A Book a Day

My friend Elmine made a new video every day in December and posted each to her YouTube channel.

Spurred on by her disciplined example, and with the helpful guidance of Making Books, I’ve been trying to make at least one book a day. This has been proving very helpful in teaching me the pitfalls of folding and cutting and sewing. Here are some early examples, each imperfect in its own special way:

Photo of examples of late 2018 book binding experiments

I’ve made four stab-bound notebooks since starting this run, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Punching the holes with the awl is a really important step to get right: if the holes don’t go all the way through, or if they’re crooked, everything that happens next is harder.
  • It really does help if I run the needle and thread through beeswax before sewing: friction is reduced greatly. I need to be sure not to apply too much beeswax, though, as it can get ground into the cover if I’m not careful.
  • Tangled thread is the enemy, and can run things quickly off the rails. The best response is to take a breath, reverse engineer the tangle, and proceed.
  • Nothing makes a stab binding look worse than ending up with threads wrapped around each other: see the third hole from the right in the green example above; conversely, neat and ordered stitches, pulled taut, produce a pleasant result (the middle example is my best yet).
  • Actually, nothing makes a stab binding look worse than stabbing myself with the very sharp bookbinding needle and bleeding all over the book and my tools (example omitted from photo).

I’ve seen some examples online of a hybrid coptic-stab binding technique that has the visual pleasures of the later with the functional pleasures of the former; that’s what I’m off to next.