english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Book Binding Involves Sewing Too!

A couple of weeks ago I attended a book binding workshop with my friend Claire. The workshop was at Bilston Craft Gallery, and was run by Rachel Marsden. A friend of ours had previously attended one of Rachel’s book binding classes and recommended it so I booked up as soon as I saw the event being advertised. Rachel is a blogger herself, as well as a book & paper artist, curator, researcher, etc!

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One of Rachel’s own miniature books

The binding technique we learned during the workshop is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require much equipment or many supplies so would be an easy craft to take up at home. I took some pictures as we were working so you can see the basic steps involved in the process below.

Rachel had set up a workstation with supplies for each of us for when we arrived. Along with some basic tools, she’d prepared 12 pieces of plain card which would form the pages of our notebooks.

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The first task for us participants was to fold these pages in half and create (using the awl below but a needle would do) four holes in the spine of each page. One hole 1.5cm from each edge and two holes 5mm from the centre of the spine.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Next up came the sewing! I was very excited to discover I’d get to do some sewing:) The key to this was to loop in and out of the four holes you’d created – so taking your thread in at one end, back out at the second hole, in again at the third and back out at the fourth. It was also essential to loop the thread through the loops from the previous page with each step – to bind the pages together.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Having sewn the pages together we clamped them securely (using two small pieces of wood and elastic bands) while we secured the binding by glueing on a piece of fray (very similar to interfacing) the same size as the spine. A layer of pva glue was placed below and above the fray. We also attached a ribbon (to serve a bookmark) and a piece of headband (the small coloured ribbon-type material you’ll find inside the spine on hardback books) at this point. Both were glued to the spine with pva.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Before releasing our books from the clamps we attached a second piece of fray, this time 2cm wider than the spine on each side, with the four corners trimmed off as below. The point of this fray was to allow the centre pages to be attached to the cover.

Having released our books from the clamps, we attached some lovely coloured endpapers. I used a beautiful (and lucky) paper Rachel had bought in china, which was red with gold speckling. The endpaper was cut slightly larger than the actual pages, folded in half (wrong-side out) and then attached (with a thin line of pva) along the spine edge of the two outermost pages.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

By this point we had bound centre pages, but they were in need of a cover. That meant that we got to choose a lovely piece of book cloth. Very exciting!

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

We cut three pieces of cardboard (front, back & spine) for the cover – slightly larger that the size of the pages, although the spine needed to be the same width. We then cut a piece of book cloth large enough to cover all three pieces of card with a 2cm border around the edges, plus 5mm margins on either side of the spine. The bookcloth is glued to the card pieces to form the cover, and the edges are glued down.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

All that was left to do at this stage was to glue in the bound pages. This was done by glueing down the fray attached to the spine of the pages, and then glueing down the outer endpages to cover up the cardboard and secure the pages. As you can see, we were supplied with tea and cake to keep us going while we crafted.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

And that was it – we had a finished notebook. I got a few photos of all of our finished books together. I love how we all went for different colours and patterns.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Here’s my own book, with a silver speckled cover and lucky Chinese endpapers. Now I just need to think of something nice enough to put inside it.

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

Book Binding Workshop with Rachel Marsden at Bilston Craft Gallery

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Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Today Phil and I attended a Made in the Middle ‘craft taster day’ at Bilston Craft Gallery.
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Made in the Middle is a touring exhibition which I previously blogged about while it was showing at MAC. Made in the Middle is currently on at Bilston, and today’s taster day was a related event with five of the artists with work in the exhibition demonstrating their techniques and allowing visitors to have a go.

Clare Willard allowed visitors to create a version of her laser cut brooches. The brooches me and Phil created are pictured below. Phil’s is the neater one (on the right). Clare provided the laser cut pieces which we stuck together based on a pattern provided. The reverse of the brooches were specially made up with the text ‘Bilston 2013’ which was a lovely touch. I’m pictured modelling mine below (and pulling an awkward face as is my habit when photographed) in the park surrounding Birmingham Cathedral.

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Me wearing my Clare Willard brooch from Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also spent time with sculptor Ruth Spaak who creates sculptures from glass and found/recycled objects. Ruth talked about how she visits car boot sales to find objects to recycle into works of art or for her pupils to recycle into works of art at the various classes she teaches.

In the session with Ruth we threaded beads, buttons and other interesting bits and bobs onto crocodile ties to create the objects pictured below. As you may be able to guess Phil’s is the one on the right (browns & greys) and mine is on the left (pinks and purples)!

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also got chance to talk to Charlotte Clark about her process for creating glass sculptures. Charlotte is participating in a very cool upcoming Urban Pony Exhibition, taking place at Art Space Dudley from 24th May, where various artists will customise a vintage My Little Pony in a way which reflects their own artistic practice. There are workshops taking place as part of the exhibition where participants will have the chance to customise a pony. I’ve definitely got to attend one of those!