Further adventures in bookmaking


Handmade book
Handmade book


If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that I am on a mission not to buy any supplies or materials for a year from 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012.  It’s going pretty well.  I did buy some plastic bottles for putting paint onto quilts which cost three pounds for six, and I also bought some of the paint, but the whole lot came to just over £10, which when you think about what I would normally spend, is pretty much nothing.  I bought a folio and some large sheets of paper on Saturday, but that’s been about it.  I am very proud of myself.  Two months in and it is more or less holding up as a challenge.

One of the exceptions to the rule is that I am allowing myself to pay for classes.  Stretching this a bit I have signed up to Linda and Laura Kemshall’s Design TV which I am enjoyed enormously (www.lindakemshall.com/).  These are short videos of various techniques or ideas which you watch on your computer.  You subscribe for a period of time and can watch the shows as often as you want.  I really like them.  They are full of good ideas but not pretentious and not in any way irritating in the ‘take seven antique bottle tops and a pan of liquid acrylic, an industrial thermometer and a kevlar apron, oh, and a second-hand copying machine that you can easily get on ebay for under £500’ way that a lot of how-to articles and books are.

I watched the one on making collector’s books for putting small flat things like fabric samples in and realised that it was a much simplified method of doing coptic binding that I did on my course over the summer.  So, I decided to have a go, using some of the big sheets of paper I mentioned above.  I used a remnant of very thick wool which is almost like felt that I got in the mill shop at the gorgeous Melin Tregwynt when I was on holiday in Pembrokeshire years ago (www.melintregwynt.co.uk/).  I applied a sample piece of cloth for the Death Quilt which I had coloured with Markal/Shiva paintsticks over a rubbing plate.  I absolutely love the effect.  It’s very much like being a kid for me, and reminds me of ham-fisted attempts at brass rubbing as a child.  Then I applied some paint with the squeezy bottles, also mentioned above, and finally stitched into them with a very sparkly variegated thread:


Oddly, whatever I am doing, it always looks infinitely better with some of the garish lime green you can see in the photo.  Why this should lift the other colours I don’t know, but it always works.

I stitched the book up with black linen thread from the horse-riding superstore which inexplicably has opened up in urban Bristol just down the road from me.  I was pretty much watching the television while I was doing it, which shows you how demanding the stitching was.  I added in some elements from my bookbinding course over the summer because I thought it would make the whole thing stronger.  It came out quite well, but I am always so inaccurate, that I couldn’t possibly give something so slapdash away as a Christmas present, which I thought I might at one stage.  So this will become another sample book.  I like coptic binding because it is flexible and the books always lie flat.



My next Kemshall project will be to put a facing on the Death Quilt, which I have never done before, but I think a neat faced edge will look good on such a busy quilt.

I recommend Design TV to you – their work is wonderful and the videos are clear and inspirational.  A bit of a treat in the deep midwinter.


3 thoughts on “Further adventures in bookmaking

  1. people sew whilst not watching tv?

    ok…if you say so.

    bookbinding looks interesting, but everytime I think that I remind myswelf that I dont need to learn something else cos I alreasy have enough pulls on my time.

    I understand the satisfaction of using up ones stash – I made a tudor outfit from mine earlier in the year, but I’m not sure I could go a whole year without shoping, you must be very disciplined

    1. Hard to believe there are people who don’t sew while watching the TV, true enough. I hate this time of year, though, when it’s so dark. Daylight simulation bulbs are all well and good, but I can’t wait to be able to stitch black on black without with confidence again!


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