by Andrea Miller
Usually, the content of a book outshines the physical book itself, but to bookmaking artists, that content might be just a finishing detail.
Seanacey Pierce, the director of the Whitman College Arts and Crafts Series and a senior Religion major at Whitman, organized and led a bookmaking workshop on Oct. 14. On the agenda for the afternoon: two books, one with a hand sewn binding, and one with a Japanese style binding.
A handful of students and one professor began with the former, putting holes in a few sheets of paper folded in half, called signatures. Participants then sewed each signature together. Pierce explained that though not all hardback books are hand sewn like this, many are made by machines that follow the process used by the participants. Glue is spread over the binding and covered with a thin Japanese paper, so that the soft cover will hold better when applied.
Participants were also able to make a book with a Japanese style binding. Unlike with the previous book, participants were given a stack of papers upon which they had to drill a series of holes. They then followed the pattern of those holes with stitching. Except for the time taken to cut and prepare the paper, that particular style of binding took less than ten minutes to construct.
A number of the participants expressed a desire to enroll in the book arts class offered at Whitman. In the meantime, one participant was excited about the new world of cost-effective gift giving that book making opens—by the end of the workshop she had Christmas taken care of for her mother.
Pierce began bookmaking at Whitman in the book arts class, and said that now she is “pretty obsessed with books.” This past summer she traveled to Japan with a group of Whitman students to study papermaking and bookmaking. She has made it through the first round of the application for the Watson Fellowship, which she wants to use to travel the globe studying and making books.
Each month, the Arts and Crafts Series will hold a different workshop. The next installment in the series will be a workshop for Halloween costume making. Pierce encourages anyone with ideas for future workshops for the Series to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.