So, did you know that the craft of bookbinding originated in India! Apparently, they invented the first book when religious sutras were copied onto palm leaves with a metal stylus, this indentation was then rubbed in ink which formed a stain in the wound so the writing could be seen. Then two long twines were threaded through the leaves with wooden boards on each side, forming the first type of book. The excess threads were then wrapped around to protect the leaves. This reminds me a lot of a journal I bought in Hawaii, that basically is made that way. Anyway, before this time writings were usually kept in scroll form.
But the first successful books, the books that stayed together well, and could be written on both sides of the paper are called Coptic books. Now you may have heard that word before, if you’ve read any of my other posts, but let me explain.
A Coptic bound book is one that has an open back, basically you take paper, fold sections in half and sew it up, with the cover boards, which were and still can be made of wood, or stone, or metal. Now you see a lot that are made with binder’s board, which is a thicker cardboard, that is usually covered in either paper or cloth.
Here’s a few pictures of beautifully bound coptic books:
I think that coptic bound books are so beautiful, and you can get very creative with them. I’m actually planning on taking some of my old copper intalgio plates and using them as covers! They have etchings on them that I’ve made.
Anyway, this post isn’t about printmaking, it’s about books!
The Coptic book was one of the earliest successful bindings made, one thing that’s nice about it is you don’t need any glue! Just paper, cover boards, and some linen thread! The open back allows you to see the linen threads that are sewn through the book and it has a beautiful braided look to it. I like to use multiple colors of threads for a fun look. Like in this book!
This was made with a wooden cover and pink and green linen thread.
When you sew a coptic book you use curved needles and you also need as many needles as holes in the book, for example when making the book above there are six holes and I used 6 needles. The binding looks complicated but it is really very simple, and creates a beautiful well made journal!