Who doesn’t love tunnel books?

I love tunnel books, and have since I was a child. About a year and a half ago, Bound & Lettered (Vol. 16, No. 2) published an interesting article about a very cool tunnel book by Mary Conley. My friend Rose made a beautiful tunnel book using the instructions laid out in the article, and I began thinking about tunnel books some more. But so far I haven't acted on them ... because, as the saying goes, " life is short, and art is long".

A tunnel book I made in art school with a text by Ann Fadiman.
A tunnel book I made in art school with a text by Ann Fadiman.

Back in art school, though, in about 2006, I made a tunnel book from a drawing of a child on some steps in the shuk in Jerusalem. And later, for another class, I had a blast making a tunnel book of butterflies with text from a essay by Ann Fadiman, "Collecting Nature", from her collection of essays entitled At Large and at Small. Oh wait, I've blogged about this before, just a mere 13 years ago. How could I have forgotten? ūüôā And here, wherein I claimed that I'm not a fan of tunnel books! Re-reading that post, I still have some of the same opinions about their drawbacks, but it seems that I've warmed up to them in the past decade. And I really did love them as a child.

This guy has such fun making a tunnel book from a stack of identical postcards.

And here are just a couple of links to some favorite tunnel books I've seen around the internet:

All the pretty little clamshell boxes

Finally! Among all the not-quite-right clamshell boxes, a clamshell box that fits my pencil portfolio, How To Be In The World! Goldilocks would be proud. (Remember my first clamshell here?And that first failed box for this portfolio here?) The finished box is pictured here, housing the portfolio and resting on the ones that didn't quite fit.

During this process, I ran out of bookbinding board (aka binder's board). Given the state of my bookbinding board, I wasn't absolutely sure about that. In my quest to finish the box immediately (hah!), I ended up organizing my motley collection of board. Which included a trip to the hardware store a digital caliper tool. So efficient, yes? Not. Now they're organized by thickness and grain, and I was able to ascertain that yes, I had indeed run out of the particular book board I needed.

This organizing led to some research on what thickness of board I should be using. Turns out, the 0.074"/1.9mm board I was using was just right, while 0.06"/1.5mm board is good for smaller books, and the 0.12"/3mm board I have on hand would be good for very large books and boxes. I usually stick with Lineco board because it's available locally. Davey Board (link is to Talas) is popular, but difficult to cut, I understand.

By the way, there is some great information about bookbinding board in Matt Roberts' and Don Etherington's dictionary of descriptive terminology on the website of CoOL (Conservation Online).

Well, now I've got the box-building bug. I've thought of so many things in my studio that need clamshell boxes, but I have some pressing deadlines right now. Look for posts later in the fall showing clamshell boxes for ... my collection of artists books, especially, but so much more that begs for a box.

A modular accordion book structure

In November I received an interesting book from Elizabeth Simmonds. It was four inches square, and I had never seen the structure before. I wrote to Liz and asked her about it. She told me that she had learned it from Anne Cowie, who made these as smaller books. I made a few models of the book.

Three models of a modular accordion book structure based on a book I received from Elizabeth Simmonds in November 2018. Elizabeth learned the structure from Anne Cowie.

One of the attractive features of this structure is that it is modular; that is, you can add as many pages as you like and each element is only two pages, so that if you make a mistake on a book page, you can simply cut another piece of paper and re-do that two-page spread.

Here are some I things learned in making those models.

The book consists of three categories of parts: the folios, the page wrappers, and the removable spine. The folios are standard folios: a piece of paper folded in half vertically. The page wrappers are the same width as the folios but double the height. Like the folio, they are folded in half vertically. But they are also folded horizontally twice: once 1/4 of the height from the top, and once 1/4 of the height from the bottom, so that the central vertical division of the page is equal to the height of the folios and the top and bottom division fold around the folio to meet in the back.

Folio and two wrappers, not yet assembled.
One folio and 2 page wrappers, mostly put together.

The folios and page wrappers are then assembled in a daisy chain, ad infinitum (theoretically).

