It’s a real gift to be totally surprised by the results of a bookmaking workshop. I did not have a clue that I would enjoy working with teenagers as much as I enjoyed working the group that taught this past week.  They were smart, capable and enthusiastic and they have an art teacher (the teacher that invited me in) who clearly has created an environment in her art room which is both relaxed and serious. This made my job easy. I started making books with these students, and they just took off with it.

Over the course of numerous classes with the high school students several styles of books were made, including the paper-cover, beaded-pamphlet stitch, a shoelace exposed link binding, and a hard cover pamphlet binding with Ahashi bookcloth, all pictured above.

I want to mention, too, that it felt like a magical journey just to get to the school, located up in the Adirondacks. This is a photo of morning rush hour up in the Adirondacks.

On the first days of classes many of the students made paste papers, so many of the books were well decorated using these papers. I rather think that this young lady’s nail polish goes well with the book. An added bonus.

Of all the styles that I introduced to the students, what they seemed to like best was making books out of the heavy black paper that I brought with me – Epic 80lb cover. We folded a spine, and sewed right through the text block and spine, adding beads. They all used awls to punch the holes, and no one got blood on their books. Always a good sign.

I brought lots of beads. It was quite remarkable to see all the choices these students made, using colors and patterns in many different ways.  They were also pretty good at threading the needles.  One young man threaded a needle for the first time in his life during this class. He had trouble at first, then quickly became an expert at it.

I have too many photos for just one post, so I will end here, and add more later.

Handmade Book for my Teenager

February 26, 2011

Long Stitch Book by Paula Krieg

My daughter’s birthday is coming up. She mentioned that she will be needing a new sketchbook soon (“I only have two pages left and that won’t last me long.’) Since it is Still Snowing and since I am Centrally Located in the Middle of Nowhere there is no way I will get to a store by her birthday. Therefore, to hold her over, I made her a book.

This book is made by doing a Long Stitch Binding. This is a sewing pattern that I learned last weekend in NYC from Susan Mills, who teaches bookbinding, one book at a time.  I had met Susan just recently, and was intrigued by her Full Tilt Single Session Bookbinding Classes which teaches one book structure in three hours.

Longstitch Bound Book

This is the book I made in Susan Mills class. My goal was to be a good student and make a good, simple model book. Susan talked about decorative options, which I filed away in my head,. I admire the simplicity and elegance of this binding, but, even more, I appreciate how the spine seems to just beg for beads and decorative touches.
Long Stitch Book, Decorative Spine, by Paula Beardell Krieg

I used a silver rattail 2mm cord, added beads with beading cord, and wrapped the cord with some colorful string. It’s about 7 1/2 inches square. I plan on giving this to my daughter tomorrow. I do not hold out much hope that she will like it. After all this is a handmade book that her mom made and she is a teenager. But it will do (I hope) until I can get to AC Moore to buy her a proper sketch book. In a week or two I will possibly sneak in her room and rescue this book from the floor (under her bed?) before it disappears entirely.

I like coming up with ways of using beads in bookmaking, As a teaching tool, it’s one of those carrots that I can offer students when they are faced with the drudgery of folding many pages perfectly: when the folding is done, their reward is to come pick out their beads. Even if they get to choose, say, only three beads each, it’s still enough to motivate the students to stay on task.

(By the way, there are much simpler ways than I am showing here of using beads on books, Some  less ambitious beading could be done using yarn with pony beads with a modified pamphlet stitch or on the string part of a necklace book, but that’s not what I want to write about tonight.)

These five books are bound with a simple pamphlet stitch. The sewing is done with three holes (stations) going through the spine, one near the top (head), one in the middle and the last one near the bottom (tail). The sewing begins inside the book at the middle station. When the needle emerges from the middle it’s time to add the right amount of beads to fill up the length of thread that takes to get to the top hole. Go through the top hole with the needle and thread then, now on the inside of the book, bring the needle and thread down to the bottom station, go through to the outside of the book, add more beads, go back into the middle of the book, and tie off.

This one is made with heavy paper covers. When working with paper covers, I like to double the paper so that the covers feel twice as substantial.

Here’s the inside of the same book, with the covers doubled up. There are eight folded pieces of paper in this book.

To created the double line of beads I did the pamphlet stitch twice. The first time I reemerge into the middle station I made sure to pass the needle and thread over the long middle stitch before starting the second pamphlet stitch.

A book showing Rowan Rainwalker's beading using a Chain Stitch on the book spine

Now this is the stitch that is bit trickier. It’s an interesting beading pattern done on the chain stitch that Keith Smith describes in his book 1,2,&3 Section Sewings, on page 220. Keith Smith describes the sewing without using beads. It’s done by first making two sewing stations about 1/8″ apart near the head of the spine, then making sewing stations about a half-inch apart the rest of the way down the spine. The sewing begins on the inside of the book, going out the first station, then into the second station, then making a knot with the end of the thread . Next, bring the needle and thread out through the third station, bring the needle and thread up to the first stitch  on the spine, pass the needle and thread under the this first stitch (on the outside of the book) so that the thread is caught by the stitch, then push the needle and thread back into the third station. The spine now has its first chain. Continue in this matter until there are chains all the way down the spine, then tie off at the last station.

The first five spines here are all chain stitches (the second five are all pamphlet stitches). The third, fourth and fifth books from the left are done by adding putting the needle and thread through a bead both when it first comes out of a sewing station, and then again just before it goes back into the same sewing station.

The sewing pattern on the first two books in the photo above are still exactly the chain stitch. The difference, the reason that there is that alternating look to the beads is that one bead goes on when the thread emerges from the sewing station, and then a second bead going on just before the needle and thread re-enter the same sewing station. My young friend Rowan figured out this pattern one day when I gave him a book to sew. He wanted to use a bead that was too small to be entered through twice, so, rather than using a different bead, he worked out that he could just use two beads per chain, one in the coming and one in the going. I am wild about this variation!

The beads that I use on these books all come from the Dollar Store.  The colorful beads are wooden, and the white ones are plastic. I like using these inexpensive beads because they feel whimsical, and also because I feel reasonably sure that no one will be tempted to take apart the book just to scavenge the beads. For thread, I generally use a two- or four-ply waxed linen thread, but any strong thread or string will work as long as it fits through your needle and your beads.