Archive for the ‘Bookbinding’ category

Family History – Part Eight

October 15, 2013

Hard bound 21st century printed edition of the Family History.


For the 21st century edition of Joshua’s Family History, we decided to do a limited run off a high speed laser printer, and primarily in black and white, given the extreme cost of full colour digital printing.

The text was spooled into Adobe InDesign, composed in Garamond BE with titles in Centaur. I chose Garamond BE because it was quite readable, and came complete with old style figures and small capitals and titling figures. Designing a book is like building a house:you start at the foundation and work your way up to the roof. Likewise in a book, you begin with the style of the type, amending typographic issues, factoring in footnotes and superscript figures etc. In many cases special fonts, italics and old style figures can be fixed using mass Find/Replace. Before any work begins, style sheets are created so that if a style change is made in one part of the book, it will automatically change in all the other parts, saving a massive amount of work. Photos and illustrations were scanned at a high resolution, then edited in Photoshop for clarity, sharpness and to correct lightness and darkness issues that happen in the scanning process. The end goal is to have a book that possesses the qualities one expects from a professionally designed book, and I’m satisfied with the result, although, as always, I would do some things differently had I the chance.

The printed edition is $45 plus gst & shipping.

It was printed at Impression Printing in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

Bound at Smiths Falls Bookbinding.


Page spread: body text in 12 pt Garamond BE, titles in Centaur with appropriate leading and generous margins.

Part One |Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

Sight Lines – A Short Video

October 4, 2013


Tintern Abbey in the Autumn

September 6, 2012

Frontispiece printed on St.Armand Old Master paper.

Tintern Abbey is a summer poem, and we view it very much as a summer book, even though it was conceived in the autumn of 2008, work initiated on it in the winter of 2011 and the first copies were only available in the spring of 2012. Now, with September here again, goat skins and Japanese papers are in the talented hands of Christine McNair who is commencing work on the deluxe binding. Gathering materials for the deluxe edition was an education in understanding the distinction between goat skin and calf skin, and the nuances of Japanese paper.  And as the work carries on, I hope this book will bring the warmth summer with it, no matter how cold and stormy it may get in the months to come.

I intend to produce another dozen regular edition copies to satisfy orders and to have some available for the Merrickville Studio Tour, happening over the last two weekends of September.

So, September will be a month dedicated to Tintern Abbey, and things got underway with the printing of the suite of engravings from the book that will be included with the deluxe edition. These were printed in a run of 15 of each of the seven engravings on St. Armand Old Master handmade paper – really lovely stuff.

While I was cranking away, I printed another 20 copies on white Byronic paper, which will be sold singly, framed or unframed. The one very small engraving could have been done 2 up on a sheet, but I didn’t have another small engraving in book, so it got it’s own entire page.

It’s one thing to offer prints additional to a deluxe edition; it is another to house them safely and sympathetically with the leather bound book in its slip case. I may have seemed unseemly to pounce (as I did) upon a fine press deluxe edition brought to the OPG gathering a couple weeks ago, but it contained a chemise style wrap for the gathering of prints and I was keen to see how they had done it. Mostly, it was what I had in mind: an unadorned paper folded and scored to fit around the prints and slip closed through a cut slit.

For Tintern Abbey’s gathering, I’ll be using Canson Mi-Teintes, which is of a weight almost perfect for the task. My first attempt had it opening top bottom, then side to side, but this would show the flaps along the edge when seated inside the slipcase, so the final version will have it opening from the sides, which still works fine and will look neater along side the book in the slipcase.


Binding Tintern Abbey

June 3, 2012

Part One: Folding, Piercing, Sewing

When printing is finished, the press room converts into a bindery. A custom made table top is fit over the press bed providing more table space. It is difficult to make the conversion smoothly, since a press room and a bindery are very different environments, but one adapts.

The above photo show the aftermath of the first phase of binding. I have used the piercing cradle to stab holes in the signatures, then sewed up the signatures on tapes into book blocks. After this, I’ll glue on the endsheets which pretty much hold the book to the covers. Once that is done, they go under weight for a few hours, as below:

Signatures weighted between boards.

