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Preview: My Handbound Books - Bookbinding Blog

My Handbound Books - Bookbinding Blog

Updated: 2018-03-16T07:04:20.526-03:00


Congratulations to my winners!


Congratulations to Nancy Akerly and Morag Schonken who are the winners of my 2018 Weekly Planner Giveaway! From my facebook page, my blog, and related twitter follows, I had 110 entries. I made a list and numbered all the entries and then used to pick two numbers which corresponded with Nancy's and Morag's entries! Thanks everyone, for your interest!

2018 Weekly Planner Giveaway!


Happy New Year! I'm going to start off this year with a giveaway!

I made a batch of these hardcover 2018 weekly planners for the holiday market season last Fall. I have two left. I want to give them away while there is still time for them to be useful to someone.

So, if you like this offline method of keeping track of your life, leave me a comment here to have your name entered into a draw to win one of them. I will draw two names on January 31st. You can also follow me on Twitter (@rhondamillerMHB) to get two entries into the draw. I will also collect entries on my Facebook page. The first name will get the beige planner, and the second name will get the teal & orange planner.

These are handbound, hardcover books. The cover features my own original Suminagashi marbling and the year printed in gold or silver foil. There is a ribbon bookmark and a two-page spread for every week. Book size is about 18cm x 10.5cm (or 7" x 4").


Comments are now closed. Winners will be announced shortly.

The Dart Tower at The Dart Gallery


The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is presenting a collection of artwork inspired by Stephen King. I have to admit, I am a big fan of Stephen King's novels, especially the Dark Tower series. When I did my Bachelor's degree in English, I focused some of my work on the fantasy genre and wish I had read the Dark Tower series at that time! I came to them later, though, but still appreciate the complexity of the stories and the incredible new world that he creates within them.

When I saw the call to submit work to this exhibit, I knew I had to do something. So I tore apart my paperback copies of the first four books in the Dark Tower series and rebound them in quarter leather bindings. I used my own marbled papers on the covers, all greyscale, but increasingly detailed patterns from Book One to Book Four. I also carved some small lino blocks to print an appropriate image on each cover. To finish them off, black goatskin with gold foil lettering on the spines.

If you're near Dartmouth, I suggest you check out the show, which continues until December 7th. Here's a sneak peak that the gallery has posted on their webpage.

The stack of my books is visible in that shot, but here they are again, a bit closer.

Morgan Conservatory Workshops


Just a few photos from the workshops that I taught last month, at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, OH. I had a great time at the Morgan, as usual.

First, I conducted a miniature bookbinding workshop with a dozen participants. Everyone made at least three different kinds of miniature books. We started with a pamphlet stitch, binding a little copy of A Visit from Saint Nicholas or A Model Millionaire. Then we all made a really tiny blank book, about 20mm tall. We finished by each binding a copy of Kipling's tale of How the Leopard got his Spots, as a miniature hardcover book. Certainly a very productive workshop for everyone.

The second workshop was making two different Crossed Structure Bindings. We made the first structure with a paper cover (using lovely Sainte-Armand handmade paper). The second structure was made with a leather cover. The students' previous experience ranged from some who had never made a book before, up to folks with years of experience. These are wonderful and versatile bindings so I hope they will all try these bindings again in the future!

Wooden Board Binding 13th-15th century, at PBI 2017


The thrid workshop that I had at PBI this year, was making a wooden board binding based on those made between the 13th to 15th centuries in Europe. The instructor was Renate Mesmer who is Head of Conservation at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. The workshop spanned four full days but as Renate warned us on the first day, four days is not enough time to make this book. And indeed, nobody finished it. At the end of the four days, the participants had books at various stages of completion, but none were done entirely or complete with clasps. We did produce a stunning white library shelf, though, in my opinion. We bound the sections with a herringbone sewing on double raised cords. And headbands. We did a fancy headband with many cores. Not sure I could duplicate it today. I have this complex headband finished on just the head of my book. Although I also did a quicker bead-on-the-front headband in matching colours, at the tail of the book. Working on the boards alone, took quite a long time. It's hard, working with hardwood. This photo shows the book after the boards are laced on and you can see most of the work done on the boards (shaping the spine edge, the indents at head and tail and fore edge, as well as the holes for lacing, pegging, etc) the spine lining, headbands, etc. We did a full covering with alum tawed calf. The covering and tying up were the last steps that I completed. Ideally we would have made and attached two fore edge clasps and then finished the interior paste downs. I did start a bit on one of the clasps but the four days just were not long enough! Nonetheless, thank you Renate, for such a challenging class! I have more photographs from this workshop on my Facebook page if you would like to see them.[...]

