Lessons in Bookbinding

Some of you may know that I have become very interested in bookbinding and repair in recent months, thanks to the opportunity I have had since spring of doing bookmending for Hatfield Library. I took a basic repair workshop at Portland State University this past August, and have read several books on the subject, but was eager for further advancement in my studies.

This past month, I began Saturday sessions with Max Marbles, a local bookbinder who works out of Mission Mill in Salem. I’ve learned quite a lot already, even just through watching him work, that I am beginning to apply to my library mending. This past weekend I got to see him do blind embossing on leather for a title onlay, and helped do cosmetics on the pastedowns and flys of a book damaged by a previous strapping tape “repair.”

The previous weekend I got to make my very first book, and I finally have a photo of it. This is a single-signature sewn binding with 80 pages (40 leaves, 20 folios) with a simple cloth cover. I did everything myself: cutting, folding, trimming, and punching the leaves; laminating the cover and fly with marbled paper, and dying the bookcloth to the shade I wanted; and sewing the binding. It’s just a small book (measures about 3.5″x5″), but sturdy and functional, and—I think—lovely in its simplicity.

Single signature sewn binding

As my studies with Max progress, I may be making several other small books with more complex constructions, to familiarize myself thoroughly with the anatomy of a book, so stay tuned for updates on the bookbinding front.

One thought on “Lessons in Bookbinding

  1. Wow Julie a real book! Remember when you were young and all the little books you were continuing to make and some I was the recipient of; now here is what looks like a real one. It looks quite lovely, I agree with you.

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