As well as enjoying the Foil Blocking workshop at the rather magical (if you’re a stationery magpie) London Centre for Book Arts in Hackney Wick last year, I also attended their one day Bookbinding workshop in November.
This was one of the best I’ve attended so far, and you should know by now that I frequent workshops… well, frequently.
It would be impossible for me to go into detail about everything we covered in those six hours, so I’ll keep this as a pretty visual report! I can tell you that we learnt to bookbind using three different techniques; concertina, pamphlet and Japanese stab binding, and also learnt all about different types of paper and how to manipulate them effectively.
The concertina (see above) was first up, and looks misleadingly simple. We also had to conquer gluing fabric to create a hardback cover (I am terrible at gluing. Just hopeless. What’s that about?), so we were working with several different material and tools.
Making sure all edges are straight and corners are neat takes a lot of focus (and swearing), but once all layers were put together, they could be set aside and weighed down to dry properly.
Between the concertina and beginning the next books, we had a break for lunch and popped across the canal for a pretty incredible cheese toastie at Lock 19 Coffee Shop. I highly recommend it.
Next up was the Japanese stab binding. All pages were made out of a single sheet of folded paper which had the edges sliced and trimmed after sewing. This never would have occurred to me, I would have been faffing about with a dozen folded sheets, trying to get them to line up.
The paper was beautifully delicate and it’s a hypnotic process to keep folding, smoothing and turning on the table.
We measured and marked our book covers ready to be sewn and then, very carefully, but firmly pushed the awl (wooden handled needle) through the pages from cover to cover, ready to be sewn.
Last up, was the pamphlet. This was the one I was most interested in as I hoped to be able to repeat it at home and offer letterpressed notebooks (note the distinct lack of them in the shop still, ha).
This repeated several of the steps already covered, but instead of making holes through from cover to cover, we made holes and sewed through the spine, between the middle pages, and back out again.
And voila, at the end of the day we each had three beautiful handmade, hand bound notebooks to take home. I have to admit I haven’t been able to bring myself to use them yet! They’ve pride of place on a shelf above my desk instead.
So much was crammed into the day, but there was still enough time to get everything right and I never felt rushed. It is £85 (or £75 for friends of the LCBA), and classes fill up quickly. There is one space left at their next workshop on the 1st of March, and there are other bookbinding workshops (hardback binding, single section case binding) throughout the year too.
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