Catherine Hennessey’s Guestbook

I have known Catherine Hennessey for 25 years, and I’ve always delighted in the numerical twist that unites us: she was born in 1933, I was born in 1966. So when I turned 33, she turned 66; when I turned 44, she turned 77.

And so when I turn 66, she will turn 99.

This year Catherine turned 85, and I wanted to make something to mark the occasion, so I combined my love of letterpress with my newfound love of bookbinding and made the guest book for her birthday party.

Catherine Hennessey's Guest Book

Endpapers on the guest book

The covers are heavy green Saint Armand paper covered book board. I printed Catherine’s name on the front cover before affixing the paper to the book board. It’s set in 30 point Futura Bold. For the endpapers I used orange Japanese paper from a pack I purchased in Halifax in March from The Ikebana Shop.

The inside of Catherine's Guest Book

The inside signatures are of cream-coloured Saint Armand tag paper which was a joy to work with: more a living thing than something manufactured. I printed Catherine’s name at the top of each page, along with her birthday date, in a casual script that Sarah Saunders left a font of on my doorstep one day several years ago.

Coptic stitch binding on guest book

I bound the cover and signatures together using a coptic stitch, something well-suited to a book that’s meant to lay open flat. My stitching needs work, as it’s something completely new to me, but it did the job and held everything together: as I wrote to Catherine in my colophon at the back, “the book feels like it’s improbably held together, but, somehow, it stays bound–like Ms. Hennessey.”

I was very happy to see the book well-used on the evening of Catherine’s party.


Fran's picture
Fran on September 25, 2018 - 19:22 Permalink

Such a thoughtful and beautifully handcrafted gift for your friend.

Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on September 26, 2018 - 03:38 Permalink

That's great and thoughtful, and such a rich expression of friendship, Peter.

Susan White's picture
Susan White on September 26, 2018 - 12:39 Permalink

This is such a lovely, thoughtful gift - something to be treasured!