Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celtic Binding

The past fortnight has been really busy and tiring for me. As well as my weekly class at Studio West End (SWE) I went to a full day workshop on folded books. I am learning a lot and looking forward to having more time to play with this new knowledge and integrate it into my work.

Last week at SWE I learnt how to do celtic binding. My family's ancestral roots are in the south of Ireland at Maynooth and so the idea of doing celtic binding is very appealing to me. There is a traditional form which Keith Smith teaches, and my teacher Adele Outterridge has modified and extended this. So far I have made two books with celtic bindings, but it is so pretty I am sure I will make many more.

As soon as I tried to set up to take some photos of the books for the blog, Claude had to help!

But eventually I managed to move him far enough away to focus on the bindings....

Above: This is my first attempt, using Adele's modification. I think the
paper on the covers is Japanese - I bought it ages ago.

Above: this one is just made with printer paper and some coloured art paper I had lieing around, although the thread is the proper waxed linen (this helps the sewing to sit nicely). This is two of the celtic cross-overs (Keith Smith style) joined by 3 coptic stitches in the centre. This is a variant of a variant developed by Adele!

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was going to try etching. Well, that is progressing slowly but surely...I've made it as far as the first etch of the plate and this week I will ink it up and see how it looks. In the mean time I thought you might like a look at the plate...

I have to confess I find the fine detail on the plate quite intoxicating.


  1. I love this version of the celtic binding. You did a fantastic job of it too.
    Do you know where I might be able to locate these instructions?
    I am making a book right now with a celtic binding and this one looks much nicer.

  2. I love the bindings and it looks like you're having fun with the etching plate... I'll look forward to seeing the results! Sara

  3. Your celtic coptics are beautiful and a lovely variation on the original (or the modern variation of that). I guess you went to Ed Hutchins' workshop in Brisbane - I went to Canberra to do his Secrets of Paper Animation and then to Sydney for the Single Sheet Structures, which I think may have been the one you did. I found Ed to be a delightful teacher and I can't wait to try all the book forms he taught us. Look forward to seeing the progress of your etching plate. Carol

  4. aaaw Claude is gorgeous!
    Gosh Amanda, you have been productive, puts my lack of creativity to shame.
    Your book bindings and etching are fantastic, looks like you have mastered the Celtic Binding technique well.

  5. Thank-you all for coming by and especially for commenting. It is so lovely to hear from you.
    Lucy: to the best of my knowledge, these instructions haven't been published anywhere. The only difference is that you do an ordinary coptic stitch (i.e. you cross over inside the section) in between each celtic stitch. This gives the weave a more spacious look. If you give it a try and have trouble, email me and I'll try to talk you through it.
    Sara: the etching is really fun. I'm not sure whether I'm going to jump in and set myself up at home yet... I guess it will depend on how well I pick it up.
    Carol - yes it was the Ed Hutchins workshop. I had to make a decision between the two days as I knew I would be enough for me...shame really, as this sort of workshop is few and far between.
    Azirca - yes, Claude is gorgeous! Doesn't look like he's used up 8 of his 9 lives at all, does he? And never be ashamed of an unproductive patch...I've come to realize they as important as the silence spaces in music.

  6. I have never seen this version of celtic binding. It's really beautiful! It's great to see the possibilities of variations to commonly taught binding methods.

  7. Hi Spiderink,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and especially for your comment. I've been quite excited to see that people do work with the traditional bindings and develop them in new directions. I'm not sure whether I could do it myself, but I'd like to see what I can come up with.

  8. That binding is beautiful! I'm not quite sure I get what you did, but I'm gonna give it a try- thanks for sharing it!