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Making a Watercolor Sketchbook - Part 2

CREATING THE NEW PAGE BLOCK

It is now time to put your folios together to make signatures.  If you are using 140 lb watercolor paper, 2 folios per signature is the most I use.  However, I add pages from the original book to some or all of the signatures, but not more than one old page per signature.

The sewing method that I use is a little complicated.  I follow the diagrams created by my friend Martha in a tutorial about making a watercolor sketchbook from a Moleskine Yearly Date Book.  And I put her instructions in front of me while I sew.  They are included below for you to use.

Making the Holes in the Signatures

We will make a pattern (called a jig) to plan the placement of 5 holes.  I use a strip of cardstock that is the exact height of my signatures and 4" wide, but you can use any sturdy paper  I fold the piece lengthwise and put clearly marked dots on the inside, on the fold, at the following places:  1" from each end, in the middle, and then halfway between the middle and outer dots.

Punching the Holes

A cheap book binding cradle can be made from your telephone book (Thank you Gwen Diehn).  Open the book down the middle, put the fold of the signature into the fold of the telephone book, and then line up your jig over the signature.  Match the top edge of your signature and the jig so your holes will line up on all signatures.  Use an awl or a big sharp needle to make a hole through each dot.  Here is my signature being punched.

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Punch the holes carefully and keep the folios together so the holes will line up as well as possible when you get ready to sew them.

Arrange your signatures in the order in which they will be sewn into the page block.  I always have the original title page, unless it was damaged, on the outside of the first signature.  Mark the signatures, with pencil, in the top right corner.  Mark your last signature (on the bottom) with an A The one on top of that is B, and on top of that is C, etc.  I had 5 signatures marked E, D, C, B, A from top to bottom in my pile.

Sewing Supplies

These are the supplies that I use for stitching the signatures together.  The yellow object on the top of the photo is sewer's beeswax.  You may run your thread through beeswax in order to make it less likely to tangle.  I forget to do it more than half the time and I'm therefore a bad judge of whether it makes a huge difference

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Sewing the Signatures Together 

Cut a piece of thread that is the height of your signatures X the number of signatures.  My Venice book had 5 signatures and was 8" high, so my thread was at least 40".  I tend to add a little more because I NEVER want to run out of thread while I'm sewing the signatures together,

When you stitch the signatures together, pull the thread tight, without stressing the paper or the holes.  And check freuently to make sure that you haven't left any big loops of thread that weren't pulled all the way through.  This stitching sequence requires your full attention, but only takes about 20-30 minutes.  I banish my husband from the room because I need to remember where I am in the instructions.  I have had to pull out the thread on more than one occasion!  Print out the stitching sequence pages, or keep your computer open in front of you and follow them precisely.

Stitching Sequence: 

These instructions were copied from Trumpetvine Travel with her permission.  They are a modification of the stitching used for Coptic books, so if you master this you can make another popular type of multiple signature book that also opens flat.

Thread the needle with   a single strand and leave one tail longer than the other.  Do not knot the end.

Get the signature marked A from the bottom of your pile.  Then follow these instructions exactly. 

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The knots and the ends will be glued later.

The Page Block 

Here is the completed page block, with 5 rows of stitching sewing the signatures together.  There re less complicated methods, but I enjoy the sewing process and feel as if my book will never fall apart.  In addition, I am always fighting the gaps between signatures and with these heavy papers, the gaps are impossible to eliminate completely.

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This is the appearance of the stitches on the inside of the signatures.

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 Here is an example of the gaps in this book. 

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Gluing the spine, which we will do next, closes them a little.  In some of my early books, I glued a 1 1/2"strip of paper, which I also used for the end papers, over the gap.  You may choose to skip the spine gluing process for your first book and cover the gaps with decorative paper.  Tt will be your choice.

Tipping on the End Papers:

The end papers are made from a decorative piece of paper - again making sure that you know the grain of the paper and putting the grainline of the end paper parallel to the spine. 

Cut two folios exactly the same size as the watercolor paper folios and fold them right sides together.

Here is my sheet for the end papers and a folio from the old book lying on top.

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Here are the folded end papers that will be glued to the front and back of the page block.

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I have made every mistake that it is possible to make in this process.  But one that I made twice, is to attach the end papers upside down.  It is important that you make sure that you lay your end papers on top of your page block and write top in the upper right corner of each.  Otherwise your end papers may read correctly, but the title page of your new book may be upside down and at the back of the page block.  Here is an example of the correct orientation.

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Lay a piece of wax paper a scant 1/4" from the fold of the end paper.  Using a small flat brush, put PVA glue along the paper edge along the fold, protecting the rest of the end paper with the wax paper.  Then place the end paper, glue side down on the front of the book, IN THE CORRECT DIRECTION.  Use your bone folder to make sure that there are no bubbles and that the paper is well adhered.  Repeat with the second end paper.

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Place weights of the page block, until the glue on the end papers is dry.

Gluing the Spine  (Optional)  You may not mind the gaps, or you may decide to cover them with strips of decorative paper.

You need to put your page block between two sheets of wax paper and put heavy weights (I use two plastic wrapped bricks) on top of the spine to compress the signatures.  The wax paper should extend at least one inch outside the weights and the spine should extend about 1/8th inch.

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The spine is glued with PVA glue and a stiff, flat brush, dotting the folds to try to work some glue SLIGHTLY in between the folds. 

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In the following photos you will see that I have lots of weights on top of my page block - a board, 2 five pound exercise weights, and my two bricks.  This is probably overkill. 

Here are the materials that will be glued onto the spine - rice paper on the left and mull on the right.  It is also possible to use clean cotton fabric, like muslin instead of the paper and mull.

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Then a 1 1/4" strip of rice paper (slightly narrower than the spine) is glued on top of the spine,

And finally, a 2 1/2" piece of mull is glued in place. 

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Let the glue dry and brush one final layer of glue on top.  Don't remove the page block from the weights until the glue is completely dry. 

The wax paper will be peeled off and the page block will be glued into the old book cover in the final section!

 

Comments

Shirley,
Thank you very much for taking so much time and trouble to provide this tutorial. Inspired by you and a few others, I have been binding journals for myself since last May. I really enjoy using them, but was thinking of giving up on the binding part because I had the gaps, the spine didn't seem to be wide enough, and other such problems. Now I see some solutions and am eager to give it another try. Thank you for your kind guidance. I really appreciate it!

Thanks so much for this second installation. I have been looking forward to it, and am not disappointed - you are a wonderful teacher.

Wonderful! Final glue is drying and I am ready for lesson three. This is such a fabulous tutorial! Bless you! I am deconstructing a second book so I can do this again!
(hey)Jude
www.strawmountainblog.blogspot.com

I've often thought about trying to make my own books in this manner. I have only done some very simple books. But I think with your great instructions and pictures, I may try it! Thank you for sharing this information.

The sewing part seems a little daunting-but onward! Thank you.

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