16 December 2009

Experiments In Coptic Binding

One of the jobs that's kept me so busy these past few weeks was a binding job for a friend of mine to give as a gift. (I won't mention who the friend is or who the gift was for, on the slender chance that the surprise could be spoiled. I don't think the recipient is likely to come across my blog, but you never know).

The specifications were for a journal, with reasonably nice writing paper (nothing expensive) and a leather cover, with the recipient's initials blind-tooled on the front. My friend found an image of some journals she liked the look of--the spine wasn't visible in the photograph she sent, but they were either Coptic or longstitch (an evolution of Coptic), with exposed stitching on the spines. I've done similar books before, though with hard covers rather than limp leather.

I used Classic Laid paper for the text block (for those who don't do books, "text block" is the stack of pages, regardless of whether or not they actually have text on them). It's kind of the go-to paper for anyone who learned binding with Joe Landry. It's relatively inexpensive, but has a traditional-looking laid finish and feels quite nice. And though it's textured, it's not so textured that it's difficult to write or draw on.

For the cover I got some very nice, but also inexpensive, chocolate-brown cow leather. With this kind of cover, you need a thicker leather than you would use on a hardcover with leather spine. The leather itself is both the cover and the sewing support, so it needs to be strong.

I laid out and punched the sewing holes for longstitch, then went looking for a diagram to refresh my memory of the sewing pattern. And of course I couldn't find one. Not in my books and not online. And I seem to have mislaid some of my binding notes. While looking online, though, I found a really nice Coptic stitch that uses two needles for each thread, and a separate thread for each pair of holes. It turned out to be even better for the sewing holes I'd punched than my original idea.

I made a practice book first, since I hadn't done one quite like it before (it's the top one in the photo). Then I went on to the real thing, after deciding to do three pairs of holes instead of two (because of the larger size). I ended up juggling six needles at once, but I think the result was worth it. And my friend was very happy when she got the book in the mail (it's the bottom one in the photo).

I had the practice book on my table at the Halifax Crafter's Christmas Market, but I was not at all sad when it didn't sell. I've had my eye on it myself to use as a naturalist journal. Of course, I could always make another one.

Photo credit: Coptic stitch blank journals bound and photographed by Niko Silvester.


Carol said...

Very nice journals, Niko. I've never made a coptic with a wrap around leather cover like this so now I'm going to have a go at one. You've got me curious. I always use 2 needles for each set of sewing stations, I think 12 needles is my maximum, and that was complicated but fun.

Niko said...

I've mostly done versions of Coptic and longstitch with a single needle, but I'd been itching to try multiple needles. I'm not sure I'd want to try 12, though!

Sunshine Folk said...

Those journals are very pretty! I've always wanted to make one, but I think I'm better at using them than making them. :)