Thursday, April 14, 2016

Test-Run Coptic Stitch

With my upcoming class at KWHSS, I thought I'd better time how long it takes me to assemble a book using my pre-cut templates, to make sure we'll be able to finish a book in the 55 minute class limit.

Turns out that's a nope. It took about 1 hour from start to finish, with me already knowing the process. This book is 4.5" x 5.5", with five signatures. I'm going to have to trim time off by prepping more materials in advance, such as gluing the covers together (saves 10 minutes!), and possibly pre-folding all the signatures (groan), to allow time for explaining the process and giving students time to make mistakes and fix them. It's important to finish the book in the class because the final stitches are different, for attaching the cover.

I'm disappointed, but glad I did this so my class isn't a big fat fail. I also learned that my screw punch has issues and people are going to have to share hole punches for the covers. This should get interesting... (Anyone have a 1/16 or 1/8" hole punch they want to lend me for a day?)

I also need to remind myself to pick up more wide-mouthed needles and pencils. I am also now the proud owner of a ton of glue sticks that my students will no longer get to play with.

Monday, April 11, 2016


I'm teaching a class on coptic stitch bookbinding at Known World Heraldic and Scribes Symposium this month. Since we only have 55 minutes to completely construct a book, each student will need a full set of the tools needed, as there will be no time for sharing.

An important tool in bookbinding is an awl, for punching stitching holes in the signatures (bundles of folios). There are many kinds of awls, from scratch awls, tailors awls, punch awls, and more. For bookbinding, pretty much any will work so long as it's straight and not a tapered awl (you want your holes to be of a consistent size).

I'm not rich, and awls can get expensive quickly if you're providing a dozen or so of them. So this was my ghetto-fab fix.

I used 3" roofing nails. They're not as sharp nor tapered as smoothly as a proper awl, but they'll work. I then made little handles for them using Sugru. Sugru is an awesome mouldable glue. It acts like clay, and when it cures, it's a hardened rubber plastic. These little handles will help my students push and pull their awls through signatures.