Today I’m thrilled to introduce a guest DIY mini-series on bookbinding! This month’s family theme lends itself so nicely to scrapbook, photo album and memory book projects, so I thought this series would be perfect for anyone wanting to make their own. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Take it away, Pooja! — Grace
Hi, everyone! My name is Pooja Makhijani, and I’m a writer, editor, teacher and New Yorker living in Singapore. I first learned basic bookbinding at the Center for the Book Arts in Chelsea, New York City, and continued my studies as a creative writing graduate student at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.
My avocation became a vocation in 2010 when my partner and I left our beloved New York City for adventure in Singapore. I left behind a strong book arts community in the States and was eager to find or create one in my new home in Asia. So, in 2011, I launched a series of classes via my blog. Soon after, I was featured in The Straits Times, the national broadsheet, and became the go-to gal for book arts on this tiny island. Most recently, I’ve entered a long-term partnership with the National Arts Council to bring the book arts to as many as possible.
In my classes, I encourage students to look at the book or book-like structure as an art object and not merely as a vessel for their content. I remind them that all the elements of an artist’s book — from the paper to the text and/or images — are deliberately interconnected and work in concert. I’ve worked with children and senior citizens, and I relish the challenge of sharing my love of this quirky art with those who may not have the access or the means to procure expensive tools and materials. Now I’ve partnered with my friend Claire Dalgliesh — blogger, crafter, artist and fellow Singapore resident — to bring to you three easy bookbinding techniques. This series of posts by no means encompasses everything there is to know about book making, but I hope that it will inspire you to explore more! — Pooja
The full instructions (and additional resources for bookbinding) continue after the jump . . .
Simple bookbinding requires no heavy equipment. All you need are a needle and scissors and a few other minor tools.
When I lived in the States, I purchased my supplies from New York Central Art Supply in New York City or Paper Source in Brooklyn. Now I order my supplies online, often in bulk, from Talas, a New York City-based supplier of bookbinding tools and materials with a comprehensive online store.
- 1 bone folder — a flat, polished tool made of bone or plastic used to score a fold in the paper into a permanent position
- 2 3/8″ x 19 gauge (blunt tip) bookbinding needle
- 1 pair of scissors
- 1 steel ruler
- 1 binder’s awl, a tool used for piercing sewing stations, or the holes through which the needle and thread can pass through
- 1 roll unbleached French linen thread
- 5 sheets A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″) paper for pages
- 1 sheet decorative A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″) paper for cover
Folding a sheet in half yields a folio. A signature is a compilation of two or more loose folios. The simplest method of binding a single signature codex, or a book bound on one edge, is with a pamphlet stitch. In this technique, the cover and signature are sewn at once. There are three basic variations of the pamphlet stitch: the three-hole (station), the four-hole and the five-hole. Today, I’ll share a tutorial for my favorite variation — the five-hole pamphlet stitch.
1. Using your bone folder, fold each of the five “pages” in half and nest them together.
2. Fold the “cover” in half.
3. Using your ruler and a pencil, mark five sewing stations. Station 3 is exactly in the center of the spine. Stations 2 and 4 are equidistant from the center. (I marked them 1.5″ from Station 1.) Stations 1 and 5 are equidistant from Stations 2 and 4. (I marked them 1.5″ from Stations 2 and 4, respectively.)
4. Using your awl, pierce the sewing stations.
5. Thread your needle. Do not tie a knot just yet!
6. To bind: Begin on the inside at Station 3. Pull your needle through Station 3. Pull all but 2″ of the thread to the outside.
7. Go through Station 4 to the inside.
8. Go through Station 5 to the outside.
9. Go through Station 4 to the inside.
10. Go through Station 2 to the outside.
11. Go through Station 1 to the inside.
12. Go through Station 2 to the outside.
13. Go though Station 3 to the inside. Tie a square knot around the long stitch, which crosses over Station 3.
Kevin Smith’s Non-Adhesive Binding (Volumes I–V): This series of books is a book arts student’s bible. These incredible reference texts are a must-have.
ABC of Bookbinding by Jane Greenfield is an illustrated glossary covering terms related to bookbinding and the book.
Bookbinding: The Classic Arts and Crafts Manual by Douglas Cockerell is a classic work of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England and covers every aspect of the craft — from folding and collating pages to designing and inlaying on leather.
Book Arts Web is a collection of book arts sites on the web, including professional organizations, tutorials, reference materials and galleries with images. It’s also the home of the Book_Arts-L, a listserv with a treasure trove of technical tips, announcements and helpful banter.
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About Pooja: Pooja Makhijani is a writer, editor, teacher and New Yorker living in Singapore. She blogs about arts and culture (and the book arts) in Singapore at notabilia (notabilia.wordpress.com). She blogs about family, travel, and design at linsiwolsie (www.linsiwolsie.com).
About Claire: Claire Dalgliesh is an Australian designer and blogger currently based in sunny Singapore. She fills her time exploring her new home country, crafting up a storm in her studio and, of course, sharing all that and more on her blog, Fellow Fellow (www.fellowfellow.com).