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Trail: bookbinding



The Making Of Book50


The paper I chose for Book50 is a pad of Strathmore Artagain[1] that I picked up at Blick[2] in Chicago. It’s tinted in various neutral tones so I can draw with dark and light tone (charcoal and chalk) techniques that I want to practice more.
Basically just take 4-6 pages (depending on the thickness of the paper) and fold them in half, that’s a book ‘signature’. That thing I’m using is called a bone folder[3] and is better than a fingernail for folding paper flat and, if necessary tearing at folds. In this case I wanted smooth edges on the pages so I cut them with a blade. But most of the time when I make a sketchbook I want a deckled edge. I would get larger pieces of paper, fold them down, bind them uncut then split the edge with the folder once I’m done.


Once the signatures are folded its a decision how to sew the book. I leave just enough space for my binding tape[4] to fit through. Which means the thread can be seen on the inside of the book... that’s fine with me.

I like to make a plan how I’m going to sew, where the needle will go in and out, this is not an exact science for me. I measure it out so I allow for the number of tapes I want bound in. I draw a diagram, copy it to a card or paper the length of the spine and transfer the hole marks to the signatures.


Poke holes into the spine of each signature. I use an awl, but anything will do. Make sure your holes line up. That’s really all there is to it.


Sewing is something that has gotten better for me over the years, but again, not something I have down to a formula. I know this is the hard part, I’m sorry to not have documented how I did this better. But I’m not very good at it... You are better off watching someone else's video for this part. I try to make it neat and tight and to use one continuous thread to sew them together, with varying degrees of success. There are a million ways of doing this... So Google it! My philosophy really is, whatever way I can get the pages to stay together, that’s my way.

I use a waxed linen string and bookbinding needles (as they were called at the art supply store) But in the past I’ve used regular old thread, metallic thread, yarn, whatever and a big curved sewing needle. So don’t feel like you MUST have special stuff. This is simply what I have now and it varies depending on what I’m going for.
The tapes hold the signatures together. Generally I have three tapes in because I carry my sketchbooks everywhere and there is a LOT of wear and tear on the spine, I do not want the book falling apart on me, thus the overkill. My tape is linen, because I trying to be a bit archival. But I’ve used satin ribbons or strips of fabric in the past. I just pull the binding tapes through the threads on the side. Some people sew them in directly. Some people don’t use them at all because their sewing is tight enough and the style of binding allows.







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bookbinding supplies:

someone had the idea of bookmarks which are also thin books for taking notes while reading. i can see this as a useful idea for my large SketchBook conundrum. the book itself is perhas too large to take around but a series of small bookmarkers where ideas are jotted down to be elaborated upon later at larer size and with more time.

“Belgian Bookbinding”
a technique without glue.

A great description of how to exchange the crap moleskine paper for the better. Coptic Binding described in detail [5]

In which i document my very own Bookbinding process.

paper - i like paper that feels either light and soft like fabric or thick and dry or smooth and slightly slick.
spine - muslin binding tape glue cardboard other peper whatever it takes.