Thursday, October 6, 2011

introduction to book arts: bookbinding (one)

The essential, the kind.  Book board, paper, scissors, bone folder, steel ruler, snap-tip knife.  Also:  awl, linen thread, needles.  Ephemera etcetera.

Begin with the pamphlet stitch.  You'll turn to it when you need to punch a needle through something.  There is no easy way to draw it, so you'll simply spin through, watch and repeat.

But before all of this, there is the measuring, the cutting.  Knocking the paper up, which gives a little giggle.  

Test the grain by bouncing.  Other ways:  wetting the paper, tearing with or without ease.  Fold the paper, use a thumb and spread lightly.  Use the bone folder on the flat to create a sharp crease.  Best not to fold one by one; folding together creates a nest.

The top of the book is the head; the bottom is the tail.  There is the spine and the headband, where you might expect.  There are the front covers / boards, the back covers / boards.  The end paper, the foredge, the text block.  There is the square, she points--which protects the book block, which can be an eighth of an inch, whatever you want, or flush.  Single signature, for now.  Or:  single quire.


Before threading the linen (three times the length of the book), run your fingernail along the curl, pull away excess wax.  Punching the holes can be the most difficult; sharing an awl with ghosts of classmates can be wonky--cockeyed and harder thrust.  Weave, then:  square knot.  Just as a square dance, right over left, left over right, consider the ways in which strangers meet.

This binding:  ribbon.  Another, later on, a tri-fold.  A folder.  A lip and insert.

We use the papers we marbled for end papers.  I imagine them differently.  I love them just the same.

We accordion and measure:  we create a simple pop-up, and I imagine the decorative books Maya can dissolve in her mouth.  We concertina.  We book board.


We are like children watching the clown fiddle a balloon into a creature.  This one, there are papers folded, nipped at the corners, then inserted to create a bound book without thread, without glue, covered bookboards and all.


The first time I took introduction to binding, I made miniature versions with printer paper at my desk when my students were taking a test, were creating posters for presentations.  I wouldn't write a word on the books I made, just put them on a shelf, forgot about them.  Now, I will write a letter, will write a poem, will keep them for something, for a life outside of the craft, and will practice, still, with printer paper, with delicate paper, with pieces so I progress and settle.

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