I think that I have gotten a lot better at bookbinding. This is my fourth or fifth coptic-stitch book, my first with real book-boards and carefully-produced paper covers. It came out perfectly.
Some of it is having done it once or twice. The directions that Esther K. Smith provided in How to Make Books made no sense the first few times around. It was equivalent to “then a miracle occurs” on the chalkboard to read some of what was supposed to happen as I stitched the book together.
Even as I stitched this one together, there were a few places where I doubted, deeply, my ability to complete the work. I eventually decided that this was my work tonight, and skipped several other invitations to other activities, including a knitting circle, to focus on this work. I had to have this for Wednesday, which made it easier.
Even as I stitched the book, though, I had the sense that this one was different than others. It went so much more smoothly than any of my other bookbinding efforts. Producing the long-stitch leather-bound copy of my own poetry was a turning point, I think. Even though that volume has a lot of mistakes, it was a bit like leveling up in a Dungeons and Dragons game: making a book with a ‘real’ leather cover, instead of cardboard-covered-in-paper, allowed me to do this book much more seriously and carefully. After all, if I can screw up a $20.00 piece of leather with inadequate tools and bad design planning, sure, I can make a couple of heavy cardboard book-boards.
My critique of the work of my own hands aside, I have to say that I think the book turned out rather nicely. The chain-aitches of the Coptic binding are nicely aligned with one another, and with the holes in the covers. None of the stitches are terribly out of place, and they’ve got good vertical lines. The covers aren’t too ripped up from hole-punching for the binding, and neither are the book-blocks, which is good. The signatures are all aligned properly, too. Even though the pages aren’t numbered, the book looks pretty professional, for an amateur work of binding a journal as a gift.
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