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Adventures in Bookbinding: Roz Shows You How to Support Glue Seams in a Casebound Book

May 24, 2009

I couldn't help myself. Even though my little Optios only takes 60 seconds worth of video I made another short film. This is a how-to video showing how to support or reinforce glue seams between signatures in a casebound book. It lasts just less than 7-1/2 minutes. I set up the tripod so that I could work in the book without getting between the book and the camera. This meant that in a couple places I was reaching around the tripod in an awkward fashion, but I didn't block the action! (Someone should film me making a film this way!)

If you make your own casebound books with art papers and have trouble sometimes with the glue seams between signatures opening up, chances are the paper you've made your book out of has too much sizing so that the glue can't hold the pages together at those points, or too little sizing—the paper is very soft and it literally will peel off in layers, or the fibers pull apart. Either way you can be left looking through the pages to the back of your spine.

A casebound book is one in which the signatures have been sewn together as a unit, called the bookblock or textblock. This textblock is then "cased in," i.e., inserted into a cover made to fit the textblock's dimensions. For coptic stitch type books, or books sewn on the spine you do not have the same conditions. Coptic stitch type books are not glued along the spine. Depending on your sewing technique, stitch, and proficiency, there will always be a gap between these signatures when you open the book.

Sewn on the spine books are also not glued at the spine, each signature is sewn individually to the spine. There is a gap between signatures because there is a gap between the rows of holes on the spine to which they were sewn. I know some folks like to lay in decorative papers to fill those gaps, in general I don't recommend it, as it is a fussy procedure and you get multiple folding points of stress for the inserted paper, it's not a simple fold.

When I use papers that have this tendency I tend to start my journal work in that book by reinforcing all the glue seams as shown on this short film first. I do it at the same time I pre-paint backgrounds throughout the book. It's part of the breaking in process for me.

In the film I am simply tearing the paper I'm going to add to the page spread's gutter, but you could cut it to have straight vertical edges if that is important to you. (I like the organic feel of the torn edges.) Something that I didn't mention, but which was implied by descriptions of some of the insert papers I was referring to: you want to use a lightweight, but strong paper. Japanese papers with long strong fibers are great for this. Thick papers like 140 lb. watercolor paper are not good candidates because they add so much bulk in the gutter that other problems can arise.

If the embeded video doesn't work, go to You Tube for this short film.

    • Angie Platten
    • May 24, 2009
    Reply

    Great tip, Roz!

    • Roz
    • May 25, 2009
    Reply

    Angie, glad you enjoyed it.

    • Lisa
    • May 28, 2009
    Reply

    Roz, I’ve always liked those decorative gutters in your page spreads, but didn’t know they were practical, too. Thanks for a great video.

    • Roz
    • May 28, 2009
    Reply

    Lisa, you don’t have to do the decorative paper in the gutters only for practical purposes. You can do them on other page spreads too. Also, you can lay in a complete sheet of decorative paper across an entire page spread the same way,only on a larger scale, or just put strips along the top, bottom, or sides. Have fun with it. But if you have a book with paper that isn’t going to hold those seams well, then start with those seams.

    (Great to hear from you Lisa and I hope things are going well!)

    • Diane Wesman
    • May 31, 2009
    Reply

    Roz, this video is really helpful. Thanks! I hope DYI is watching. Somebody needs to put you on TV.

    • karen
    • May 31, 2009
    Reply

    Hi Roz.
    It’s a great tip, practical and decorative!

    • Roz
    • May 31, 2009
    Reply

    Diane, you are hilarious!

    • Roz
    • May 31, 2009
    Reply

    Thanks Karen, you’re almost as funny as Diane!

  1. Reply

    Thanks Roz! I thought you would use something fancier. We used to use Uhu glue stick in the restoration shop too. You might consider getting Flip Mino. For 100. it takes 60 minutes of video, and is a point and shoot. There are fancier ones but I don’t think that is necessary. Though of course you seem to do really well with this system.

    • Roz
    • November 25, 2009
    Reply

    Melanie, I hope sometime in the new year to upgrade to a “real” video camera. I did look at the Flip Mino and was very intrigued. I know it’s small enough that I would carry it with me. I have a need for a video camera that is high-end enough to make video tutorials in the future, so there is much to weigh and consider.

    In the meantime I find that for my little odd videos while I’m out and about the little Optios works OK and keeps me to under 60 seconds.

    HOWEVER, I’m troubled by the way the file gets compressed and loses detail when I save it for posting on the blog and YouTube. I should learn more about this and be more proficient. I was most disappointed in how the Weird Journal final version translated. It’s much more clear and detailed on my desktop. I probably need an upgraded version of iMovie too.

    Such a list of things to upgrade.

  2. Reply

    I have the 100. Flip Mino (not the Ultra HD model) and you can watch one of my videos here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjUMee7oces
    The Mino does not make the largest video, the 16:8, but the picture is clear and the color is pretty good. In the video, you can see the Navy Blue looks a tad dark. I researched this camera through the net prior to purchasing and decided I did not need the HD (which has the 16:8 ratio) because the reviews and side by side comparisons were pretty clear that there was a loss of color quality in the HD model. I bought mine in August.
    The camera froze once and I called the manufacturer and they told me how to fix it without problem and answered the phone quickly. I use iMovie to edit and create my videos, which is a mac program. The Mino comes with a simple editor but I have no experience with it.
    Thanks so much for all you give. I really appreciate it.
    I have begun to use the new gouache and so far am quite happy with it. May I ask how long it takes to dry into half pans? The M. Graham seems to want to stay sticky and today when I painted, my brush stuck into the paint and was a little soft. My main hope it to travel with a better quality paint. These have been drying for a little more than a week.

    • Roz
    • November 25, 2009
    Reply

    Melanie, thanks for the info on the Mino! I have some magazine reviews that a friend lent me but it’s nice to hear from someone who has one.

    As for gouache, it depends a bit on your temp and humidity situation. I tend to fill my pans halfway, wait a couple days and top them off.

    Schmincke gouache will dry in about 2 to 4 days depending on the season and moisture in the air here. M. Graham will dry in about 4 days depending on conditions, but it will always remain a bit moist.

    I like this characteristic of M. Graham. I’ve never had a brush stick in a pan however! Put a little more water on your brush, or put a drop of water in the pan before you are going to use it and that will soften up the paint and such stop the sticking problem.

    The M. Graham will never feel as dry as the Schmincke, but they should get dry enough that you can press down on most colors with your finger and nothing gooey, though the top of some of my yellows from them remain tacky.

    I think it has to do with the honey they use.

    Hope this helps. Have fun with that gouache!!!

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