Wood Shop Basics with Susan Collard – Day 2

It seems that I am sufficiently recovered from my red eye flight home on Sunday night to write about my last day of the Focus on Book Arts conference.

Sunday was day 2 ofย Wood Shop Basics for the Book Artist with Susan Collard. I haven’t yet mentioned that Sue started working with wood via working with cardboard. This makes sense, considering that she works both as a book artist and an architect. Her written instructions reflect her dual vocations:

Directions for Susan Collard's book arts workshop

We started out with some free time to continue work from the previous day. I drilled circles into one page…

Wood page with drilled circles

…then added veneer to another page to fill in unevenness at the top.

Page with wood frame - collaged map

I loved working with the veneer. After gluing and clamping, I sanded it smooth and it was as if it had always been there.

I also worked on attaching a mirror. The holes you see in the mirror aren’t drilled through – I used my Dremel to remove the paint from the back of the mirror so I could reveal the glass underneath. Later in the day, I glued painted watercolor paper to the backside of the mirror and you can see the painting through the holes. I’ll show that to you in another blog post – perhaps when the book is completed.

Wood page with mirror

By the way, this was the point at which I got a stupid Dremel injury. Note to self: Do not touch rapidly spinning Dremel parts with body parts.

After a bit, we reconvened and Sue showed us how to create a magnetic closure. We inset 1/4″ rare earth magnets into the wood frame of one of the pages and drilled a screw into the facing page to create the catch.

Next we learned about various ways to bind together wood pages. First was the stiff leaf binding, in which the pages are hinged together using bookcloth:

Stiff leaf binding

Stiff leaf binding

Next was the drum leaf binding, developed by Timothy Ely. In this binding, a pair of pages is joined together with a material such a bookcloth or Tyvek – this creates a folio. These folios are then glued together, back to back. If this doesn’t make sense, you can find instructions for the binding in the Fall 2004 issue (vol. 1, no. 1) issue of The Bonefolder.

Drum leaf binding

Drum leaf binding

Then we learned about the Mongolian Book, a Hedi Kyle binding inspired by a book from Mongolia she saw (many thanks to Andrew Huot for the details). This binding used one piece of Tyvek that was wrapped not only around the covers and spine, but also the top and bottom of the text block – it was one continuous piece. Each page is attached to the rest of the book with a thin strip of Tyvek.

Hedi Kyle binding

Hedi Kyle binding


After looking at her models, we learned the process we’d use for binding our wood pages – we used usu mino, a Japanese repair tissue.

Using one piece of tissue, you glue it to the back and spine of one page, then to the back of the neighboring page. You repeat this process for each pair of pages, creating folios in a manner similar to the drum leaf binding. When your folios are finished, you wrap tissue around the entire text block, gluing it to the front, spine, and back sides.

Bound wooden book

Bound text block

Once the text block was dry, we attached it to the covers. We glued our painted Tyvek to the spine of the text block. When that dried, we glued one end of the Tyvek to the inside of one of the covers, creating an end page. After that dried, we repeated the process with the other cover.

Wood book bound in Tyvek, pressing

And that’s as far as I got. Other folks were able to do a lot of work on content, but I was slow. I decided that I was fine with finishing it up at home and just focused on enjoying the process as it was.

At the end of the day, Sue treated us to a personal look at her pieceย A Short Course in Recollection. The book had recently toured with the Guild of Book Workers exhibition Marking Time. When I saw the exhibit last November, I was only able to see the book inside a case – seeing the book in person (and in action) was a great treat.

The book includes ramps through which steel balls could travel. Here’s Sue showing us how it works:

Handmade book by Susan Collard - A Short Course in Recollection

Handmade book by Susan Collard - A Short Course in Recollection

Handmade book by Susan Collard - A Short Course in Recollection

Handmade book by Susan Collard - A Short Course in Recollection

The case for the book had slots on the outside in which the bottom of the book could rest. Brilliant.

I’m so glad I took this class. I feel like something in my creative brain shifted just a bit.

I’d like close this post with some inspiring words from Sue:

I’m not concerned about my bottom.

I guess you had to be there. ๐Ÿ™‚

8 Responses to “Wood Shop Basics with Susan Collard – Day 2”

By Ellen - 29 June 2011 Reply

I *love* your picture tour of this class and the book structures!! But what’s with the nonchalant mention of injury and spinning Dremel? Rather gets the imagination going! AGGHHH!!

And please, please show the mirror book when it’s done, or even not done. The idea of it sounds wonderful.

By Elissa - 5 July 2011 Reply

Ellen –

Nonchalance = I hope no one asks me anything else about the injury because I’m pretty darn embarrassed that it even happened. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yep, I’ll show the mirror book when it’s done…I just have to commit to finishing it now that I’m home.


By Andrew Huot - 4 July 2011 Reply

Elissa – the Hedi Kyle book is called a Mongolian Book, inspired by a book from Mongolia she saw.


By Elissa - 5 July 2011 Reply

Andrew –

Thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll update the post with this information.


By Sue Collard - 8 July 2011 Reply

Thanks for the writeup, Elissa! And for tracking down products and other references–not to mention your cheery, can-do presence in the class itself. I need to get me some of those nifty little clamps (generously loaned to the class by the Focus Conference), and now I know where to find them.

I’m glad Andrew was able to give a name to Hedi Kyle’s Mongolian binding. I should point out that the photo you have labeled as a drum leaf binding is really another type that I don’t have a proper name for–I think of it as an inside-out board book, but maybe there is another name out there. I also showed a drum leaf binding, and probably confused the issue by pointing out their similarities. But Tim Ely always uses watercolor paper for his drum leaf pages (Arches Cover is his paper of choice). The double pages are “drummed” together with just a thin strip of glue at inside and outside edges, so the paper doesn’t cockle. So…bindings that have a similar diagram, but different materials leading to divergent assembly methods. Woo hoo! Here’s to that!


By Elissa - 12 July 2011 Reply

Sue –

Maybe we can call it the “Mock Drum Leaf” until the correct binding is determined. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m so glad you like the write up. When I blog about classes, I often worry if the instructors will feel like I give too much away. My hope is that it encourages people to take the classes.


By Cai - 29 May 2016 Reply

Thanks to your blog post and photos, I (an utter novice) managed to successfully bind a book with wooden pages as a gift for my girlfriend. Thank you for sharing this! ๐Ÿ˜€

By Elissa - 2 June 2016 Reply

Cai –

That’s awesome! I hope your girlfriend loves it. ๐Ÿ™‚


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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