I use almost nothing that would be considered professional bookbinding equipment. Even the needles I use for sewing aren’t “official” bookbinding needles. I do use a bone folder which is a traditional bookbinder’s tool, and I own a nipping press… very handy for nipping the cases after cloth and/or paper has been glued down on them. But most everything else is purloined or conscripted from other purposes. The boards I’m using to press the glued endpages are thin plywood, leftover from a rough shelving unit; they are a far cry from the lovely hardwood boards that professional binderies stock. The weight I’m using is a container of lead spacing material for type.

I suppose my point is that everything in the studio must be prepared to serve in two (or more!) capacities, and this works pretty well for the most part. Sometimes I find it a problem when, after many months or even years between a certain conversion, I forget exactly what esoteric object I used to achieve a certain goal or effect. One begins to feel like McGyver.

What I miss most from a professional bindery are high tables that bring the work to just about chest height. In production binding, after many hours stooped over a regular height table, you begin to feel it. Sometimes I’ll drop a computer chair down to it’s lowest, but usually I set an old wooden tool chest up on the workspace, and set the work I’m doing on that, which helps my back and neck immensely!

The work show above is another ten copies of Tintern Abbey under way. the next step will be to glue up the spines, attach end bands and line the spines with mull (a kind of thin mesh) and paper.


OCAD Book Arts Show Triumphant!

December 4, 2011

There’s an old joke that floats around the letterpress and book arts scene: “You never sell books at a book arts show!” It’s not really a reflection of book arts shows, but rather the challenge of selling hand printed books in general. And this year I saw lots of books selling at the OCAD Book Arts Show, and even waved goodbye to a couple of my own. One of the things I love about the OCAD show is the very obvious presence of students exhibiting their work. It brings a raw freshness to the book arts, and I am always astonished at how many young artists are being attracted by old school books and printing.

The venue is quite striking as well, as I tried to caption in my first experiment with panoramic photographic stitching, early in the show. Crowds filled the hall for most of the day. (Click photos to make them larger).

The Great Hall at OCAD in Toronto, with the Book Fair in full swing.

A less distorted view from our table at the OCAD Book Arts Show

Tintern’s Binding

November 30, 2011

A lot of things go on here in the studio. My partner Holly Dean and I operate a kind of cottage-industry craft-based business, and I still do some freelance writing. Invariably, in the fall, the lines converge and we get totally smoked with work, which takes us away from our more artistic pursuits. So, in the rush of a very busy fall, I had to push Tintern Abbey far ahead. A few blogs ago, when I was about ready to set type on the project, I used the metaphor of a train about to leave the station. It left all right — without me on it! Nevertheless, we still carve out an hour here or there to do a little artwork or at least plan for the future.

Last week, Holly and I had the opportunity to visit bookbinder Natasha Herman of The Redbone Bindery for a tutorial on edition binding, and not a moment too soon. As I write she’s already in Amsterdam, where she’ll reside for a year of two, so time was of the essence. We met in her tiny, partially dismantled basement studio in the evening after she put her young children to bed for the night. So we brought a hastily gathered offering of pizza and wine and chocolate brownies, and by about 9 pm we all went into the bindery where Natasha stepped us through a two part case in binding with French groove. We took in alot — ways to make the binding straight, clean, tidy with a mind to “mass”production, i.e twenty or twenty-five at a go. It was an enlightening session that didn’t finish until after midnight, and gave me an insight into what Tintern Abbey will look like when it is completed. There’s still some question over the cover paper: I think Holly’s hand-painted papers would look ideal; she thinks papers decorated with my linocuts would be better. Well, we’ll sort something out.

The 2-step case binding, with Holly's painted paper for the cover. The top is half finished, with the inside left unglued for future reference. The two below have endpages but not covers, and show the sewing, the tapes and the structure of the spine.


Bookbinder's tools of the trade

Next 25 copies ready

February 21, 2011

Cover and spine labels for Graven Images

Today, I inked the press up and printed the cover and spine labels in order that I might finish off the freshly bound copies of Graven Images. Tomorrow I’ll cut them down, glue them onto the cover and spine, then prepare send off several copies to satisfy orders from late last year.

I intend to hand-bind several more copies using the hand-painted papers Holly made back when we thought they’d all be done that way. These are earmarked for special destinations. The two that I’ve already done worked out quite well.

Now on to other projects!

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