Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Coptic Bind

I went to a very special book shop in Alresford just before the visit to my friends and decided that a different present would be to make them each a Coptic Bound notebook. I was also keen not to lose the skill I acquired in making the previous ones; you may remember the basic bind learned form Keith Smiths’ book took some perseverance and lots of trying again. I now have two of his books and there are many versions of the bind, some involving more than one needle and sewing across the spine. I am content to try and master the basic version.

First chose an old book with an interesting cover. The red book was falling apart and I got it for a £1, a bargain. I had hoped to use the lovely end papers to cover some of the sections, but they were too brittle, however, the inside of the cover had the same marbled paper.

First take the book apart and clean the cover, I use a putty rubber and talc. I don’t know why I use the talc, it just came to hand one day and gives a nice clean smell.. I turned in the spine on the blue book and stuck it down. I sand papered some of the rough edges and touched up the edges with gold acrylic paint.

I then gave the covers a coat of Acrylic Wax. That is all very satisfying, but I find cutting the paper more taxing, as you need to have the grain of the paper parallel to the spine. Falkiners do a pack of special short grained book paper, but I still had to make it smaller to fit the covers. I have a deckle ruler which means I can tear the paper. My book cradle was v. useful once more for making the holes for sewing.

I used some ready waxed book binding thread for the red book, which made life much easier and waxed some pearle thread for the blue book. The blue book had some finger prints that I could not remove, so I added some thumb prints; perhaps they just look like smears.
Above is the stage at which you need courage and good luck, sewing on the cover.Taking Jane Dunnewolds's advice I took a deep breath and  the cover went on firmly.
I was pleased with the outcome, particularly the red book which is a nice size and felt good in the hand.
Thank you to those people who have recently linked to my blog to keep me blogging. I hope you will  continue to find something to keep your interest


  1. I really like this idea it would make great journals ....didn't realise you were close to me i used to sell my stuff in Alresford in a craft shop ...Lorna

  2. the books look beautiful! I, too, am in the midst of teaching myself coptic with Keith Smith's books. One thing I've found is that I cannot attempt this if I'm hungry, lol - the instructions make no sense whatsoever then!

  3. This looks wonderful....i did a book making course a few years ago and enjoyed it....should show them on my blog.

  4. It looks like very fine workwomanship...

  5. I've always fancied doing a bit of bookbinding but I know its a whole other ball game so to speak. You make it look so inviting with your lovely results.

  6. How wonderful to find your blog!!! I too, bind journals and do embroderey! I did also take a class and learned the coptic stitch but have not (as you have) practiced it and have wanted to do some journals! Now I am inspired to practice it and try again! Thank you! Your work is beautiful!!! Linda Keller

  7. I revisited this post. What a lovely tutorial. Thanks so much for posting it. I have been toying with the idea of binding my own journal. Not sure I ever will, but I'll go by this post if I do.



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