After many years, I have recently been back in touch with a dear friend and have been enjoying our regular email correspondence for several months. As a poet, whose work I admire, I wanted to make him a gift book. This has been on my mind for awhile and has all just come together in the past few weeks. The first thing when making a book, is to decide the purpose of the book, its size and materials. I had a notebook/journal in mind, so rooted around my supplies and found a nice piece of black leather for a soft cover and some extravagant yellow paper that would be perfect as endpapers in a variation of medieval tacket binding.
I also verified that I had yellow beads to embellish the spine and yellow cotton embroidery thread for the binding. The next step was to do some fiddly measuring and poking holes in the spine. The spine will be approximately 4.5 cm and 5 holes need to be punctured per vertical line and correspond to 5 holes on horizontal lines (some of these will be the same hole); these are binding holes. There will be 10 signatures (folios of paper) altogether in the book, and 2 signatures will be bound in the same holes. One set of 5 holes will be central, on a horizontal line. There will be 2 horizontal lines, each containing 5 holes, at either end of the book (top hole approximately 2 cm from the edge of the leather). This may sound complicated, but it makes sense when it is seen. I use safety pins to keep the holes open as they tend to close up in leather (they are small holes). The photos I took while making a vinyl book for another friend illustrate this point very well and may be found on this post.
A piece of graph paper as a template will help ensure that all the signatures have holes in the same place, corresponding with the holes made on the spine. In this post I did a few years ago, I include a picture of several of the supplies that I use regularly (mat cutter & mat, signature cradle, bone folder, etc.). I also have a FaceBook page, Bookbinding for Personal Use, and I know I have given details in the past of how to make a cardboard signature cradle, which is easy to make and very handy (you can of course use the design to make a sturdier, permanent cradle from wood).
Once you have the signatures (including the first and last wrapped with endpapers, such that the fancy paper wraps around the signature, but only partially).
Here is a diagram of the journey the thread will take binding the signatures to the leather. Note that the furthest holes on either end (where the thread journey begins!) do not correspond to holes in the leather, they are used to bind the signatures together at top and bottom. The purpose of the first bead is a placeholder as the thread must return through the same hole it came out of, and if there was no placeholder it would just come undone! You may deal with this by having a temporary thread holding the place instead of a bead and creating a chain stitch with future signatures (this was how I first learned to bind) but I like using beads for their decorative effect. With future signatures I continue to add beads even though they are unnecessary as placeholders. I will continue in the blog next week to show the book's development and the finished book.