Long Stitch Variations
July 23rd, 2006 | Link
I’ve felt like I’m in a Japanese-paper-covered-photo-album rut in bookbinding, so this weekend I broke out Keith Smith’s Volume I Non-Adhesive Binding:
Books Without Paste or Glue and armed myself with some handmade paper from Flax and tried something I haven’t done before.
This long stitch binding dates back to the 18th century or earlier. The three books I made use no glue whatsoever; the four folded sections in each book are attached to the spine only by the linen thread. All the books have the same slots in the spine to sew the thread through, but the two smaller books use the same slight variation on the sewing to get the different pattern on the spine.
For all three books, I doubled the covers with a fold at the fore-edge of the book. The extra layer carries over to the spine, so there are actually three layers of paper to support the threads.
The sections in the largest book each contain three sheets of 300 gsm Arches cold-pressed watercolour paper, for 48 pages total. This paper is extremely stiff, and would be suitable for a photo album. To me, it’s crying out to be filled with Polaroids or emulsion transfers around a specific theme (but I haven’t come up with one yet). The finished size is 7 3/8" high by 5 5/8" wide by 5/8" at the spine.
The two smaller books are identical except for the colour of the cover paper. The sections each contain eight sheets of Canson Ingres paper for 128 pages in total. The Ingres is a light drawing weight with a bit of a tooth, so these are more appropriate for writing or drawing than for photographs. The finished size is 6 1/2" high by 5 1/8" wide by 1/2" at the spine.
I’m quite happy with the results of my experiment. It reminded me that neither the book structure nor the cover paper have to be complicated to be beautiful. The long stitch binding is quick (although getting the covers folded correctly and keeping the foldovers on the spine in place after cutting the slots is a bit tricky). All three books have a nice weight and the handmade paper has a pleasant texture, so they feel good to handle. My husband says the blue-gray paper is very "me" and I have to agree.