Saturday night I got a bit ambitious and tackled kettle stitching. First off I have to mention that this feat probably would have never happened if I hadn’t of been blindsided by my sweet tooth and been hyped up on cake and oatmeal cookies. (We all have our weaknesses.) I had spent the day watching bookbinding videos on various stitching techniques and found myself interested in kettle stitching. To me it seemed the easiest to grasp of all the stitching techniques that I watched yet still rather challenging so I really didn’t have any real intentions on trying it. But late in the evening I was full of energy. Too much to sit down and stipple, which requires me to be in a less excitable mood. So I opted to make a blank journal using kettle stitching.
In this project I used two precut 5×7 mat boards, some cardstock, two images from an old wolf calendar I had (by the way, if you didn’t know, I love wolves), an elastic band and bookmark I cut from an old Mokeskine journal, waxed thread, a needle, a corner rounder (I think that’s what it’s called and 72 sheets of paper cut and folded to the appropriate size. I first made the case cover which is why I needed 72 sheets of paper. The sheets I grouped into six signatures (this is a group of folded sheets) of 12 sheets. Most examples I watched used signatures of four sheets, if I had of done that, I would still be stitching right now. After making the signatures I made the proper holes with an awl to prepare for threading. Now I won’t go into all the details on kettle stitching, it would be better to watch the video below that shows the technique I used if you’re curious to know the basics of how it’s done.
Once I got my text block ready I glued two end papers to the front and back of the block. And to keep from getting long winded, in a nutshell, I glued those end papers to the inside cover of the case I had already made and voila, I had a hot mess of a wolf journal on my hands.
You can’t see from the pictures but the first mistake I made was attempting to stitch such a large number of sheets for the first time. I blame the sugar for my lapse of good judgment. Second, I didn’t keep the thread tight as I was stitching which made the binding a bit loose and this led to a rather uneven cutting of the pages when I trimmed the excess. Initially I was disappointed with how it turned out but I had to remind myself that it was my first attempt and mistakes are a given. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself but some things just take time to learn so I’ll be tackling kettle stitching again. Anyways I’m not going to let some paper and thread defeat me. Overall it was fun and I look forward to mastering this technique. ☺
This cute thing will definitely make a perfect match for a pair to my previous tree frog drawing, “This Little Fella“. I love the eyes and how it looks like it’s crawling out of the darkness and over a leaf. I kinda want to leave it just as it is with that half drawn look that I like so much but I will ink on… 🙂
On another note, I’m still learning more about book binding. Lately I’ve been doing saddle stitch binding with thread and although it takes a little more time compared to using staples, I’ve learned that thread is better for longevity and that I’m not as limited as far as page count goes if I use thread instead of staples. When using staples I can only have up to 32 pages in my pocket journals beyond that the staples won’t close. When using thread I can have up to 48 before the journal starts to feel a bit too bulky. The work flow for using thread is taking a bit getting used to but I’m enjoying the process and have decided that may future pocket journals will be stitched with thread and contain at least 40 pages (that’s 80 if you count front and back). Be on the look out for new thread saddle stitched illustrated pocket journals in the near future. 🙂
I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe in the midst of all that is going on in the world right now. I have to admit that I’ve been distracted as of late. Unfortunately a few people in my husband’s immediate family have been hospitalized with the virus and are currently being treated and doing what they can to get well. Luckily their situation isn’t as bad as it could be but it’s apparent it may be a week or so before they are back to good health. As for myself, I’m doing well and staying in my home. As someone who doesn’t have children and works from home, I already live a lifestyle that doesn’t involve a great deal of social interacting so I can’t say that current events has caused a drastic change in my everyday life but I feel for those for whom it has. I pray for those who have been lost and that for those of us who are still here, that we all are able to make it through these trying times safely.
