Here’s an image of the books we made during Saturday’s workshop and their style of binding.

1. Drum Leaf binding.
2. Accordion with joined sections.
3. Double Pamphlet.
4. Japanese/Stab binding.
5. Single Pamphlet.
6. Meander Fold.

Bookbinding, Letterpress and Lino Cuts

Saturday was spent at MCBA with the other five MCBA/Jerome recipients and Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s Executive Director. We learned about six different forms of binding and came away with an example of each that we had each made. The surprising thing to me was that it didn’t take as much time as I had thought to make any of these books, and that it doesn’t take much PVA glue to make them very strong. The glue just needs to be applied in the correct places.

The structures we worked with were an accordion book with joined sections, single sewn and double sewn pamphlets, a Meander fold book, Japanese/Stab binding and finally a drum leaf binding. I think we were all amazed at the speed we managed to complete this in!

Last night was another evening in the Letterpress I workshop. The lead type for the broadside has been set and will be proofed next week along with the lino cut, which has also been finished. For the paper I’ve chosen Zerkhall Frankfurt. We have a range of papers available to us, but of all the warmer papers this has the best balance of texture, colour and weight, although it’s perhaps a little thinner than I would like. The type I want to be a dark grey, but I’m still undecided on the colour of the image. I’ll probably wait and see what’s on the presses on the day.

We also covered setting up with furniture and quoins and the importance of getting the type firm and steady on the press bed.

Book Size and Form

I’ve been putting together model books with signatures of different papers to get an idea of the feel and weight of paper I’ll be using. I’m thinking that the size will be 11″ high x 11.75″ wide. This proportion works well with my square images. Four signatures, three folios each. That’s going to give me enough pages for about twenty images plus credits etc.

The paper, assuming it will work well with photogravure and give me the look I’m after, will be Somerset Book, heavyweight and in pure white. I toyed with printing it on a paper that I love for photogravure, Hahnemühle Copperplate, but it was just too thick. It looked lovely, but the pages had little flexibility to them, which was to be expected. I didn’t dislike it but when compared next to the Somerset Book, which has a lovely weight yet turns easily, the Somerset won easily.


I’ve been trying to find a paper that will work not only with photogravure but letterpress too, and one that will fold easily for the signatures.

Originally I was going to use a thin paper, perhaps a lightweight Somerset Book, but with twenty images and four signatures (about 48 pages) it would be a very thin book, and I’d like something a little more substantial. Also, with the thinner papers the photogravure tends to show through the back, which isn’t too much of a problem as I’m not printing on that side, but it is a little untidy.

The other factor in all this is the grain of the paper. I’d like to cut the costs down as much as possible, obviously, and with one or two of the papers I’m considering using I’ll only get one double page out of each full sheet, after allowing for trimming. With a paper like Hahnemühle Copperplate that’s perfect for gravure, the weight is good but the pages have no flex to them as you’d get with a softer book paper.

I’ve made a couple of blank dummy books, each consisting of four signatures. One small version to help me with pagination and a full size (vertical 14″ x 11″) version in Somerset Book. I have a few other papers to consider, but for now the heavier Somerset Book is working well.

I’m acutely aware that the whole purpose of this mentorship is to allow me to work in a way that I wouldn’t normally. So I’m trying to break away from the traditionalist that I usually am and try different things. I really don’t want to get stuck using a traditional typeface on a traditional paper, but I’m trying to combine three aspects of the project, letterpress, book art and photogravure, two of which I have very little or no experience in.

Give them Helvetica


I could have chosen something larger for my (nearly) 51 year old eyes than Garamond 14pt. As Cy always says “Give them Helvetica. At least it’s not Goudy”.

Several hiccups tonight. Originally my layout had the copy centred (as an Englishman living in the United States, that spelling now looks so wrong), and although it looked good on paper, I soon realised that accurately lining up and centreing centering the lead type wasn’t necessarily going to be an easy job for the beginning typesetter. So I changed it to become ranged-left, which meant that I had to reorder the length of some of the sentences on the fly. Having a larger size leading cap wasn’t good either because it would mean two passes through the press. Therefore, tonight I’ll be back there again, setting type during MCBA’s Open Studio time.