|Clemens-Tobias Lange, CLT-Presse, Mechachal: Shew Ber (2011). Book and Clamshell Box, from Fine & Dirty|
Happy Monday, everyone! As mentioned before, this week will be my last series of blogs here at the Center for Book Arts. It’s been a wonderful time writing these and sharing some aspects of the Center and the world of book and letterpress arts with you, and I hope someone can take up the reins and continue making them grow. As I move onto the next stage of my life (graduate school) I know I’ll still be checking. After all, there are many more typefaces to explore!
|Michael Kuch, Box: Disasters of Love, a Defense of Delilah (2005)|
Along the theme of finishing projects, today’s Monday Method focuses on the clamshell box, a lovely case made to hold and protect a finished book. Some basic cases are made purely for safekeeping a fragile book, but many others are a piece of book art in their own right, enhancing the beauty of the book it keeps inside. For those who saw our last exhibition, Fine & Dirty (closed March 31st) the images used in this post may be familiar. For those who did not get the chance to see the show, you may remember this blog post, where Bart’s book and box were considered together.
Making a basic clamshell box is a fairly simple process. Like making a book, the artist starts with archival quality binder’s board, PVA, PVA mixed with methyl cellulose, and book cloth. Once the book you are enclosing has been properly measured (it is important that the book fits snugly inside the case in order to be properly protected), adjustments for the thickness of the board need to be taken into consideration. When building a box, the sides rest on the “floor” (the bottom part that the book will rest against). Since the board has a thickness, that width needs to be accounted for when building the book. In this case, templates are often made with scrap pieces of board and cloth. The last thing the artist wants is to made a beautiful case and have the book not fit inside!
|One “tray” in the Portfolio Box|
Once the board is cut, the pieces are glued together with straight PVA, creating a tray. At left is an image of the bottom tray of the box: the area where the book will sit. The top—basically a larger version of this piece that fits on top of it—and folding case will be made separately, all with binder’s board and straight PVA, and these will be put together in the end. In a clamshell box, both trays fit inside a folding case with a spine piece, and is basically one long piece, made with binder’s board and book cloth, that the top and bottom pieces rest up against. Making this piece is just like making a casing for a book: the main difference is, instead of casing a text block into it, you lie it flat, as seen in the image below. Notice the small space that is left between the spine piece and the sides, just like in making a book case!
|The case and spine of the Clamshell Box|
Once these pieces are glued together (and dry!) the book should fit snugly inside, protected from the elements, even when you travel. As long as the artist is using archival-quality materials, the portfolio box—and the book inside it!—can last a long time.
While the clamshell box shown is more for function than fashion, even the simplest structures can be created into something beautiful. Vibrant colors can be used and designs can be placed on the front, back, sides, or inside of the box, complementing and enhancing the content of what is inside.
For any books you have made throughout these past few months of blogging (you are now familiar with many bookbinding terms, after all!), I encourage you to try your hand at making a box. A class is occasionally given at the CBA and there are websites that can give you step-by-step directions, including this PDF manual. It’s a great way to get creative with a book you’ve already made or a book you already own—no matter how new (or old) the book is. Whether you are a book artist or not, making boxes can be a fun project (just as long as you don’t expect perfection when you first start!) and a nice way to store some of your favorite novels and magazines.
Have any stories about your most creative box? Want to give us suggestions or comments? Comment on this post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us on Facebook (/centerforbookarts) or follow us on Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!