Tag Archives: teaching

Books by Hand

4 Oct


I learned to bind books nearly ten years ago in an old barn that had been converted to an art studio. Those first few books I made had a certain homemade quality to them- slightly wrinkled covers with gluey fingerprints, tight stitching that often pulled the covers open. It took more than a few books before my stitches were even, the binding snug but not too tight, the corners neat, and the covers smooth. But from the beginning I have always been a big fan of binding books for a number of reasons:

1. I have always been a writer, from my elementary days of writing long stories about girls with even longer names, to the travel journals I have diligently kept on seven continents.

2. I like making things that are useful, in addition to beautiful. I like that the books I have made for myself, given as gifts, and sold to others, aren’t just pretty little things that will sit on a shelf. Rather they are pretty little things that (I hope) will be well-loved and worn, stacked on nightstands and stuffed into satchels, pages filled with lists and ideas and fond memories. 

3. All sorts of materials lend themselves to book covers. I’ve used maps and photos and fabric stretched over book board. I’ve tamed tin cans and album covers and old floppy disks into book covers. Not every random bit has turned out to be suitable, but I have ended up with many unique books along the way. 

It took a bit of patience and a lot of practice to get a finished book that pleased me, and it is exactly the disclaimer I’ve offered before teaching anyone how to bind books. Your first book will likely not be your best book, but it will open a whole world of possibilities. 

Until now, I have only taught classes in Antarctica, where the community is small and the faces familiar. Next week, I am branching out. I will be teaching a two part class at Share Denver, a great new community space for teaching and learning all sorts of crafts and skills. If you are in the Denver area and are interested in learning to bind a book, go to http://www.ShareDenver.com to register.