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.