After my previous fail at exposed spine binding a notebook I decided to try again.
I watched SeaLemon's tutorial on kettlestitch binding more closely this time. I still messed up the tautness of some of the thread/stitches, but it's OK for now. I regretted not waxing my thread because it was knot-central.
The paper was given to me by a friend, salvaged from a mostly unused pack. Since it was for calligraphy I expected it to hold up pretty well to fountain pen, but I found it to feather and bleed a bit. Might not work as well for double-sided work.
Also tore up some old extra risograph comic pages from Martial Spirit and gluestick-ed them onto the extra HWA comic covers for the cover, haha...
What will this notebook be used for? I have no idea...
Today's music post: BabopbyeYa by Janelle Monáe. The song gives me Bond-esque vibes and showcases her vocal range wonderfully.
Last updated June 11, 2021!
I have a list of Canadian fountain pen + accessory vendors here.
Notebooks, sketchbooks, paper
So many books waiting for next round use: Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Life, Life x Kleid, Maruman Mnemosyne, Delfonics Rollbahn, Laika Línea, Kyokuto F.O.B., Logical Prime, more Midori MDs, etc.
Other writing/drawing stuff
I have so much more than this but this is...the top of the pile.
Book and zine-making
||Sonicare BreathRx tongue scaper
||Ceramic utility knife
||Super slim, light, and easy to carry for the times where you need to cut something (also Canadian-owned!)
||Magical fabric that endlessly self adheres, but is soft. I use a thin wrap to put around a wrist brace splint for wrist stabilization
Back in February, I did a lot of file prep to have HWA printed at a local printer. After a lot of back and forth and inexplicable failures (on their part, not mine), I ended up only asking them to print the covers and NOT the interiors. It was pretty annoying for me, but it is what it is. That's why I ended up using my home laser printer for all the interiors (not an economical choice).
The printer also printed way too many covers for me (also inexplicable on their part), so I have a lot of extra HWA comic covers. Rather than throwing them into recycle, I thought about ways to repurpose them: DIY notebook covers!
I recently converted to using A5 size. The covers themselves are US letter size, which when folded in half, is too narrow and too tall to be true A5 size. I decided to try standard A6 size, which is 105 × 148 mm or 4.1 × 5.8". Lots of math and additional measurement to wrangle with.
First thing I did was roll on some copper acrylic ink onto the covers. Weird special effects. Then I measured the length of A5 and scored/folded it, to have the cover fold back on itself (and thus obscuring the actual cover image for HWA in a "pocket".
Then I measure/scored/folded it one more time to become A6 size (ish).
I thought about thread binding but just went for saddlestitch for simplicity. The interior paper is A4 Tomoe River 52gsm, cut to A5 size, and then folded in half to A6 size.
The design resulted in a top pocket where you could potentially clip your pen to, or put some flat stuff. Whatever you want, but it's just glued down, so not the strongest pocket for heavy or thick stuff.
I ended up trimming it down by another few mm on the top/right edges. Here are the A6ish notebooks next to my DIY A5ish notebook.
I think this configuration allowed for there to be minimal paper waste/cut off when I had US letter covers and A4 paper (different standard sizes). Interesting experiment!
Today's music post: Fear the Wolf - Get Down. Fear the Wolves is a band based in BC. My friend stars in this video!
I mentioned Tomoe River paper in my previous stationery post. Notebooks with Tomoe River paper are known to be on the pricier side, so when I found some A4 sheets for a reasonable price, I decided that I'd make my own A5 notebooks with less page count.
On the far right, there's the chonker Opus 88 Omar in yellow. I had Opus 88 eyedropper pens on my wishlist for a while now, because I was always sad to not be able to bring a fountain pen on planes without worrying about their ink exploding. It's still possible for this pen to explode ink, but it has a feature to shut off the ink from going into the feed (I think it's called japanese-style eyedropper), which is very appealing! I was gunning for the clear demonstrator (it wasn't on sale haha) but I am now kind of enamoured by how Omar in yellow looks like the fat baby of my TWSBI Eco clear x Lamy Safari yellow. It's a really fat pen...I read reviews about how it can cause hand fatigue, especially for small hands. I am also a small handed person but I suppose I'm generally not writing for hours straight.
The barrel of yellow Omar is semi translucent with a yellow/green tinge, but you can see the ink levels and ink colour within. Right now I have Lamy turmaline inside. I chose a M nib because you gotta use up the ink!!! It writes very smoothly. It does take more turns to unscrew the cap, so it's not a quick reactive pen...
The Tomoe River paper I chose is 52gsm (100 sheets, 200 pages), it's significantly thinner than my Midori MD notebook diary (175 pages). Practically half the width?
I took 30 A4 sheets and made 3 signatures with 10 A4 sheets each. I also folded some cardstock I had for the covers. Purist bookbinders will scoff at how I'm likely folding against the paper grain (I always do, TBH, ziney DIY forever!). I didn't want to deal with spine width, so it's just exposed.
I was over-confident about my signature sewing abilities...after making many HWA books I thought I was a-okay, but I forgot that I didn't have arms/bands to attach the signatures to, so my book block was super loose and I had to hack it together with knots. It's riddled with rookie mistakes that could've been avoided if I just used my brain to think instead of relying on my previous auto-pilot program. Thus, the block is not as tight/compact/neat/aligned as I would want. It's kind of embarrassing, but nobody will really see it anyway.
