Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bookbinding 101: linen thread

A common question from beginning bookbinders is if silk embroidery thread or regular cotton sewing machine thread can be used to make books. I tell them "Yes, but don't expect the book to last very long." Linen thread is simply stronger, and will hold up better over time.

Traditionally, linen thread has been used in bookmaking because of it's strength and long life. It's also not as stretchy as other fibers which makes for a tighter binding. It does, however, stretch over time, so a tightly sewn coptic book, for example, will loosen up a bit with use.

We use Crawford waxed Irish linen thread for most of our books. We typically use 3 or 4 ply -- also referred to as 3 or 4 cord, rather than ply -- and would not recommend using anything thinner than that, except on miniature books. You can also use 6 ply, 7 ply or 12 ply. I like using the 6 ply or 7 ply for exposed sewing as it shows off the stitching much more than the 3 or 4 ply.

We use the 3 or 4 ply for book structures in which the sewing is hidden, as they allow the pages to be bound more closely together than if using, for example, 6 ply.

Our thread comes from which also ships internationally. If you want to purchase a smaller amount (say, 5-10 yards) of one color instead of an entire roll then you may oh so conveniently purchase smaller amounts from us through our shop at Alternately, Bookfindings also sells smaller amounts of linen thread.

Non-waxed vs Waxed Linen Thread

You may buy both waxed and unwaxed thread. If you buy unwaxed, you'll likely want to acquire a piece of beeswax with which to wax it with. The wax reduces friction to allow the thread to glide through much more easily as you sew and keeps the fibers from fraying. We prefer the convenience of waxed thread, but many others like the unwaxed, being able to control the amount of wax they apply as they run their thread over their piece of beeswax. And some binders simply like the process and tradition of waxing their own.

If you would like to wax your own thread, you can find a nice little tutorial to do so from SeaLemon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

L.A. Workshop - Recap

Our recent Book Art Workshops in L.A. was so much fun.

We taught Box Making, Cordbound Books, Raised and Inset Designs in Paper, Fabric and Leather, Exposed Spine Bindings such as the Ethiopian Double Needle Coptic Stitch, Secret Belgian Binding and an Accordion Spine Book, and our 10 Book Workshop.

Kelly Kilmer came with her amazing Expressions Journaling Class and Karleigh is now an enlightened journaler (more on this to come!)

We also had so much fun with Jeannine Stein's classes in which she taught us to make booklaces and create beautiful books using cabinet cards and the romanesque stitch.

Karleigh lost her voice which was down to just a whisper by Thursday morning so Daniel filled in for the last three days of classes. While we had several students come to individual classes, we had three amazing women come to the entire week. Congrats to Amy Spencer, Regina Franchi, and Jessica Meyers for surviving and entire week of intense book arts! They created gorgeous books and it was so fun for us to see everything that was designed and made during these classes. We also had great treats thanks to Regina, Amy and Jeannine! And we had a bit of fun eating out at a few places while we were there. The Pie Hole was amazing and highly recommended (Get the Chicken Pot Pie, skip the Salad).

Some of my favorite quotes from the week:

Jeannine Stein: "That's why we make books, so we can eat cupcakes." She brought some scrumptious cupcakes from Crumbs.

Kelly Kilmer: "Messy tables just mean we are having fun!"

Kelly Kilmer: "You can't mess it up. Just keep going.

Amy Spencer: "I need to find something fancy to wear with this booklace." I love that an outfit was designed around a miniature book. She found something a bit dressy to wear with it during the week.

Jeannine Stein: "There are no mistakes, only design elements."

Daniel: "Karleigh, come drink this Cayenne." (Yes. I did. And No. It didn't help my voice come back.)

Amy and Jessica deciding on which dessert to get at the Pie Hole: "Let's just get all of them."

We tried the Blueberry Cheesecake Pie, Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie, Maple, Lemon Merengue and (a brownie-ish chocolate one that was extremely rich tasting). We all had different favorites. Thanks to Amy and Jessica for treating us!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Name Change

We've been blogging slackers the last few weeks, but we plan on changing this in the next few days with more Bookbinding 101 posts. For now, some biggish news. For us any way. While our shop and blog have been called Karleigh Jae after the instigator of all this bookbinding madness adventuring these last few years -- selling books online since 2008 -- we're making a name change. We're now Badger and Chirp, with the following being our working logo (bound to change, of course).

It really has been a team effort between both Karleigh and Daniel since the very beginning. In the beginning it was mostly Karleigh making the books, with Daniel doing some of the binding, while putting more time in on the business and marketing side of things. But it was Karleigh's show, and Dan's role grew until now (for some time now, really) we both do a good share of the bookbinding. All along we've both wanted to reflect the fact that we both run the shop, and write the blog, and finally (finally!) we've settled on a name. With etsy's recent-ish-ly allowing shop owners to change their shop names, this allows us to more easily implement the change we've wanted to make for a while now.

We will be changing the blog name to match, and expect to have the new name and look in place within the week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

L.A. Workshops: Three days to Sign Up!

Just three more days to sign up for our Book Art Workshops in Los Angeles

Discount Offer:
Sign up for the entire week of classes with one or more friends for $585 each.

(All classes purchased individually would total $850.)

Offer ends May 5, which is the final day to sign up for classes.

You may learn more or sign up here.