Tuesday, March 3, 2020


Due to the corona virus, a number of our members expressed concern about meeting (especially in close quarters - the Fireside Room). Lara has agreed to postpone the workshop until the April meeting. At the April meeting we will have two separate book exchanges, one for the March theme of Surface Design and one for April's theme of a Shaped Book.

Our April workshop will feature Lara Cox teaching a somewhat simplified version of a medieval girdle book. This workshop will provide us with the basic structure so that we can create more complicated and decorative versions in the future.

Girdle books were small portable books worn by medieval European monks, clergymen and aristocratic nobles as a popular accessory to medieval costume. They first appeared in the late 13th century and gained popularity through the 15th, sometimes becoming ostentations jewel-encrusted presentation books, and then falling out of favor late in the 16th century when printed books had become much more common. 

The structure consisted of a book with a leather binding that continued loosely beyond the cover of the book in a long tapered tail with a large knot at the end that could be tucked into one's girdle or belt. The knot was usually strips of leather woven together for durability. The book hung upside down and backwards so that when swung upwards it was ready for reading. The books were normally religious: a cleric's daily Office, or for lay persons (especially women), a Book of Hours. Another possible reason for their decline was the relatively small number of specialized girdle-protected texts becoming outdated with little need to replace them. In an environment of increasingly cheap printing it was simpler to replicate texts than spend time preserving individual manuscripts. The intricately constructed girdle bindings were simply impractical after a certain point.

Tools and materials to bring:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Awl
  • Bone folder
  • Scissors
  • Cutting mat and exacto knife
  • PVA Glue (or favorite paste) and brush for gluing
  • Scrap paper for use in gluing (old magazines work great)
  • Bookbinding thread like Perle cotton or similar
  • Sewing needle that fits the size of your thread
  • Beeswax
  • Hole punching cradle (handy but not necessary)

Please have prepared ahead of class:

  • 10 signatures with 3 sheets/folios per signature, folded and nested. Start with pages measuring 5 1/2" tall x 8 1/2" wide. Once folded, the signatures should each measure 5 1/2" tall x 4 1/4" wide. Please fold, bone and press your stack of signatures. Alternatively: if you would rather use thicker paper and less pages, you may do so with the understanding that the final stack of signatures should measure 5/8" thick when pressed and stacked together. We will be sewing them together into a block as part of the class.
  • Decorative paper, 8 1/2" x 11" or larger. Various decorative papers may be used for the endpapers at the front and back of your book. Mi Teintes or a similar weight paper will work.
  • 2 pieces precut bookboard measuring 6" tall x 4 1/2" wide (for front and back covers)
  • 1 piece bookboard for the spine measuring 6" tall x 1/2" wide. Also, what seems to be a measurement discrepancy between the spine width and book block thickness is correct--all will be revealed at the workshop. 
  • NOTE about bookboard: Cereal boxes, cake mix boxes and cracker boxes while not as heavy duty as bookboard are usable in place of bookboard for many bindings. Feel free to substitute them in as the bookboard for this project.

Lara will provide:

  • Directions, re-usable cover pattern and examples
  • Precut cover fabrics
  • Cording and ribbons for closures and knots
  • Hole punch guide
  • Waxed paper
  • Sewing thread

WHEN:    Saturday April 11 at noon

WHERE:  Eureka Methodist Church at Del Norte & F Streets
BRING:   See lists above
COST:     $4
RSVP:     YES, to Lara. Her contact information is in the newsletter.

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