Open-spine Book Binding

Workshop facilitated by Sarah Spring

Workshop co-ordinator: Mandy Johnston

Venue: Alexander Theater Braamfontein

Date: 11 June 2011

Notes: compiled by Sarah Spring and Mandy Johnston

Part One – Paper: (any paper of your choice, we used 160 gram paper on the day)

  1. Cut paper to size so that if folded in two the pages are the required size. Fold by matching up corners and then running bone folder along folded edge of the page to make a crisp fold. Join pairs by sliding one page inside another.
  2. Mark off thread intervals with a pencil. The first and last mark should be 1.5cm from the edge and there should be another 3 marks (or more, depending on the size of your page) in between about 3cm apart. On the pencil markings, using your craft knife, cut into paper making a tiny slit. The slit should be large enough for your needle with thread to get through.
  3. Measure out thread. The thread we used is embroidery thread, but any type will work. Measure the length of thread by adding up the length of all your pages and adding a little extra. See image 2 and 3
  4. Wax the thread by running the thread between your finger and some candle wax. Bee's wax works best. Make sure the thread is well coated.
  5. Tie a double knot in the thread, approximately 5cm from end of thread, and thread first page starting on the outside.
  6. Place a paper strip underneath the thread that passes over the outer edge of the page (in this case the paper strip is blue ). See image 4
  7. Tighten thread by pulling in the same direction as threading, i.e. continuing away from the paper, never at 90 degrees as you may tear the page.
  8. Place another pair of folded paper on top of the first page. Repeat in other direction but as you pass the large outer edge stitch, loop the thread underneath it.
  9. At the end of the second page tie the thread to the other end of thread. Secure with 'camel stitch' on page three. Camel stitch is when you reach the end of the page you stitch back under the previous page thread. i.e.from centre outward under the thread the joins pages.
  10. Repeat until you have completed all the pages. End by camel stitching back to 5cm end of thread. Tie ends together and cut of thread.

Part Two – Cover

    1. Cut board to size – must be +/- 4mm larger that the folded paper diameter
    2. Cut paper/fabric to fit board – cut off corners at an angle leaving a few mm between the corner and the edge of the fabric/paper. See image 5
    3. Spread craft/wood glue on the board ( place blob in middle and spread outward as smoothly as possible. Place paper, face down and rub with bone folder to smooth.
    4. Turn cover over and glue alternative sides folds first. Run bone folder along outer edge to neaten.
    5. Place boards under heavy weight to prevent warping
    6. Tip: if you are using fabric to cover the book, first stick fabric to a piece of news print. I will give a more even finish.

Part Three – Binding – Putting on covers

You are now putting the cover onto the pages. Generally you will find a decorative page on each side of a bound book. The reason for this is that this page connects the cover to the pages. So  one side is stuck to the inside of the cover and the other to the strips that are part of the binding.

  1. Cut decorative page – must be +/- 2mm smaller than one of the normal pages.
  2. Glue strips to the cover board – inside or outside depending on your preference.
  3. Spread glue onto the inside of cover and onto one half of the paper inner +/- 2mm of the first page
  4. Repeat with other side and use bulldog clips to secure. Allow to dry.

Suppliers I

1. Book-binding glue: Henkel Industries, Synta A22ED, PVA glue.

2. Paper: Phumani Paper,,

Quote of the day

“We’re all on the same page” Mariette

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  • Image 6