Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cherry blossoms and book binding

A few months ago I saw a woman using an old large-format children's book about fish from the 1960s as an art journal. It had a hard cover and cardstock-like pages. She had painted over most of the pages, glued every other sheet together to make the pages thicker, and left some of the fish motifs and drawings and words in the book visible to incorporate into the art she was making. I decided I must have one of those books. I looked high and low for a few weeks but could not find anything with either the quality cover or the cardstock-like pages. I found a few books with the cover I wanted, but the pages were like magazine paper. At some point I decided I just needed to abandon my search and make my own book. I scoured the internet for local book-binding classes and found two. The first one was full, so I signed up for the other one and anticipated it eagerly, but it was cancelled a few days before the start date. So I went online and found several tutorials, including this one about case binding from SeaLemonDIY on YouTube as well as her tutorial on how to make book cloth. She has a few other tutorials that I liked and I made some simple book presses out of wooden cutting boards that I had on hand, plus a smaller one from some scrap wood to press the signatures (the little booklets of paper) while I glued the spine. I watched a few different tutorials on how to stitch signatures together using thread, and then I made this book (it's ~3"x5").
I used book cloth (Lineco) purchased from the art supply store. I also used some of my marbled paper for the end papers! I was so excited to put the marbled paper to functional use. Plus I used hot pink thread to stitch the signatures together, which is visible if you were able to look closely inside the pages.

Overall the first one turned out well, except the spine of the paper block (the stack of signatures) is not attached to the spine of the book cover. I fixed that in the second one, which turned out (technically speaking) much better than the first. For the second one, I decided to make my own book cloth, because my head was filled with ideas of the things I could use for the cover. I took a piece of fabric from my stash and followed the SeaLemon DIY tutorial on making book cloth (referenced above). I also got a few hints from LizzieMade's tutorial on making book cloth using the heat bonding method. I got some Pellon Wonder Under and ironed a piece of it to the fabric. Then, because I did not have any Yasutomo Kozo rice paper on hand, I ironed a piece of tracing paper to the Wonder Under. Rest assured, I will acquire some Yasutomo Kozo rice paper at my earliest convenience. The book cloth was a little thick when I was mitering the corners on the inside of the book, likely due to the relative thickness of the tracing paper.
But overall it went well together, the spine of the book cover adhered to the spine of the paper block this time, and I added a thin ribbon to the spine before gluing it to the cover. Here you can see the signatures in the paper block (I only used 4 signatures of 4 sheets of paper each).
The PVA glue really works wonders. It dries faster than any glue I've ever used before. And using a bone folder to smooth the pages helps them to lay flat. To glue the spine of the paper block after stitching the signatures together, I put the signatures stacked neatly into a small press with the spine sticking out about an inch, then painted on some glue with an old paintbrush and let it dry, then added two more coats on top of two small pieces of 'super cloth' (like a loosely woven cheesecloth) that covered the spine, plus a larger piece that wrapped around the spine and onto the outside pages of the paper block. Then I glued that into the book cover, which I prepared according to the tutorial by adhering the book cloth to the chipboard. Then I let the thing sit in the press overnight to smash it all together and make it nice and flat.
This was a fun project and though the first one was time consuming while learning the process; stitching the signatures together is tedious; and figuring out how to cut several pieces of chipboard for the covers without cramping my hand working the box cutter (I actually ended up using a jigsaw...); overall it was very satisfying to have such a fun end product. I am already envisioning making some more marbled papers to complement several pieces of fabric that I will use to make book cloth. And maybe I'll add a little paper pocket in the back like in Moleskines. Yes, I think that's a good idea.

Also, I have a new favorite tree (in addition to aspens). It's an oriental cherry tree (Japan - rose family). The blossoms are lovely and so soft.