Four Case Bindings

The past couple of weeks I have been working on a commission for a West Mids-based arts organisation. They needed four books to use as guest/comments books for visitors to public libraries, the spec was as follows:

Blank paper case binding (aka hardback), around an inch thick, and with a final size of approx A3 (297x420mm), quarter-bound with green cloth and GF Smith Colourplan Smoke grey paper.

And step-by-step:

I began by selecting the paper – a 100% recycled offset stock, in 120gsm SRA2 short grain.

Revive 100 Offset

This allowed for the final size after trimming to be exactly A3. The stock is quite sturdy and will withstand biros, felt-tip pens: whatever the library users can throw at it!

After folding and gathering into sections, I stitched the gathered sections onto tapes: the stitch used was French, where the thread crosses over to the last section to pull them together.

French stitch onto tapes

Personally, I think this is probably the sturdiest type of sewing for such a large book that will be in regular use.

Once the sections are all sewn, the spines are glued to keep them in place prior to trimming.

Glued and pressed before being cut to size on the guillotine.

Once the book blocks are trimmed, ribbon bookmarks and headbands are added, before the spine is lined with mull and two layers of kraft paper.

While the book blocks are drying, the cover boards are cut. In an ideal world, on the board cutter, but as I don’t have access to one at the moment I had to make do with a Stanley knife, which is much more time consuming.

Cloth cut to size for the covers, glued-out and affixed to the boards. The same is done with the grey paper over the rest of the front and back boards.

All four cases were laid flat under weights to dry overnight, ready for casing in.

And now the bit that fills me with dread – casing in. This is where you have to work quickly and accurately, otherwise you could end up with a gluey mess and need to start over…

I worked so quickly, in fact, that I didn’t take any photos when gluing out the endpapers, but here’s a lovely shot of the books between pressing boards, underneath two very heavy litho stones – the next best thing I have to a large book press (for now…)

Take a look at my Flickr for more photos from the project.

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6 responses to “Four Case Bindings

  1. great books and great photos!

  2. Beautiful work Simon. These photographs make it all look quite easy but I know just how much skill, time and patience is required to make bindings of this quality. Well done!

  3. Beautifully done and beautifully photographed.

  4. I love the bookmarks/headband shot. Thanks to Justin I never have to have Stanley knife shoulder again! They look amazing.

  5. Best blog ever.

  6. love the bookmark photos – the books turned out beautifully

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