Reverse Engineering Historical and Modern Binding Structures, Part Two with Karen Hanmer – Day 2

On the second day of Karen’s workshop, we completed three bindings, starting with the Simplified Binding.

Materials kit for simplified binding

This binding is sewn on tapes – we used ramieband. I never used this material before. It reminded me of Tyvek, but it frayed really easily.

Spine sewing of simplified binding

We converted our super cute sewing frames into mini presses for the work that followed. This thing is like a bookbinding MacGyver.

Handmade mini press

We used bookcloth for our spine wrapper and lined it with paper to stiffen it. I got the most vibrant orange bookcloth for my book. Love.

We sanded our boards so that they had a slight bevel. When we covered our boards, the turn-ins were glued on to the side with the bevel. The wrapped boards were attached to the spine wrapper, which was super easy.

Simplified binding covers

The spines were glued up and rounded. I rounded my spine using a bone folder and got inconsistent results. We added a number of spine linings to fill in the spaces between the stitches and tapes. After the linings dried, we sanded them down with 220 grit sandpaper to create an even surface.

Simplified binding - sewn spine

Lastly, the text block was added, with the end sheets acting as the board attachment. I loved this binding and can totally see doing it again.

Simplified binding

Simplified binding - cutaway model

It was a straightforward process and the resulting book is wonderful to hold. To learn more about this binding, Karen recommended that you check out Laura Wait’s article in The Bonefolder, The Simplified Binding Examined.

The next binding was the Scaleboard Binding.

Materials kit for Scaleboard binding

It’s a Colonial American binding style that was basically developed as a response to lack of resources – they made do with what they had and poof came the Scaleboard. Karen told us that the cover boards usually had a horizontal grain, but she didn’t know why.

Scaleboard binding in process

To me, this binding is a bit like a stab binding, but not really. You use a 1/4” chisel to cut 2 slits through the entire stack of signatures. You then take 2 thin alum tawed strips and lace them through the slits. The ends of the alum tawed strips are then glued to the front of your boards.

Scaleboard binding in process

Scaleboard binding

The last binding was the Non-Adhesive Paper Case, which is sewn with a butterfly stitch.

Materials kit for non-adhesive paper case binding

No supports are used. End sheets are made with two folios, which are wrapped in a cloth guard to add strength. Slits are cut into the head and tail of the end sheet signatures, which help them lock the text block into the case.

Sewn text block for non-adhesive paper case binding

We used elephant hide paper to create our paper case.

[insert lots of folds here]

Non-adhesive paper case binding

Then our case was done!

Non-adhesive paper case binding

We cut out some paper from the interior of the case spine to facilitate the locking of the text block and the case. I had to do a bit of finagling before I got it right. The case is a pretty impressive structure, but I’m not sure that it’s something I could do on my own. I’m just not a good folder.

Non-adhesive paper case binding

Don’t ever ask me to do origami. Really.

And the day’s quotes from Karen:

“Go, go, go!”

“We’re doing so many things in this class that I don’t like.”

I’m so happy that I now have 5 more cutaway models to add to the 6 that I made at the last FOBA. Karen is a great teacher and I highly recommend that you take a class with her if you can. She’s an extremely talented smarty pants.

Karen Hanmer doing a bookbinding demonstration

3 Responses to “Reverse Engineering Historical and Modern Binding Structures, Part Two with Karen Hanmer – Day 2”

By Amy - 3 July 2013 Reply

Thanks Elissa, for sharing a glimpse into the classes you take. Your posts are fascinating 🙂

By Tammy - 19 July 2013 Reply

Precision stitching and folding looks like the way to make this elegant structure. Beautiful book!!
Did you know that Shereen LaPlantz’s innovative bookbindings with hidden compartments was rereleased today by her husband?

By Elissa - 22 July 2013 Reply

Tammy –

I saw! David sent me an Email to let me know that the project was completed. I’m so happy to know that it’s out in the world now.


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