Durable Paper Bindings, at PBI 2017


Another workshop that I did at PBI in May was on paper bindings, taught by Henry Hebert. We made two different books, a stiff board case binding and a flexible laced paper case. Although I have done similar bindings in the past, there is always something new to learn. Henry is very knowledgeable about these bindings and had a lot to share about the mechanics and construction as well as the history and variations of them.

The laced paper case was sewn on alum tawd thongs with a linen lining, with a basic bead-on-the-back endband. I used some awesome paper from Hook Pottery Paper for the cover.

The stiff board binding was sewn onto recessed cords. We made stuck-on endbands by oversewing onto linen and we made our own decorative paste papers for the covers. Well, traditionally the German paper bindings had rather drab paste papers on them actually - not very decorative, just serviceable really. So I went with drab.

I have posted several photos related to this class on my facebook page if you want to see more.

Henry has a blog where he has posted a lot about paper bindings in the past, and it is a great resource if you're interested in knowing more about them. Thanks for this great workshop, Henry!

Sacred Books of the East, at PBI 2017


In May, I attended Paper and Book Intensive at Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. It was very nice to be back, after having skipped the previous year! As always, each participant takes three courses at PBI so I will share here a bit about each of mine. The first one is "Sacred Books of the East" with instructor Jim Canary. I had never met Jim before, but his name is one of those that I have been hearing and reading about for a long time. Jim's class turned out to be one of my favorite classes ever. I learned a lot - because so much of the content in the class was new to me - and well, everything Jim said was just fascinating, so thanks, Jim! Jim travels and researches extensively in the Himalayan region so the quality of knowledge that he brings to the subject is extensive and also personal.


We covered a lot in this class. We made two book structures: a palm leaf book with painted wooden covers, using real palm leaves for the pages; and, a sewn Tibetan structure that is historically very old, but practically unknown. We also cooked up pots of indigo, safflower, walnut, and cutch for dying and we were able to do lots of experimentation with paper dying techniques and then incorporate some of those papers into our books. Jim also provided many Tibetan printing blocks that we were able to use. We also prepared fibers for making paper using traditional Nepalese techniques. The fiber was soaked and cooked and cleaned and beaten with mallets then we pulled sheets using the traditional pegged frames that Jim provided.


All of that happened in just four half-day sessions. On top of all that practical work, Jim also shared many stories about his experiences in Tibet, related to books and paper and otherwise. A great way to spend four days!

There are additional photos on my Facebook page.

Recent Activities


It surprises me today, the last day of March, to see that this is my first blog post of the year! A bit embarrassing. Obviously I need to find some new interesting things to write about. At the moment, though, I came here to update the sidebar with a new list of upcoming workshops.I taught several classes this winter which kept me busy; let's say that is the reason I have been neglecting my blog. So, I will show you some photos of the work my students have been doing.The season began with a Turkish marbling workshop weekend. These are always fun and very satisfying because in a short time students can achieve some really wonderful results. I did another weekend workshop on book repair. Each student started with an old book that needed a new cover so the old covers were removed, individual problems were addressed for each book, then a little rebacking, new case construction, new endsheets, etc. A few minor book repair issues were also addressed for other books brought in by the students. Turned out to be a really fun workshop.I also taught two longer courses: Bookbinding 1 and Bookbinding 2. The first one was four weeks and aimed at people with no previous bookbinding experience. A lot can be learned in four weeks, though, and each student made six different books. Here is some of their work:The Bookbinding 2 class was five weeks long and it was for students who had already done some binding and wanted to learn some more advanced techniques. Each student made three books: a single-section 3-piece binding with beveled boards and an inset label, an exposed binding sewn on raised cords using a sewing frame, and then we spent most of our time doing a quarter leather, split-board binding with sewn headbands. [...]

