|Peeking through the window into Atelier du Marais|
In Brisbane we are lucky to have Studio West End, run by book artist Adele Outteridge and printmaker/painter Wim de Vos, but they would be the first to say that they do not teach traditional bookbinding. There is also the Queensland Bookbinders Guild, but because their Introductory Courses are organised as two full consecutive days, I haven't been able to attend.
You may be surprised to hear that I had never made a case-bound book before, so I was keen to gain some experience working with someone with these specialized skills. I found that Mme Malouvier was not only an experienced teacher, but passionate and fun, and despite language-challenges, the students made me feel very welcome. The best aspect was taking part in something "real", something not set up for tourists, being part of a group of like-minded Parisians.
I feel very lucky to have discovered the Atelier.
Above you can see the two blank journals that I made under Mme Malouvier's careful guidance. My initial plan was to walk you through their making, but despite taking quite a lot of photos and even more notes, I don't think this would really be worth your while. I couldn't really put together an adequate "how to" which would be the aim. Instead, I've decided to use the photos to show you the things that I did that were new to me, and share the tips I picked up, and hopefully something will be new or different to you too.
But first, a little look around the Atelier.(Apologies for the quality of these photos. In order to be unobtrusive I used my phone).
|A closer view of the left hand wall. There are three presses in view, although the one at the left (with the blue wheel) is being used more as a bench in this shot. The lovely boxes are for students to store their spare supplies (excess leather etc)|
|The right hand wall of the Atelier, looking along the work bench. Most supplies and tools are conveniently stored on the wall, either hanging, in handmade boxes or as below, in cork tumblers.|
Sewing signatures on the frameFor my first project I used a commercially available book block, but for the second I bought sheets of watercolour paper, which I tore to size, folded and assembled into 8 signatures.
There was a very clever jig at the studio, which you placed your signatures onto, and it told you exactly how many sewing points were needed for your book according to its size and also where they should be placed.
My book required 5 sewing points and three tapes. This was the first time I have used a sewing frame, so while it's not extraordinary in any way, I was quite excited to give it a go.
|Above you see the sewing frame, with my book block lined up to the tapes.|
|In this photo you can see that a piece of wood slips into the frame, covering the nails from view and providing a smooth work surface. You can also see the sewing in progress.|
I found the sewing to be quite logical - you pass waxed thread in at the top hole of the first signature, leaving a tail of about 8cm. Continue weaving the thread in and out to the bottom of the signature. NB. The thread should pass on the outside around each tape. At the bottom of the signature, ensure your thread is tight by pulling out to the side (ie in the direction you are sewing). Take your thread into the signature above and continue back to the head. Here you need to sew back into the signature below and tie off with a double knot to attach the signatures securely. At the end, tie off securely, working back into at least one signature below.
|Up close. Hmm, not very even Amanda. (But it is my first go!)|
|This is the book block after a night in the press. The tapes have been trimmed and glued down.|
Next are the covers and glueing the book block, but that will have to wait till next post.