Thursday, 20 May 2010

What couldn't you live without?

Is asking a bookbinder what their favorite tool is as difficult to get an answer as asking a parent which is their favorite child? Is it like asking an artist to choose what their favorite colour is? Turns out that getting an answer to the question was not as difficult as I suspected.

It's taken me this journey to figure out what single bookbinding tool I cannot live without. Actually as I type this, I'm hesitant to commit to naming just one item. So for now I will rely on my fellow bookbinders for their thoughts.

While speaking to Steve of StevesBooks , I found out that he cannot live without his bone folder. Here is why: his son hunts and gave Steve a shoulder roast from an Elk he had gotten. Steve was looking at a particular bone, and it fit his hand perfectly to use as a folder. Steve has used it on every single book he has made since then. Its the perfect tool and always makes him think of his son, pleasant memories!
I also spoke with TealStripes and the bookbinding tool that cannot be lived without is their self-healing cutting mat. No one wants to cut into their carpet or desk and since it is self healing, it can take all the abuse of a bookbinder. I can completely relate!


Erica of Parksideharmony absolutely cannot live without her quilting ruler and cork-backed metal ruler. Every book that Erica has made was cut by hand --- cover paper, book board, inside cover sheets, interior pages. The quilting ruler makes measuring so much easier!!



I love my cork backed ruler for the exact same reason, but could I name it as my favorite?

Nikki of deconstructartichoke could not live without her spatula. She shared with me, “I don't use it for every book, but it's the only tool I use that I can't figure out another tool to use. Actually, I have a funny story to go with it. In my book, Collapse, I made a huge mistake: The only little book that's eight pages is the last book. The other books are four pages--easy imposition. “When I printed the last book, I didn't get the imposition right. Oh, no! I was going to have to buy more paper, reprint the last book, and then Collapse was going to be late for this show that it was in. But then I thought, wait a minute, maybe I could weave the pages together (I had taken a class with Claire Van Vliet where I learned a bunch of woven structures.). So I cut a hole in the middle of one page (along the spine), and then I cut along the top and bottom of the other spine (along the other page). I rolled the second page (the one with slits at the top and bottom), and using the spatula, I threaded it through the hole on the first page. Voila! It worked! So the spatula is the one tool I can't live without”.

I had also asked Beth of Emerson Bindery (and UberArt) what her favorite too was. What could not she live without when bookbinding? It's her Crop-a-dile. She used to use her Japanese drill punch for her bookboard (which she now knows is a no-no). The drill punch would take her ages to drill through all the way, causing her to break into a sweat. Now, with such ease she is done punching holes!

Although she loves her Crop-a-dile, her dog doesn't feel the same because of the noise. When punching, her dog gets up and leaves the studio every single time. She is willing to make the small sacrifice of companionship for ease of use, he forgives her quickly and returns in a few minutes anyhow.
MyHandboundBooks ' Rhonda admitted that one of the best additions to her bookbinding studio was the pincushion that she purchased on Etsy.
She finds that it works perfectly for her, its heavy so she can pull needles out with one hand without the entire cushion coming with it. In the past she would have to use one hand to hold the pin cushion down and the other to pull the pin out but this heavy pin cushion is perfect for her! Now needles always go directly back into the cushion and aren't left lying around the table!


Such great stories but what one tool can I not live without when bookbinding? I am still at a crossroads between a few. I must have my self healing cutting board, and I've just purchased a Crop-a-dile II. I think my choice is even simpler than that though.

I do have an old rag that I used when I painted, there has bits of paint all over it, making it hard and scratchy in some places. What do I use it for? When gluing with PVA, you have to be careful not to get it on any surfaces you do not want it on, it's not water soluble. When I am applying glue to something and it gets on my self healing cutting board, I do not want to sit the book down on the spot of glue and ruin it.

I use the cloth and the fact that there are hard bits to it and it takes the wet glue right off! When the glue dries on the cloth, it just adds to the crunchy bits to help me clean the next time. I am telling you, after having to scrape my cutting board and get all the glue off, it's wonderful, no more major cleaning days! I learned my lesson after trying every home remedy possible to clean all the glue off my cutting matt.

Thank you to all that participated! Please keep supporting each other and of course local artisits.

8 comments:

meredeth said...

that is one gnarly looking cloth! great use for it though, kind of makes me wanna dirty up a rag for myself. loved all the stories, great post~

Printing Service said...

My works space is my bed, all the crafts get scattered all over. I really need to get myself a table, like the one there.

Renie said...

What a great post! and some helpful ideas to make the work easier and/or more pleasant. Thanks!

All I could add to it would be my work buddy -- a smallish ceramic elephant-shaped container I use to hold the tools I'm presently working with. Though I have a caddy on my work surface, I find I usually need about 4 tools when working through the assembly process making multiple books simultaneously. Instead of leaving my tools where they happen to land when I'm ready to reach for the next one, I've made a habit of putting them in my elephant "Buddy" so they're easier to find when I next need them.

Handmade books and a Smakeral of Art said...

The elephant buddy is a good idea. I have a container similar to that but it has more tools in it, so I like the idea of narrowing it down.

thanks for all the positive comments everyone!

And yes, the cloth looks gnarly but its awesome! Immediately after I wipe the glue off its not even moist or sticky.

addictivecreative said...

Great article! Glad I was able to help out! :) All the tools mentioned definitely makes bookbinding a lot easier!

Studio B (UberArt) said...

What a fun post, thanks Beth, great idea! I love that Steve has a real bone folder...I can second all the others, except for the spatula! I haven't raided the kitchen yet for tools, but that gives me an idea... ;)

roobee said...

Great post! It's nice to have an insight it to the way people work - I'd second the view on the table, wouldn't mind one of them!

Debbie Covart said...

Wow some great tolls here!