Monday, March 31, 2014

As Chinese Dreams prepares to move across the river, here's the "making of" the book version

Chinese Dreams, a show of 11 photographs of nappers from Beijing and the port metropolis of Tianjin to the remote reaches of Hunan, has places to hang starting in May. Although they may not outwardly show it, I bet these sleepers would love a visit.

Even a "simple" binding takes multiple steps, to allow time for paste to dry and for paper to take its shape under weight. I learned this structure from Alicia Bailey several years ago as part of a roundup of rigid-page formats. My notes, however, remain skimpy so I improvised with these Dreams.

The pages dry after printing. If I called it giclée instead of inket, would customers pay more?

After folding, pages make up a collation station.


Nip it good.

Does nipping make much of a difference? (Left text is pressed; the one at right is not.)

A big difference.

Here comes a hinge. Triangle helps keep things straight.

Japanese paper makes the joint stronger. A bone folder seals the seam.

The book builds on itself.

Adding weight all the while—

—waxed paper, too. How did ancient bookbinders manage?

Stacking for more weight

For durability, a strip of Japanese paper rounds over the spine.

As Zhang Ping would say, Neat and tidy is the goal.

Almost there: covering the boards.

Paste applied, the paper already starts warping.

Bone-fold hither and thither.

Cutting corners. Recommended!

Long edges turn in first.

Halfway done

Ready for text.

Gauzy strong stuff wraps the spine again—probably overkill, but I love how the structure can splay flat and want to encourage readers to open the book wide, and often.

At last, bookcloth.

This was the trickiest part, maintaining tension on the text block while simultaneously assembling the binding and casing in the book.

Endsheets of text are pasted up and applied to inner side of cover boards. No more naked bookboard.

Numbered and chopped.

Ready for the shelves of bibliophiles everywhere.