Friday, June 10, 2005

Waiting for dinner, playing with books.

On the strength of my little sketchbooks, I was commissioned by a certain artist (I'll cal her 'D') to bind her latest artist's book. Up to now I haven't bound anything too big, I think A5 (half A4) is about the biggest dimension I've worked to. This is a big book, 46 x 40 cm. She left it totally up to me how to tackle the problems, and it was fun but also scary to think about how to make the book stable and practical, yet not let the binding overwhelm the book.

D works with relief prints, which she reprints and reprints in metallic ink layers until she has wonderful shimmery pages/prints, and then she uses a small drill to make perforations. The cover is thick acetate which she's perforated in a grid pattern, then there's a section of thin acetate pages at the front and back, and inbetween there are five sections of thick printed hahnemuhle paper.

I decided to do a lot of thin, elegant stitched bands evenly spaced up the spine, which echo the gridded perforations on the cover. I used thin, unwaxed, undyed linen thread, which matched the original paper colour, which shows here and there in the prints.

coptic binding, final view
This is what I ended up with...

...and this is how it started!
Threading the first section
Fifteen threads, thirty needles, a lot of scope for tangling and tearing...
I finally got into the swing of threading, twisting, untangling, keeping the tension even. It's a bit like weaving on a loom, something I adore but have no time for.

There's a wonderful point in the process where it all shifts from chaos to control, and the pattern starts to emerge:
Halfway through the coptic binding

The hardest bits were the acetate sections, because if I pulled the thread too tight the acetate would rip. But it all came good.
Coptic binding in progress

And this is a final view:
coptic binding, open view

I'm happy to report that D was delighted. I've done the first book, and I'm mostly through the second, which has come together really quickly now that I've worked out all the problems and processes. Luckily she only does tiny editions, and there are only 3 books in total. But it's whet my appetite, and really built up my confidence! I'm looking forward to doing others along this vein, preferably my own books.

Oh, dinnertime. Ciao.


Adele said...

Hey, you really took on a beauty. It looks fantastic....goodonya!!!
It must have taken courage to cope with 30 needles....WHEW!!!
I don't do more than eight at a time and do several sewings for a large book.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks Adele - it was pretty daunting. I feel like I've been 'blooded' now!