Monday, June 09, 2008

(cross posted by Blogher)
Every year for the holidays I customize books and give them to about 10 select friends. After making up that year's list, I search for the perfect book (normal binding, not too large or small, with wonderful paper) then paint, dye, stamp, embroider, and/or screen print fabric and make covers for the books. Each includes a a small pocket for the appropriate marking instrument (writing pen or drawing pencil).

For several years Artist's and Craftman's Supply sold a beautiful square book with the most luscious paper inside: it was smooth, rich and somehow unlike anything I've ever felt before or since, like paper silk. The books were hand made, imported from Africa and reasonably priced. They were also a limited purchase by the company. Since they have disappeared, I haven't found a book I really love for my purpose. I've been searching for for a couple years with no joy.

Before you say it: I LOVE moleskine books, but the pocket inside the back cover and the elastic cording coming from the back cover means they are not appropriate for my decorating techniques. Believe me, I've tried. It's also a challenge to simply gesso the surface and design right on it. Tried that too.

This year I may try to learn how to make my own books. This gives me the chance to obsess about size, paper quality, binding, and book cloth each independently. The books I give to writers can have a great writing surface that lets pen slide effortlessly across it; the sketch books, a nice toothy paper that holds the line. Both can be the same size with similarly designed book cloths!

Bibliophile Bullpen found a perfect tool for book binding: offers print on demand fabric. For those book binders who don't normally surface design fabric, this is a great to get custom book cloth.
It may not SOUND book related, but in the back of my brain, I see custom designed book cloth. Not a big deal for first run printing, but for hand binders and artist books THAT's a big deal.

I have started to search the internets for instructions, though this series of videos seems to do a great job of covering the basics. Kelly at Two Brides is taking an independant study course in book making. She shows hand bound books for sale on Etsy, and suggests that $75 each is steal! These books are gorgeous! However she has me rethinking this gift idea:
Hand binding books is a really hard thing to do right- it takes excellent hand skills, a good teacher and lots n lots of time.
I'm beginning to go crazy with ideas. For the artists, could I purchase the pre-stretched, pre-primed Fredrick canvases, drill holes in them and use them as the book covers? Let the recipients design the cover themselves? (ala the My Penguin series of books?) Or just keep it simple? Miki showed a small hand bound book she received in a craft swap. For my first attempts at this technique, this may be a wiser road to travel.

(ht to Sassymonkey for BB's post)

image credit: *nomi" & malcolm's Flickr photostream.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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