This week I'm going to wax lyrical about bookbinding. It gathers together a few of my top vices - books, stationary and using liberal amounts of glue in a craft project. t has allowed me to now nimbly dart into any shop that sells paper mumbling the excuse of, ' I can cover a book with that'. I've got myself a serious stash of paper. Himself is so used to it now that when we go to Venice he knows that a trip/s to shops selling hand-marbled paper is always on the cards.
I've just read that sentence back and it sounds like I'm boasting that we have this glamorous jet-setting lifestyle where we nip over to our little Venetian flat over-looking the Grand Canal whenever the whim and need for Prosecco takes us. I've just drifted off in a fantasy that we are sitting on our balcony wearing improbably gorgeous sunglasses, sipping aperol spritz and shouting 'ciao' to passers by (see below for some gratuitous daydreaming) ...
...back to reality and bookbinding.
After going to many a bike 'do' I thought it only fair that he reciprocate and accompany me on a craft workshop. However he was somewhat reluctant to turn up at a workshop populated solely by the fairer sex. This may have been due to a fear that he'd be mothered or that it would be wall-to-wall discussions of female bodily functions. It may also have been his cunning way to get out of going to a craft workshop...the poor fool. He should have known me well enough to realise that I'd find something and that something was bookbinding. So off we tripped to see the wonderful Mandy Flockton and her workshop, which was an introduction to the craft. We had a ball and left with a couple of beautifully bound books. I couldn't resist and went back to learn how to bind a curved spined book, and we both went again to have a go at quarter leather binding.
I am not going to maunder on about how to make a book the traditional way as frankly it's pretty complicated, but I am going to advocate you go to a workshop to learn. You could have a go with some YouTube guidance and I can recommend some of Sage Reynolds videos as he clearly knows his stuff, but you really need hands-on advice.
It's a process that cannot be rushed, needs your undivided focus, and is best done over days. It is not easy and the steps are slow but it is so worth it to make something so beautiful. I'm lucky and himself has made me a few tools which help no end. The first was a sewing frame to help me sew my signatures (pages) of the book together and onto tapes or ropes. Just sitting out in the garden sewing the pages onto the tape is a Zen-like practice and I highly recommend it.
It then changes pace when you get out the hammer (if you are doing leather binding) to get the right curve and lip on the spine. Himself even made me a tool to help with that. Once you have a beautiful curve it's time to go Zen again and paste on the mull (to consolidate the spine) and headbands (for gorgeousness). Then time for casing in your book block. You can go to town with your hand-marbled papers, book cloth and leather. When you become a complete geek you find workshops on paper marbling and making your own book cloth, and Mandy Flockton came to the rescue both times.
Making a book is a labour of love and time, but damn it's worth it. So I urge you to go to a workshop, hit the books and YouTube and give it a go. You can even take your beloved and they won't complain a bit.
I can recommend Mandy Flockton's workshops and I also see that Emporium Helston (can be found on Facebook and Instagram) is advertising a book binding workshop, too.
I can also recommend the following book but I don't think I would have fully 'got it' without some bookbinding experience: Kathy Abbott, Bookbinding: a Step-by-Step Guide.
Just to let you know that I will be scaling down my blogs a bit and will now be amalgamating the two blogs and posting every other week. So my next blog will be out on Friday October 2nd.