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Since new content is still in the brewery I thought of sharing with you some old stuff, and by that I mean as old as it gets really…

Allow me to give you some background…
B
ack when I entered uni there used to be frequent and big book fairs in Athens. At two of those I stumbled upon kiosks that featured handbound books and it sparked a discreet but persistent thought: at the time I was making small leather goods -working with leather has been a passion since my early adolescence- and selling them on the streets, while my studies were focused on philology. So, books and leathercrafting – bookbinding seemed like the lovechild of those two!

I decided to have a go at it. After a very crood first attempt my interest was captivated and felt compelled enough to learn more. I went ahead and made another journal, which I took with me to binders, asking to be accepted as a helper and learn the craft in exchange.
You’d be right to say my approach on the matter was somewhat dated and would have possibly worked better a few decades ago!


This is that binding, the second one I ever made.
Though it’s not visible, it is mostly a mix of coptic and longstitch, the name or existence of which I ignored back then. I used a Bic pen as a bonefolder and the boards are made of thin plywood – I even remember sawing the boards on the balcony.


Not to boast, but examining it after 12 years I’m a bit impressed; I was able to get a number of things “right”:
– I managed to make grooved joints.
– It has decent turn-ins and inner joints – it opens without trouble and closes fully.
– The spine throws up when opened.
– All the lines and paralles are pretty much straight.

Overall it functions almost as a binding should – or at least certain types of bindings. It’s kinda strange, because in some aspects it looks better compared to those I made later on when I started learning bookbinding, “looks” beying key word here: for example the boards open just shy of 90 degrees, which is enough for the book to lay flat on a surface… if substantially encouraged by hand pressure!


I must also mention this was made without any knowledge on bookbinding, I simply tried to reverse-engineer what was on display at the bindery shopfronts. I had no idea what I was doing or how all of the elements should come together and function, and I didn’t ask binders for advice or sought online tutorials. This was partly in purpose: I wanted the “sample” to reflect my perception and crafting abilities in regards to something I knew nothing about. And as far as tutorials are concerned, internet in Greece was fress off the dial-up era and since up till that point it was a struggle to do even the simplest of tasks it never even occured to me there could be instructions available online to begin with.

So, what was your first attempt at bookbinding?
Awful or wonderful? Are they linked with a specific life period or turning point?
Come on – don’t be shy!