I found myself searching this week for a solid primer on basic bookbinding techniques. The Reference Collection holds more than 100 titles on binding ranging from Japanese Bookbinding by Kojiro Ikegami (REF.BB.0264) to Creating Books and Boxes by Benjamin Rinehart (REF.BB.0630), and even A Primer to Bookbinding by Francis Grimm. However, I have to say that my favorite guide to bookbinding basics is Heather Weston’s Bookcraft: Techniques for Binding, Folding, and Decorating to Create Books and More (REF.BB.1009).
As Weston explains, “Bookcraft is written for a range of skill levels, from absolute beginner to those with a good deal of previous experience, who would like to learn some new, experimental bindings.” The title begins with a brief introduction to the proper tools, materials, and fundamental rules of bookbinding.
Weston then moves onto the “Bindings” chapter. Here, the reader is introduced to a wide range of binding techniques in the format of progressive projects. Here, the beginner bookbinder can begin to develop accumulated skills needed to master more complex projects. Alternately, as each section is self-contained, more experienced individuals can skip around to select projects of interest throughout the chapter.
It is no easy task to illustrate binding techniques in a two-dimensional book. However, Weston is remarkably successful in this title, as she includes a simplicity of instructions, illustrated diagrams, and well-chosen examples that help to make clear even the most complicated of bindings.
The breadth of binding projects covered is also impressive. Readers will first learn about the most common binding styles such as the pamphlet-stitch binding, the single-section case-binding, the multi-section case-binding, perfect binding, post binding, and the Japanese stab binding. They will then explore more complex projects including the dos-á-dos, the concertina binding, the flag book, the tunnel book, the carousel book, the flip book, and the portfolio binding. Each project includes a brief description of the style, a basic construction diagram with labeled parts, step-by-step instructions, a list of required materials, and a sample finished project.
|cutting and layering paper|
In the “Page and Cover” chapter, Weston looks at varying ways of treating the pages and covers of books. Here, readers will explore fundamental principles such as cutting and layering paper, surface sculpting, debossing, embossing, folding methods, and creating pop-ups. Each case study includes detailed instructions, key tips, and an example variation on the technique to help incite your own creative adaptations.
The title closes with a chapter on “The Complete Book”. Here, Weston provides examples of artist’s book projects chosen to highlight the potential of the techniques laid out in the rest of the book. Nearly all of these examples use techniques achievable by hand, and are intended to show the enormous possibilities that are available to someone with a solid set of basic binding skills.
|Tunnel Vision by Maria G. Pisano|
One notable highlight here is Dolly: Edition Unlimited by Karen Bleitz which illustrates the way structure can be used as metaphor. In this case, Dolly – the sheep – is released from the confines of the book, and can be opened up to reveal that she is actually a flock of clones. Another interesting project is Tunnel Vision by Maria G. Pisano. Here, the closed book hides what is beyond the covers. Once opened up, the book reveals its secrets, drawing the viewer into the eight-panel tunnel.
For both beginner and experienced bookbinders alike, I would recommend this title as a must-have for your bookshelf. If you want to take a look, you can find the book in the Reference Collection under call number REF.BB.1009.
The Center also has several upcoming courses on bookbinding techniques including Pop-Ups for Miniature Books (July 27-28th), Tunnel Books (July 20th), and Four Fantastic Folds (June 15th) if you want to take Weston’s lessons one step further.
|New York Dreams by Andrea Dezso|
The Reference Collection is one of three collections at The Center for Book Arts. The other two include the Fine Arts Collection (composed of artists’ books and prints) and the Archives (containing Exhibition Catalogs and the Center’s ephemera). All three collections can be viewed on-line via the Center’s website or in person by appointment. Note that the Reference Library is currently being cataloged, with roughly 75% completed.
-Sarah McCarthy, Librarian