In this post I will not talk about my own book(s). Neither will this be a book review, however it was prompted by my latest purchase. Through a Facebook post I was alerted to Karen Hanmer’s latest publication, Contemporary Paper Bindings: A guide to bookbinding techniques, tools and materials, available via print on demand at Lulu.com.
I’m a bit fussy about the sorts of books I buy. I know some binders just purchase anything that comes out so as to have a reference library, others just borrow books when they like. Two ends of the scale.
I’m a visual sort of learner; I like pretty pictures, especially in colour. Too much text and I get lost; not enough text and I get lost.
I also like to try before purchasing. So if I see a great book at the library, I am more likely to buy it than by browsing online. I’ve been caught out a few times not quite getting what I expected.
Anyhoo. Different types of books serve my different purposes. For example I have many books which are visual galleries.
Penland book of handmade books, making handmade books, 500 handmade books
I use these as a source of inspiration. Perhaps I do a bit of technique research.
As reference books, I stray from the path and have books on collectors, the history of reading, calligraphy and so on. I think these also bring me ideas for creating books. Newsletters are always a great source of information. They send me to various places online, maybe where I wouldn’t think of searching.
Lastly I have books from which I learn, and from which I now get ideas for teaching.
The Bonefolder eMagazine was brought to my attention by print maker and artist Dianne Fogwell. I loved it so much I downloaded the PDFs and bound them, experimenting with bindings as I went along. They are not great books, but I made three differnet types: case binding, laced in binding and a split board binding, with sewn endbands and some edge decoration.
I once was a young woodworker, and specialized in boxes. When I found Zeier’s Books, Boxes and Portfolios I was in heaven. It has great diagrams on how to make the boxes and cut the material for the covering. Constructing and covering boxes is also a great book for cardboard box makers.
And we get to Arthur Johnson’s Bookbinding. I love it. I recommend it to all my students because he wrote really precise instructions, as well as examined a whole range of binding styles in a very simple way.
And lastly we are approaching the books from which I learned:
When I think back to my early days and reading the instructions in these books, I remember that I just couldn’t understand some of the instructions. This is when I decided to actually enrol in a class because I needed someone to explain stuff to me. Neale Wootton gave me those class notes in 2006, and they form the basis of my current class notes.
As a teacher what do I really need to get across to students? paper grain would be a pretty important subject. So my notes are a combination of instructions from my own head with diagrams taken from books I love (and acknowledge). I get beginner students to bind their own notes and to bind J. Kay’s Beginner and Advanced Bookbinding as well. the problem with that is that the students can’t actually use their own notes because they are too busy constructing a book. What I do like is that there is always a product they can take home at the end of a week (or two)
But what started this post was Karen Hanmer’s new book. It is terrific. So let me just stray for a minute on other books that have come my way. On the left is Silvia Ramos Alotta’s Exquisite Notes, which is a fully visual book, one of it’s kind. It takes the reader through about ten projects from beginner to advanced. It’s diagrams are very good. It has no written instructions. If you are a completely visual learner then you could learn quite a few techniques. This book is suitable for beginners and intermediates alike.
Kathy Abbott’s Bookbinding a step by step guide is also good for various levels of binders.
Jen Linsday’s Fine Bookbinding is complex. I think this is not a book for beginners. In fact, it is suitable for middle intermediate binders because prior learning is needed to understand the instructions. As an intermediate binder, I did have some difficulties understanding the instructions because there was too much text for me.
I don’t teach anything I can’t do well. I don’t believe that 5 minutes of training allows you to teach, which is what you get with YouTube. I probably know more than I think; but there is so much more going on out in the world. This is why the Bonefolder was such a great resource. And bookbinding is a life long learning journey, so there is much more waiting for me out there.
I love all of Jane Greenfield’s books. Her ABC of Bookbinding has helped me write my own book on bindings. But it is her Headbands and how to sew them, that is one of my bibles. I love sewing endbands; I can’t see the point of using machine made ones, and there is something Zen about the actions of making the endbands. Jane’s book show you a multitude of ways to decorate your head and tail.’
So Karen’s book is my ideal beginner student handbook. It has a good balance of photos ( B& W)and text. It should be required reading for anyone learning the basics. If I could get CIT to pay for it I would, but funds being low I will just encourage the students to get it on print on demand. I think that all levels of binders would benefit from this book.