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Episode 102: Cloth for Books

Cloth1.jpgI know in Episode 101 I said I was going to talk about how I think I make covers for the books I have sewn and glued together but in the short space between that episode and now I ran across a street fair full of artists, beer salesmen, zakka goodies, and antique dealers selling their wares. Naturally, I had to look at the older women (and, yes, they were all older women) selling cloth.

And I was seduced into buy some. Here are two photos of the bundles of pieces of cloth I was suckered into purchasing. Fortunately for not much cash because the women couldn't guarantee how big the pieces of cloth were. For the most part, I can make A6-sized books with a lot of the cloth and use some of the narrower scraps for the spine in other books.

Cloth2.jpgNow, of course, I'm totally in trouble because now, of course, I have to start backing these bits of cloth with paper to make them all usable for book cloth and then I have to make books that fit. And this after I told myself not to buy anymore book cloth until I have used up all I have now. I never listen to me.

Next week: The Cover (maybe).

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Travel2.jpgThis episode will be about what I think I do when I make books. A few years ago I started hauling around a bunch of junk that I need to make a book. This included only the essentials like: thread, two curved needles, a triangle, and a beeswax candle. (If the power goes out, I'm good.)

I usually always have my keys with me – or they're lost somewhere in plain sight – and my key chain is a small surfboard which works perfectly as a bone folder. I also have a plastic red bone folder just in case I lose my keys. But before sewing the signatures, I need to print them out.

CheapImpostor.jpgThe printing process uses two or three computer programs. First, I slap the text into InDesign. This is where I manipulate the text, add photos, and create superfluous decorations. I export the document as a PDF and open CheapImpostor, which imposes the pages. CheapImpostor makes two files: Odd and Even pages which open in Preview. (All of these programs are on my Mac. If you use Windows, your mileage may vary.)

After Preview opens the odd and even pages, I print them out and, if I put the paper in the printer correctly, Holes3.jpgthey come out in order. I fold the resulting imposed pages into signatures. Then I use my triangle to align the signatures and determine where I want to punch in the holes. I draw a line, and then, using one of the needles, punch the holes in. I used to use an awl and a block of wood to make the holes in the signatures but sitting in a coffee shop pounding holes with an awl is a tad disturbing to the other customers and baristas so I switched to a silent needle.

Sewed2.jpgThen I measure out the thread, wax it with the candle, thread it through the needle and I'm all set to sew the signatures. An eight-signature textblock takes me about 45 minutes. Bigger textblocks take longer, of course. Usually I try to sew it in one sitting but if I can do 20 minutes here and there, it works out, too. After sewing the signatures, I'm reading to glue, add mull, add endpapers, and other finishing touches on the textblock. This I do at home so I end up sometimes with four or five books to be glued at the same time. Once I had seven or eight books waiting to be glued. Good times.

Next week: The Cover

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LIFE_front.jpgMany many moons ago I received an e-book of Seth Harwood's This Is Life (a Jack Palms novel). Also many moons ago I printed it out and sewed it together. I also lined the spine. Then I set it on my pile of To Bind Naked books and went about my life. For a long time. Last week I managed to print out a cover and bind the whole shebang together.

The book is about 165 pages, A5 in size, hardback, and with a blue book cloth running down the spine. The cover paper is thick. It is from Strathmore and stiff. The photo was pulled off the internet and dropped into InDesign where the whole cover was arranged, rearranged, and finally printed out. The endpapers LIFE_open.jpgare plain brown which, if I were to do this over again, I would make metallic grey or have a red car door with bullet holes in it (you have to read the book).

What did we learn from this excursion? This is a series of bindings I've been working on to improve my binding experience. The others were the half-bound notebooks (Seen below in Episode 99) and a smaller blank notebook, also half-bound. I'm teaching myself how to put on a spine separate from the cover and to add the corners. What I learned from This Is Life is to make the paper cover slightly larger (about 2~5 mm) than needed so that it fits nicely under the book cloth.  Again, measuring accuracy is important.

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