As I mentioned in last week's blog, I had decided to make some notebooks/sketchbooks from my Mum's handbags. I also mentioned that I had taken the Future Learn online course "Japanese Culture Through Rare Books" offered by Keio University and was inspired to make several pouch bound books, which utilised recycled paper. Last week's instructions were about preparing the pouches (i.e., creasing and folding paper such that the pre-used side was inside and the outer, clean layers would form the pages). This week is mostly about creating the covers, in this case a hard(ish) cover. The final binding is originally a Japanese technique - "stab binding" - which I have blogged about previously.
When I removed the lining from the purple handbag, I found that the underside of the vinyl had a fuzzy, kind of sticky, coating. My decision to use this for a hardcover was clear as I definitely didn't want this part of the handbag visible in my final book. I cut two pieces of vinyl to a size slightly larger than the cardboard base covers and clipped the corners. The pictures are mostly of the back cover, which does not have any bumpy surfaces.
I used an old plastic membership card to spread PVA glue over the entire surface of the vinyl underside.
The cardboard base was placed on the vinyl.
The vinyl was folded over the cardboard.
It was necessary to use lion clips to hold the folded vinyl down while the glue was drying.
A sheet of paper was cut to the size of the two covers plus the book spine (hold the pouches together tightly and measure the spine; in the case of pouch binding, it is the "open" side of the pouch, opposite the fold, which will be bound). Glue is first spread on the back cover. Again, an old plastic membership or bank card is ideal for spreading the glue.
The right side of the paper is gently pressed onto the cover.
The procedure is repeated for the front cover, making sure to let the far right side of the paper meet up with the far right side of the cover. The spine space between the two covers is apparent. Note that the front cover of my book is quite bumpy. I had to be careful not to rip the paper when adhering it because
there were pleated and wired details on the original handbag that I wanted to keep on the bookcover.
I spread out the bookcover concoction and placed it between several clean pages, before weighing down with some heavy books until the glue dried completely (overnight at least).
Once the cover was dry I prepared everything for binding. I used some marbled origami paper for end papers. The lion clip is holding everything in place while I get ready.
Putting holes through the covers and folios is very important. I cannot stress this enough. For a book of this size (A5) five holes will do nicely. The lion clips are necessary to hold everything in place while the holes are being made and while the book is being sewn.
The sewing technique is Japanese stab binding. Make sure to make the holes large enough all the way through the layers (front cover, endpapers, folio-pouches, back cover) in order that you may sew through the same hole several times with your binding thread. Here I am using 3-strand cotton embroidery thread, folded so the first sew is 6 strands and the second sew is 12.
I cannot stress enough the importance of making the holes wide enough -- I ran into a problem with not being able to go beyond the initial 6 strands in the middle hole of my book. I didn't mind working with the idea of bypassing the hole since this is a personal book (not for a gift) and my first attempt at pouch binding as well as my first attempt at a hardcover book. However, for stability and security as well as for design, I think it is a better idea to ensure the hole is a good size to begin with!
The final book is sturdy and quirky. I like it!