Book Talk, Bookbinding, handmade


So it’s been a while since I posted anything I’d made or experimented with, but it has been a busy start to the new academic year; lots of new changes, lots of new students (hello first years!) Well, if you are a regular here, you will know that I’ve renovated a nipping press and entered a book into a competition, as well as having a stinking cold (not swine flu, utter rotter flu or venezuelan beaver thrush!) but I think I can be excused from a lack of general creative activity!

So what else have I been doing? Well, I’ve been making a few books; normal and unusual, learning some new stitching skills and techniques along the way. I was intending to a general overview here, with about half a dozen images, but once I sat down and looked at the images I had taken I decided to shown you one project at a time. So here is the first:


This book has wooden cover boards attached by cords laced through, with the text block bound over the cords. This was a tricky job without a sewing frame, but I managed ok in the end with only a few new swear words coined!


The boards were a bit scuffed in places so I decided to make some decorative panels. These were made from strips of pages from and old hymn book I had bought to use the cover for on another project, ripped up and soaked in water and PVA to make a sort of papiér maché.


These strips were laid out into a new sheet and left to dry.


They were then trimmed to fit and glued on. I popped the book into the press overnight (the first thing in!!!!!!!!!) to flatten and ensure a good fix.


I love the way this type of binding opens and exposes the cords between the covers and sections. It is a very visible structure, but appears very delicate between the thicker boards…


It also opens very flat, wherever you open it…


Mmm. Booky!


6 thoughts on “Books!

  1. I really like this one, am I right in thinking the cords joining the two sections of wood together are tied under the print? Or are the knots hidden somewhere else?

  2. Ah, good question. Simple answer is that there are no knots securing the cords to the boards. There are two rows of holes in the boards that can be seen on the second to last image. These are joined by shallow grooves to sit the cords in. The cords are threaded through from the front, glued into the groove and threaded through to the back, where they are folded back into the grooves and glued again. Under pressure overnight, and the ends are then trimmed off and poked into the holes to give a neat finish. Because I covered the boards, this is not so clear, but when I do this again, I will use better quality wood and not rush with the drilling!

  3. I have Kates website in my favourites but haven’t looked for a while – the John Betjemen Peotry book is a real beauty isn’t it? The leatherwork is extremely good. I wish I could afford one…

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