My interest in bookbinding began in high school. I worked a few hours a week in a used bookstore, and I became fascinated with the construction of older books. For a period of several months, I was certain my wonderful future life would be spent making amazing hand-bound books. I would do it professionally, and I would be world-famous. Unfortunately, I caught this bug in the 1970s, when the adults around me had no idea how anyone would learn such a thing and there was no internet for research. The local library had nothing. My youthful bookbinding career was over before it began.
I caught the fever again several years ago. I made a simple pamphlet. Okay, that was easy. Then, while pursuing other art forms, I began collecting old books for their interesting covers, and I put them in a box. Every now and then I'd buy something bookbinding-related, an awl or some waxed linen thread, and it would go into a drawer.
One day I noticed a lot of new books at the store. Most of them were about altering existing books, and I needed to learn how to do that. There was a project that had been kicking around in my head for years.
|Pages from The Book of Isaiah|
|I own these.|
For my first endeavor I decided to use an old children's book about nothing much, a library discard. I cut off the spine, leaving enough cover to turn under and glue along the long edge. I covered the insides, front and back, with crumpled brown paper bag material, stained and sealed. After drying the covers under weight overnight, I began.
|Showing the pages|
I very much like the look of the midnight blue papers cradling every other signature. I have a large collection of endpapers now, which I cut from books I was recycling or donating. I used a piece of heavy vintage twill tape for the ribbons, and I wish I had more of that, because it behaved wonderfully.
I was a nervous wreck throughout. At one point I overheated so much that I had to rip my shirt off. It felt bizarre to be half naked while working, but after a while the task pulled me in so far that I was unaware of my body or my surroundings.
|Showing the stitches|
The end result is outrageously and overwhelmingly pleasing to me. I love the color of the cover. I made no attempt to repair the cover's worn edges, other than to color them black and dab them with sealant. Big Pink is 180 pages of ivory-colored goodness, and I think it's beautiful. If it were offered for sale, I'd buy it. For me, that is the acid test.
I now have several books in the pipeline, and many more in my head. At some point I'll start thinking about adding content. There are so many formats I want to explore. There are papers and threads and stamps and inks and all kinds of wonderful binding stitches. I love all the possibilities, the variables, and it seems to me at this moment that the sky is the limit.