Little Black Book
May 17, 2015
Sometimes I make a book for no other reason than it’s something I like to do. I like folding papers and sewing them together. I like working out the details: the color and weight thread to use, which folds to make, what papers to use, what sewing pattern to follow.
I have quite a number of heavy weight black paper strips left over from last week’s school residency. This paper has a linen-like finish, it feels good in my hand, and it is rich and beautiful. I wondered what kind of small book I could make. The strips are 4 inches tall and 26 inches wide (about 11 cm x 68 cm). I folded a number of accordion pleats from the center out, left enough unfolded to so I could fold in a cover.
I have stacks of interesting papers which I like to mix up when I’m making a book. I used white, beige flecked, gray, graphing, and soft white papers, cut to 4″ x 6″.
At each stage of construction this book looked good to me. This is a reliable sign that the finished product will have some charm.
After this book was sewn together it wanted to pop open all the time. Here’s something I’ve never seen anyone write about: often books don’t seem to want to stay shut when they’ve first been made. A book like this should be placed on bookshelf, fully closed and between other books, and a week later that same book that was popping open now remains shut. It’s like the papers have to get used to the idea of having been transformed into a book.
The cover of this book is two thickness of paper, created by folding over the ends. I wanted the fold to stay shut, but didn’t feel like gluing it down, so I sewed it down, and the folded over paper became a pocket. .
Over the last few days I’ve made 5 or 6 of these books, trying to work out what looks best to me. The book on the left is where I started. First thing to change was the sewing. It just didn’t look good to me. I had seen as description of this linked binding and wanted to try it out, so that’s what I did. I like this change in sewing (though it used far more thread: 45″ of 4 ply waxed linen) , but it seemed to me that the signatures were too thick, so the next book the signatures were made from 5 papers rather than eight (5 papers = 10 leaves = 20 pages, and since there are three signatures, that makes this book 60 pages long). All good. But then I wanted to see if liked a more colorful spine, so I tried out purple. I’m not sure whether I like the black or the purple better, so now I’m stuck, and will stop here for now. Which is good thing because I need to get ready for teaching tomorrow.