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  1. Tutorial // Turkish Map Fold

    June 8, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    In this video for North Bennet Street School, I show my co-host Colin Urbina how to fold a square sheet of paper using the Turkish Map Fold technique. Even though this video is geared towards kids, this technique is great for any age group. You can find more online content created for NBSS here.

    – 1 square piece of paper (any size)
    – Coloring and decorating supplies (markers, colored pencils, or crayons)

    Unfortunately, I don’t know the origins of this folding technique. But you can find examples of this fold being used in booklets with maps and many artists use this technique in their artist books. See examples below:

    Cartography I | Louisa Boyd

    American Breeding Standards | Ellen Knudson

  2. Tutorial // Make a Book from a Single Sheet of Paper

    May 3, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    In this video for North Bennet Street School, I follow along as Colin Urbina shares how to fold a single sheet of paper into a folded book with 8 pages. Even though this video is geared towards kids, this technique is great for any age group. You can find more online content created for NBSS here.

    – One 8.5×11″ sheet of paper
    – Scissors
    – Pencil
    – Coloring and decorating supplies (markers, colored pencils, or crayons)

    This style of folding is rooted in traditional book layouts and printing, where a single printed sheet could be folded into eight equal sections and then cut at the head edge to create a gathering of 16 pages. This process is described with the Latin word octavo, which means “in eighth” or “for the eighth time”. The final pages of the book would represent one eighth of the original sheet of paper (or roughly the size of the original sheet if the pages were trimmed down after folding).

  3. International Edible Book Day!

    April 1, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    International Edible Book Day is celebrated on April 1st. April Fools may seem like the perfect day to create literary inspired desserts and dishes, but in fact Edible Book Day celebrates the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 – 1826). Famous for his book Physiologie du goût, Brillat-Savarin and his colleague Grimod de La Reynière are known as the creators of the gastronomic essay genre.

    This unusual holiday was the brainchild of book artists Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron, who cooked up this idea in 1999 during Thanksgiving. Edible Book day was first celebrated in 2000. This yearly event takes place around the world and invites bibliophiles, book artists, binders and food lovers to combine literature with food in creative and humorous ways.

    In this video for North Bennet Street School, Colin Urbina and I offer two options for creating an edible book inspired by bookbinding techniques. Using tortillas for pages and jelly and peanut butter for glue, Colin recreates an edible version of a Drum-leaf binding.

    I was greatly inspired by Tiffany Eng’s post on the West Dean Arts & Conservation blog. I’ve been wanting to make her version of a Japanese Stab binding for a long time. Unfortunately, my twizzler thread was not long enough to create the proper sewing. My edible book has leaves of lettuce, ham and salami with swiss cheese endpapers and mayonnaise doublures. The Cambridge panel tooling was done with yellow mustard. Our books were bound, documented and then consumed.

    Even though this video is geared towards kids, this technique is great for any age group. You can find more online content created for NBSS here.

    Happy International Edible Book Day!

  4. Tutorial: Collapsible Punching Cradle

    January 3, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    A punching cradle is a useful tool to have around in one’s bindery. There are a lot of models available for purchase, but it’s quite simple to make one yourself using just a few tools and materials. I have a few in my bindery that range in size, but I find my collapsible punching cradle to be the most useful. Especially when I am traveling to teach workshops.

    The following tutorial will go through the steps to create your own collapsible punching cradle. I’ve including all of my measurements, but the best part about this tool is that you can customize it for your own purposes. This particular cradle will consist of a detachable cradle and 2 leg supports. The cradle will have two different size options, which makes this particular version even more versatile. I discovered this collapsible punching cradle while taking a private workshop with Monique Lallier. She allowed me to take down the measurements and I made my own once I returned to my studio.

    – paper for covering (I used Lokta)
    – binder’s board
    – book cloth
    – PVA
    – methyl cellulose (optional)

    – pencil
    – ruler
    – 90º triangle
    – Japanese screw punch with 3mm bit
    – cutting mat
    – x-acto blade
    – glue brushes in various sizes
    – bone folder
    – scissors

    Determine the length of workable space for your cradle. For example, if you tend to work large, then perhaps you want to make a cradle long enough for paper that is 12″ tall. The cradle I’m making in this tutorial is slightly longer than ones I currently have. The total width of my cradle is 395mm (~15½”), the two outer slots give me a workable area of 325mm (~12½”) and the inter slots give me a workable area of 288mm (~11¼”).


    Once you’ve decided on your dimensions, grab some binder’s board and cut down 2 pieces the same size for the cradle. The dimensions for the legs and support stubs can really vary depending on the distance you want between the bottom of the cradle and your work surface. The lower the cradle is the more likely that your awl will pierce your work surface if left unprotected. But you can start by using my measurements below and then make your own modifications.

    cradle (cut 2 pieces the same size):
    395mm x 125mm

    legs (cut 2 pieces the same size):
    150mmx 88mm

    support stubs (cut 4 pieces the same size):
    110mm x 11mm

    Mark with a pencil where you would like the two slots to be on both cradle pieces. On my cradle the outer slot starts 30mm in from either end. Each slot is 3mm wide and they sit 15mm apart.


    The height of my slots are 80mm from the bottom edge of the cradle. Using a 90º triangle, draw a line from your mark up to the desired height. Do this on either side and on both cradle pieces.


    Using a Japanese screw punch with a 3mm bit, punch a hole at the top of the slots. Make sure to have a scrap board underneath to protect your work surface. With an x-acto blade, carefully cut out the slots by slowly cutting through each layer. DO NOT try and cut through the entire thickness in one stroke, the blade could kickback and slice your finger. As you cut, angle your blade as perpendicular to the binder’s board as you can, this will make a nice straight cut. Sand the slots smooth.


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  5. 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, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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