To cover my shame I used some washi tape on the spine and on the covers. It's B-side label washi tape that I think someone gifted to me long ago. Maybe due to age, but I find that the glue on this tape transferred to the tape underneath (on the roll) so overall it's not sticky in the right way?
At the end of the day, what mattered to me was having something lightweight and that laid flat. When folded to A5, this means this notebook has about 120 pages to write on (front/back).
Pens do write smoothly on this paper. As expected, there are longer drying times and susceptibility to smudging. Although the paper is thin, I don't personally mind the show through.
I still have 70 A4 sheets left, which translates to 560 A5 pages to write on in the future.
Mostly by accident, I found out that Borden and Riley's #37 Boris Marker layout paper is also a potential choice for fountain pens users. These are not particularly great photos for colour accuracy, but I don't see any bleed through at all.
Makes sense since it was made for markers! It has more tooth if people like feedback. I had a bunch from my traditional inking/drawing days. I still have so many pads of paris bleedproof paper...
Price wise you do get more bang for your buck with Tomoe River than artist supplies...ahhhh
Today's music post: Evig Pint by Kaizers Orchestra. My friend Mike introduced this band to me a long time ago. I'm actually listening to their music for the first time with new earphones and it feels like a whole new experience...!
When prototyping HWA comic printed copy I did a bunch of research on non-adhesive book binding. I happened upon Carmencho Arregui's cross structure binding (CSB) information page and wanted to try it out. I ended up going with CSB "linked".
There were more end-photos online than WIP-photos, so I've documented WIP below in case anyone wants to try it out for their own DIY zine/book/project some day! The flexibility and customization of this book binding approach is super cool!
Printing and folding each signature
I load the paper and print it off of my Brother HL-22700DW b/w laser printer. This part is pretty time consuming because of the waiting and paper stock swapping. I also shake the toner when it starts getting patchy (IDK if this helps or makes it worse) and reset my printer toner sensor a bunch because the printer lies to you about toner levels!
Poking sewing holes into each signature
I lay the signature open and overlay a hole "template" (a regular piece of paper with measured hole spacing) to punch through. I've used my carpet or a thick sweater underneath to do the stabbing.
Scoring and cutting slits into the front cover
I designed my CSB to have 9 slots for the arms to pass through. I don't think there's a set rule for how many to have, though I assume that more "cross linking" you have, the more stability/structure you'll have.
Score where the spine will bend
Scoring and cutting arms on the back cover
For the backcover I score it first where the bend points will be.
After a lot of trial and error, I learned to put 1 more score in the arm part to relieve bending stress later on. Though this has its pros/cons.
The back cover has the "arms" that will link into the front cover. I have 3 arms, which correspond to the "slots" in the front cover.
Linking the front and back cover together
Slot the back cover into the first column of slots (the bottom edge of the book spine)
This is what the cover ends up looking like when flat. CSB is a no-glue bind but I ended up applying glue to the left-side where the back/front cover overlap (for extra stability)
This is what it looks on the inside.
I bend/pull the arms up because I have to sew the signatures to it.
I followed sewing 4 instructions from Carmencho's website. I used lineco's linen book binding thread since I had a bunch from a previous project. I've also used floss before as well (but did manage to tear up some thinner signatures when I used floss).
Lots of kettle stitch videos online for folks to follow. IMO the hardest thing about the sewing is to keeping my thread taunt without the thread tearing the signatures. This became easier with more practice.
After sewing the signatures to the arms, I tuck the arms into the next closest column of slots in the front cover's spine. This is where the arms tend to bend/crack, or slots tend to tear. My rec is to go slow and ease and pull gently.
The arms poke out at the top edge of the spine. Keep gently adjusting and pulling to get the closest/flushest fit between the cover/signatures. I found it easiest to do this with the cover flat on the table, signature perpendicular "in the air."
Finally I pass the arms through the final column of slots on the front cover.
The arms now end on the inside of the cover. I taped these down with washi tape, but you could leave them as.
Now we have a bound book (that still needs to be trimmed)!
Trim the book
I invested in a Durodex 200DX based on Wai's recommendation/research. The cutter also leaves some indents from compression, so stack some extra paper above/below to decrease the indents. My book barely fits in the cutter, so it was hard to see where the laser cutter-line was hitting the book for accurate measuring.
Here's the final bunch! Wabisabi DIY scraggle!!!! It probably takes me ~2h to make each one.
You can get a made-to-order copy at Love Love Hill, read most of it online for free, or get the digital copy.
- The coverstock I chose was extremely unforgiving! If I had the time I would have done more prototyping/testing with different paper stocks.
- When linking the arms into the slots there was a lot of unintended creasing, tearing, etc. to contend with. Adding an extra score in the arm was a good hack, but sometimes that extra score line would get "caught" in the slots when I was trying to thread it through.
- This method would be really nice to put a "softcover" wrap on any signature to make it look a bit fancier and more protected. If not for my need to have different coloured signatures, I'd condense signatures together so that there's less sewing to do.
- Since there is no glue on the spine (it's like... a floating spine?), I found that my spine would get crushed in trimming. C'est la vie!