Big Jump Press

Shocking Bookcloth Decision

I am back in the UK! I devoted yesterday to finishing off another mockup so that I could improve on the binding plan for the new book. Above you can see the old mockup to the left and the new one to the right. Thinner boards, better measurements, and a narrower spine piece have brought things around a little. See below for closer view:

I have not completely won the battle here. There are other changes to be made. I will miter the spine piece so that there is less of a visible overlap with the boards when viewed from above. I will also be putting fills on the inside cover, which I may get into on the blog later when the binding starts in earnest. For now I will explain by showing you the photo below:

Do you see that pronounced half inch border lying below the blue-green paper? A fill will make that invisible as well as performing some structural functions that I’ll go into in more detail later. Maybe.

But the biggest conclusion I have come to after taking a break from this book and returning to Mockup Town is this: After all of my struggles with printing on Buckram (also see here) and all of my declarations of love for it for this project, I think I am officially right now deciding (sit down everybody. . . ) not to use it.

I know. It is a bit of a shock. Here is my reasoning:


*Buckram is a library binding material and is therefore directly related to the archive/collection content of the book. Using it will push the content into the materials, thereby helping the viewer to understand more about the project simply by touching the book.

*Buckram is fun and comes in many colors.

*It is (I believe) an unusual choice for a book of this kind, and so is kind of fun and unexpected. (please send examples of buckram-bound artists’ books if you know of any)


*It is fun and plastic and colorful and a bit library-kitschy, but is that really a good enough reason?

*In the end, the use of this material seems to be distracting and is doing damage to the book. The fun colors and the feel of the material are removing rather than adding value. Do you disagree? let me know.

I am headed to London early this week and will take the opportunity to head back to Shepherds-Falkiners and oggle some book cloth alternatives. Yellow, maybe?

8 comments on “Shocking Bookcloth Decision

  1. Chip Schilling
    August 11, 2012

    This is the best frickin’ blog ever! Thanks and keep up the great work.

  2. jess76
    August 11, 2012


  3. Maggie Heineman
    August 11, 2012

    To buckram or not to buckram. That is the question.
    Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of those who do feel its outrageousness ,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
    And by opposing: to die, to sleep, to use conventional book cloth.
    Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
    And thus the colorful hues of buckram
    Are sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,

    Perhaps it is not the buckram that is the problem, but the type of binding. Buckram lends itself more to a case binding I think. I seems awkward, thick and maybe stiff? in your pictures where the spine attaches to the boards. The only way to know is to make another with cloth and see how it feels. The buckram certainly lends itself to the content. Collections – libraries covering books in buckram to keep THEIR collections intact. You could make a special ‘collector’s’ edition – just a few – with case bindings in buckram. I’ll help! I love binding!

  4. Big Jump Press
    August 11, 2012

    Maggie, that is hilarious. I promise to try one in Buckram with a case binding, just to do justice to your Shakespearean response. And thanks, guys, for the Saturday night bookbinding camaraderie. Now I am off to. . . um. . . go clubbing? Or more accurately, to go organize my tools by size.

  5. suzanne
    August 12, 2012

    Ah! Would that one couldst pare buckram as one pares leather!

    I am boring too, but not bored. Makinga couple of paper houses for a secret cause. Too much glitter, too many beads & sequins, too much decorated paper. But never too much fun. And I couldst say they’re mockups for other such structures….

  6. Glenn House, Sr.
    August 12, 2012

    Buckram seems to have done its intended job so well that it has attained some sort of “commoner” reputation, deserved or not. Victor Hammer’s widow Carolyn made some sort of derisive statement that caused me to look upon it with disdain at her own King Library Press — and bindery — in Lexington about 1975 whilst providing me with much needed and invaluable hand press instruction. She also provided me with the greatest compliment when she stated approval of Raymond McLain’s having drafting me as his replacement in UA’s “program in fine printing” the previous year. McLain, as president of Transylvania, had been instrumental in hiring Hammer away from Wells and moving him to Lexington. Hammer taught Carolyn, his student, and McLain, his boss, how to print.

    My first impression of your mockups, “What a wonderful use of a seldom acknowledged wonderful material.” All, in my view, depends upon how it is used to complete the package. When the paper covers of finely printed and bound books have returned to dust, I’m betting the buckrams will bear the palls.

  7. Glenn House, Sr.
    August 12, 2012

    If the afore-posted Suzanne is the Gordo Suzanne, her paper “beach” houses presently and confidently decorate the entrance to the Rosenzweig Art Gallery in Columbus, Mississippi, for the Crossroads Arts Alliance show..

  8. Laura.
    August 13, 2012

    i always like it when the content is pushed into the materials and the materials reflect the content. here is the only book that comes to mind when i think of buckram:
    used for the same reasons–to make it look like an old library book (i believe she even sanded it down, especially along the edges after binding to make it look like it had been around for a long time). in person, it definitely takes me to a “library place” as soon as i see it. for what it’s worth. . . . but whatever you do, your book will be amazing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: