One of the questions I'm often asked is "Do you really make these books?"
The answer is yes, I do, I really do.
As strange as it may sound, I am aware that I do in fact practice an ancient skill of bookbinding. Which in a digital millennia many may struggle to accept, but it is true.
Any stationery item with the CLW London branding comes with a guarantee that I Zara, made that, and there is genuinely only one available.
To explain the whole process of bookbinding is a lengthy and difficult task, as there are so many rules, styles, methods and schools of thought on the topic.
Instead, I will give you a brief overview of one of the two common binding styles I use to create CLW London stationery.
Look at these amazing multi section bindings, with their colour middle insert. This is a design concept exclusive to CLW London bindings.
Multi section bindings.
This is one of my favourite binding styles, as it does produce a beautifully strong book. Starting with nine sheets of beautifully smooth SRA1 short grain paper, these sheets are meticulously folded until each sheet reaches just under a traditional A4 size.
Once all sheets are folded they are ready for their final fold that turns them into the book blocks signatures. These signatures are then punched with an Awl by hand, to create the needle markings that will be used to bind all the signatures into a secure book block.
Once all the markings are made the book block is hand sew together using a French knot stitch.
Once this is completed the book block is ready for the end paper to be added. After this we take a trip to the industrial sized, professional guillotine which trims the foredge, head and tail of the book block, ensuring everything is smooth and straight.
I'll add the ribbon page tail, head bands and backing material, mull with a strong binding paste and then I'll set the book blocks aside and start to work on creating the books case covering.
Using precise measurements, that not even I want to admit how many times they are calculated and checked before being committed to. When the final measurement has been checked the case covering is placed and grey board is adhered to the fabric using binding paste. To ensure this doesn't curl or warp, it is placed into a nipping press for a few moments, just to make sure the case remains flat and the grey board and cloth have fused together properly.
When I am happy with the press, I will then prepare myself for the best part... inserting the book block into its cover. Whilst this is the best and most rewarding part, it is also the scariest, as the smallest miscalculated millimetre in the books case will result in a cover which is either too small or too big! (and this has happened many times!)
When I know everything fits together, I am then ready to foil the cover with any illustrations or captions I may want to add. This is done using either a Blockmaster or Prägnante both of these are hand operated machines and will have their own blog feature soon.
Once the illustrations, captions and CLW London branding have been foiled, I am ready to 'case in' which is when I apply binding paste to the end pages and adhere them to the case. Once this is done I use a bone folder to smooth the end pages from any wrinkles and place the finished book in the press over night.
Et viola, I have a book.
A length process indeed, but so rewarding when YOU get to not only hold but also use something made by a human!
Next week, I'll be sharing much more about the London based studio that I use to produce CLW London stationery.