Snooker table iron

This is the bounty that was being protected by that ratty and dusty old cardboard box of Toolite fame and, no surprise, it has become my favourite piece of bookmaking equipment. It’s very heavy, flat, the size of a small book, and has a handle that makes it easy to pick up and move around without squashing your fingers. It’s got that bit of been-around-the-block seen-a-few-things-in-my-time rust, yet the bottom is smooth and clean and shiny so doesn’t mark the paper. Even better, it has type on it.



Earlier this year I made a ukulele under the expert and most enjoyable tutelage of two Big Island luthiers—Dennis Lake and Bob Gleason. It’s a pineapple uke with a solid koa body, and this picture shows one of the processes involved in attaching the top to the sides. I discovered that making a uke has a lot in common with bookbinding. Cutting, glueing, grain direction, accuracy and attention to detail, clamping, measuring, checking and double-checking, and then experiencing a sense of wonder that I was actually able to make such a thing.

Blue ribbon


I was pretty chuffed to receive first prize for my cased-in book at this year’s Royal Easter Show. At the beginning of March I visited a local bookcloth supplier for the first time in the hope of tracking down a particular cloth I needed for a project. I got more than I bargained for! My eyes glazed over at the myriad of choices on offer. Not only did I find the cloth I needed, but some time later walked away with enough supplies to keep me going for quite some time. My purchases included a warm grey linen bookcloth and an iridescent orange and yellow duocloth, the combination of which inspired me to make this book and solander box.

Paper trees


This year has been fairly quiet in the lead up to Christmas, but my book group had a good turnout for our last meeting of the year, where we ate too much chocolate and home-made fruit cake, had a bookish Secret Santa, and, in the wake of our first group exhibition, talked about possibilities for next year. These paper trees were made for each of us by Julie Bookless, who, with her usual perspicacity, matched the colour and paper of every one she made to our bookmaking personalities. Julie constructed the trees using the first stage of the Turkish map fold.

Tools of the trade


Something to fold with, something to cut with, something to poke holes with. While this is not a comprehensive list of my bookbinding tools, these few small items receive a lot of use, regardless of the style of book I am making. It doesn’t matter if I am constructing a section-sewn hard cover in a clamshell box or an artists book of unconventional size and structure, these are the tools that are in constant use.

Dingbat earrings


I’m currently working on my submission for the Personal Histories Artists Book Exhibition which will be held at the Redland Museum in Queensland later this year. In sifting through the material that I’m using as the basis for my book I have come across all sorts of things I had forgotten about. One item is this pattern for making dingbat earrings. This now-mottled and deteriorating bromide (remember them!) came complete with instructions and fixings.



I doubt the graffitist was thinking about the weight of paper when they altered this ‘no standing’ sign, but in my world, GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’, and is the standard of paper measurement that allows people who work with paper—printers, designers, artists, bookbinders, etc—to know exactly what they’re dealing with in terms of thickness. This week I replenished my paper supplies with two of my favourite papers: Stonehenge White (245 GSM) and Zerkall Laid (120 GSM). Stonehenge is a machine-made fine art paper with a smooth surface, made in the USA, and Zerkall Laid is a German paper with irregular wavy laid lines. I like them because I can draw and paint on them, print on them, cut them up, fold them, glue them, and I can put them through my inkjet printer and get the result I want before I fold them and bind them.

Arts and crafts


I enjoyed this year’s Easter Show more than I anticipated, not least because I won a couple of ribbons for bookbinding! In the ‘cased-in binding’ class I entered a quarter-bound, square-backed cased-in book with slipcase, and in the ‘any other style of bound book’ class I entered a coptic book. The arts and crafts competitions began in the nineteenth century and were held ‘for the ladies’, the main categories being scone and fruitcake baking, preserves, crochet and knitting. These categories have grown to include—to name just a few—cake decorating and sugar art, paper tole, woodwork, lacemaking, felting, embroidery, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, parchment craft, toymaking and quilling. This year’s display was an impressive testament that arts and crafts is alive and well.

Paper marbling


There are various methods of marbling, but the one I tried my hand at recently is commonly referred to as Turkish marbling, most likely because the Europeans first came across it in Istanbul. Marbling became widespread in Europe with the development of printing: marbled papers are particularly popular as endpapers in bookbinding. To make the marbled pattern, a tray is filled with size, and colour is added using whisks made from a millet broom. The colour, which floats on the surface, is manipulated using rakes and combs, and is transferred to paper which has been treated with alum to make it absorbent. Most interesting are the pattern names: stone, nonpareil, waved get gel, flame, gothic, feathered chevron, reverse bouquet, American, cathedral, fountain. It must take a great deal of expertise to get them right. Mine ended up with names like accident and experiment!