Bookbinding Workshop

I feel I’ve been in creative limbo over the summer due to “the builders being in” so my energy has been taken up deciding on colour schemes and furnishings. Now I have time to consider my practice and develop a new body of work.

I’ve made my own journals and workbooks for several years but am self taught through on-line videos and text books.. I’m drawn to books both for their practicalities and their sculptural qualities – lifting 2D images to 3D. It was with excitement that I saw a workshop being run by Ina Baumeister from Book Works at Arnofini Arts Centre, in conjunction with the Richard Long exhibition Time and Space.

The morning started with a look at different bindings with reference to the subsequent use of the book. Ina suggest we made a lepoello book to house mementoes of the exhibition – the catalogue, a few blank pages for notes and a map of Bristol.

Materials and equipment:

Bone folder
Scalpel with sharp blade
set square
Cutting mat
PVA glue (craft not wood)
Sponge roller and glue tray
paper for pages
Linen thread
Long, small eyed needle
Grey board for cover
Card stock for attaching pages to
Book cloth


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A reminder of the name of the folds – mountain and valley.

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.The catalogue.

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Check the grain of the paper – one way will fold easier than the other.  Fold ALL papers at once, knock down, butt up to a firm edge on the fold, check pages are square.

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Measure from the bottom as paper has been knocked down. Cut one page at a time to the same size as the catalogue.

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A 2 cm template to score the fold lines. Score well by using a little pressure.

Always start with the middle fold and work outwards.

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As there were 3 items to bind into the book 3 mountain folds were required.


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A spacer or reinforcer.

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Ina showing 3 hole binding – 10mm top and bottom then 3rd hole dead centre.

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5 hole binding.

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Make the holes using a temple. Mark the head of the temple  – 10mm from top and bottom then dead centre, cut notches  on these marks. Mark the head of the pages. Line up template in the fold of the pages. Hang the pages a little way over the table edge then use same needle as used for binding,  prick the holes at 45 degree angle.

Label the template for future reference.

Use linen thread (2 lengths + a little extra per set of pages)  and a small eyed needle, start in the middle from outside to inside and always stitch in the same direction i.e. in through the middle hole, out through the bottom hole, in through the top hole, out through the middle hole.Tighten thread by pulling in the same direction as it was sewn. Finish off with thread either side of vertical thread and tie off, trim knot.

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Check the size of the card – the width of the catalogue (blank pages etc) + the width of the concertina fold (2cm)

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This needs to be done on both sides.

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Glue the spacer/reinforcer over the outside folds so covering the knots.

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Diagram showing how to measure and construct the cover.

Find the grain of the grey board as all pieces of the cover must be the same way. Check with set square edges are square.

Width of cover = width of page minus 1mm

Height of cover = height of page + 6mm

(This allows 3mm at the head and tail)

Width of spine = (covers + contents) – 1mm

Height of spine = height of cover

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Paste up grey board using sponge roller and PVA glue. Place on book cloth which has been cut to an approximate size. Use rule as guide to ensure all pieces of the cover line up – allow 6mm between front cover and spine and spine and back cover. After placing each part onto cloth turn over and smooth down.

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Using a straight edge as template (rule) cut excess book cloth from around the cover. Draw 45 degree angle at each corner. This needs to be at least the width of the grey board away from the board. Stick the two long sides  around the board, easing the book cloth up gently then the two shorter sides.

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Place a piece of waste paper between the end page and the contents – glue, remove and discard the waste paper then place the book content carefully between the covers. When perfectly in place flip the cover onto the glued end page and then check it is in the correct place before gently smoothing it down. Repeat for the other cover.

Place a piece of blotting paper between the end pages and the fly sheet to absorb moisture from the glue.

Place under a weighted object, leaving the spine exposed, until the glue is dry.

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On the first opening push the cover into the spine to ensure a clean opening of the book on subsequent openings.


Collagraph Workshop – Day Three

Time to paddle around in the shallow end by myself. Dawn was on hand for when I got stuck but most of the time left me to get on with it. I appreciated this as it allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.

A few weeks ago I was informed by a posh lady ‘My people come from…’ I was captivated by both what she said and the manner in which she said it… ‘May peepull cume frrum’  all very refined!  So before I left home I’d taken an idea from my previous workshop and stitched the phrase onto cloth.  I thought I’d use just a piece of it but instead used it intact.


Firstly I made a plaster cast by pressing the fabric, face down, into the wet plaster and peeling it off when dry.


Then I PVA’d the fabric onto another plate. Initially I forgot to stitch the text in reverse so I had to unpick it – the memory of this could still be seen at the bottom.


I decided to print in a sepia tone – mixing the ink.


A colour test – the lighter one mixed with extender.


Fabric print – too darkP1000776

A little better with more extender mixed with the ink.


Plaster print.


Plaster print with colour added.

The two methods gave diverse results.  The plaster plate turned out more organic – the plaster wasn’t 100% dry when I removed the cloth and some came away at the bottom. It looks like embroidered initials but could have been a disaster. The fabric glued onto the plate showed more of the warp & weft, the frayed edges and creases. Then there was the resultant text – raised using the cast method and sunk using the fabric.

