Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Engineering with Paper and String - An Experimental Binding

Well, they say there is "nothing new under the sun" and this is certainly true of the very old craft of book-binding.  However, many things are "new to me" and this week, I have been experimenting.  I wanted to show you the result of an interesting experiment, which James has dubbed "Engineering with Paper and String".  

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I have a number of "favourite" bookbinding books, including this great book by Esther K. Smith, of Purgatory Pie Press:

"How to Make Books, by Esther K. Smith"

Esther Smith explores a great variety of book styles and bindings in this book, giving good, illustrated instructions to create many of them yourself.   One of the forms she covers, is the "stab stitch binding" - sometimes known as a "Japanese Stab-Stitch", or "Oriental Binding".   Traditional Japanese, Korean and Chinese books were made from thin paper, which was sewn together with stitching that was made through the pile of pages and the covers, wrapping the thread over the left-hand edge and also the top and bottom of the book.

An Oriental-style Stab Stitch bookbinding (by LizzieMade Hand Bound Books - yours truly!)

You may notice that the cover of the book in the photos above has a hinge, to enable it to be folded back. The original stab-stitch books were made with soft papers, so the covers and pages were easily folded open; however the paper is still held firmly on the left-hand edge, so no stab-stitch book of this kind would ever open out flat. 
A stab-stitch book, showing the hinged cover and how the pages are held together by their edges, so the book will not open out flat.  

For the original books that were made in this way, the style of binding was not a problem, because of the materials used and the way in which the book was used also. Most were soft cover books and ledgers, with the book often being written in a vertical / portrait plane, rather than our own traditional horizontal / landscape setup. The stitching was done close to the edge, to maximise the page area and make it easier to turn the pages (this article explains the various techniques very well).  

Also, when used for something like a guest book or photo album, a stab-stitch binding is very attractive and, so long as the covers are hinged and will fold back, the fact that the book will not open flat and may have to be held open for writing or viewing, is not generally a big problem. Spacers can be added between the pages and creases can be made to enable the pages to fold easily. For someone who dislikes this style of binding, there are plenty of other attractive bindings, which will allow the book to lie flat on the table or lap.

However, Esther Smith had found an old book that was a bit different to the Oriental-style bindings. The stitching was not made over the top and bottom corners of the book. It was also stitched in such a way that the thread was quite slack and would allow the pages to be manipulated so that the book would open flat.

She found that this type of binding was used for a famous Art and Design magazine, from Holland, called "Wendingen" (Pub. 1918-1932), as well as the book she had found (in a second-hand bookshop). She gives instructions to make a simple, soft-cover version of this binding, in a similar style to the book she bought; there is an illustration of a version that is similar to the Wendingen binding.

I looked online and found some photos of copies of Wendingen, so I could have a look at the binding and try to understand it. I wanted to try a version of my own, stitching single sheets into hard covers, in such a way that the album would open flat.

This is the result:
You can see that the stitching is quite loose.  
Like the Wendingen Magazine, the binding is made through three pairs of holes, with stitching crossed over the spine.
The back cover - I have left the knot showing, since tucking it into the holes would not be effective anyway - it would only work its way out again, with the movement of the binding.  I'm considering whether to apply a spot of glue to the knot, to prevent it coming undone, then trimming the loose ends closer to the knot. I don't think, however, that the knot looks particularly untidy - it's part of the stitching and a functional part of the binding.  I like it. 

The slack stitching allows the pages to be opened and turned.  The book covers need to be slightly closed each time, in order for this to work... 
... but it does open flat, which is so different to the Oriental style of stab binding.
I'm quite pleased with this book, though the binding style is very unusual.  I think someone may wish to buy it, as it's an attractive and interesting book.  I love the cover paper - I chose the dark green, hand made paper for the edge of the covers, as it contrasted so well with the ferns on the decorative paper and added to the jungly, exotic effect.  I chose a pale grey-pink hemp cord to make the binding - it's strong, but attractive and picks out the pink shades in some of the designs on the patterned paper.

Overall, a successful Experiment, I think! 

Friday, 15 August 2014

One Photo and Twenty Words - August 2014

There's no substitute for a comfy bed, when it's pouring down and howling a gale. Bored, bored, bored... Poor Tom! 

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This is part of Abi's Meme 'One Photo and Twenty Words':
"Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here."

Why not join in too and leave a link in the post at Abi's Blog?

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I'm sorry if you're not fond of cats - this slot on my blog does seem to have turned into "Tom's Corner"!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Book Catch-Up

Life is really busy here as always, but I am managing some book-binding work, in amongst all the rush.  So, I  thought I'd just post a little update on what I have been working on recently: 

A Coral-pink leather journal with light blue longstitch binding. 
 Lined with a Cath Kidston designed paper... 
 it contains lined pages, with the lines printed in pink 
and the pages have a floral design in a kind-of watermark print.
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An Artists Book.  
This has stiffened covers of black leather and is stitched in a coptic style with pale orange thread.
The covers are lined with a hand-marbled paper, by artist & bookbinder, Rhonda Miller... 
The pages are three types of artist's paper - cartridge drawing paper / pastel paper / watercolour paper. 
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This journal has covers of softest leather, in lovely aqua blue.  
The floral design is raised-embossing.
  It has plain white pages, with cover lining & endsheets of this great birdcage patterned paper.  
The paper even has glittery bits, which is fun.
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I showed you these fun little 6"x4" notebooks... 

