“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” – Edward P. Morgan
As Morgan has put so elegantly, books have the rare quality of both providing a venue for deep exploration by the author / artist and of sharing those explorations with the outside world. For anyone without a formal training in bookmaking, however, the process of actually creating your own book can be a bit daunting. This is where Peter Baumgartner has come to help. In this week’s Reference Collection highlight, “Make Your Own Books and Boxes: Portfolios, Photograph Albums, and Decorative Papers” (REF.BB.0091), Baumgartner provides a step-by-step manual to help demystify basic bookmaking techniques such as sewing, binding, and making covers.
The title begins with a brief history of books beginning with the Egyptian papyrus and continuing through to the creation of the mass paperback. Next, the reader is introduced to bookmaking basics such as paper characteristics, sizing, grain, and weight; materials and tools required for bookmaking; and key techniques such as gluing, cutting and measuring. Decorative papermaking techniques such as paste patterns, batik paper, and marbled paper are also explored.
Baumgartner then delves into an introduction of techniques for creating notebooks, boxes, portfolios and albums. Each project begins with a summary of the steps involved, as well as a list of requisite materials. Full-color illustrations are contained throughout, as well as brief tips on how to avoid common technique errors.
Readers are next taken through the process of creating their own books. This section covers the creation of the book block, making the case, casing-in, ‘perfect binding’ single sheets, full cloth binding, and full binding with paper. The title ends with a discussion of how to repair your own books, covering topics such as repairing damaged corners, strengthening the binding on a perfect-bound book, restoring covers, and removing damaged sections. 36 decorative label templates are also included, and can be photocopied for your own projects. If you’re looking to get started making your own books or boxes, or if you’re just curious about the process, this title would be a great place to start.
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 orin person by appointment. Note that the Reference Library is currently being cataloged, with roughly 60% completed.