Secret Belgian Binding Books (Say That Really Fast Five Times In a Row)

A quick post to accompany the photo of the books we finished in the Secret Belgian Binding class at BookWorks (I wrote about it earlier here). It's a lovely binding with real flair. It's not a difficult binding, but it's awkward for a first-timer, mainly because you need to manage the entire text block as you're sewing through the threads in the text block while keeping the covers and spine in the correct position (the spine is held in place only by the threads passing above and below it). It's a bit of a juggling act that makes you wish you had a third hand, but it's worth the effort.

In planning to make this book, it's useful to remember that the sewing process is in two stages, since you first have to sew your text block (we did that in week two of the three-week class), then sew the text block into the covers. This binding lets you play with paper, too, since you can use up to three different coordinating or complementary papers: one paper for the outer covers, another for the inside of the covers, and a third for the spine. And the thread, which plays a fairly major role in the binding, can complement or contrast with the spine and cover papers. One of our students used a combination of papers with red, white and black for covers and spine, then sewed with yellow thread, which gave her book a particularly vibrant, modern look.

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