Our second week of zine creation began with a couple of finishing touches to the work. During the previous lesson (the one I was notin) the girls continued their zines sticking in some of the prints from previous sessions, additional text from other magazines, and adding more drawings and illustrations.
Just a couple of final bits and pieced needed to be cut up and glued before we could get going with the binding!
I’d spent my time pre-session setting up all the materials, giving each of the girls a cutting mat, ruler, needle, some thread, a pencil, and some book templates. I also set up a couple of books for them to look at in case they got a little lost. These were Making Books: A Guide to Creating Hand-crafted Books by Simon Goode, and Bookbinding: A Comprehensive Guide to Folding, Sewing & Binding by Franziska Morlok. Both great books for getting started with bookbinding, though the second is a little more complex and comprehensive. Though I think next week I might print some simplified guides so as they can have on each. A little homework for myself there.
Firstly, we needed copies of each zine. One of the girls being very helpful, and having been given the (nothing but thrilling) task of photocopying, copied 10 each of the 8 different zines. Thank goodness for printer credit! We folded these up in the same way that we had the week before, so as each person had their original zine and a photocopy of each other persons. The photocopies are really quite beautiful, the colours are very vivid, and the multi-levelled nature of the collaging is removed, leaving flat copies.
We folded each of our 8 books, as we did the previous week when making the individual zines. A little reminding was needed, but everyone got there pretty quickly, and hopefully that will have solidify it pretty well! A little collaborative work was also required, because we wouldn’t have been able to move on until everyone had finished. I thought it would be easier to all begin sewing together, as there were several steps, so it was better to all get to the same stage first.
Once they were all folded and up together, we chose the order that our zines would appear in the book and prepared the thread and template.
Beeswax is used to prepare the thread, brightly coloured so it was easy to see and hopefully made it better to work with! This isn’t a completely necessary step, but certainly makes it easier for first timers as the thread becomes more rigid and slides through the holes more easily. If you’ve never done this before it makes a really quite unpleasant sound if you’re not careful, so watch out for that!
Up next was preparing the template for stabbing the holes in the zines. These would become our signatures (separate sections in a sewn book, though I didn’t want to add this technical term as well, being as everything is already a little confusing!) so each needed sewing holes. We are using the separate signature binding method, often using ribbons for stability, though because of this book being fairly small we didn’t need to. As such there were two single holes at the top and bottom of the template, and three sets of two holes in the middle. Using needles (usually bodkins) to poke through the holes we were pretty much ready to get sewing! Zoe having commented that this was possibly the quietest the class had ever been. I knew bookbinding was therapeutic. I’m pretty sure I’ve even done it in a hospital waiting room before! That just proved it.
We began with the sewing basics, connecting a plain end paper and our first signature together. This was a little complicated to explain by just example, so we draw a diagram on the board as well using a couple of different coloured pens. It would have been great to be able to project what I was doing onto the board, but I fear that’s a little too much technology for me to handle…
Unfortunately, we only got as far as the first end paper and first signature due to the fairly short amount of time. Next week I plan on teaching them the last step during the first part of the session, which should in theory allow them to continue sewing until the finish they book. During this time we also best get cracking with the exhibition planning! To get this started I’d ideally like them to discuss possible names, thinking about links to nature and printmaking. A little like a ladies knitting meeting, but with bookbinding instead. Who knows, it might work! And if we get chance I’d love to be able to make a cover with them, leaving the spine exposed. But we’ll see!
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