|4 needle coptic binding - signatures measuring 5 x 3-1/2 inches|
I actually finished this "level-up" coptic binding book last weekend but have been almost literally sitting on it, having had it under heavy books trying to get it to behave. I was eager to make this slightly larger 4 needle version now that I'd tried the simpler version and gotten some great information about how to navigate some of the issues I had making it. Forged ahead with confidence that I would end up with a perfect book this time.
|Eco-printed paper wrapped around every other signature|
I decided that while learning the ropes, I'd follow as closely as possible the materials the teacher is using in her tutorials, and make my books the same sizes before I strike out on my own experimenting with alternate materials. I don't want to be the bookbinding equivalent of the beginner quilting student who comes to class with wool or polyester fabric instead of quilting cotton and bargain barrel sewing thread. But for this version, the teacher was using handmade paper which I don't have, and wrapping each signature in two different colors of it to add interest. However, she did say her paper was 140lb which is the same weight as the watercolor paper I have on hand - hopefully close enough. And I got really excited when I realized I could use some of that eco-printed watercolor paper for the wrappers. Time to start cutting!
|Rather than wrapping each signature in eco-print paper, I alternated wrapping around the outside and placing it in the center|
Remember me mentioning similarities to quilting I kept running into? Did I mention that you have to be cognoscente of grain direction, not only in the paper for the signatures, but in the book board and whatever you choose to cover it with? It's not an issue of stability like in fabric (different directions stretch more than others) but an issue of making folds that do not crack the paper or spring open (try it with a piece of copy paper - hold it flat in the palms of your hand and gently bend in each direction - one with resist more than the other), and cover paper that doesn't warp the boards because the grains are pulling in opposite directions. All grain in each part of the book must be going in the same direction. And so when I went to check my eco prints, I realized I couldn't fold them in half as I'd intended, but that the grain ran the long way. Wouldn't be able to use the measurements from the teacher, so got some practice figuring what mine would be based on the paper I'd be using. Definitely worth it. But in preparing to cut that 10 inch long eco-print in half for my 5 inch high signatures, I thought to check if the paper was really still 10 inches after eco-printing it. Yikes! Just like in quilting fabric, watercolor paper can shrink! I'd lost nearly a quarter of an inch in length! So glad I paused to check.
|Looks much more like leather. Need to clean up around the holes.|
While the signatures spent some time under heavy books (really helps to flatten them out and set the fold) I proceeded to cover my boards. I decided to use the "faux leather" paper colored with several different shades of blue paint, the result of a second round of experimentation. It just looked too flat so I tried rubbing different colors of ink pads over the wrinkles. Black was too stark. I didn't have a navy blue one. Brown didn't look right. I didn't think a lime green would likely work, but tried it anyway, and it was just the thing. I think there are more wrinkles in the pieces I used than in the first trial of this technique, I was more careful when I glued it to the boards so I didn't inadvertently smooth them out, and it definitely looks more leather-like.
When I took the signatures out from under the books, they sprung open a bit which concerned me but I decided to get them stitched together anyway. I left more of a gap between the covers and the signatures as suggested to give more breathing space for the book to close up. It all went very well, but the more signatures I added, the more I could see the signatures springing open. But I couldn't believe that more space would solve things, though I pulled and wiggled and tried to make larger gaps. After more time under books and still resistance in staying closed, my best guess is that my watercolor paper is stiffer and perhaps thicker than the teacher's handmade paper, and I probably should have used fewer pieces in each signature. I'm trying to decide if carefully removing a folio from each signature would make things better, or if I should just make a closure to hold it together.
I really do love it though. I found a piece of handmade lotka plant paper in a sampler pack my niece gave me long ago that was perfect for the endpapers. And cutting those eco-prints up and interspersing them with the blank pages changed them from too precious to know what to do with them to images sparking inspiration. I've got ideas now of how I want to fill the blank pages. Not unlike quilt fabric that sits in the stash not knowing what it can be until one gets it out and starts working with it.