More Adventures in Bookbinding—When You Can’t Go Outside

June 5, 2012


Above: Recent book batch with an emphasis on what I might be taking to this year's Minnesota State Fair. The book at the back left has a cover label depression and is black fabric with gold/brown fiber flecks. I used Nideggen to make 10 signatures for a lot of pages without a lot of weight. The other two books in the back row are slightly larger (7.5 x 9 approx) and both are covered with navy bookcloth. Both also have a cover label depression. (I like to put my spin art images on the covers of my State Fair books.) More about these below. (Because I couldn't get the blue fabric to light up I put a detail of the label depression at the end of this post.)

I was confined to the house last week for a couple days and after a day my mind went to its default—making books. Spring obligations were over and I had a breather. I started thinking about what type of journal I'd like to have for this year's Minnesota State Fair (end of August).

I sometimes use journal cards, but for the past few years I've enjoyed having a bound book. I thought It would be fun to do a bound book again this year and I was having so much fun with the Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper that I decided to make a journal out of it for the Fair. I wanted something rather large for me (7.5 x 9 inches or so) and that meant it was going to be a heavy book.

Before planning a State Fair Journal I look at past visits and work out what my average number of visits is and how many pages I use on each visit. Then I look at my current obligations and what number of visits I hope to make this year. Then I plan accordingly—I figured that I'd need a 10-signature book. That would be fat and heavy with the lovely and thick Strathmore paper. 

Since events often come up to derail our best laid plans I thought, what if I make two books that look alike and are the same size except one has 6 signatures and one has 4 signatures? That's still 10 signatures (though I lose a couple extra pages because of the binding of the second volume—letting the pages themselves act as endsheets). Under that scheme I only have to carry around a 6-signature book for the first 3 visits and then if I'm fortunate enough to go two more visits I can take the second 4-signature book. If my extra trips get canceled I'll have a nifty 4-signature book to use for something else.

BUT, I've really enjoyed working in my journals made of Zerkall Nideggen paper lately. I've been working with pencil and gouache and doing lots of other experiments. As a lighter weight paper I also know I can get more signatures into a thinner spine and have less to carry around.

I decided that I would also make a 10-signature book with Nideggen. It too has a depression for a cover label. If the State Fair rolls around and I've been painting on lots of tan or toned paper and want a break I can use the Strathmore books for a break and vice versa. I'll be happy with either solution, so all I have to think about now is which pens I'm going to take.

Of the two books in the front of the photo—those are both made with Nideggen. The one on the left was made with scraps leftover from doing the larger 10-signature volume. The one on the right is about 7 inches square. I had two sheets of the 22 x 30 inch Nideggen and made it into a 3-signature book. My friend Suzanne Hughes likes to use this smaller sheet of Nideggen and since it is available locally and not a special order I decided I'd make these special books. When better to do that then when I was stuck at home for a couple days! Suzanne had told me that the sheets were 21 x 30 inches and despite what the two stores I called about this paper said (both claimed it was 22 x 30 inches) the sheets I bought were as Suzanne said, 21 x 30 inches. Be aware of this possible sheet size variance and wait to make your final size determinations when you have your paper in hand. Buy a couple extra sheets than you think you'll need in case your tearing doesn't go well. If you buy them at the same time they should all be from the same batch and sized the same. 

I hope that you are already thinking about plans for the Minnesota State Fair—the Sketch out is on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. More details will follow, but start getting ready! (Yes there will be buttons!)

Below: Detail of the cover label depressions on the navy and black books. The depressions are about 2.5 x 2 inches and were cut into the board before I added the fabric covering. When I finish a journal like this I make a label from my artwork and size it to fit the space, laminate it and adhere it. You can see this on past Minnesota State Fair journals for instance.


    • June 5, 2012

    Those look beautiful Roz!! I love how thin they are! That will be nice to handle and work with. Can’t wait to draw and see your sketches!

  1. Reply

    Carol, I always get so excited when the Fair draws close. I have to pinch myself and get back to work! Are you going to the SD Cty fair??? I hope so. I hope you get to sketch! Have fun.

  2. Reply

    Thank you Liz, they have that “new book smell” which is to say they smell like my favorite papers. They are THIN. That Nideggen book has 160 pages in it and it’s light as a feather (well almost). Right now I’m leaning towards using it. It’s going to be fun. Can you hear me giggling??? I can’t stand it!

  3. Reply

    Yup I made an A4-ish book with 10 signatures of watercolour paper. I’ve thought to start it but it is TOO heavy. It’s Coptic, so I am going to rebind 5 signatures. When it is finished I will rebind the other 5 in the same covers, then finally when ALL finished I will rebind as a 10 signature. It’s a special size to fit the overs of an old schoolgirls’ annual book

  4. Reply

    Oh Wendy, the coptic structures have a whole other problem—the unsupported spine. EEEK that would be a lot of weight. I’m glad you’re going to rebind that watercolor paper. The covers sound very fun! Hope you have fun filling the new lighter versions!!! (Sometimes I feel I should travel with a burro to carry all my art supply stuff!)

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