|Blank Book 4-3/4 tall by 4-1/4 wide|
I paused my watching of Sketchbook Revival videos to sew together this book on the last day of March, in order to post it to my Handmade Book Club to meet the month's challenge of using blue. I'd picked out the lotka paper that had been wrapped around a gift and saved for a long time before I knew about the challenge so lucky me! The boards and signatures have been ready to go for awhile so just needed to set aside a few hours to work through the tutorial for the Secret Belgium Binding.
So what's with the name, many were asking. Well, apparently it really was dreamed up by someone in Belgium. The cover is in three separate parts, sewn together in such a way that the spine floats between the crossing threads that enter holes in the book's front and back cover.
As for the "secret", that information seems to have been lost. However, some speculate that the secret is the way the cover can be folded back. Frankly, I can't see any advantages to this feature, am wondering if it was just unintended and a surprise to the inventor.
Once the three parts of the cover are strung together so to speak, the signatures are added to the threads crossing behind the spine. Use of a curved needle is required and even then, it is an awkward business.
Here's another view which also shows the bookcloth I made from a batik and used for outer spine and "end papers". I chose it because I wanted to camouflage the stitching on the inside of the cover, knowing I'd be using dark blue thread. I do not like the look of those stitches and especially don't like the exposed knots on the back cover, but had seen one member of the club do something similar and her book looked the best of any I saw.
Here's the book open after all signatures have been added. They are the bottom part of the resume paper that was cut off when making a previous book and so determined the size of this one. I really do like that batik on the inside. But each signature is sewn on separately from the next, leaving knots top and bottom of the line of stitching in the center of each signature. Not crazy about those knots there either. However, because they are sewn onto the heavier thread used on the cover, a thinner thread of any color you like can be used to sew them. On other books we've done, whatever weight of thread needed for attaching covers and making the decorative spine stitches was what the signatures were sewn on with, making some very visible lines down the middle of those signatures. So many trade-offs!
And the ultimate test for me: how flat do the pages lie when open? Pretty flat and not a great deal of space between signatures. This paper didn't fold very flat, perhaps would have been better with fewer pages in each signature and then the signatures could have been snugged up tighter. Or maybe that's just the way handmade books are. These are the sorts of things one learns to gauge by doing, not a lot of hard and fast rules.
Not sure about using this binding again mostly because of that free-floating spine. As I sewed in the signatures and played around opening and flipping back the cover, I swear the thread across the covers stretched (I'm positive I snugged them up more than once as I stitched), and that spine is only held in place by the tension of the threads crossing over it. On the other hand, this binding gives the folds of the signatures protection with that spine that the other exposed bindings like the coptic don't have. And the fact that the spine is not sewn through allows for some novel materials to be used, such as a ruler as one maker did. We shall see.