The Colour out of Space - A Note on the Binding

In 2011, I wrote a blog post on a binding that I developed for "building the round" into a textblock without having to shape the textblock using a hammer. Why do this, you ask? At the time, I wanted to use the concertina (an accordion fold structure that can serve as a backbone to a sewn book) for its many benefits: adding spacing in an album of photographs, allowing pages to lie flat when opening, and serving as an archival structure from which pages can easily be removed if the book needs rebinding. However, having used concertinas previously, I felt they had a natural tendency toward concavity. Rounding with a hammer is not possible with a concertina as the folds cannot respond to a backing hammer after they are folded, in the way that signatures without a concertina can. I like to take each project from scratch, re-considering the form of the book every time according to the needs of the project. As a result, I came up with the most straightforward structural solution and decided to "build the round in" using the folds of the concertina itself. 

The only limitations to this structure are its need for extreme accuracy in folding of the concertina (if you want to get a nice shape). The round is engineered into the paper by changing the size of the folds. I showed a diagram of this method in my previous blog post from 2011. The measurements can and should be adjusted according to quantity and size of signatures. With my current book, I had to make accurate folds within 1/64 of an inch.

When considering a binding for my recent edition of The Colour out of Space, I was drawn to using this "shaped concertina" structure for several reasons. First, I wanted a fairly traditional binding profile (rounded spine). Second, I wanted the pages to lay as flat as possible, especially because the images spanned two-page spreads. I like the archival properties of the structure in which pages never touch an adhesive of any kind and so can be re-bound with ease if needed. Another benefit for this book came when I decided to use a printed sheet for the concertina. This allowed imagery to be carried through and integrated into the text in subtle ways, subverting the separation of text and image in many fine press books. Here are a few images of the binding in progress - enjoy! Click on images for a larger view. And for the completed book, please visit this page.