Jessie’s Sketchbook Slash Notebook Slash Journal

Jess’s Book: Cover and Spine

Have You Met My Sister, Jess?

Well, she recently turned 30. You can read about it on her blog here. I was there: it was a fun party. It was yet another occasion when I made something for someone’s birthday—in this case, it was a very nice sketchbook/notebook/journal (if I do say it myself). She’s blogged about it here. How kind. She said some really nice things about me. I love my sister.

Jess’s Book: Head and Bookmark

When I created this book, I wanted to try to express something of Jess’ personality and her style. We are similar on both counts, so I was pretty sure she would like it. You can see that the book is fairly plain and simple, with blocks of bold colours on the outside, and a little bit more funky on the inside. I guess that is what my sister is like—simple on the outside, but a little bit funky-funk on the inside.

Jess’s Book: Endpapers

Bookbinding Nerd Details

The book is a fairly simple flat-back case binding, with 6 sections of 12 leaves each (made up of 6 sheets folded in half and gathered together) sewn onto two 10mm tapes. I used some nice 110gsm cartridge paper for the text block and some simple Kraft and Chelsea bookcloth for the covers. This is the first book I’ve put a bookmark into, and I really like the result. The endpapers were called Mumbai paper in the shop I bought them from. It’s a heavyish kind of paper that looks a little bit hand-made, though I don’t think it was quite expensive enough to actually be made by hand, and it’s screen-printed. The beautiful yellow headbands were labelled ‘Pre ’50s Headbands’ in the shop I bought them. The are your standard machine-made headbands, but sewn onto a calico strip. I trimmed the boo to size using my trusty finishing-press-and-wood-chisel setup. Nice.

Notes to Self

When casing the book in, don’t use too much paste otherwise it will seep through the paper and possible stain the other side, especially if it is screen-printed Mumbai paper.

Jess’s Book: Section Stitching

I am really pleased with how this book turned out. It was nicely done, and looks awesome.

Giles’ Photo Album

Giles’ Photo Album: Spine Detail

My First Foray into Fine Binding*

I made my little godson Giles this photo album during a course in Bookbinding I did at Amazing Paper a few years ago. I had opportunity to create a leather-bound book, and I thought that I might as well create a photo album for my new nephew and godson.

To be different and get away from one of the standard paper sizes, I decided to create the album from 25 black A3 sheets (420 × 297mm) cut lengthways (420 × 148.5mm). The sheets were actually 25mm wider than standard A3 to allow a fold-over and still get a full A3 width. After scoring and folding each of the 50 pages, I placed each one inside the other to create 25 sections, which I then lovingly pierced and sewed with lovely red linen thread. Next I glued tracing paper, cut to give a 3mm square, into each section. After gluing, I rounded and backed, and created the hollow-back, and dressed the spine.

Giles’ Photo Album: Cover Detail

Because of the unusual size of the book, and because I was doing a leather binding, I laced the covers in with the tapes I had sewn on to. I then proceeded to cut the embossing for the front and back covers. The rest of the process was pretty standard, and I won’t go into too much detail.

Needless to say, Giles’ parents loved the photo album.

Giles’ Photo Album: Interior Giles’ Photo Album: Cover

* Insofar as any binding with leather is considered fine

Ana’s Book

Ana’s Book Front Cover

Recently I made a little book for a friend’s 30th birthday. It is a little hard-cover number, with standard 80gsm laser printer paper. It has some lovely Chiyogami endpapers and is covered in dark blue Momigami paper. I embossed the words ‘Ana’s Book’ on the front and back cover respectively. The spine is covered in some type of book cloth—I am not sure which—but it is pretty sturdy and looks much the same on both sides.
Ana’s Book Front Cover DetailAna’s Book Back Cover IIAna’s Book Back Cover IAna’s Book Endpapers

The Process

Making the Text Block

The pages of the single section are first folded, and two decorative endpapers are then folded so that they are facing each other (the printed side inwards) and put with the text block. A smallish piece of calico is cut to wrap around the outside of the text block—about 3–4 cm away from the spine is enough, and about 5mm from the head and tail. The calico gives the whole thing some strength. The sewing holes are carefully marked and punched, and the text block is then stitched together. I used a 5-hole pamphlet stitch, with the knot hidden in the spine (if you make it small enough, the knot won’t be visible on the outside of the spine when the book is finished). That means that you start sewing from the outside. I used some raw-coloured 1-ply linen thread, which I waxed with bees’ wax.

The text block was trimmed on a guillotine, head and tail, to fit into the covers with a 3mm square (that’s the bit of the covers that extends past the book block). I left the text a little long before sewing, and trimmed it afterwards.

Making the Covers

The boards for the covers were pre-cut (I made the book to fit some board I already had), so all I had to do was sand the head, tail, and fore-edge, and round the corners a little. For the lettering, I first sketched what I wanted on a separate bit of paper, then transferred it to some thinnish board. I then carefully cut them out with a sharp hobby knife. Some of the smaller curves are hard to get looking nice with just the knife, so I sanded the edges a little with sandpaper. Once I was happy with how they looked, I glued them to the covers with a little PVA and left them to dry.

The next job was to prepare the book cloth for the spine, and the Momigami for the covers. I measured and marked on the book cloth the height of the covers plus 15mm head and tail. I made it wide enough to wrap around the book and then 25mm or so onto the covers. I cut the book cloth making sure it was nice and square. With the Momigami, I just roughly cut two pieces to size, after which I marked the outline of the covers, allowing 15mm for folding over. I made it wide enough to overlap the book cloth by about 3–4mm.

To glue the book cloth, I placed the text in between the covers, protruding out the back about 7mm. I put this front-cover-down on the bench, and put a weight on it. After applying PVA to the spine strip, I applied it to the cover, up to the line I had marked previously. I then carefully turned the whole thing around and weighted it again, making sure I didn’t disturb anything. Next, the book cloth was wrapped around and glued to the front cover, up to the line I had marked. The cover was then taken away from the text block and the head and tail folded over and pressed in with my bonefolder, making sure that the cloth was stuck to the edges of the board. Next, wheat paste was applied to the Momigami and it was carefully applied to the front, then carefully pressed into the little nooks and crannies of the lettering. The same was done for the back. It was left to dry overnight.


The next evening, I prepared to case-in the book (paste the text block into the covers, also called a ‘case’ I think). I started by gathering the tools and supplies I’d need: paste brush, damp cloth, plastic sheet to protect work surface, scrap glossy paper, paste, and a small jar of water. I positioned the text into the case, and placed it onto the bench. I carefully opened the cover and slipped a sheet of the glossy paper in between the endpapers and applied paste. When doing so, I made sure that I got enough paste under the calico, and on top of it, and the rest of the endpaper. I then carefully closed the cover and pressed down a little, after first taking out the sheet of glossy paper. The same process was applied to the other cover. I then left the book under a stack of heavy computer programming books, some book board, and a container of lead shot (which I use to make paper weights) for the night.

The Result

On inspecting the book the next morning, I was dismayed to find that the end papers had stuck together. I carefully pulled them apart—luckily there was no ripping or anything. They were stuck a little more firmly there the calico was, but this came undone with a little careful manipulation. I will not forget to put some wax paper between the endpapers again! I also discovered that I put just a little too much paste on the endpapers, as it had leaked out and stuck a couple of pages together. Luckily, they came undone with only slight tearing.

Overall, I was immensely happy with the outcome; the book felt really good in the hand, and opened and shut really well. The embossed text looked awesome, and I was happy with the colour combinations.

Ana loved her gift, and I can’t wait to make another one! I only wish I remembered to take some better photos.