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  1. #1
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    kim_a's Avatar

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    Default Kim does things he doesn't know how to - Part 1: Handmade-book project

    As most of you don't know, I'm a Norwegian student, currently living in London, England and studying Graphic Design in year three at London Metropolitan University. For our final project here, we were largely free to do a self-directed project, allowing us to focus on an area of our own interest.

    While many of my fellow students chose conceptual exploration, I find that rather vague and figured that I'd just do a larger project that would allow me to incorporate a wide range of the skills I have, as well as have me learn a few new ones along the way.

    So, I'm currently making a book, a short biography on my grandfather, telling the story of his life and career. Currently it is 90 pages long... in case you were wondering how that works, since it is not dividable with four, it has a fold-out in the appendices for a large timeline graphic, the book's dimensions are 21 x 26 cm. Designwise it isn't terribly exciting, with rather conventional typography and layout, which I found fitting for a biography of an 82 year old man that has a target audience of a non-design-concious group of close family. Still, it has allowed me to work on a project that has involved a bit of everything, firsthand research, writing, lay-out, designing for print, photography, information design, the list goes on.

    For the finished product I am planning on two editions, six books in Norwegian and a one-off in English which will be the primary piece of work assesed by my tutors and will include an extra chapter devoted to the design process and rationale behind my choices.

    These books will, if all goes according to plan, be hand-bound and feature screenprinted dust-jacket, endpapers and cover.

    This is where my problems start, as my university has health and safety regulations that require that all students using the screenprinting facilities have done an induction, but they don't have anyone available to do said inductions, so, I'm still waiting for a date to go in and get everything sorted that needs to be screened.

    My second problem relates to the binding, I have never bound a book in my life... So, I figured I would just get to it, and I bought a book on various techniques called "Bookbinding for book-artists - Requiring no tools or equipment" by Keith A. Smith and Fred A. Jordan. While the book does a great job of explaining the processes, it is a 500 page tome.

    So, after reading up on technique, I got a test print of the book and got started.

    First, I got my materials together:


    (left to right) blade, teflon bone folder, spare thread, linen thread for use as cords across the spine and finally, needle with thread.

    The reason for using a thicker linen thread instead of woven bands across the spine of the book was that I had planned on doing what is referred to as a tight-back binding. For this binding, there is no bookboard on the spine of the book and the spine is instead glued right onto the book-block, it is a more advanced binding than the flat-back and allows more pages. The tightback is sewn "recessed cords" which mean that instead of bands across the spine, like most people use for basic handbound books, a thicker thread is used, the sewing stations are sawed and not pierced, the larger hole allows the thread to slip inside the spine when the thread is tightened during sewing, leaving the spine flat and uniform and not have the bands sticking out. This allows you to glue the spine onto the book-block without the bands/cords showing through as raised.



    However, since this was my first time trying to bind anything, I was very cautious when sawing the stations, I also miscalculated and did twice as many as i had needed. My stations were too shallow to allow the cord to sink fully into and I ended up with cords that were halfway sticking out of the spine. Since this was merely an exercise in sewing to get some mistakes out of the way before I started the actual books, it didn't really matter to me.

    This is the end result of my first attempt at sewing together a book-block:



    As I expected, I made quite a few mistakes, these resulted both from a lack of experience and a bit of haste

    1: I first did ten sewing stations since I thought that the cords would be sewn the same way as bands. However, for cords, you thread back through the same hole and pull the cord in, instead of moving onto the next station like you would with bands.
    2: due to a lack of a carpenters saw I used a saw that had a narrow blade, and I also cut the stations too shallow for the cord to fit all the way inside.
    3: I forgot to do kettle stitches on the head and tail for the first four signatures.
    4: when I realized my mistake, I ended up doing what is called false kettle stitches for the remaining signatures

    Having read up a bit on the differences between bindings I realized that the tight-back is a bit too complex for me to risk screwing up on a project that has the primary deadline in two weeks (that is when I had aimed to have the first copy bound and finished), therefore I am going for the flat-back instead. It leaves a lot more room for error with regards to the spine being even, is simpler and less labour intensive.