Folios and page wrappers daisy-chained together.

A five-inch-square may be the largest optimal size but this depends on the materials used. The optimal length of the book, 8 to 20 pages. (That's 4 to 10 folios and 4 and 10 page wrappers.) Any less and the structure isn't apparent; any more and the book becomes chunky.

In Elizabeth's four-inch-square book, the folios were made of card stock, the page wrappers of Arches Text Wove, and the spine of a card-weight paper. In choosing your materials, the folios should be heavier and stiffer than the page wrappers..

A small sliver of the folios will be revealed in the gutter area (at the center fold of each page opening), which can be a nice feature. If you don't like that reveal, you can trim width the folio pages later.

An assembled folio and 2 page wrappers. The gutter shows the folio.

After (you think) you're done, you can add a removable spine to make it more of a codex structure. You can see one in the top photo. I'm thinking I'll add a board insert in the front and back to the first and last pages more "cover"-like. Since it's all non-adhesive, if you add more pages, you can simply move the board insert to the new last page.

Books, Boxes and Wraps

Second Edition

I simply cannot believe that this book is already out of print again!

Books, Boxes & Wraps: Bindings & Building Step-By-Step, by Marilyn Webberley, has been a go-to book for me since I bought the first edition of the book in about 1997.

This second edition, updated in 2014, is advertised as an expansion and a refinement of the first. I see that it is no longer available except as a used book. I've ordered a copy to see what new things were added.

Woven and Interlocking Book Structures now a free PDF

Woven and Interlocking Book Structures, by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner
Woven and Interlocking Book Structures, by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner

Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner have made their 2002 book Woven and Interlocking Book Structures freely available in a variety of formats (PDF, EPUB, Kindle, etc.) at the Internet Archive. Published in 2002 and no longer in print, this book is a self-teaching manual with directions for making basic models of 16 book structures designed for Janus, Steiner, and Gefn Press publications. UPDATE: The links I've posted and updated since first writing this post have all gone the way of many internet links. But, as of April 2021, this link is working https://archive.org/details/woveninterlockin00vanv/mode/2up

I'm lucky to have the print version. Though out of print, used copies are available (at a premium price) from third-party sellers at Amazon.

I read at one of the dead links that you can print the PDF 2-sided and bind it in a 3-ring binder as a bench-top manual; it will take 76 sheets of letter-size paper.

The paper drill

Still life with four-hold binding and paper drill.
Still life with four-hold binding and paper drill.

I'm having a great time teaching this 8-week manuscript book class here in Bozeman. Everyone in the class is doing such interesting work!

The last time we met I demonstrated the use of a paper drill and a Japanese paper punch in making a four-hole Japanese binding. Although the Japanese paper punch makes wonderfully clean holes, I thought that one student's book would be too thick for the Japanese paper punch.

So I brought my Fiskars paper drill. I hadn't used it in a good while, and I had forgotten how wonderfully efficient and easy-to-use it is -- so easy, I accidentally drilled through something I shouldn't have. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

To prepare for the class meeting, I made a quick-and-dirty model using some Strathmore Drawing 300 paper and covering boards with one of the fabrics I had backed with kozo in an earlier class meeting. I drilled the holes with my paper drill in class, but afterwards, when I tried to sew it, I discovered that the holes were too small. I didn't have any students handy to hold the book in place while I drilled bigger holes, so I lined up the holes with large-head pins, clamped it to my workmate, and went to work. And then finished up with the sewing. Note to self: even if you don't measure and place the four holes precisely, the two corner holes should be carefully placed so that the sewing around and spine and head/tail makes a square.

Case binding and daily ABCs

Blank 5-signature case quarter binding using the paper which will be used for the final book. Cloth spine, cover paper gouache on Arches Text Wove

Yesterday I finished the testing binding for our local guild's collaborative book. It had been awhile since I cased in a book. It's rather amazing how much I forget between bindings ... and also how much I remember of the tiny details. Unfortunately, often the details I remember are the same ones I've forgotten until just after that detail is executed.

