Bungling My Way Through Bookbinding

At Home with Homemade Books: 28 Extraordinary Bookbinding Projects Made from Ordinary and Repurposed Materials by Erin ZamrzlaIf I’m going to be an author, I should probably learn how to bind a book, right? At least it seemed logical when I was purchasing At Home with Handmade Books by Erin Zamrzla, and the hemp cord, and awl, and bone folder, and other bookbinding supplies.

Some Bookbinding Supplies

The first book I attempted to make was one that didn’t require any stitching. (Frankly, the various Japanese stab binding methods looked tricky.) It was the Sketch, Jot, Journal which looked so adorable in the picture…

image …and making it was a borderline disaster.  The hiccups were many and varied. I mean, who has a 46 1/4” length of scrap paper just lying around? No problem, glue a bunch of sheets together, which is all well and good until one of the glue seams ends up smack dab in the center of one of the pages, thus destroying the allure of the book.

My Half-Ass Attempted at the Sketch, Jot, Journal Book

As if that wasn’t enough, when I began flipping through my finished book, I was a little sad—the entire backside of that long piece of paper would go unused (read: wasted). I hadn’t thought about that when I decided to make the book.

But I was not to be deterred. Next, I tried a stitched book, so the front and back of each sheet could be used. Surprisingly, the second attempt was far more successful even though I thought the stab-binding techniques would be more difficult than good ol’ fashioned glue. It probably helped that I used one of the easier binding techniques requiring only three holes—a modification of the Recycle Bin Memo Pad. (Basically, I just made another Sketch, Jot, Journal book using the Recycle Bin Memo Pad instructions.)

My Journal, Stitched

Inside My Stitched Journal

One thing I can say about this new endeavor is that it’s rather eye-opening. After these two attempts, I realize there is nothing to fear from bookbinding. Depending on what you’re hoping to do, it’s actually rather simple. I now look at handmade journals much differently (and with more reverence), and I also feel confident enough to make my own in a pinch should the day every come when I’ve used up all of my journals (highly unlikely).

For now, I’ll simply use all that extra paper I have lying around (and I do have lots of extra paper) and create a variety of handmade books in which to write original short stories or novellas. I might even give some of the handmade journals away. (As if I really needed yet another creative outlet.)

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