27 January 2014

In pursuit of books

It is no secret that I am a bookworm. I have been called that since I was really tiny and it offends me not at all! It is perfectly possible for me to simply not hear someone when they talk to me when I am truly engrossed in a good book - although the opportunity for that kind of deep concentration is less now that there is a small daughter around!

Recently though, I have been investigating another side of books - the making side. It all started just after New Year when hubby and daughter were away for 10 days in Wellington, while I was working in Rotorua. I was wishing that I had a hobby that I liked to pursue, and not feeling like picking up my current tapestry canvas (which has been languishing on the frame for some years now!). I was reading The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber (great read, by the way) which begins in an antique book dealer and restoration shop, and I began to wonder whether it was possible to learn to bind books at home without a great deal of equipment or cost.

I came, I googled, and I made books. There is a heap of information out there, plus buckets of very cool photos of art-bound books that I am totally in awe of. My favourite website so far is "Adventures in Bookbinding" and there are some great Youtube tutorials. The best I've found are by a lady calling herself Sea Lemon, which are video/narrated tutorials of how to do different parts of the bookbinding process, including making a stitched text block (the pages bit), case binding (hard cover with glued fabric), and lots of kinds of fancy binding including moleskine and Japanese stab binding that I haven't tried yet. My first attempt at case binding didn't come out quite as well as I'd like but it looks okay, and my second book attempt (which was basically a sewn text block with sewn-on cardboard cover) looks really cool. I want to try case binding again because I think it will need some practice to make it work properly.

I got an idea today that the fancy papers that scrapbookers use might work quite well in books - so far I've just used plain 80gsm white A4 printer paper for my text blocks because that was pretty much all I could immediately lay my hands on at home (unless I raid small daughter's craft papers which I am strenuously resisting doing!). I got a small pack of scrapbooking paper, cut each sheet in half to make it go further, and made a concertina book, gluing each of the folded pages to make a concertina. It looks great: I just have to figure out what I'm going to cover it with.

I might use the rest of the scrapbook pages interleaved with other papers and stitch another text block. I've also got an idea lurking around about a slightly unusual cover, inspired by the photo on this blog post. I also want to fossick around in hubby's art gear - I seem to remember that we've got some art drawing paper that would probably do really well. I have an errand to run for work tomorrow and I think I'll try to time it just before lunchtime, as there is an art supplies place in Rotorua that I haven't been in (I was sighing for Gordon Harris Art Supplies - I remember ogling all the gorgeous paper stock they had there when hubby was getting his last set of photography matte board!). I also want to find an awl for punching pages for sewing "signatures" (the groups of pages) - I have been doing this with a sharp needle and seem to be going through rather a lot of sticking plaster....

I wish there were book binding classes in Rotorua. Such a pain that I discover this after we leave Wellington, where there are a number of specialist binderies and lots of classes. Anyway, I seem to have found me a hobby. And I like it!

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