Art of the Book Exhibit


So the "Art of the Book" exhibit is happening at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, in Rochester, NY. They accepted a couple of my books for the show. Ongoing til Jan 8th if you're in that area. A copy of the program is available online. Looks like I'm in some very good company in this exhibit.

365 Bindings


Largely for my own personal use, here is a list of all the bindings I posted during my 365 bindings in 455 days project. The librarian in me would also like to create an index by category... but I might not have time for that. Book 1 Retchōsō bindingBook 2 Crossed Structure ProtectiveBook 3 Chain Stitch with Coptic EndbandsBook 4 Tunnel BookBook 5 Three-hole PamphletBook 6 Hardcover 3-hole PamphletBook 7 Chopstick BindingBook 8 Five-hole PamphletBook 9 Alternating HitchBook 10 Two Sewn as OneBook 11 Sewn ChainsBook 12 Two-Section PamphletBook 13 Dos-a-dos PamphletsBook 14 Running StitchBook 15 Inter-laced Running StitchBook 16 Back StitchBook 17 Spanish Ledger BindingBook 18 16th Century LedgerBook 19 Crossed Structure LinkedBook 20 Secret Fold BookBook 21 Turkish Map FoldBook 22 Blizzard BookBook 23 Crown BookBook 24 Origami House BookBook 25 Origami Wallet BookBook 26 Origami Spine BookBook 27 Origami Book 1Book 28 Japanese HandscrollBook 29 Yotsume TojiBook 30 Koki TojiBook 31 Asa-no-ha TojiBook 32 Kikko TojiBook 33 V-Fold Pop-upBook 34 Single Sheet X SewingBook 35 Bradel BindingBook 36 Kochōsō BindingBook 37 Split Board BindingBook 38 Darting Packed StitchBook 39 Islamic Binding 1Book 40 AccordionBook 41 Piano Hinge BindingBook 42 Twined BindingBook 43 Single Sheet CopticBook 44 Side-by-each Heart BookBook 45 Origami Heart BookBook 46 Link & Longstitch ComboBook 47 TacketsBook 48 Another Tacket BindingBook 49 CartonnageBook 50 Palm Leaf BookBook 51 Mexican Inquisition Trial BookBook 52 Teabag BookBook 53 Nag Hammadi CodexBook 54 Hollow Tube BindingBook 55 Slot & Tab BindingBook 56 Jacob's LadderBook 57 Braided SpineBook 58 Unsupported Blanket StitchBook 59 RollBook 60 Two-rod ScrollBook 61 Scroll in a boxBook 62 Dragon Scale BindingBook 63 Hanging ScrollBook 64 Crossed Structure BasicBook 65 The RopeBook 66 Stair-stepsBook 67 Flat back case binding, full clothBook 68 Flat back case binding, quarter clothBook 69 Flat back case binding, half clothBook 70 Flat back case binding, full leatherBook 71 Full leather case binding, rounded spineBook 72 Full cloth case binding, rounded spineBook 73 Quarter cloth case binding, rounded spineBook 74 Half cloth case binding, rounded spineBook 75 Half leather case binding, rounded spineBook 76 Flat back case binding, half leatherBook 77 Quarter leather case binding, rounded spineBook 78 Flat Back case binding, quarter leatherBook 79 Linked StarsBook 80 Water Lily BookBook 81 Single Sheet Dos-a-dosBook 82 Fishbone BookBook 83 Crisscross Binding, formerly known as the Secret Belgian BindingBook 84 Pocket Folder BookletBook 85 Pocket Folder NotebookBook 86 Diamond XBook 87 Whip Stitch RebindingBook 88 Girdle BookBook 89 Islamic Binding 2Book 90 Islamic Binding 3Book 91 The Edible BookBook 92 Woven LongstitchBook 93 Limp Vellum ChainstitchBook 94 Chinese Bamboo BindingBook 95 W.Rabbit Envelope BookBook 96 American Publisher's Trade bindingBook 97 Australian Piano HingeBook 98 Parallel BarsBook 99 The DashBook 100 Accordion with hardcoverBook 101 VsBook 102 Nested Pop-upsBook 103 Dash and BarsBook 104 Standing ZsBook 105 Bars and ArrowsBook 106 Broken ZsBook 107 Diagonals and BarsBook 108 ZigzagBook 109 Lightning BoltBook 110 Pinking ShearsBook 111 Green Binding No.1Book 112 Green Binding No.2Book 113 Green Binding No.3Book 114 Green Binding No.4Book 115 Green Binding No.5Book 116 Green Binding No.6Book 117 Sewn Board BindingBook 118 Yamato Ledger BindingBook 119 Yamato TojiBook 120 Japanese Cash BookBook 121 Crossed Structure SoloBook 122 Origami Book 2Book 123 Venetian Blind BookBook 124 Accordion + TunnelBook 125 Multi-section 3-hole PamphletBook 126 Multi-section 5-hole PamphletBook 127 Buttonhole BindingBook 128 Multi-section Figure EightBook 129 Multi-section Running StitchBook 130 Multi-section on Tapes laced in[...]

