Sew much to do, sew little time.

I finished work today by sewing up the text block of the Graven Images prototype, or what will ultimately become the press copy.

I enjoy this part of the process. My compatriots in bookbinding will tell you I am no innovator with thread and needle, particularly with exposed spine bindings. Some bookbinding sewing is every bit as intricate as the most painstaking embroidery patterns. What I am doing with Graven Images is very simple, although still time consuming, with eight individual portfolio sleeves, and a section each for the front and back matter. Because sewing a book together is such a lot of work, it has become the rage to show it off, and tart up the stitching with colours and intricate patterns. It has a long tradition; the first codex books known were made by Coptic Christians in Egypt, some 1,800 years ago, and the style is popular again. Holly uses the method to bind her Muse Journals.

It is not necessary for me to make my sewing look spiffy because soon it will be buried, hopefully for many long years, beneath hard covers. So have a look while they are still exposed:

Midway through sewing the text block. The three pieces sewn onto the spine are called tapes. Books are traditionally either sewn on tapes or cords. The spines of early books had to be tooled to accommodate raised cords, which accounts for the raised horizontal banding on the spine.

Close up of the link stitch.

The link stitch is a survival from the Coptic manner. The last stitch at the top and bottom of the book block is looped down below the previous section, then brought back up again to enter into a new signature, or section. It creates a strong chain running across the top and the bottom of the spine.

Title page

Some text, and on the left a vintage lead cut advert and a halftone.

Portfolio title page.

Portfolio sleeve.

Finished text block, still needing mull (a kind of course mesh) glued across the back, but sewing completed. One down, 24 to go.

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One Comment on “Sew much to do, sew little time.”

  1. chris Says:

    Great pics Larry …… Well explained. A dullard like me even understood the process.

    See you soon ….. on the tour


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