Monday, January 20, 2014

A Handmade Wedding Album




I rounded out last year by finishing this wedding present, a hand bound album to hold my friends J and B's wedding photos.

This has been the most technically challenging book I've made, being the largest and heaviest, and obviously needing to be able to be handled. Making it even more challenging was my promise to use an "across the spine" binding.

At the time when I suggested it, I knew how to do coptic binding and celtic binding, and I knew it would appeal to J. & B. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that they weren't really considered very stable, and particularly for a large heavy book like a photo album.

Once I was aware of this problem, I turned to my trusty Keith Smith books, (Volume III in particular.)  According to Smith, across-the-spine bindings, properly executed, are actually pretty stable. However he also noted that if you aren't convinced, it is possible to combine an across-the-spine binding and an along-the-spine binding.






And so that is exactly what I decided to do. Above you can see the central celtic binding (as taught to me by Adele Outteridge) which is sewn first. The icicle binding in white at either end of the spine is from Keith Smith's Exposed Spine Sewings. The thread runs the length of the signature , appearing on the spine at intervals to perform its decorative duties, which also add stability, and then finally crossing to the next signature. This definitely gives the binding a much firmer feel and although I wouldn't recommend frisbeeing the album across the room, I feel pretty confident about this choice of structure.





The covers are archival board covered with a handmade paper I found in Sydney. I used items I knew reflected J & B to make the album uniquely theirs: orange pekoe tea as a colorant, together with amber beads and a photo of the wedding guests taken before the ceremony. The pages are chocolate brown with old-style glassine interleaves.





And this is the calf leather case I made to protect the album when it isn't in use. I was inspired to try this after working a little with leather in Paris and realizing that it is actually a much more forgiving material than I ever realized. I discovered some historic bindings were stored in leather envelope-like cases and decided to design my own modern interpretation for J. & B.

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24 comments:

  1. I confess that I wince when I see open spine bindings, especially in albums.I certainly wouldn't leave my Coptic work exposed! But I do agree that the extra long-stitching adds strength and keeping the book in its cover helps, too.Well done!

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    1. Hi Di, I think I was lucky to be taught by Adele. I've always felt they were a lot more secure than they look, although I have seen some with an awful lot more movement than is desirable. Keith Smith does say they are perfectly stable, but I don't think he was thinking of a 14" x 10" album filled with photos!

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  2. Just gorgeous, Amanda! The spine, the boards, the leather envelope; all combine beautifully! I'm so pleased you decided against the Coptic binding. You have made a beautiful album that will stand up to loving use. Bravo!

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    1. Oh thank-you Carol! I'm glad you think so. You know how long I've been going on this project - although not all of the delay was down to me. Still I did worry about the right binding and was very happy when I came up with this solution.

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  3. oooo lovely! I love the stitching on the spine in particular (and the leather envelope for storage.... so pretty and practical too)

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    1. Thanks ronnie. Yes, I'm enjoying the stitching so much it's making me want to do some sewing or embroidery.

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  4. Beautiful binding, and beautiful album! Lovely choice of stitching and materials. They are going to love it! What a special gift. Definitely much, much nicer than a standard Coptic. Well-done!

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    1. Thank-you P-C. Special friends deserve a special gift!

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  5. This is very impressive Amanda...a real labor of love. I can just imagine this beautiful book being poured over many years from now by children and grandchildren and all exclaiming on the wonderful and very special binding! I've never seen those Celtic or icicle stitches before. I love that!

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    1. Thank-you Nancy. That's a lovely picture you've painted - just how I'd like to see it happen.

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  6. Lovely work Amanda, great problem-solving and creative process explained, well done!!

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    1. Thank-you Claire. Yes I can thank Keith Smith's fantastic books for helping me out of a tight corner. They're a great resource.

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  7. This album is really beautiful Amanda - your great solution to the instability of Coptic bindings has allowed you to still use such a beautiful decorative cross-spine binding and the leather envelope is just gorgeous. Even more so something to treasure.

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    1. Thanks Helen. I really wanted to create something special for my friends, and I laboured over every choice because I do know them well and I wanted the album to reflect that. In the end, I realized I am not really cut out for commission work unless the person has a very clear idea of how they want the book to be.

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  8. Great outcome Amanda! The gorgeous leather pouch is the icing on the (wedding) cake so to speak. It will hold so many memories for them well as all your care and energy and love that went into it.

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    1. Thanks Fiona. The wedding was a wonderful day and I am so happy to contribute this to help them remember.

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  9. What a beautiful treasure for your lucky friends. Wonderful to see all the different skills you've developed over the years all coming together in this awesome album that will continue to be valued for generations.

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    1. Thank-you Jack. I was thinking as I worked on it about all the places and people who taught me various techniques and how differently I may have done it without the benefit of their experiences.

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  10. This looks great! Must have takes ages to sew, but sure looks like it was worth the time. Beautiful choice of threads and colours there!

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    1. It did take ages Hilke! I had to spread it out over days which created a different type of challenge, but it was the only way I could manage. I think it was worth the effort too.

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  11. Here, here! I can't add anything to the previous comments really: it is a beautiful book, Amanda. Well done! And congratulations to the happy couple: not only can they celebrate their wedding but also their choice of wonderful friends! Sara x

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    1. Oh thank-you Sara! I'm good at choosing my friends too! :)

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  12. this is a very special gift Amanda and I would love to handle the case, to feel the soft leather. And I must say that if you plan on buying silk net prepare to go without food for a month!!!

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  13. Thanks Karen. The leather is lovely, and I still have some left. Just waiting for the right project to come along.I am definitely saving my pennies for my visit to Beautiful Silks - but it will be great to visit the shop, rather than just looking online.

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