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Face Lift

Book Club: Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz

It's time for our June Book Club!  Just as a reminder, each month I choose a crafty book from my bookshelf and create something inspired by the book.   I hope you'll be inspired to do the same.

This month I chose Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz:

image from www.amazon.com
As you can see, the full title of this book is Cover to Cover: Creative Techniques For Making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums.  

This is not a sexy book filled with glossy pages, big text graphics, and huge photographs of brightly colored art.  Rather, this is a straight-forward book binding manual.  There are colorful photos inside, but the bulk of the book is black and white diagrams and written instructions.  And frankly, most of the photos are not of projects that appeal to my painty inky sensibility.  It doesn't have shelf appeal for me.  I probably never would have bought this book if not for a recommendation.

Let's take a look at the table-of-contents:

  • The Explosion: This is an introduction that discusses the explosion in the popularity of bookbinding (this book was published in 1998).
  • Bookbinding Basics: A wonderful collection of terms, tips, materials, paste recipes, and safety precautions.
  • Pamphlet Stitch: Each of these next seven chapters (Pamphlet Stitch, Basic Codes, Stitches, Stab Bindings, Fold Books, Combination Books, and Unusual Bindings) includes color photos of example books, written instructions for the binding techniques with black and white diagrams, and variations on each of the techniques.
  • Basic Codex
  • Stitches: This is the chapter that I worked from for my project.
  • Stab Bindings
  • Fold Books
  • Combination Books
  • Unusual Bindings
  • Presentation Counts: Color and Black & White photos of book projects.  Mostly a gallery with a few notes about presentation.
  • Contributing Artists: This is just a list of names.
  • Acknowledgments: These last four "chapters" take up just a few pages.
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • A Note About Suppliers

I bought Cover to Cover in Arizona.  I was spending an evening with Dina Wakley and she took me to an art journal meetup at her local stamp and craft store and the owner recommended this book.  And since the owner had dozens of gorgeous hand bound books for sale, I took the recommendation.  It sat on my shelf for a long time. 

Almost a year later I sent out a tweet asking for a source for a "tape binding" tutorial.  Several people responded by recommending Cover to Cover.  I looked it up on Amazon and thought, hmmmm...that cover looks familiar.  I went to the bookshelf and sure enough, there it was.  And yes, there are step-by-step instructions on how to do a tape binding in the chapter called "Stitches."  

You can absolutely read this book cover to cover (get it?!) or you can do what I did, and go looking for a certain bit of instruction and simply read that section of the book.  If there's something that you missed from a previous chapter, Shereen lets you know where to find it.  For instance, when it came to tying the knots in my stitching there was a notation for which previous page and figure held that instruction.  

Here is the book I made:

And a closer peek at the binding:


After putting together this pretty book I'm fairly impressed with myself -- or maybe I'm fairly impressed with the excellent instructions in the book.  Most of my bookbinding in the past has turned out pretty wonky.  This journal turned out better than I imagined and I feel that I can safely say that Cover to Cover is hands down the best bookbinding book I have every come across (and I own a whole bunch of them).  

Many of the bookbinding books I own have prettier illustrations and cooler covers and more appealing projects.  But none of them have such well written directions and helpful diagrams.  Shereen's directions are written in easy to understand language.  The illustrations and diagrams are accurate and accessible.  And I got great results on my first try!  I love that!  I feel like every neophyte bookbinder should have this book on his or her shelf.  It's a basic reference book, like a dictionary!

Have you read Cover to Cover?  What did you think?


P.S. For easy reference all these "Book Club" posts are archived under the "Book Club" logo in the far right column of the blog. 

P.P.S. Since I'm intending to use this book as an art journal, I figured I'd show you the inside of the book on Friday for Art Journal Every Day!