By this time I was just getting a grasp of how inking up affects the print but the clock demanded me to pack up. I have much to digest but feel confident to move forward with this process by myself.

Collagraph Workshop – Day Two

Mono tone printing

Select colour of choice – use extender to produce opacity. Using short bristled brush (stencil brush) work the ink into the plate making sure all parts are covered. Wipe off using old scrim, change the area of cloth regularly so the ink is removed and not just wiped around the plate. Change to clean scrim and repeat. Finally wipe off with tissue paper, keeping it flat whilst held between the fingers.

Place plate on pre-damped and blotted paper (min 280 grms) and pull through the press. Adjust pressure of press as required.



From left to right:Carborundum, grass and hydrangea in plaster, scratchings.


From left to right: Cling film on plaster then removed when dry, fabrics, cling film on PVA then removed when dry.

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From left to right: Tapes, papers and sandpaper, plaster

Addition of colour.

Ink up plate as before. using chosen colour pull out a thin layer onto the inking plate, dab with clean scrim flattened into a ball, dab off excess ink onto newspaper then dab onto plate with a figure of eight movement – just catching the top surface.


I found this process difficult – too much ink at times – not enough at other times



Then I attempted chine-Collé …. adding another layer of texture.


Although I didn’t produce any image of note I was delighted at what I was learning – all about the process.

Collagraph Workshop – Day One

What a wonder way to spend three days in summery June – a one-to-one workshop with artist Dawn Cole. After attending a couple of disappointing courses I looked carefully before booking another. I chose this artist as I felt we had some connection – both working with textiles and both interested in family history.

I knew very little about collagraph and over the long weekend investigated plate making and printing in monotone and colour. I wasn’t expecting to produce any finished work but rather playing with materials in order to take the process further at a later date.


The view from the studio door.


Inside the studio.

Dawn started by showing me some of her work – just to my taste as not figurative but with a strong concept behind the images. She then demonstrated how to make the plates.

Cut card to required size then seal front, back and sides with strong PVA diluted 50% with water, leave to dry.

Method 1
Select materials to create plate, make sure all parts are stuck down well using neat PVA – fill any undercuts with PVA. Seal with quick drying clear water based varnish, back, front and sides. Don’t use too much as the texture of the materials must come through.

Method 2
Using decorators’ filler mix with 50/50 solution of PVA and water – this gives a flexible plaster finish. Add texture by scratching into the plaster, pressing objects into it, which can be left in or taken out – make sure the finish don’t have too many high or sharp points. When dry use fine sandpaper to remove extra rough surfaces then seal as before.


Different types of tape and tissue paper.


Plaster with grass and dried hydrangea flowers.


PVA covered with cling-film – removed when PVA has dried.P1000766






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 At the end of the first day Dawn showed my how to ink up the plates and run them through the press….ready for me to start the next day.

Developing Stitched Text – practice

Lisa provided all the materials and resources we needed. She suggested we take the exhibition Transience as our theme, where the artists were given the words: Silence, Stillness, Presence, Absence, Tranquil, Transience to work with.

P1000681Lisa also recommended we limited our colour palette to red, black and cream and to use a heavy duty sewing thread rather than embroidery yarn as it gives a crisper finish. I was reminded of my grandmother’s sewing box where she had reels of cotton in different weights.P1000680We worked on A4 pieces of calico and transferred the text onto the fabric. I chose to use a friction pen – wish I’d known about such a thing when I was working on my Mothers as I spent hours experimenting how to place the names onto the material. I decided to use  the same word throughout STILLNESS and stick to one colour, cream, in order for me to concentrate on the technique. The top right hand corner was stitched in running stitch – as I’m not skilled in running stitch the result is not good – the font too small for me to work neatly.
In the middle I used stem stitch with a small piece of wadding sandwiched between two pieces of calico. This gave the best definition.
The incomplete word at the bottom was done in back stitch – all the years I’ve worked this stitch I’ve been doing it wrong – the correct way has produced a far more satisfactory result.
I was too hasty in pressing my work and ironed away my unstitched inked text.P1000682

Then I remembered someone saying it reappears if put in the freezer – saved! I’ve still the stencilled STILLNESS to complete.  P1000679

Using the stencils again the text was transferred onto bondawab – remembering to reverse the letters so they read the right way when ironed onto the black fabric. I cut them out to appliqué onto the calico – the positive and negative. P1000678

Time to free machine. I placed a piece of paper with the printed words on then stitched over – about three of four times before removing the paper. Just as successful but much cheaper than stitch & tear. The disadvantage is that the printing ink discoloured the cream thread.P1000677

The last piece I did was on printers scrim – a lovely firm fabric but with a translucent quality.

photo 4 The ‘show and tell’ board
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My workshop colleagues.

I came away with a sense of achievement. I liked the fact that composition, subject matter, colour palette and form didn’t get in the way – I was able to think about stitch. My next step is to select some text to take along to my printing workshop on collagraphy.