    I'll be back with more next week...

    BTW: for any type of binding, using a saw to make sewing stations is a good idea, it saves time and ensures that you get all your stations aligned 100%, something that is hard to do when perforating from the inside of the signature with a needle. Just put your bookblock in a vice with a board on each side and let the spine extend beyond the vice by about 5mm, then saw gently until you've just breached the inside of your signature, there, you just saved yourself 15-20 minutes of piercing holes in every signature. =)
    Last edited by kim_a; 04-30-2010 at 03:09 PM.

  2. #2

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    Bra gjort.

  3. #3
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    Haha, takker, til å være første gange syntes jeg egentlig det gikk som forventet. =)

    Was supposed to get my screenprinted endpapers and dust-jacket out of the way today (the first being single color on grey stock, the second being a tightly registered three color of the same artwork, on black). Having no clue as to the university and it's setup, I had planned for larger screens then the ones they had (at least ones that had a meshcount suitable for the artwork), meaning I would have to tile the print on the paper (which was a first for me). The guy who was supposed to supervise us heard that I had experience with screenprinting and must've thought I was somehow challenging him to a print-off, because he kept trying to show me up and get me to use his method for the rest of the day, haha, all in good fun. =) I hadn't done a single pull in close to a year, rusty technique, and I was no match, I said he should give me a week of practice and we could duke it out. I started missing my old setup back home, would've been in and out in three hours.

    When doing the second pull to tile the pattern, I got a few that were properly aligned, but most had a mm or two of misalignment that may be a problem when the second and third colors go down, going to be interesting. Since I'm only doing 12 sheets, I do have the time to register each sheet individually, so hopefully I can sort that out. If all goes wrong, I can mostly just drop the problem areas since I printed a pattern that was a lot larger than what I needed.

    Then I managed to mesh up the exposure on the next two screens and suddenly our allotted time was up, with only one color done out of the four I had planned. Got to love screenprinting, never expect anything to go acording to schedule. I have to get in there on monday and do the endpapers so I can begin the actual binding, then go back in on wednesday and get the last two colors on the dust-jacket down. With hand in being friday, this is going to be a busy week. Remind me to never go a year without pulling a squeegee again, when I move to SF this fall, I'm spending my first weekend with a drill and a six-pack making a vacuum-table =)
    Last edited by kim_a; 05-05-2010 at 07:02 PM.

  4. #4
    Josh Rickun's Avatar

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    kim is a guy

  5. #5
    squeegeethree's Avatar

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    Why are you moving from to SF when you can live in Norway. Oh wait...

  6. #6
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    kim_a's Avatar

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    Living in Norway works, studying graphic design in Norway, not that much, there are two courses at a BA or MA level in the country (you've got to remember that Norway has 4.5 million people, about a third of the population in greater-London), very much "art" focused, so I did two years of Graphic Design at a practically oriented private school back home, then moved on to London to do a third year, giving me a degree. Then I figured that since I'm 22, I still have a lot of time that I should spend learning, getting better and seeing new places, SF sounded like an interesting place to do a masters.

    And yes Josh, Kim is a guy, the A up there stands for André.

  7. #7
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    steve w's Avatar

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    way to break rickun's heart, kim.
    "I guarantee, the image will not be fade off and you will be pleasure it too. " - a bootlegger
    We need to print a tshirt "Avoid sucker effect!"-Fabio
    "fudge isn't sharp"-phoondaddy

  8. #8
    MrBlonde7's Avatar

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    I thought you were a female!

    I take back all that stuff I said in my PMs. although you can say hi to me when you come to San Fran.

    (nice book dudekim)

  9. #9
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    First day at Uni. in London:

    Tutor: Get yourselves into groups, distribute the Norwegians equally across the groups. (we were 14 norwegians who started on year three)

    *me and my friend goes to one of the tables, where five chicks are seated*

    Chick 1: Hi guys, *handshake* my name is Kim.

    Me: *facepalm* Really?

    My friend: *laughs hysterically*

  10. #10
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    love these book-binding threads, good luck with the finished piece(s)

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