Archive for December, 2012

Jay Ryan, Long Stitch Bindings and a Giveaway
December 17th, 2012 | Link

I’ve been selling some of my Jay Ryan prints on eBay. I have a subscription to his work: twice a year he sends me a bundle with one of each poster he’s made to date. It makes me very happy to go through the stack of posters when they arrive, and then I put most of them on the bottom shelf of my paper cart and don’t look at them again until the next shipment arrives. I’ve framed a bunch but our condo is pretty much a Jay Ryan shrine at this point, so in the interest of having room to store next year’s subscription, I’m letting go of some of the ones I love less.

The first year I had a subscription USPS severely damaged one of the shipments, essentially folding the posters in thirds. When I rediscovered them recently I didn’t want to sell them in that condition, and the paper is a great weight for non-adhesive books, so I decided to make some books out of them.

This is the Built to Spill long stitch, which I am keeping for myself because it makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Cover paper of cartoon orange traffic cones with bear parts scattered among them

This is the Joel R.L. Phelps long stitch, which I am giving away!

Brown, orange and gray paper with abstract squiggles

The book is about 9″ by 6″ and the pages are 100lb Mohawk Superfine in the soft white eggshell finish.  There are six sections with 16 pages per section, for a total of 96 pages. I glued an extra piece of card stock to the spine to help support the stitching, but otherwise it’s non-adhesive – the stitches hold the cover and sections together like magic.

Top view with spine open about 120 degrees and pages fanned out

If anyone is still reading after my lengthy absences this year, all you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment before 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time, December 31st, 2012. It’s OK if you’re not in the US, as long as you can be reached by mail. You don’t have to leave your real name, but I will need a real email address to contact you if you win (it won’t be displayed in your comment). I also have a couple of these small long stitch journals left, so the first name I draw will get this one, and I’ll keep drawing until I run out of books. I’ll make the drawing January 1st, 2013.

Growing and Outgrowing
December 15th, 2012 | Link

Four small handmade hard-cover books

I thought for a while that I was done with bookbinding. I was going to finish what I’d started with the paper that I prepped last year, and then move on. I made 24 Coptic journals as part of my summer Discardia project and thought about what I was going to do after. And then I ordered another ream of paper, more bookboard and cloth and cover paper, and signed up for a multi-session binding class at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Apparently I’m not quite done with bookbinding after all.

(What I am done with, though, is sewing. Or at least apparel sewing. I still enjoy sewing small craft projects, so I’ve kept the sewing machine and serger and other accoutrements. But I got rid of several shelves worth of apparel fabric and sewing books, and moved the sewing stuff to an out-of-the-way part of my studio to free up space for other things.)

One of the things that had put me off bookbinding was the feeling that I felt I’d hit a plateau, where my skills had caught up to the challenges and it just wasn’t very interesting any more. But when I thought about it further, there were two parts to my disinterest. Yes, I am bored with Coptic journals and accordion books. But there are many other book structures and much more to learn. The last time I made hardcover journals, a year ago, I realized I’d forgotten a lot. So I signed up for the Beginning Bookbinding Core Curriculum course at SFCB and spent four Saturdays relearning things – and learning new things too.

The Beginning Bookbinding course is the first of two courses for the SFCB Bookbinding Certificate program. It covers a couple of variations on hardcover bindings and covers how to use the board shear, guillotine cutter and other tools at the center. Over four weeks I made four books, shown below in order:

Four books lined up and showing the top edges
The first two were flat-back, case bound books, which is the method I learned previously. In these, you construct the book block and the case separately, and then put them together. We made the book blocks for these using a link stitch, which was new to me (though a lot like Coptic binding), rather than sewing onto tapes. The latter two were made by constructing the book block by sewing the sections onto tapes, and attaching the cover boards to the book block before adding the bookcloth and decorative paper. The backs are also rounded, although as you can see I had some mixed results with that.

Top view of book that is feathered open to show end papers and book block rounding

This was the first rounded one, which was somewhat more successful as far as rounding goes. I had some trouble getting the spine piece centered correctly, so it is a bit wonky. We cut the blocks on these with the guillotine cutter, so you can see how smooth the edges are.

Close-up view of spine rounding, with endband

This one I had some trouble with. At first I thought I’d rounded it really well, but after I got the endbands on it did not look rounded at all – though it might just be the endband that isn’t rounded, the foreedge of the book still looks good. This one was also interesting because it used a hollow tube at the spine rather than gluing on several individual layers of spine lining, and then the bookcloth is glued right to the spine (a tight-back binding).

So now I have several new techniques to practice, and I also bought a new lying press from Affordable Bookbinding Equipment that is lovely, and wooden nipping press that I’m not quite as impressed with (on mine, the bottom plate of the press is sitting on top of a 2×4 – unlike the one pictured where the bottom plate is flush with the table – so it’s unsteady). And I have a little time off over the holidays to play with everything.



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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