Friday, May 28, 2010

Bookbinding: Gwen Diehn's Thirty-Minute Multiple-Pamphlet Journal

Perhaps the best option for people who cannot find the ideal notebook is for them to make their own.  Although bookbinding can be intimidating and some practice and experimentation may be needed, the result will be a notebook or journal that is customized to your precise needs.

I, unfortunately, am still in the experimentation stage.  I made this book from instructions in Gwen Diehn's excellent book on journaling, The Decorated Journal, which has a very straightforward section on bookbinding for "the reluctant bookbinder."

This book required no specialized tools (you can use a push pin instead of an awl, for example), and although it took me longer than thirty minutes to complete, it would probably have taken less time if I had completed it in one setting instead of spread over several days.  I worked very slowly and carefully, and I suspect that with further practice I would be able to get the time down to thirty minutes.

I made the cover out of ordinary brown wrapping paper (which was later partially covered with a more decorative paper) and the pages out of white cardstock.  Lighter-weight paper would probably have been easier to work with, but as I plan to do some collage in this book, I wanted paper that would be able to handle that.

I used upholstery thread for the binding; Gwen Diehn trimmed the ends of her threads, but I thought that would look messy so I left mine long and braided them, gluing a wooden bead to the end of the braid to avoid the necessity of tying a large and ugly knot (I'm not good with knots).  When you look at the stitches on the spine, you can see that the signatures are not evenly spaced and aligned.  It would probably have been simpler to use fewer signatures (I used seven) for this first book, but I am sure that my binding skills will improve with practice.

This is the first book that I have made that actually looks like a book and not like a pamphlet, and overall I am pleased with how it turned out.  And, given that I already owned all of the supplies that I used to make it with, the price was certainly right!


  1. Looks good! I'm looking forward to pictures of the collage, too!

  2. Thanks, Palimpsest - I'm glad you like it!

  3. What a great first effort! It is still my goal to become a little better at bindery ever time I get the chance.
    And nice blog, btw! I'll be back by for more for sure!
    Rose McGuinn

  4. Thanks, Rose! I hope to do some more bookbinding one of these days when I actually have some time (if that ever happens :), and I'm sure I'll be posting the results here when I do.


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