Search for bookbinding techniques online and Coptic Binding will definitely be one of the first few techniques that you encounter.
Coptic binding involves binding a book with an open spine. The book covers are usually single pieces of hard cardboard covered in decorative paper.
The open spine gives users of Coptic bound books flexibility and these books can be laid flat when required. During the Coptic binding process, the binder has to make sure that each book signature is sewn with equal tightness. If the tightness is not consistent, the final book product may be flimsy and may not retain its shape after some use.
Coptic binding (or Coptic Stitch) can be done using many different sewing patterns. Sewing the pages together increases the durability of the book.
Do-It-Yourself Guide To Coptic Binding
Coptic Binding is a great introduction to aspiring bookbinders and anyone who is curious about handmade books. The sewing technique used in Coptic Binding can be expanded upon for other bookbinding techniques.
Materials and Tools
- 20 pieces of A4 Paper (these will be used to make your book signatures) – Vary the number of paper depending on how thick you want your book to be
- Ruler (metal rulers are preferred)
- Cutting Mat
- Bone Scorer (OPTIONAL – you can make do with your ruler)
- Needle (Curved Upholstery needle is recommended)
- Thread (Linen is recommended)
- Wax (Bee’s Wax or Candle)
- Craft Glue or (PVC Glue)
- 1 thick cardboard (A4) – Serves as the book cover
- 1 colored paper (A4)
- 2 decorative paper (A4) – to beautify your book cover
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Creating Your Handmade Book via Coptic Binding
In this step by step Coptic Bookbinding Tutorial, we will be using similar processes to that in our Case binding Tutorial guide.
I. Prepare Your Book Cover
Do this step first to ensure that you have enough time for the glue to dry later.
- Cut your A4 thick cardboard into 2 equal halves.
- Place your cardboard onto your A4 decorative paper, and trace the using the cardboard as a guide, mark out the border of 3cm on all edges.
- Repeat this on both pieces of decorative paper.
- Cut the decorative papers along the border markings you made
- Cut off the corners of your borders – cut a triangle from each corner
- Paste the decorative paper on the cardboard
- Fold in the borders using the bone scorer to get rid of any air spaces.
- Grab your A4 colored paper and cut it into 2 equal halves.
- Mark out a 1.5cm distance from the edges and cut out these edges.
- Paste the colored paper onto the uncovered area of your cardboard to cover it up.
And your book cover is done! Place the book covers under your cutting mat while it dries. In the meantime:
II. Prepare The Book Signatures
Each book signature will be made up of 4 pieces of A4 paper, folded into 2. There will be 5 book signatures in this Coptic Binding Handmade Book Project.
- Fold all A4 paper into equal halves, using the bone scorer (or ruler) to make the folds.
- Prepare your book signature by opening 4 pieces of A4 paper, and stack them together.
- Repeat this for all 5 book signatures.
- Make 4 holes (of equal distance) along the spine of all 5 book signatures, using your awl.
- Make 4 holes on your book covers that corresponds to the holes on your book signature.
III. Binding Your Book
This is where you start sewing your book together. We will work from left to right so note that all references are made from the left.
- Prepare thread that is 15 times the length of your book spine.
- Wax your thread using Bee Wax or a candle.
- Start your sewing from the inside of your first book signature. Bring your needle through the first hole from the left.
- Leave a length of thread at the end. Do NOT pull the entire thread through -.-
- Tie a double knot at the end of the thread.
- Bring the needle around and into the first hole of your book cover, from the outside. Pull the thread through.
- Form a loop from the resultant thread between the cover and the first book signature.
- Bring the needle through the 1st hole of the 1st book signature again.
- Bring the needle through the 2nd hole of the 1st book signature.
- Repeat Steps 7 and 8.
- Do this for all the holes on the 1st book signature.
- At the end of the first book signature, join the 2nd book signature by bringing the needle into the last hole of the 2nd signature, from the outside.
- Move onto the subsequent holes on the 2nd book signature, repeating Steps #7 and #8.
- Continue until you are done with all the book signatures.
- Add the 2nd book cover onto the last book signature.
- The sewing pattern is the same, except 2 loops are created (1 at the thread holding book signatures #4 and #5, another at the thread holding book signature #5 and the book cover).
- At the last hole, end your thread on the inside of the last book signature.
- Tie a double knot and cut off the excess thread.
Photos coming soon.
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