A New Book – Greek Eco Journal

Greek Binding by H .Kurzke, blank book, complete open cover view

Things move slowly along their projectory in this house. And I have to learn to come to terms with that. In the artist book/scroll that is today for the last day on display in the Share Bears Exhibition at Backlit, I wrote:

And then, very suddenly as if someone had pulled a lever, something shifts within me, it is an almost physical feeling inside my chest:
This torn and pushed, hasted feeling of never being enough vanishes. Where there used to be a hard, heavy spot like a stone right under my right clavicle, there now is soft tissue, a source of confidence and calm. I realize that I have been fighting for a long, long time against being pigeonholed: as a student of a specific subject, as a teacher, a mathematician, an artist, a mother, …

And right here and now I stop fighting. I know that I will be fine.

from “346. A Journey While Staying As Still as Possible” by H. Kurzke

While maybe this lesson lasted in that I don’t care as much as before to fit within a prescribed shoe-box, the haste, and feeling of not being enough, is still very much there. The many things of which I do “just 30 minutes daily” eat up pretty much all of each day, and so, everything takes time…

The pages for this book were eco printed in 2021, almost 10 years ago, and thus have been sitting on my desk for almost a decade, waiting to be bound into a book. That sounds so solemn, but actually, it involved moving twice, one of them across borders.

some pages are blank, some are printed, all are handmade (not by me) 100% rag paper

The covers are semi-soft, laminated boards, covered with goatskin, decorated with eggshell panel and a laced in parchment strip (painted with an acrylic paint). And those have been sitting around, with the pages inside, for 3 years now. So high time to actually, finally, get the book bound.

I had 12 gathering prepared with a mix of printed and not-printed pages. I was always going to make this a Coptic binding, but decided on the spot to make it a Greek binding. What I like about the Greek binding is that it is symmetrical. A chain stitch always has a direction, you put on a new signature, and then link it with the signatures before, and thus it is always visible in which direction you have sewn the book, and the covers are attached essentially the same, but due to the direction of the sewing, there’s always the cover that was put on first, and the cover that was put on last. A Greek binding on the other hand, has the two halves of the book sewn individually and identically, and then there’s a symmetric, figure eight style join in the middle of the two halves. To show and stress that, I decided to choose a different coloured thread fort his joining part.

spine view

There are many different Coptic Style or Chain bound binding styles. There are those “with lock” and those “without lock”, and to make the chain, you always link to previous sections, and this is done by a “drop one” in the simplest case, but can also involve a “drop 2” or “drop 3” and so on. A Greek binding according to K. Smith’s instructions involve a “drop 3”, and thus requires at least 20 signatures. So I modified the instructions slightly. The pages that I am using have a high volume and since the format is rather small (A6) I figured, a “drop 2” would be enough for stability, and it allowed me to do the binding with 6 signatures for each half. I then added two completely empty gatherings for the linking in the middle.

Yue Fung Button Thread – 3-ply, lightly waxed linen thread

The binding thread is Yue Fung Button thread, and I must say, I am very impressed with how it stood up. I used it as it came from the spool (lightly waxed) for the green stitches, the sewing of the two halves. And then, for the linking, I chose to additionally wax it lightly – but I don’t think this would have been necessary. It’s such a pleasant thread to work with. Although it wasn’t waxed, it didn’t show any signs of abrasion damage. For this book I used the thickest thread they make. They label it was 332 (to indicate it compares to Fils Au Chinois, Lin Cable No. 332), but it is thinner than that. I would say it’s very comparable to a NeL 18/3 thread. They do not label their thread with the industry standard NeL, though.

Here some more images of my book, click to see more.