Sakura 3.0 mm calligraphy marker on newsprint.

And here is one of this morning's daily ABCs.

Some recent and in-progress work

2015-10-05-worktable-in-progress-itemsLots of projects going these days.

Today members of our local guild bound a test text block for the collaborative book we've been working on. We are making a standard case binding using the same paper on which the book will be printed. Today we got as far as applying the mull to the spine. I had brought supplies for this, and I was determined to unpack it all when I got back to my studio. This led eventually to trimming the text block and applying a headband. You can just see that text block underneath the top black square of paper. I did go ahead and cut out the cover and spine boards, but that's for another day, because I continued to work on ...

Addressing styles. I had the best time addressing some personal envelopes recently and discovered that I don't really need guidelines for certain styles. So I've been developing some more casual envelope address styles. Some of what I tried today is shown above: sumi ink, pigment ink, gold gel pen, and fine marker on white, black and shimmery gold stock.

Yesterday I got out two travel watercolor sets and made test cards using a water brush. At the tops of the cards are the pure colors. At the bottoms of the cards I've experimented with mixing and tints.


Book project with local guild



Our local guild, Bridger Mountain Scribes, has been working on a collaborative book for the past year. (See more about the project on the front page of the website.) I did the layout (the digital paste-up, I mean) and the lettering for the book extras (title pages, footers, intro text), and yesterday I picked up the printing proofs. We are going to print a couple of copies each and hand bind them ourselves. Fun project!

Here's a shot of some of the raw lettering and backgrounds that I used, and here's the title page, which gives you idea of how I approached the section heading pages as well.

Language of Bindings Thesaurus: a new bookbinding reference

The new site Language of Bindings is an intriguing references for bookbinders. It was conceived and published by Ligatus. As Nicholas Pickwoad explained in a post to the Book-Arts-L listserv, Ligatus is:

... a research centre of the University of the Arts London with projects in libraries and archives and with a particular interest in historic bookbinding.

The Language of Binding thesaurus is the result of our long experience with historic bookbindings, but has been greatly assisted by contributions from an international group of bookbinding experts and book conservators. This work was made possible by a Networking Grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK.

The aim of the thesaurus is to present a consistent vocabulary for the use of all those who work with early bindings, built wherever possible on existing resources, but adapted for use in an on-line hierarchical environment that will allow terms that are not known to a user to be found. It is constructed around concepts (such as different bookbinding components, features, materials or techniques) that can be expressed by a number of language terms (labels). The thesaurus allows one concept to have more than one label, which allows the same concept to be searched for by the different terms that may have been used historically to describe it. It will also allow the concepts to be expressed in different languages.

The Language of Binding thesaurus can be used as a reference online resource that can be searched by keyword or alphabetically. The concepts contained in the thesaurus are, however, also arranged hierarchically, based on a class/sub-class relationship, which allows concepts to be retrieved by navigating down the hierarchies even if their label (the term) is not known.

It is hoped that the thesaurus will enable all those who work with books in early bindings to arrive at more consistent descriptions of those bindings. By being based primarily on single concepts, it has tried to avoid the more familiar but sometimes frustratingly imprecise language that has often been used in the past. This means that some of these familiar terms will not be found as labels, though they may be referred to in the scope notes that define and describe the concepts (and can therefore be found by a simple keyword search).

At the moment, the thesaurus contains labels primarily in English, but work on its translation has already started, and plans for the addition of illustrations are also underway. The thesaurus can, in addition, be used as a look-up service for software applications that need to populate schema fields from thesauri.

An accompanying volume, Coming to Terms: guidelines for the description of historical bindings, which is based on the terms in the thesaurus, is to be published in the autumn.

The success of the thesaurus will to a large extent depend on contributions made to it by its users, either to add more concepts, refine existing scope notes or correct mistakes. Such contributions to the thesaurus will be welcomed, and can
be made online following a registration process.

I like it!