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Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms Paperback – January 4, 2011
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Happily, I was so wrong. I'm paging through it slowly, but I've done enough peeking ahead to see that there are dozens of gorgeous book forms here that I've never explored. In fact, just reading the first chapter taught me a number of useful new things about tools and techniques. Throughout the book, instructions are clear and include lots of practical tips for executing them, and the illustrations of finished books by Golden herself and by other artists are inspiring without being too intimidating. Golden's book is getting a permanent place on my art book shelf, and I can't wait to wade all the way in and start trying some new bindings.
Often the author assumes knowledge that I don't have. For instance, she has a whole page devoted to making endbands, but she never explains what an endband IS. She also does not show a diagram of one in use. I suppose I could go to the web and get a lesson on that, but then why do I need the book?
This might be a great text for a class taught by the author. As a stand-alone teaching aid it lacks substance.
I found the book "Cover to Cover" by Shareen LaPlatz to be more useful. It is a smaller book with many fewer binding types, but each one is explained in clear detail with adequate drawings for each project.
My only complaint is that I wish the book had come out earlier! I would have used it as the textbook this semester in the University Book Arts class that I teach! I will definitely be sharing it with my students.
Helpful for those who already know bookbinding, Alisa Golden's Making Handmade Books 100+ Bindings offers various binding styles.
The best introduction to bookbinding for beginners exists in Cover To Cover: Creative Techniques For Making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums by Shereen LaPlantz with detailed stitch by stitch, step by step illustrated instructions. Her writing is clear, easy to follow, gently encouraging and kindly. The Art & Craft of Handmade Books: New Ideas and Innovative Techniques presents genuinely inventive and creative book styles for advanced bookbinders.
For a personal approach Live & Learn: Real Life Journals: Designing & Using Handmade Books (AARP) by Gwen Diehn provides guidance in identifying a book style to match your specific needs (gardening, shared collaboration, music, food, photos, fishing), how to assess journal suitability to improve subsequent book binding planning. There is more guidance for thinking about the bookbinding process than contained in Making Handmade Books.
For integrating bookbinding with content (pop-ups, writing, illustration), Paul Johnson's Literacy Through the Book Arts,A Book of One's Own: Developing Literacy Through Making Books,Pictures & Words Together: Children Illustrating and Writing Their Own Books and New Pop-Up Paper Projects: Step-by-step paper engineering for all ages contain explicit directions for folding the single sheet book forms seen in Making Handmade Books, for making 3 dimensional forms, for using the book form to support perspective drawing. Johnson has been teaching bookmaking as a vehicle for literacy since 1985, his literate writing is a joy to read and his information is comprehensive. Fully detailed instructions for the folded forms are included. Making Handmade Books has photos of bindings but does not contain complete instructions as in Johnson's books.
For visual inspiration without instruction The Penland Book of Handmade Books: Master Classes in Bookmaking Techniques offers stunning spreads from a renowned crafts school, Masters: Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists master craftsmen's contributions, 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form (500 Series) contains 500 ideas. Any one of these 3 books is more inspiring than Making Handmade Books; all 3 together contain a lifetime supply of ideas.
If you have never bound a book and want to thumb through these few pages to see what might appeal, borrow Making Handmade Books from the library before you decide to buy. Unfortunately I bought from Amazon before actually seeing the book. The other books recommended above are far superior in writing content and display.