Binding Books in Batches

July 6, 2009


Above: Two small (3.5 x 5.25 inch) and one regular (6.75 x 10 inch) Nideggen journals. The first batch of this "round" of binding. (The lighting is off in the photo—that front book's fabric is way more teal! There is metallic gold on the small black book's decorative paper, sort of a wash that settled everywhere in the cold press texture of the 140 lb. watercolor paper used for that design. It's sparkly when you hold it in the light.)

Saturday morning, while baking bread I was able to get the first three books of this new group finished. But I'm not a happy camper. I want to bind them all at once! I'm having trouble pacing myself. I did three more of the regular journals Sunday morning, again while baking bread. This morning I finished 4 more regular journals (and baked bread after binding so the house wouldn't get hot while I was binding). That leaves 3 more to case in! (Maybe I can get a hang of this small batch thing?)

The two small books are actually a mistake. My sheet count was off and I didn't think I had enough sheets for an even number of full-sized books, so I tore one sheet down to a half-sized book and set it aside. When I got close to the end of tearing I found I would have had enough (drat). I regrouped, did some math, and I ended up doing one thin, regular book (4-sigs instead of my normal 6-sig book) and made two small books with the paper I'd torn down to smaller pieces.

In hindsight I'm glad this happened. The two small books will be just perfect for me to put in my pocket for a weekend trip with non-artists who aren't also sitting around sketching! Working small will also be a good way to jostle things up.

Do you like to keep the same page size and paper? I wonder what my ideal page size is? My problem is that the definition of "ideal" varies depending on what media I'm thinking about using. Adaptation is fun so I like to switch papers too, but never in the same book, as I know some people do, go figure. For all these, and many more, reasons I like to bind my own books. I'll continue to work on pacing myself so I can do it for a while to come.

Now I'm going to go and enjoy the page size and paper I have in my current journal. Only a few pages left. I'm looking forward to the change already.

  1. Reply

    hi roz,

    boy, this nideggen looks nice… i love the color of it (i went to the daniel smith website to check it out). they say it’s a print making paper, but i’m assuming you like it for watercolors. is that a correct assumption?!

    i learn a lot here — thank you!


    • Christina Trevino.
    • July 7, 2009

    Roz, those books look great!
    As always, I have questions: do you use paste to decorate the book cover papers? And, how long it takes you to make one book, from cutting the paper, decorating cover papers, folding, stitching, ETC?
    I know you make several at a time, but after reading about how you mark and measure the glue you use, I think you have a notion about it. Thanks.

    • Roz
    • July 7, 2009

    Lynne, I love Nideggen because it is a toned paper and it is great for gouache. Watercolor can be used on it, but the color of the paper dulls the watercolor (since wc is transparent and shows the paper), but I use watercolor on this paper too.

    While it is a printmaking paper I find that the sizing on it is rather fun to paint on. You can push the paint around a bit before it sinks in.

    Since the paper is lightweight (I don’t have the spec in front of me but it must by like 80 lb. or something) you’ll get some buckling when you use wet media, but that never bothers me.

    If you click on GOUACHE in the category list or search through the paper selections in the category list you’ll find TONS of comments and tons of examples of work on Nideggen.

    While it is a thin paper it has a good opacity which I love. And it has a wonderful WAVY laid pattern that is also delightful when working with pencil or colored pencil as the texture comes through.

    Give it a go!

    • Roz
    • July 7, 2009

    Christina, thanks, the books are turning out FANTASTIC! I am loving everyone and am sorry to see that they are going to other homes (some anyway). I think it would be fun just to carry them all around with me the covers work perfectly with the toned Nideggen.

    I do make paste paper, but none of these books have paste paper for decorative paper. They are all painted papers. Starting with great sheets and acrylic paints and a lot of water and elbow grease.

    If you go to my last batch of Nideggen, which I placed a photo of on the blog
    there you will see in the very back row, center book with Khaki bookcloth and a coppery paste paper (which is very sparkly in life).

    That’s an example of my paste paper.

    I would cover more books in paste paper because I love it, but we have had the breakfast nook torn up for three years now (long story) and that’s where I set up the acrylic sheeting to lay out the paper… Sigh.

    As far as how fast I can make a book, I’m assuming you mean a Roz Method book—well I haven’t timed it in quite some time, instead keeping a time sheet on batches. What I can tell you is that in my prime as a stunt, repeated twice (for a group of friends and then for a group of high school students—both times to make a point), I made, from start (tearing down the paper, cutting the boards, etc.) to putting it under weights to dry a book in just about an hour (once 56:30 and once 1:02:00—I tripped coming back from the cutting board!) (6 sig, 6 x 8 inch books)

    Both books were lovely, but you really shouldn’t push like that as the spines, which I glue in layers, don’t really have time to dry (to my mind). But it can be done if you are really pushing and focused, and you don’t have to run up and down the stairs to a board cutter.

    A more reasonable time for book construction for me when I’m working like a sane person and protecting my hands and joints, would be 2 hours.

    Working in batches, doing all the different steps in stages, when I add it all up it usually comes out around that number, as long as there were no “problems.”

    Working in batches at a consistent and focused, but not furious pace I have a sense that each step is taking exactly what it should do and the book takes as long as it should. That’s what makes it so enjoyable to me.

    I don’t see any point in working at a full press, even when I’m making books to sell, because the faster you go the more potential for error there is and then you’ve just wasted materials.

    In other posts on the blog I’ve advocated making books in batches because you can fit the various tasks into the other activies of your day: sew books while watching TV (I don’t, but you could); case in books while you’re also baking bread, something I did all this week. By making a little bit of progress every day on the batch you end up with a huge stack of books in what seemed like no time. Which is the other reason making them this way is so good—you always have another journal to reach for when you have filled one up! I always encourage students to start making more books if they are half way through their current journal and don’t have any on hand.

    Making a traditional book, sewn on tapes, with sewn headbands, a rounded spine, all that sort of thing, takes longer and it’s why I worked on developing my method. I like binding books, but I prefer working in them, so the quicker I can get at it, the better.

    With my sewn on the spine books the problem is the covers have to be made and let to dry completely before you can sew, so you are talking 6 to 8 hours of drying time before you can go on to the sewing and complete the book.

    For those reasons I’ve created soft covered journals with sewn spines and also hardcovered journals with alternate methods which can all be sewn up almost immediately, and I teach those in classes which are one day and we need to be sketching that afternoon. I can make those books in 45 minutes.

    Where there is a will there is a way. I just want to get on to the sketching, whether I’m by myself or with students!

    • Roz
    • July 7, 2009

    Christina, those times for making books DID NOT INCLUDE making decorative paper. I used decorative paper that I had made previously, that was dry, and which I simply cut down to the size needed.

  2. Reply

    thanks, roz! i will!

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