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REVIEW / Introduction to Bookbinding

We ran our very first Introduction to Bookbinding workshop on 19th June and already have added a new date to our schedule due to popular demand.  Jen, our Marketing Assistant, attended the workshop and here is what she thought of it...





"On a hot and balmy Tuesday evening in June, Quill held their very first Introduction to Bookbinding workshop and I attended eagerly.  When I heard through the workshops team that Bookbinding was on the cards, I couldn’t wait to book my place. I didn’t actually know what to expect having not done anything like it before but I wasn’t disappointed.

Our tutor, Rahel, settled us in around the table and told us about how she first got into bookbinding and what other wonderful papery goodness she does at the University of London Arts where she teaches.  Laid out on the table in front of us were sheets of paper, pretty textured covers, threads in different colours, needles, beeswax and an assortment of tools which brought back to memories of my school days using Pritt stick and compasses. Rahel started by explaining to us the different ways to bookbind and about the process involving particular grains of paper. Did you know that every paper has a grain and there is a right and wrong way to put paper into a book? I didn’t either.  Since she explained this concept to me I haven't been able to help myself from seeing if the books, pamphlets, magazine or notebooks I pick up have been made in the correct way.  Surprisingly, many have not!

Rahel got us started with the Three Hole Pamphlet Bind. This booklet is a notebook that has been folded at the spine with thread binding along the centre and tied off in a bow.  She first went though all the steps and we watched closely as she made it look effortlessly easy. We then followed, and it turns out it wasn’t as easy as it looks!  First we decided what colour cover we want for our notebook. I chose green which I paired with white thread for a contrast. We line up our papers and measure out the distance between the where the holes should be placed along the spine. We then pierce the carefully measured holes through the stack of papers using an awl - a very big needle with a wooden handle.  Next, we thread the cotton between each hole in a sequence that has already been advised from Rahel. One by one we finish our Three Hole Pamphlet notebooks and it seems to me that everyone has got their sheets of paper perfectly lined up. Mine however is looking a bit wonky. But I just made myself a notebook by hand so I’m feeling pretty happy with myself.

After a little wine and cake break we then move onto our second notebook which includes a Japanese Bind.  More specifically, a 5 hole Yotsume Toji bind. This means the papers are exposed along the edge of the spine and the thread is wrapped around the whole of the spine. We all watch Rahel show us how to do it first. Much like before we line up our sheets, measure the distance between the holes and pierce the holes using an awl. This time, however, we have five holes instead of three. What this means is that the sequence of binding the thread is even more meticulous and fiddly.  Imagine you're doing a complicated origami, but with thread.  I went wrong maybe three or four times but Rahel was patiently on hand to correct each error.  There is one particular manoeuvre where you thread the needle through the hole but instead have the needle and thread come out halfway through the edge of the spine rather than the reverse of the notebook as normal.  It-was-not-easy! It secretly pleased me to see I wasn't the only to struggle with this.  For this notebook I chose a white cover and green thread to compliment the contrast of the first notebook.  The end result was varied around the table of students and even though this time we used bulldog clips to keep the sheets of paper in place, yet again mine was looking wonky and haphazard.  I'm feeling very proud of my achievements and my two finished products.

I ask everyone if they're planning on using their notebook.  The response was varied.  Some instantly said "of course!" whilst others were a little more nervous as they (and myself included) didn't want to ruin the notebooks from wear-and-tear with use, and in my case, my awful handwriting. My two notebooks sit very proudly on my desk and I couldn't be happier with them.  This is a great class to attend if you love paper goods, using your hands and getting crafty, or just wanting to learn a new skill.  In my case it was all three and I loved it."