“It’s alright like that; it’ll look handmade.”
How many times have I heard these words uttered by students, and even occasionally by myself?
The point that many people don’t make is that to make it handmade means that one wants to make it better than a machine.
I used to spin wool. I left irregular lumps in it because I couldn’t control the tension. My excuse was same as above: it would look earthy, handmade, natural. As I watched the old women around me spin fine wool, and as my control became better I realised where the challenge lay.
From a distance those two books in the picture above don’t look too bad. However they are disappointing. I’m onto a third version now. All three are hand painted. I recently sent the last version to a competition so I can’t show it to you. It wasn’t too bad; still looked handpainted. I’ll post photos when it comes back.
I suppose it’s all about the expectations in my own head; my skills are a lot better in my own mind than in reality. I’m always flicking through fine bookbinding books; I want to do something like that one day, sooner rather than later. I am still in the practising phase, even though I learned bookbinding many years ago. However I probably haven’t even reached a thousand hours of (design) binding; I muck about in the evenings and on week ends.
I recently covered a paperback in leather. Why would I bother you may well ask; because I wanted the practise. Until recently I only used cloth and paper. So in order to practise I bought some cheap leather. I figured I would hone my skills on cheaper material before using the good stuff.
Wrong! It is not enjoyable to try to pare crap leather. I have persevered; I am putting a split board onto the paperback, but it is still not sufficiently pared at the turn ins, and looks ugly. And yet still I will continue to the completion for two reasons: firstly for the exercise. I’ll try leather mosaic. Secondly because I want to finish it. The effort I am now putting into making templates and planning the design will hopefully translate itself into better skills for the next book.
It is one of my favourite children’s books, and I’ll give it away to the Little Free Library once it is built. It isn’t as ugly as all that hopefully no other binder will see it. It’ll look handmade. Haha.