In the meantime, I’ve managed to work a little more on my bookbinding skills. I had this old 11×14 Robert Bateman Cover Series sketchbook full of blank paper, that’s been just sitting around since…wait for it, 1995. Yeah, 1995. That’s a long time to have a empty sketchbook. I have a tendency to hold on to stuff beyond forever. I still have and use my high school art box, which is really just a cute toolbox for art supplies. Anyhoo, I decided to take my Bateman sketchbook and turn it into a 5×7 sketchbook with my own cover art. Cutting the paper was a pain. No matter whether I was using my cutting board or a ruler and an exacto knife, my paper kept coming out at slightly different sizes. I ended up spending a great deal of time trimming up edges. And then there was the gluing for making a perfect bind. First off I don’t have a book press so I made a makeshift one from two old linocut carvings and a C-clamp I stole from my hubby’s pile of tools. This did a fairly decent job but I realized that I really need to get a book press or at least make one if I plan on making more books using this method. This was my second go at using the perfect bind method and this time was a little trickier since I was using thicker paper at a larger size. After five coats of glue a few of the sheets of paper didn’t bind together too well but that was remedied once I put the cover on. But then I learned 110lb card stock seems to work best for smaller sized books that require less glue. The spine of my 5×7 sketchbook has some minor warping where the glue was placed. Maybe I put too much glue on or next time I should use a heavier material for the cover. In all it turned out pretty decent for my second try at perfect binding. I now have a much more manageable sketchbook that I’m eager to fill with drawings. What started off with me wanting to just put a few quick drawings in my new handmade sketchbook has now turned into a cute little project of me doing a mini series of Nature’s little creatures that hatch from eggs. I really don’t know how this project came to mind, it pretty much just manifested on its own, like most of my projects do. But if you look at that adorable thing in the drawing above, you’ll see my first creature and there will be more to come.
It all started with staple saddle stitching in order to make some illustrated pocket journals as another way of sharing my drawings and now here I am, diving deeper into the art of book binding.
Over the weekend I got myself a basic book binding kit. Since I started making my journals I’ve developed a growing interest in book binding and this interest has surprisingly come just when I thought there was nothing else in arts and crafts that could capture my interest. So I’m a bit excited to have a new interest. I find the whole idea of book making fascinating. I’ve always loved books but not necessarily for the stories they told but for the artistry that goes into them. I’m a sucker for a decorative gold leaf classic or a well illustrated cover. And yes, I’m one of those people who literally judges a book by its cover…as well as its paper quality, font and feel. In the past I’ve bought books simply because I found the cover and construction to be appealing yet never actually read the story. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story, if it’s short but my love of books has always rested on the craftsmanship rather than the storytelling. So, it’s not surprising that book binding has sparked an me.
Lately I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on book binding and decided I’ll try my hand at what’s called the “perfect binding” method. Right now the only binding method I know is saddle stitching with staples, which is a quick and simple method to use if you’re putting together a brochure, comic or booklet of less than 40 pages (that’s counting the front and back). Perfect binding is good for making books and journals of more than 40 pages, especially if those pages are single sheets of paper. While saddle stitching uses staples (or thread, another method I haven’t tried yet) to hold your pages together, perfect binding uses glue but not just any kind of glue, rather a PH neutral PVA glue specifically for bookbinding. I had to order this separately from my book binding kit but neither the glue or the kit cost much. It’s a basic kit that I got all together for $22 on Amazon.
Prior to any gluing, I prepared a soft cover made from heavy weight card stock then cut and cornered 48 4.25×5.5 single sheets of 20lb paper for my pages. I don’t have a book press and since my journals are pocket size and no more than a quarter inch thick, I can probably get away with not having one, so I use four binder clips to hold the sheets of paper together while I added three coats of glue to one edge. Once the pages were dry, I added glue to the spine area on the inside of the cover and then adhered the pages to the spine. Once dry, voila, I had me a perfect bind 96 page pocket journal…all that’s missing is a nice drawing on the cover.