Sharon’s Sketchbook

Sharon’s Sketchbook: Interior

My wife, Sharon, is a wonderful artist. She makes pottery, she paints, and she draws. Her drawings are mainly done with technical-style-pens: 0.005mm diameter and up. She loves her pens. She also loves nice bleed-proof paper. She had a little store-bought sketchbook that she filled up a little before Christmas. I, being the nice guy I am, thought I would surprise her by making her a new sketchbook. I tried to get it done before Christmas, but because I was trying to make some orange book cloth for the spine, and because I kept stuffing it up, I only managed to get it done just recently.

The first drawing she did is shown above. If you can’t guess, we are expecting a baby—that is the meaning behind the beautiful drawing above.

Bookbinding Nerd Details

The book is a simple case binding, 10 sections of 4 sheets were sewn onto tapes, then the spine was glued, endpapers attached (I made the endpapers from two sheets of Yuzen paper each: I tipped them together), and the block trimmed with my finishing press and plough. The last step in preparing the book block was to line the spine, and glue on headbands.

I then went through many experiments with making some book cloth. I bought some nice orange cotton, and some mulberry paper. After many failures in which the fabric was seemingly glued successfully only to have it come away from the mulberry paper when I tried to glue it to the boards, I gave up and bought some nice orange buckram and used that instead.

After cutting the boards and spine-piece to size and sanding them, I glued on the buckram. I then cut out the design for the cover and glued that to the front board. Some blue momigami was then pasted to both the front and back boards.

After leaving this to dry over night, the next morning, I cased the book in, pressed it with my pressing boards, weighted it, and left it to dry for the rest of the day.

The result is an awesome, personalised sketchbook that should give my wife many hours of enjoyment.

Sharon’s Sketchbook: Endpaper Sharon’s Sketchbook: Cover Detail Sharon’s Sketchbook: Spine Detail I Sharon’s Sketchbook: Spine Detail II

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.