> You know how people have hobbies? Well, I’m not sure I really have any. I find it difficult to play the guitar as much as I once did; even if I manage to pick it up I seem to just play the same old crap I always have. Oh sure, once in a while I come up with something new, but I feel like I’ve already lost my chops and I can’t figure out where I put them.
At any rate, I’ve decided to try book binding. This is where you actually make a book – the cover, the pages, everything – whether or not there is something written inside. Specifically, I’m going to be making several different types of journals. I’m going to start by cannibalizing what’s left of my sketch pads for paper. I ordered some tools to start off with last night from an art supply site – an awl, a bone folder, some linen thread and a block of beeswax. That’s just for step one, making a stack of signatures and sewing them together. A signature, by the way, is a folded section of pages.
My idea is that if it works out, I enjoy it, can get creative enough with it. . . that I can sell these journals and maybe even get a spot at the annual Pride of Dakota show someday. That would be quite awesome. I have my first customer lined up: Karisa’s friend, Trish Fettig. So far, all I know is that she prefers unlined paper.
I’m going to try as many techniques as I can learn, too. I’ve already watched a tutorial on making a softcover journal with a leather cover, and that was about as simple as it gets. I’m also going to do some Japanese stab binding, and some that look like regular hardbound books. I’ll be able to custom-make journals for people, and they could potentially choose:
- the thread color
- the paper color
- the paper type (heavy, light, parchment, natural, recycled, etc.)
- the end pages
- the cover design
- which materials to make the cover from (leather, cloth, natural paper, etc.)
There’s really a lot of creative options here, and the best part is I can be innovative in how I make journals. I could possibly make a small journal whose cover is a jeans butt pocket. I’m not sure exactly how it would work, but I’m confident that I could do it and make it look good. I should start sketching my ideas, too. That would be a good way to use a sketch journal. . .
Oh yeah, I’ve also decided that if I am going to start making journals, I’m going to have to start using the pile of journals that I already have. My first custom job for someone else is going to be a tweed journal for Karisa, and my second just might be something for myself.
Another cool thing about this is I want to be able to do as much of this from scratch as possible, with as few conveniences as possible. That means that I’m stitching the paper together, making the covers from the board on out, of course – but that also means that some day I’m going to teach myself to make paper, too. The art supply website that I visited has two sizes of paper presses for about $300; they’re made from birch, have a hand crank in the center for moving the press up and down and are capable of pressing several sheets at a time. Awesome!
I don’t think I’ll be tanning leather or weaving cloth, but I’m trying to do it authentic and professional, which might be kind of difficult at first, but I’m confident that if I’m careful and scrupulous – taking my time at each step until I’m thoroughly familiar with the process – I can make empty books into works of art.