Sunday, July 19, 2015

Built from Apples

Who doesn't love the chance to combine two things they love? Now, bookbinding and cider might not seem like your typical duo, aside from the occasional glass of cider while putting together a book, but, bear with me here because you have to literally think inside the box. 

I love traditional binding structures and materials but I also enjoy having fun and experimenting so when Hand Bookbinders of California put out the call for their 43rd annual members' exhibition, I knew just what I wanted to do. 

The Hand Bookbinders of California promote fine bookbinding in all its forms so I decided to push the limits of traditional technique by using non-traditional material: namely a cider box for the cover. 

I have been working with French Linkstitch binding for a while now, exposing a sewing method that is often hidden behind a spine, to make journals that open flat while the sewing creates nice designs along the spine. To let the binding method sing true along with the cover material, I went with a Smith & Forge Hard Cider box. This crisp, dry, canned cider come in larger boxes which means a larger end result and more visible stitching. The lightweight cardboard used in the packaging shows where the cans were placed which added an unplanned but nice texture to the project. 

The container was made the same way that canned soda boxes are, with a part on top you can punch in to create a handle. In order for this to operate properly, the side panels of the box, which are the ones that to create a cover, were made with small slits at the top, right in the center where the fold would go. The slit height fell exactly where I needed my kettle stitches to go so I had to do a bit of light paper repair for the stitches to hold. A small piece of Lokta paper (handmade, Nepalese paper), a bit of PVA, and a bone folder were all that was needed. The Lokta paper was glued to the inside of each panel, across the fold, covering up the slit. Because each side panel would be folded in half and then laminated together after sewing, I knew that just one strip would hold and I also didn't have to try to disguise the repair because it would be hidden. 

Because the motto of the cider company is 'Made Strong', I used that  motto for inspiration of the design/placement of the sewing stations. With the orange-red logo color of the cider and given the fact that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, 'made strong' to me makes me think of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. Both bridges have survived earthquakes and tons of traffic on a daily basis and they make use of tall and shorts posts for support (forgive my oversimplification of engineering, these bridges were inspiration only and the sewing was a very loose interpretation). This lead me to alternate the spacing of the sewing stations for the X-shape created with the French Linkstitch, so there would be small X's holding down the ends and a large X in the center. 

The final result was a blank journal both bookbinders and cider enthusiasts could enjoy. 

If you haven't had a chance to check out the Hand Bookbinders of California 43rd Members' Exhibition, please do. There are many amazing feats of binding by some incredibly talented people. It'll be on view at the American Bookbinders Museum until September 13.

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