Book Art Studio Handbook: Techniques and Methods for Binding Books, Creating Albums, Making Boxes and Enclosures, and More
By Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow
Quarry Books, 2013
Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book
By Jason Thompson
Quarry Books, 2010
Book art is having a moment. Perhaps the emergence of the e-book is making crafters appreciate and value physical books more (sometimes in kitsch and unusual ways). Book art can encompass both making books and making things with books. Deconstructing them, as it were.
The idea of books as craft materials used to make me flinch. But it is true that unsold books are sent to be pulped. And library books are retired. And you just can’t keep everything. So I’m OK with chopping up books for craft purposes now – as long as the book is carefully selected for its expendability – and the end purpose is worthy.
With book art in mind, I am reviewing two craft titles. The first title, Book Art Studio Handbook, is about constructing books (as in bookbinding). The second, Playing with Books, is about using books as a craft material. The first book is just published. Playing with Books came out in 2010. (The companion volume to Playing with Books, Playing with Paper, has recently been published. It is reviewed here.) Playing with Books has lots of craft book competitors now – it’s a hot topic – but it is one of the best on the subject.
Book Art Studio Handbook is a primer that covers the fundamentals of hand bookbinding. It is not a title for the casual crafter – it is for the individual who seriously wishes to acquire a new skill. Bookbinding is a very meticulous craft. Spending time with this handbook offers a glimpse into the bookbinder’s world – I feel as if I have attended a weekend bookbinding retreat.
The authors are both practising bookbinders. They generously share their knowledge including info on tools, terminology, techniques, and tips of the trade. All are covered here – in beautifully photographed step-by-step detail. There are suggestions for setting up a studio space; advice on how to choose materials and calculate paper quantities; plus techie details on how to sew the textblock and glue the cover. There are also how-tos for making your own renewable tools, like a punching trough and a sewing template.
In addition to the practical bookbinding info, there are some lovely projects (grouped by difficulty), and an attractive gallery section. In the project section, the Woven Album with clever and colourful Jacob’s Ladder-style binding, and the 5-minute Slipcase, a one-piece origami-style book enclosure stand out. Both have wow-factor. The Gallery section features variations on featured projects – so it is aimed at extending the reader’s newly-acquired skills.