Tag Archives: bookbinding

Coptic bound book

I’ve really got the book making bug at the moment – I tend to go in cycles of enthusiasms that parallel my main painting passion and help to balance out my creative life. Last night I finished my first attempt at coptic binding and I totally enjoyed the experience. I found a lot of useful tutorials online and this one by tortgialla was very helpful in giving me a good idea of how it’s done. Any faults in my stitching are down to me not the well photographed and clearly written instructions in the tutorial!

The Cover

I’d made covers before so that wasn’t too difficult. In fact I made a double cover because I wanted it a bit thicker , so I just covered two pieces of mat board with different fabric and then glued them together and weighted them overnight to make sure there was a strong bond.

 

 

The signatures

I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary swotting up on book binding – that’s one of the things I love about diving into new crafts. It’s like I’ve now got the secret password to an exclusive club. I can decode the articles and tutorials and understand the nuances of  specialists writing about their passion. So I now know that a signature is not only a written name but is also a collection of papers stacked on top of each other and folded in half. A number of signatures together make up the inner pages of a book. Book is a term I already knew in case you were curious.

So I made up six signatures with each having 4 sheets of ivory Mi Tientes pastel paper.

4

The tricky bit!

Now I had to join the signatures to the covers and to each other and that’s where the coptic stitching comes in. If you want to know more about how to do this there are plenty of online tutorials and videos . What with threading and re threading my needle, holding covers and papers  tightly, manouvering the needle while holding the paper and the covers tighty, while also pulling the thread tight, and putting band aids on fingers after mistaking flesh for paper there wasn’t much time for taking photos! You might have noticed there’s a bit of an emphasis on keeping everything tight! This is because you want the pages to be snug against the covers and each other so the book doesn’t move around too much. Mine is OK for a first attempt but I think I need to keep it all a little it tighter next time – not sure how I’ll do that but I expect it’s like everything else and just requires a bit of practice.

Stitching to the cover was quite tricky , especially as I tried a bit of a fancy pattern for my first attempt. Once that was done the signatures were plain sailing and not fiddly at all – I think this was helped by using a curved needle which was a tip from the tortagialla tutorial.

Coptic bound book
Coptic bound book

 

The IT Geek wanted to know was it worth all the time it took and I gave a resounding YES. It’s a very satisfying thing to create your own book and even more satisfying to then fill it with your  prose, poetry, and art. I’m going to make a library of them – there’s a ton of different stitching patterns out there and I may well have a go at creating my own. Then there’s the long stitching method of attaching the signatures directly to the spine of a leather cover – I’d like to try that as well. …and maybe some wooden covers ………..

How to make a concertina sketchbook.

Sometimes I see something and think ” I like this, I could buy it or I could make it myself”. This happened just last weekend when I popped into my local art supply shop to pick up some canvas and spotted a very desirable little concertina sketchbook on a shelf in the corner. I could have bought it right then but it looked such a simple concept I bought a meter of bookbinding cloth and some fabric tape instead and decided to make some myself. The supplies cost more than the sketchbook but for the same cost I could make a few dozen.

Here’s how I did it.

First I got all my supplies together.

Supplies

  • a strip of waste artists paper 10 x 60 cm ( you can use any long thin strip of medium to heavy weight paper)
  • a piece of scrap matte board ( any thick card will work)
  • a ruler
  • a  pencil
  • a matt cutter ( you could also use a craft knife)
  • some scrap fabric
  • a roll of cloth tape
  • some glue

Step 1 – marking the pages

I divided the strip of paper into 10 equal “pages” by making a small pencil mark at 6 cm intervals along the top and bottom of the strip. (You can make your pages any number and any size depending on the length of your paper strip but there should be an even number of pages.)

Step 2- folding the pages

Now I used the bevelled edge of my metal ruler and lined it up with the first mark on the top and bottom of the paper and folded the paper firmly over the edge to make a sharp crease.

First fold
Folding the first page

Now I turn the paper over and make a crease along the second fold making sure that the edges of my first and second page line up neatly.

Second fold
Making the second fold

I repeat until all the pages are creased and I have a concertina length of paper.  (If you’ve made an error in your marking and end up with a final page that is too small don’t despair! Just cut off the last 2 pages so you still have an even number and continue on.)

Step 3 – cutting the covers

I measure up 2 rectangles of matte board 6.5 x10.5 cm. Using a matte cutter and my metal straight edged ruler I cut out the rectangles. You could also use a craft knife for this step.

 

Step 4 – cover with fabric

Next I cut out 2 rectangles of scrap fabric 3 cm bigger all round than the covers. I fold the long edges over to the inside of the cover and fix in place with cloth tape. (You can buy cloth tape at a hardware or art supply store). I mitre the corners and fold the short edges in and tape down making sure they sit neatly at the corners. (Mitreing the corners simply means to fold the side edge in to the top of the cover so it forms a 45 degree angle as in the photo below. ) The second photo shows the covers – outside and inside. You don’t have to be too neat with the tape as long as you keep it 3mm from the edge so it won’t show later when you glue the paper over the top.

 

Step 5 – glueing in the paper

Place the front cover face down and spread glue evenly over the taped area . Leave 4 mm unglued at the edges. Place a length of flat ribbon across the centre of the cover over the glue.

Lay down ribbon
Add the ribbon and glue

Now carefully line up the first page of the concertina strip so it sits squarely on the cover and gently wipe away any glue that oozes out. Spread the last page with an even coat of glue and line up the back cover neatly over the page. Check that front and back covers line up squarely.

Glue back cover
Both covers glued down

Step 6 – leave to dry

Now just leave it folded up and place a heavy book for a few hours.

 

weight down to dry
Weight it for a few hours

Step 7 – admire your handiwork.

Here’s one I did using black bookbinding cloth. You can use any covering you like , art paper, magazine pictures, collage, leather or fabric. You could also use coloured matte board and just leave it uncovered.

One I made earlier

I’ll post another photo when I finish making my dozen… and later I’ll post some pics of what I ended up using them for.

So go ahead and sort through your card, paper and fabric scraps and make yourself a beautiful, personalised concertina book- you don’t need to draw or paint – you could use it for poetry, a fun letter to a friend, a Valentines gift filled with expressions of love. The list goes on.

Post a photo – I’d love to see what you and your imagination can come up with!