Nonesuch Art of Paper Awards Exhibit


The Nonesuch Art of Paper Awards Exhibit is coming up next month. It opens on August 20, 2016 in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia at Main & Station. One of my very own marbled papers has been selected for inclusion in the exhibition of finilists! So that is exciting. Based on the online catalogue of submissions, the array of submissions is grand and impressive. There is also quite a range of techniques and mediums since the scope is so broad - including all manner of art of paper, of course. Details about the upcoming exhibit can be seen here, showing in Nova Scotia beginning on August 20, and later moving to Montreal on September 23.

I was doing some marbling just over the past few days, actually, and tried a few different surfaces, like old vinyl... tricky, but apparently possible.

Here also is part of a large sheet of paper that I did - which I was very pleased with. This pattern is very difficult to achieve - for me, anyway.

Chinese Thread Book Workshop


Next month I will be conducting a workshop about the Chinese Thread Book, also called Zhen Xian Bao. The workshop will be at The Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio and there is still time to register if you want to join me. August 13 and 14.

The Chinese Thread book is part of a rather obscure Chinese folk art tradition that was practiced in some rural areas of China, and may still be found if you look carefully. Women used these books primarily to keep their sewing supplies (threads, needles, patterns, swatches, etc), and any other bits of paper, photographs, etc that needed saving. My work on these is based on the information collected by Ruth Smith, who introduced the world to this dying craft after she did primary research on these folded books while visiting China. Smith identified a number of variations on the thread book structure and with quite a lot of variation in the number of boxes. This is one that I made, shown here in a video to give you an idea of how it works.

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I have made a number of these in different sizes and using different structures. In the workshop, we'll be making one similar to the one in the video and we will look at traditional decorations and spend some time adorning our thread books appropriately.

For the workshop we will have a variety of Chinese fabrics and interesting papers to use. I have also seen photos of authentic Zhen Xian Bao that use things like old coins as decoration, so I also have a batch of old Chinese coins for the workshop participants to use if an authentic look is desired. Workshop registration can be done online at The Morgan Conservatory.

New Studio


I briefly mentioned, at some point, that I had moved into a new studio. That was 8 or 9 months ago. I still use the studio in my house for some things, but the bookbinding mostly happens in the new location. I thought it was about time that I shared a couple of pictures. So, taken from two different angles, this is most of it.

Spring Workshops


It seems that I really took a leave of absence since my last post. After so much blogging during the previous year, it was easy to take a break! I have not been taking any breaks from working, though. I conducted several workshops at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design during the past couple months, actually. It was lots of fun and the students did some lovely work. Some of the students were returning with varying levels of experience, and some were entirely new to bookbinding and/or marbling.

I conducted five sessions for one group, so it was a very good introduction to bookbinding for the newbies but also included new things for some returning students as well. I believe everyone completed seven or eight books over the five classes.

We made a couple different pamphlet stitches with paper covers (B-L) and a hardcover pamphlet (T-L); multi-needle chain stitch binding (T-R); and a hardcover album (B-R).

