Wooden Coptic Books: a workshop with Daniel Essig

This weekend my sister and I went to Asheville to attend a workshop Dan Essig taught at BookWorks. Even though I've done a good deal of admittedly basic bookbinding, many of the tools and techniques were new to me.

The first day, Friday, was mostly consumed with the making of a paper-only book with two-needle coptic binding; since I had only done single-needle coptic binding, this was new to me.

On Saturday we worked on the covers of our wooden coptic book. We started with 3/8" blocks of wood, marking and drilling holes with a hand drill -- I like the hand drill -- and then beveling, cushioning and sanding the edges of the boards. We were shown several ways to distress the wood -- wih a file, a ball-peen hammer, various wood tools, and more -- and then we tried out different effects on our covers. A few coats of milk paint, some more sanding, waxing, and our boards were ready for prime time.

On Sunday we sewed our books using a 4-needle coptic stitch (with 2 stitch variations) and then sewing the endbands. We finished up by making a closure for our books. I chose to make one with a knob and leather strip. Making the little wooden knob was an interesting experience on the Dan's Flexshaft grinder.

It was a interesting workshop in which I became acquainted with many tools and materials I'd never worked with before. Once I've sewn perhaps only 50 -- or 500 -- more books, I hope to have mastered the art of sewing these coptic books with even tension and beautifully laid knots and braids!

The photo shows the spine edge of my book just before it was sewn. I'll post a picture of the finished book soon.

One Reply to “Wooden Coptic Books: a workshop with Daniel Essig”

  1. Beth you are teasing me not showing the finished book yet. It sure sounds like you had a grand time.
    how wonderful to be able to go.
    So far that little book of yours looks great.

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