Welcome to the Center for Book Arts’ first edition of “Monday Methods”! Today we’ll be talking about a very small element in nearly every hardcover book printed today: the headband.
|A round-back book with a headband|
Headbands for hand bookbinding today can either be purchased already-made on a roll and then glued onto the spine of the book as-is, as at left in the picture; or sewn by hand with silk thread. Headbands can be made out of any colors you choose, but often they consist of two. The pre-made headbands that beginning students use in Bookbinding I are made of a piece of cloth with a round, embroidered bump of color at one end. Modern books that are mass-produced have reams of headbands made on a machine, which are also attached to the book after the pages are put together.
Artists at the Center for Book Arts sometimes choose to make their own headbands from scratch, and every once in a while a weekend class is given on how to sew your own. Sewn headbands can be made in striped, chevron, and other patterns. The silk thread is sewn in a pattern around a stiff core and laced into each section of the book itself as it is made, so that the headband is fully integrated into the textblock itself. A fantastic resource on the subject is Headbands: How To Work Them, by Jane Greenfield & Jenny Hille (Oak Knoll Press, 2008).
If you have any hardcover books in your house (including dictionaries), I encourage you to take a look at them. Do they have headbands? What color are they? Odds are, a hardcover book does have them, and you may not have noticed them (or appreciated them) before! An important part of bookmaking before our time, the little headband continues to be a part of bookmaking today.
We hope you enjoyed the first day of our new blogging adventure! Please comment below with suggestions, questions, or stories about headbands (did you look and realize your old copy of Hemingway has the same headband as your copy of the DaVinci Code? We want to hear it!). You can also help start a conversation on Facebook (/centerforbookarts) or Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!