Bookbinding

Color photograph of two bookbinding needles, one straight and one curved along side a handmade book, near Denver

I had the opportunity to teach a bookbinding workshop at my friend’s place in Mississippi. The binding I taught is very complicated so I decided to make a workbook to outline each step. I wanted this to be a skill my students could go home and replicate.

Some 50 hours later I birthed a comprehensive workbook on the Coptic binding that has been in my head and at my fingertips for the last 20 years. I tried to find a tutorial to use as a skeleton and no one else seems to sew the Coptic stitch quite like this.

a color photograph showing a handmade coptic bound book opening completly flat near Denver, Colorado

I love this binding because the book naturally opens flat. Coptic bound books make really great sketch books and photo albums. The binding is sewn without any adhesive which makes Coptic binding very durable. Most paperback books are glued into a text block, without any sewing. It is very difficult to repair a paperback book who’s spine has been cracked. Once that glue breaks, it’s pretty much over. Coptic binding is my perfect binding.

a color photograph showing the inside binding of a handmade coptic bound book made in Denver, Colorado

In my Mississippi class everyone was having a blast gluing the paper to the covers and poking the holes in each signature. Then came the real challenge- sewing to the covers. It’s tough, counter intuitive the first time or two- but well worth it once your book is done and beautiful.

a color photograph showing the endsheet of a handmade coptic bound book near Denver, Colorado

I plan to teach a class here in Denver some time soon. I’ve considered approaching the library to see if I can teach in their new maker space… I would probably teach simple bindings and ways to print your own book using your desktop printer. I’ll get the word out soon.

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