We also made hardcover concertinas (T-L) and chopstick notebooks (T-R). In another session, some students made the Japanese account book (B-L), and during a 2-day weekend workshop, I had a different group making books with the Criss Cross Binding, aka the Secret Belgian Binding (B-R).

There was also a weekend spent teaching the wonderful art of Ebru paper marbling.

Workshop season seems to be over now. I have no more workshops planned until August when I will be at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland teaching a workshop on the Chinese Thread Book. In addition to making a thread book, we will also be learning a bit about its history and its variations. Check back for information on Fall workshops at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.

Marbled book pages, for a change of pace


At one time, I could not intentionally disassemble or destroy a book of any kind; however, I have gradually come to the conclusion that not all books need to be saved for eternity. So, now I do not mind re-purposing some of those books because the materials can certainly be used for other interesting things.

365 Books is a lot of books


I still have most of the books that I presented here as part of my 365 Books in 455 days project. Now I am trying to consolidate the storage since they were all over the place. Even trying to find them all proved quite a challenge.

Book #365


Altered Book

I am breaking the rules again for the last book. Today's book is not a binding exactly, this is an altered book, called Blood, Sweat, & Tears: 365 Bindings. I cut the basic shape of the textblock (well, my Dad and his jigsaw cut it) and then I made three sealed compartments in the textblock where those blood, sweat, and tears are now saved. It was hard to save those things literally; so, I used bookbinding materials to represent them. The blood is a collection of little red leather circles. The sweat is curls of blotter paper. The tears are thin strips of silver stamping foil.

So that's it. The end of my 365 bindings project, which is now called the 365 Bindings in 455 Days project!

Book #364


Secret Ledger of Albizzi

I made another model of a 14th Century stationary binding for today. This is based on the Secret Ledger and Memorial Book that belonged to Pepo Albizzi. I was able to examine a model of this binding and get notes about it from Barb Korbel a few years ago, so I think I managed a decent model based on that information.

Book #363


Single Needle Coptic 2

I also found this alternate small 'C' coptic binding in Smith's Exposed Spine Sewings. It is rather different than other coptic-ish stitches that I have used and I really like it. The cover is made using a page from an old book, and it's a picture of a painting by Claude Lorrain. Particularly nice to do this friendly binding following yesterday's torturous book.

Book #362


Cords & Continuous Support

So, here is one from Smith's book Exposed Spine Sewings. Oi. In the instructions, Smith should add something like, "Go ahead, try this one, I dare you." It was painful to make and when I first completed the sewing, I hated it. I decided that I would try to save it by adding all those strips of leather that are woven into the spine parallel to the sewing cords. After that, I didn't hate it as much.

Book #361


Shooting Star

Shooting Star stitch on Andrea's moon paper. This is yet another 3-section sewing from Smith's book (1, 2 and 3-section Sewings). I have used a lot of the techniques from that book for my 365 bindings, but I actually did not use all of them - believe it or not!

Book #360


Islamic Box Binding

One more Islamic binding to add to the list. I had this on my list from the very beginning and just finally tried it this week. Szirmai makes small mention of it in his book and it took me some time to track down more information - although there is not a lot of information about it (in English anyway) and not a lot of surviving evidence to examine either. Nonetheless, this is what I came up with based on what I could discover.

Book #359


Islamic Binding 4

Today's binding is an Islamic structure known as the full leather chahargoshe, with a hard cover. I showed a soft cover very of this previously. This binding is characterized by the narrow leather edge all around the decorative paper on the cover - probably fabric is more traditional but for this one, I used some of my Ebru for the decorative element.

Book #358


Butterfly Stroke

I found another 3-section binding in Smith's book that I had never done before and here it is. If you are comparing, my result looks rather different than Smith's model in his book, but I think it is just that my sewing holes are farther apart.

Book #357


Piano-hinged Collapsible Star

The structure of today's book is another one that Hedi Kyle devised for using the piano hinge technique to attach the folded textblock and two separate cover sheets. I had this technique on my list, from very early in my 365 bindings endeavor but messed it up several times; however, after some experimentation, I think I finally got it to come together as intended. There are instructions for this structure in Keith Smith's book, Non-adhesive Binding Vol 1.