could be better (just need hand printed pages and a touch of graphics and you ahve my life history!) Where do I find out more about Belgian Secret Binding?

  2. Thanks Nick, I am aiming for just that combination!!! I have one or two other ceramic covers in preparation at the moment, a bit more experimental, but thats part of the fun…

    As for the Belgian binding, I am around college all next week if you have any spare time – I’d love to return the favour.

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