Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love Those Rigid German Spines

Well, the bookbinding workshop I attended in Seattle was just fabulous! Elsi, the instructor, was really great, and so very knowledgeable.

Wish I had taken a photo of the class, but I was too working out stitch patterns!

We focused on making northern European medieval-style bindings, which have more rigid supports on the spine area than the medieval Italian-style bindings I have been making. Elsi gave us about ten patterns to choose from for the decorative stitching on the spine. I made this book in class, which is based on a 14th century German account binding:

I used a heavyweight paper for the cover, and made the spine more rigid by adding a piece of thin wood. Traditionally, bookbinders would use leather, wood, or horn for the rigid spine supports. To get the spine design to work out, you have to sew the signitures (groups of pages) to the spine in the proper order, or else you end up with quite a mess.

After I got home, I made a second book, shown here:

A while back I picked up some gorgeous heavyweight Canal paper (made right here in Canada, in Montreal, Quebec). I didn't know what I would use it for at the time, but couldn't resist it. Turned out to be just the thing for this style of book. This time, for the spine I used the same basic stitch, but instead of tying together groups of stitches, I wove groups of stitches together.

Here is another view:
Just to compare, here is a photo of some actual medieval books:

Not the best photo, but if you look carefully at the book on the left, you can see where the stitches have been woven together. It actually took a fearfully long time to do all that weaving, so I think I'll keep my woven book to use for demonstrations (sometimes I get asked to do a little bookbinding "show & tell" for various groups/classes). I am, however, beavering away on my own particular variation of these books, which will appear soon in my Etsy store.


BWK Art said...

Wow! Lovely books!! :)

tulibri said...

Wow, I didn't know those were called "german"! I think, here in Germany, they are called Gothic Bindings, but then again ... international bookbinding terminology seems to be a jungle ;-)

Dana and Daisy said...

Your books are always awe-inspiring. I have noted you on my blog today. If you would like to, you may pick up the award I have left for you there.

have a great day. Dana

moonandhare said...

Thanks for your comment, tulibri--I think the instructor was calling the books we made in class "german bindings" because they were patterned after 14th century german account books. I don't think she meant that all books with this kind of stitching are German. I like the term "Gothic Bindings"--maybe that's what I should start calling them! :)

moonandhare said...

Oh, and many thanks for the award, dana! I'm very honored.

Carol said...

Beautiful books, beautifully made.

Ciara Brehony said...

These are just so beautiful. When I look at them I think of Native American work for some reason. I am very impressed with your patience and skill!

Giorgia said...

I congratulate you for your serious research and the faithful reproduction of the ligatures. Hello