Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Book from the Attic

Josh and I drove up to Northern Georgia last month to be with his family for Easter and my birthday weekend. During our trip we got to spend a bit of time in the attic looking through his childhood, and high school belongings, as well as boxes that we had both stored there after college. I was excited to find a few gift books that I made for Josh during our dating years!

The book in these photos is the first one I made for him. The image on the front was xerox copy of an image printed in reverse. I used a transfer marker to "print" it on the front cover.

A lovely title page made with my treasured label gun. So treasured because of the fond memories I have using one for the first time with my Grandpa Houston in his tidy garage.

The pages are all pieces of evidence from our time spent together! Pictured here, the Kodak proof page from a day on Tybee Island, a piece of paper bag from a music store, a ticket to a Sand Gnats baseball game.

Although still in working order, the box needs to be handled gently. I had yet to learn about different paper strengths.

An interesting and sturdy binding that I'm not likely to repeat! The pages (copy paper, cardstock, handmade paper, napkins, brochures, tickets, & thin plastic film) were all cut to the same size and then sewn in a straight line up the side of the pages. Similar to a Japanese stab binding without any oversewing. I cut a piece of board to match the height and thickness of the book to form a spine which was adhered to a wide strip of paper. That wide strip was then glued to the first and last pages, which is what holds the whole thing together! You can also see in the photo that the spine is glued into the cover which performs a very minor function in the binding.

The sewing stations can be seen in this closeup of a Russell Crotty spread. We saw his globes at the Miami Art Museum during our 2004 Alternative Spring Break trip.

I am reminded of a paper I once wrote on the importance of the book in Roman Art and Architecture. I'm thinking less about how the books (scrolls, or substrates) were a representation of knowledge and power, and more about how they were a constant theme that manifested in different forms throughout the history of the Roman Empire. Now, I'm not saying that our relationship is at all like the Roman Empire . . . but Josh and I have certainly placed importance in books throughout our time together.

The second book in these photos is a beautiful book that Josh collaborated on with my friend and fellow NBSS alumna, Wendy Withrow. You can see other shots of Josh's proposal book on her website, here. Note the differences in craftsmanship. The pairing of the two is so pleasing, because, although I didn't make the second book, I shared training with the woman who did, and it is a clear snapshot of my personal bookbinding history. It's a pretty good snapshot of J & M history too, but I'll stick to the books on this blog.


  1. that's awesome. yay for books!

  2. I think I remember that first book you made! Isn't it great to stumble across old art and see how much you've progressed?

  3. what a treasure! you did a beautiful job making the book...AND a box too! it's great that it holds so many wonderful memories! :)

  4. Yes! Yay for books :)

    I remember working on this book on our dorm room floor, Erin! definitely fun to see progression.

    Thank so much, Lori!

  5. Oh, what a wonderful post, Monica! How fun to see one of your first books, so rich in content and innovative in structure. Having grown up together, so to speak, in our understanding of the history, materials, structure, and craftsmanship of bookbinding, I am so proud to now be linked to you and Josh in your personal history together as well. Although you have come a long way, I am happy to see what a great foundation you started with, both in bookbinding and in your relationship. Thanks for sharing!

  6. =) What a great way to keep track of your memories together!

    Are there any titles you might recommend for any person looking to learn the basics of book binding?

  7. Thank you, Wendy! Josh and I are glad that we share the link to you, too. We wouldn't have it any other way :) I really loved your comment.

    Hi Allie! It was a nice surprise to see your comments on my blog. I definitely have some titles to recommend. When I started at SCAD, the two books on the list for Experimental Bookmaking Class were Keith Smith's Non-Adhesive Binding Volume I, and Books, Boxes, & Wraps by Webberly and Forsyth. I found them both at Ex Libris, and they were a great start for me. I got the most use out of Smith's book, it's full of very good technical diagrams and many different book structures to choose from, while the second book has a more hand illustrated style and goes beyond books to enclosures. Another good book is Making Books by Hand by McCarthy and Manna, which has great photography for the steps instead of the drawings and diagrams. Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to see what you might do - I'm just assuming that you're the "any person"!

  8. Thank you for the recommendations, Monica!

    Clemmie and I both would like to take a stab (haha!) at bookbinding this summer, as we are likely to share more days off together than during the school year.

    Regarding the Keith Smith book, that MUST be a an old stand-by since I see it at Ex Libris most quarters. =) I am going to check out a website that I use to get many of my "new" books, Paperback Swap, to see if I can locate any of the titles.


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