Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Intro: How to Make a Book When the Lights Go Out
NOTE: For ease in following the steps of bookmaking, this blog's posts read from the 1st step to the last one as you scroll down (unlike most blogs where the most recent post is first).
"Book Arts" can look off-puttingly swank and expensive, seeming to require wood-and-brass presses, marbled handmade papers, and gold leaf.
But basic book binding is something you can do for free, with materials you could find in an alley:
cardboard, paper wrappers, and string.
When a friend recently said she'd like to learn how to make a book, I set myself a project, in guerrilla spirit: to document and blog the steps of basic book binding, with stuff you probably already have on hand.
This scruffy book, above, right, is the result of the bookmaking process I present here, step by step, on this blog. It is made from stuff I mostly scrounged. (Of course you could make it more elegant, if you so choose.)
"We're gonna make us a book, Dog."
I am no survivalist! but I am somewhat inspired by the vision of Mad Max (left, from the 1980s Road Warrior movies), living after an apocalyptic war over oil, in a world without electricity and energy.
Who knows if we'll always have these nifty computers?
It's a good idea to remember how to do basic things with our hands and our brains.
(Btw, the dog with Max is named Dog. He's a Blue Heeler, an Australian working breed.)
Note: I taught myself to bind books years ago, from a Xeroxed pamphlet of handwritten instructions: Binding Western Codex Books at the Kitchen Table and Other Methods (1980), by Jno Cook. I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Cook.
(According to a 2007 resume, Cook teaches photography at Columbia College, Chicago, and this pamphlet still exists only in Xerox form.)
P.S. There are lots of other sites and books on the topic. For instance, for an admirably clear and simple set of online instructions, go here:
How to Make a Simple Hardcover Book.
Nonetheless, I am going to publish the process all over again, for my pleasure, with the help of Maja and her hands.
Also: You can follow the exact same steps to make much more finished looking books too: just use different materials, and measure more carefully than I usually do.
I actually used a ruler to make the books to the left here.