Developing Stitched Text – context

I think it’s important to keep in touch with what other artists are doing to keep myself fresh and for that reason I enjoy attending workshops but the last couple I’ve taken have left me with a slight feeling of disappointment, I think it equally important that the tutors also keep themselves fresh and not simply regurgitate their teachings.

I was not disappointed with Developing Stitched Text taken by Lisa Porch at Craft in the Bay.

We started the morning thinking about where text is seen, the fonts, the shape of the letters and that sometimes it is illegible or even meaningless, asemic writing.


This is an example by Lukasz Grabun

Then we had an introduction to contemporary textiles artists – this gave the workshop a strong foundation by showing us that stitch has as much validity to be in the art world as other media.

Cornelia Parker has combined the old with the new, To commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta  prisoners, artists, lawyers, M.P.s  and many others stitched a huge work, 13 meters long by 1.5 meters. The text was taken from the Wikipedia entry, which can be and is edited by anyone, so is in a state of change, unlike the original charter.

13 July Eye of the Needle - Cornelia Parker 15 June - Cornelia Parker at work on Magna Carta An Embroidery  Photograph by Joseph Turp

The work is currently on display at the British Library. A video of the making of the piece is here.


Then we went back in time to look at an example of a sampler worked by Elizabeth Laidman – finished in 1760168_1000 Back to a contemporary artist Aya HaiderThe Stitch is lost unless the thread is knotted.

 I’d not heard about signature quilts before.


Here’s a detail from a piece stitched by Fanny Minard in 1857.

Lise Bjorne Linnett is conducting an on-going project DESCONOCIDA UNKNOWN UKJENT  which she started in 2006 and is ongoing.




This is to commemorate the huge number of women who disappear from Ciudad Juaréz, Mexico. Lise writes about her work here.

Lisa showed us some of her own work.

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Shroud  – Stitched textile inspired by a christening gown


Miss Willmott’s Garden

Images taken at the Exposed – Textiles in the Open  2010

Loraine Bulwer had been put into the workhouse  in 1907 at the age of 55 by her brother until her death in 1912.

lorina-sampler1536LSThis 12 ft letter shows Loraine’s state of mind – she’s filled it with angst and accusations.

I was reminded of Donna Rumble-Smith‘s work and my previous blog entry where I looked at her stitching.


An example of Donna’s books – as seen at Books of the Unexpected.

Ghadar Amer an Egyptian born resident of New York and uses text in her work.

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Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie, 1995/2002. Embroidery on cotton. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Paddy Hartley has honoured the skilled needle work of  Ralf Lumley who was a pioneering plastic surgeon.

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Gunvor Nervold Antonsen is a Norwegian artist who stitches on large hangings – I’m surprised I’ve not come across her work before.


Entangled, Entrapped, Absorbed.
Installation view. Each object sized 300x300cm. Text embroidery on silk formed in half circles.

The last artist we looked at was Caren Garfen, An interview with is here.


Don’t make a meal of it (detail), 2011

At this point there are a few crumbs in my note book – time for a break.

Developing new ideas from old textiles

On Friday I made a cross country journey to Norwich to take a weekend workshop with textile artist Cas Holmes run by Anglia Leisure Learning. We started in the evening with the usual introductions; to the course, to each other and to Cas who gave us a demonstration on how to change the properties of paper.

Saturday morning started with a second demonstration by Cas – she gave these periodically throughout the weekend with the rest of the time visiting us in turn to see what we were doing, to offer us advice when needed along with a little theory on colour and composition – always urging us to explore the material properties of what we were using and to work ethically.P1000563

My chosen piece of fabric – stitched, swapped with my table buddy for her to stitch then an added piece donated by Cas. I struggled with the addition as didn’t like the colour or design – the worst of the 1970s.P1000564

Everyone’s work was laid out for perusal, then cut.




Going onto changing the colour of the fabric – I only had my water soluble pencils so my palette was limited.P1000569

But a jar with a little coffee in it for some paper colouring.
P1000573By the end of a very long day I had arrived at a ‘thing’ using altered papers, fabric and hand stitching.

A black and white image to evaluate the tonal qualities


This lady’s face bugged me – I thought I’d excluded her from the border.
P1000570 A lunchtime walk in the countryside – the leaves and lichen blurred into an abstract view.

Time to machine stitch – as I had only red thread that’s what I used.


I started to play with the size of the piece – what to leave and what to include.


The lady covered up, the wisteria pulled out and the left side cut off.


The finished piece – I hand stitched some of the notes made during the workshop. It will be kept as a sampler of the techniques but overall I’m dissatisfied with the outcome. I prefer to consider my work more – from the outset I didn’t like the fabric, I had few tools to alter the colours and not sufficient extra supplies to call upon. Maybe if I’d been more prepared I would have taken suitable supplies but I was limited to what I could carry on the train. However I enjoyed the process, the tuition was great and the company fun.

Here are the results from other members of the course.

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All of what Cas shared with us is in The Found Object in Textile Art but her  book contains even more.

The workshop was a metaphor………I think periodically we all need to look through an altered viewfinder and  mix things up in order to re-evaluate our own lives to keep things fresh.