Biblio Tech with Karen Hanmer – Day 2

I just finished day 2 of the Focus on Book Arts conference. I’m still jet-lagged and generally overstimulated. I think it was the opening night of the vendor fair that did me in – it included a reception with the biggest pile of angel food cake I’ve ever witnessed.

Today was day 2 of Biblio Tech with Karen Hanmer. We completed three more bindings: Laced-on Boards, Split Board Binding, and German Case (Bradel) Binding.

Unfortunately, I have to say that today was not one of my better binding days. I was the slowest person in the class and that’s not something I’m used to.

For the past two days, my hands have been off. It was after a conversation with Jill Timm that I realized that it’s likely due to the Dremel work I did earlier this week on my found object book (post coming soon) – I think the bamboo cutting did a number on my hands. Thankfully, I was able to complete all of today’s projects – Karen is a very patient teacher.

When I arrived at my workstation, I was greeted by a peanut of a sewing frame (loved the postcard):

Bookbinding sewing frame & postcard

We dove right into the sewing, using cords as supports. The image of Karen’s demonstration should give you a sense of just how small the sewing frame was (hence the peanut comment):

Bookbinding demo by Karen Hanmer

Bookbinding - sewing over cords

Text block on the peanutty sewing frame

After the sewing was completed, we MacGyvered the sewing frame into a backing-ish press:

Improvised backing press

And thus began the great rounding and backing fail:

Text block

By the time I got to the backing hammer, the PVA on the spine was too dry and I couldn’t get the spine to behave.

It’s a learning experience…it’s a learning experience…

Here are some shots of the completed book:

Laced-on boards cutaway model

Laced-on boards cutaway model

Yesterday I forgot to mention that every time we started a new book, we got a goodie bag full of all the necessary supplies:

Split board binding supplies

As you may have guessed, the next binding was the Split Board Binding, which started off in a similar way as the previous binding (using linen tapes instead of cords):

Bookbinding - sewing on linen tapes

The cover is made with two layers of board – you create a pocket when you glue three edges together. Then you make a stub using paper from your text block by folding it in half towards the spine and gluing it. The stub slides into the pocket in the cover and you glue it in.

I hope this makes sense – I did my best to take pictures that helped to illustrate the technique:

Split board binding  - cutaway model

Split board binding - cutaway model

And thus began the great rounding and backing fail. Oh wait, I already said that. But it happened again. Glue too dry, spine won’t round, blah, blah, blah…

It’s a learning experience…it’s a learning experience…

Here’s the finished model (you can slide one of the pocket cover thingies off to see how it’s put together):

Split board binding - cutaway model

Then on to the last book of the day – German Case Binding. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures during the binding process. I chalk it up to end-of-the-day fatigue. And jet lag. And while we’re at it, global warming.

We started off by doing a double fan adhesive binding. I enjoyed this more than thought. I think that I’m just easily amused by fanning pages. We then created a case using bookcloth and cased in the text block.

And here’s the final product:

German case binding

As you can see, there’s a space between the spine edge and the text block – that’s why it was important that we avoided getting PVA on the spine edge when casing in.

German case binding

I feel like I’ve eaten 3 ginormous bookbinding meals for the past two days. I’m excited to start a new class tomorrow.

But before I go, I’ll leave you with some more wise words from Karen:

You can train yourself to be accurate enough.

We have achieved end sheetitude.

And my personal favorite –

When you are with me, I am the only book artist in the world.

Remember that dry sense of humor I told you about? 🙂

7 Responses to “Biblio Tech with Karen Hanmer – Day 2”

By Laura - 25 June 2011 Reply

I definitely do not do my best work at a workshop, and for me it has nothing to do with jet lag or staying up late! You are learning so much, and it takes time for brain and hands to integrate everything together. These will be fabulous prototypes even if you do not consider them great successes (and they look great to me!).

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Laura –

I need to reframe my slowness…I wanted to absorb it all and was taking my time in doing so. I really relish every moment spent in workshops and need to understand how it affects my speed – and that’s okay!


By velma - 27 June 2011 Reply

great. i hate jet lag and serious workshop dull wittedness.

By Elissa - 28 June 2011 Reply

Velma –

I kept thinking to myself, “Am I really that person?” At least it was helpful to have a concrete excuse reason for it.


By Ellen - 29 June 2011 Reply

My workshop books always seem to make me feel embarrassed. I think there’s also the aspect of working in a space that is not your own and, in the case of the most adorable sewing frames I’ve ever seen (!), tools that are not your own. I figure it all feeds the internal hoard. But I do hate going to a workshop and feeling clumsy. Alas. I’m so glad you put up these posts! I’ve been hearing stories from all my friends who went, but this makes me feel as if I’d been there in some vicarious way. Looks like it was wonderful.

By Elissa - 5 July 2011 Reply

Ellen –

I wrote down the measurements for the sewing frames and the hardware needed to make one. I’ll check with Karen and see if she minds that I post the information – her husband made them for her. They are pretty adorable.


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