Designing Books to Accommodate Added Pages/Prints

Three printmaking books for Baldessin inside


I am making up some samples of books that could accommodate the addition of prints. The spine must be made deeper to keep the book from having covers that won’t close properly after the additions.

And I am trying several that have no sewn bindings that will do the job. There are classes coming up in Australia in February and March of next year and I think these particular bindings could be very useful; not only for the addition of small prints but other papers as well.

I have also devised a way for a coptic binding to not only hold the prints but the previous page to act as a framing device for the print. The print could actually be removed from this design and then popped back in.

The more I have worked on them the more I realize that with planning ahead, a text such as poetry could be printed on the left hand page. It would require working out the image with appropriate text and laying it all out in the inkjet printed page. I think I will try this.

And I must remember to make a mock up first. This was one of two things that my instructor, John Risseeuw, insisted on back in 1994 when I took his class at Arrowmont. The other thing he stressed was have your content before you even start to make the pages for a book. Everything about the book, paper, form, binding, etc should reflect what the book is about. I do not recall making many blank journals in his class. And they were usually made from scrap materials to demonstrate simple bindings. He along with Dolph Smith were the two workshop instructors I learned the most from in the very few classes I ever enrolled in. Both stressed form following content.

I am presently enrolled in another class coming up at Arrowmont that focuses on surface techniques. Hopefully I will learn from the two designers teaching this class additional ways to have the “feel” of a book reflect more of what the book is about.

It has been several years since I was at Arrowmont and that was when I was teaching a class titled Content and Containment of Intimate Spaces, all about housing the bits and pieces of a personal experience. Some of my most memorable students have come from teaching this class. Their stories stay with me long after they have made their books and placed them into customized boxes of hidden spaces and objects of great importance to their stories.

The instructors for the class coming up at Arrowmont are asking that the students bring in samples of their work to see how their techniques can be helpful. I like that. Now I have two months to figure out just what to show them. It will probably involve earth pigments and the surfaces of books and boxes, but could be other things as well. I will just have to see what is going on in the studio by then. Right now I need to get back in there and begin coloring wood block prints of an iconic Australian tree using watercolors made from the soils down under.