|Another sketchbook bound with Coptic stitch.|
Another handbound sketchbook is finished. One of my favorite parts of the handbinding process is choosing the sketches to highlight on the covers. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t necessarily choose the “best” sketches; instead, I like using sketches that represent the span of time covered by the volume. The covers then become a visual table of contents. In this case, the still life on the front cover recalls my series of alphabetical still lifes that I sketched during NaNoDrawMo, and the Santa on the back cover reminds me that I finished off the volume during the holiday season.
Now that I’ve bound four sketchbooks with the Coptic stitch, I’m learning that the single-most critical aspect of stitched books is consistent thread tension that’s also exactly the right tension. If it’s too loose (as it was on my first volume), the signatures shift around easily, and I’m guessing that the binding will weaken over time from the movement. If the tension is too tight (as it was with the last one and the one I just finished), the covers splay open, and the book doesn’t lie flat (although putting a weight on it for a few days seems to help). If the tension is inconsistent (as it was with my first try on my first volume that I then restitched when I discovered I had misarranged the signatures), then the spine looks crooked. As with anything handmade, the only way to arrive at the just right is by practicing. Fortunately, I seem to be burning through sketchbook pages faster than ever, so I see plenty of binding practice ahead in the foreseeable future. And also fortunately, I really enjoy the bookbinding process, so practicing is a pleasure.
|A pad of 140 lb. Fabriano Studio|
hot press paper.
Speaking of sketchbook pages, I found another paper to try: 140-pound Fabriano Studio (hot press). Available in a 9” x 12” pad at DickBlick.com (rather than large, expensive, single sheets as the other two hot press papers I tried were), I took a chance and bought a pad, sight unseen. Although technically it’s the same weight as the artist-grade hot press Fabriano I tried previously, this student-grade paper folds much more easily, which leads me to believe it’s thinner. The surface also feels much smoother – almost as smooth as Bristol illustration board. Intuitively, it seems too smooth for watercolor and probably difficult to control, so I may regret this purchase. But I’ve stitched up a signature to try, and if it turns out to be a paper that I like, it’ll be a great value. Stay tuned.