So, I added a couple more to the collection - fun, aren't they? 
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And I've been making more rainbow notebooks - this one is 7"x5", with pastel pages in 10 colours.
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I showed you this very large photo album recently, which I sent as a gift for a friend with a new baby boy.
It was well received, so I'm really very happy about that!
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And currently, I am working on two large albums - one with a cover paper you may well have seen a couple of times before, but the other will have a very lovely, summery design paper, which I have never used for a book before now, with a very unusual paper trim at the bound edge of the covers.  The binding for this is a bit experimental too ... 
I hope all will be revealed very soon! 

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and if you made it this far:
Thanks for Reading! 

Friday, 27 June 2014

A Birthday Elephant

I've been getting the Simply Homemade magazine regularly, since issue 1.  A few issues back, there was a pattern for a lovely crochet elephant.  I decided to make it for my mum and adapted the pattern a little bit, to suit what I wanted.

The elephant is basically the same, except that I made the "arms" a bit thinner than the legs because I thought they would look neater that way.  However, the original pattern was just for an elephant, with no garments.  I thought it would be nicer to make a dressed doll, so I invented a dress, hat and bag - complete with little friend!
 Here she is! She's rather nice, I think...
 And she has a hand-made dress, hat and bag... and a little friend!  

See, the little mouse?  I invented him too - no pattern! 

The elephant and mouse are made in double-crochet (US single crochet!), using the circular technique popular for amigurumi style toys.

The bag is two granny squares slip-stitched together, with a narrow ribbon strap.  And the dress is a fab stitch I found in my crochet stitch bible, adapted slightly to make it flare; the bodice is double-crochet again, with some lace I had in my stash, to make it pretty. The yarn for the majority of the dress is one of those "self-striping" yarns, in cotton. It's produced a great patchwork effect which I'm very pleased with.  I used a plain lilac cotton for contrast, which I also used on the hat.

I didn't photograph the back of the elephant... probably should have, as she has a dear little tail and her dress fastens down the back, with narrow ribbon bows.

I'm really very pleased with how this has turned out!  It's taken me about five months to complete it all, as I don't have much spare time for crafting, but now it's ready for my mum's birthday at the beginning of July. She adores elephants, so she will love to have this as a gift.  Eeeeee.... I can hardly wait to give it to her and see her big smile! 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Family Album Gift

We have a lovely friend, who was married last year and became a step-mum to a lovely boy and girl.  About eight weeks ago, she and her husband, were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, as a brother to her dear little step-children. 

I wanted to send a gift for the whole family, not just for the baby, or for our friend.  So, I made one of my extra large albums for their family photos and memories.

I posted it yesterday, but my timing was a bit bad, as they left this morning, to go and visit her mother for a few days!  The post office apparently tried to deliver this afternoon and left a card.  I really hope they're home before it's sent back to me as undelivered.

I know she doesn't read my blog, so I feel safe enough showing you photos here - just so long as it's not shared on Facebook yet!
I messaged my friend on Facebook and just asked her "Beatrix Potter, or (original) Winnie-the-Pooh?"  She replied  "Beatrix Potter", so this is what I have used - a lovely green fabric, with a paisley-style background and lots of the best-loved characters from Beatrix Potter's wonderful books.  
I teamed it with an emerald green silk edging and stitching in mulberry coloured hemp thread, to pick out the purpley shades on some of the characters and give a nice contrast with the green.
I made an embossed and printed "Family Album" label, which I mounted on a piece of silk and attached to the front cover.

I so hope she likes this!
Back cover,
The stitching of the book - a Coptic binding, with a section of French Stitch in the centre, as a decorative touch.  I hope the number of pairs of threads will help you to realise how large this album is.  It's about 11.5" tall and 13.5" long.
Each page was a single sheet, which I folded over to make a spacer.  The thirty pages were made into sets of three, then stitched on the folds, so the album will open out flat the whole way through. 
It made a lovely thick and heavy book.  You'll see that the spine edge is a lot deeper than the right-hand (front) edge.  This is why the spacers are there - to provide room for expansion when the photos are added.  Otherwise you'd end up with a book that bulged out of shape and looked "overfilled". 
I said it's big - the photos on the left are 6" x 4" and the right-hand photos are 4.5" squares, with white edges on three of them, making them 6" wide.  The album would hold a good number of photos. 

I really hope our friends like their gift - I so enjoyed making it! 


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