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Posts Tagged ‘secret belgian binding’

  1. Upcoming Workshop // September to November

    September 10, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    Secret Belgian Binding
    September 14 – 15 (Saturday – Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    There are still a few spots left! This workshop explores the Secret Belgian structure and ways to modify it. On day one, students put together two variations of this non-adhesive structure: one with exposed stitches and one with hidden stitches. On day two, students explore modified versions of the Secret Belgian binding developed by book artist, Anne Goy by playing with the length of stitching and incorporating Tyvek. The Secret Belgian binding can be constructed quickly with few tools and virtually no equipment. It opens flat and works best with thinner text blocks.

    Cross Structure Binding
    September 21 – 22 (Saturday – Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    There are still a few spots left! The Cross Structure binding is a non-adhesive structure that offers much freedom to the text block. This 20th century design is greatly inspired by the Long Stitch bindings of the medieval era. It is suitable for conservation or new bindings, such as travel journals or decorative bindings. The structure is uniquely constructed by interlocking the front and back covers at the spine. In this 2-day workshop, students will work on 4 variations of the Cross Structure, creating models in both handmade paper and leather. If time permits, students will have an opportunity to decorate their covers.

    Bookbinding 101
    October 5 – 6 (Saturday – Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    ​In this two day class, students get a quick introduction to various bookbinding techniques by exploring three different book structures. The class begins with a simple pamphlet and continues with constructing two multi-signature books known as a flatback case binding and link stitch binding. Finally, students construct a box to house all of their creations. This class is a great way to familiarize yourself with bookbinding and is perfect for those who are curious about the craft. Please bring a notebook and pencil to class.

    Fundamentals of Bookbinding I
    November 4 – 8 (Monday – Friday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    Students will learn the foundations of bookbinding by combining hands-on exercises and discussion. The class starts by exploring non-adhesive structures: soft cover pamphlet, Coptic, historical longstitch and link stitch. The class ends with a look at case bindings, with the creation of two hardcover flatback bindings. Students also learn different structural elements, sewing variations, covering and cutting techniques using various materials, tools and equipment. Throughout the course discussions will cover terminology, paper grain and folding, selecting proper materials and tools, and adhesives and their properties.

    Japanese Stab Binding
    November 17 (Sunday)
    North Bennet Street School
    Boston, MA

    In this workshop, students will construct a Japanese Stab binding model, more traditionally referred to as 4-Hole binding or yotsume toji. We will build the model in a traditional manner, while incorporating Western tools and equipment. This workshop will provide a better understanding of the structure and the foundation for which to alter the number of holes and sewing pattern.

  2. Tutorial: Top Secret Belgian Binding

    November 19, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    The Secret Belgian binding is just one of many structures on my long list models to make. With the aid of a tutorial posted on the BookArtsWeb tutorial and references page, I was on my way to checking this structure off my list. Unfortunately the link seems to be broken now. However, within this post you’ll find my instructions, which are very comprehensive and any skill level can complete this simple structure in a matter of hours. So let’s get started*:

    *This tutorial is for a modified version I’m calling the Top Secret Belgian. This version of the structure is sewn differently and extra steps are taken to hide the interior thread. 

    – binder’s board for 2 covers and 1 spine piece
    – decorative paper
    – paper to line covers and spine piece (aka paste downs)
    – colored thread
    – text block (3-5 signatures, about 3-4 folios each)
    – PVA
    – wax

    – needle
    – bone folder
    – glue brush
    – scalpel (preferably with curved blade)
    – x-acto
    – scissors
    – pencil
    – triangle
    – awl
    – dividers (optional)

    STEP ONE: 
    For this tutorial I bound a copy of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My inspiration for the covers came at the moment in the story when the main character begins to tear away the maddening yellow wallpaper in a desperate attempt to relieve her agony and pain. Whatever you choose as your text block, whether it be a short story, poetry or blank pages, prepare those now and fold to their final size. 

    From the text block, measure the height of the signature and add about 5-7mm. Measure the width of the folded signature and add about 3-4mm. This will determine the dimension of the covers with added squares.

    The height of the spine piece will be the same as the covers. The width is determined by the thickness of your text block. Pinch the text block about 20mm from the spine, measure the flared out signatures. Add 2mm to this measure to find the width of the spine piece. 

    text block height: 201mm
    text block width: 121mm
    text block thickness: 10mm

    cover height: 208mm
    cover width: 125mm

    spine piece height: 208mm
    spine piece width: 12mm

    Cut down the decorative paper to include excess for turn-ins (about 20mm, less for the spine piece). Cut down the paper for the paste downs, allowing a 3mm margin on all sides. Glue up the decorative paper and cover both boards and spine piece.


    Trim out the inside of the covers, so the turn-ins are even and straight. This can be done quickly with a set of dividers. Simple measure out the desired distance, lightly score a line along all four sides. Trim off excess along scored guideline with an x-acto or scalpel. Tear away the excess by pulling toward the edge of the cover.


    Glue down the paste down onto the spine piece and set aside under weight to dry.

    Prepare a jig for punching holes into the covers. The holes should be evenly spaced along the height of the covers allowing for a fair amount of sewing stations. Using an awl punch the holes 16mm from the spine edge. The needle on the awl should have a continuous gauge and not be graduated. This way all of the holes are the same size. 

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  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher and I live in Boston working as a Bookbinder.  This blog is an extension of Herringbone Bindery where I can share my inspirations with you.
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