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Making Books


"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
Charles W Eliot

Here are some of my favorite books about bookmaking and books, as well as links. I've divided the Resources into ones written For Children and ones For Adults.

For Children

Instructional Books
Bookworks: Making Books by Hand, Gwenyth Swain. Minneapolis: CarolRhoda Books, 1995.
A book for kids with a good historical introduction and clear directions for making several forms of book, as well as paper making, marbling, and printmaking techniques.

Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist and Turn, Gwen Diehn. Asheville, NC: Lark Books, 1998.
Series of creative bookmaking projects with historical information interspersed.

The Bookmaking Kit, Ann Morris and Peter Linenthal. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2001. The book has directions for lots of books, from the simple (Easy Fastener Book) to the more complicated (Button Closure Clothbound Book). Materials are provided for five of the projects.

Making Mini Books, Sherri Haab. Klutz Press, 2002.
A fun book from Klutz Press with lots of ideas for making small books and materials to help you get started.

How To Make Pop-Ups, Joan Irvine. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1987.
Basics of pop-up construction in card format with information on how to assemble them in book form at the end. Also by Joan Irvine: How to Make Super Pop-ups and How to Make Holiday Pop-ups

Pop-O-Mania: How to Create Your Own Pop-Ups, Barbara Valenta. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
What makes this book special is that it is a pop-up book that teaches you how to make pop-ups.

Books About Book History

Books And Libraries, Jack Knowlton. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.
Children's book on the history of books and libraries. Emphasis on Western forms from Mesopotamia and Egypt to Europe and colonial New England.

Book, Karen Brookfield. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
Part of Eyewitness Books series. Excellent photographs make it a good visual resource to have in the classroom.

"Paper" Through the Ages, Shaaron Cosner. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1984.
This easy chapter book introduces children to writing materials of the past--stone, clay, papyrus, wax, parchment, and paper--and the people who used them.

The History of Making Books, New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1996.
Well illustrated interactive book with sections on Ancient writing, Asian Ingenuity, Arabic Treasures, Parchment, Illuminated Manuscripts, Paper, Printing, Bookbinding, and more.

Writing and Printing, Steve and Patricia Harrison. London: BBC Educational Publishing, 1991.
Part of the BBC Fact Finders series. This is a concise overview with a double page spread for each topic from cave painting to the way books are printed today.

Scrawl! Writing in Ancient Times, Geography Department. Minneapolis: Runestone Press, a division of Lerner Publications Company, 1994.
This well illustrated and wide ranging guide to the early book includes chapters on the development of writing, writing materials, papyrus, parchment, and paper, the scribes, and the survival of ancient literature.

Alphabetical Order: How the Alphabet Began, Tiphaine Samoyault. New York: Viking, 1996.
This is a well illustrated guide to the development of the alphabet and the alphabets of the world, including Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Cyrillic, Indian, and Japanese. as well as sign language, Morse Code, and Braille.

Bibles and Bestiaries: A Guide to Illuminated Manuscripts, Elizabeth B. Wilson, The Pierpont Morgan Library. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.
I love this book. It's clearly written and beautifully illustrated with examples from manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. The book includes a detailed description of the process of making an illuminated manuscript from making the vellum to binding the book and information on the "Best-Selling Books" of the Middle Ages, such as Gospels, Psalters, Herbals, and Books of Hours.

The Duke and the Peasant: Life in the Middle Ages, Sister Wendy Beckett. New York: Prestel, 1997.
This book shows the twelve illustrations for the months of the year from the well- known medieval manuscript, Les Tres Riches Heures which was commissioned and owned by the Duc de Berry. The pictures are commented upon by Sister Wendy Beckett of PBS fame. I found her frequent descriptions of how much fun the working peasants were having in contrast to the miserable nobles who were feasting and lolling about rather strange.

Breaking into Print: Before and After the Invention of the Printing Press, Stephen Krensky. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.
Breaking into Print tells of the evolution of the book from the hand-lettered manuscripts of the monasteries through the development of the printing press to today. The main text is supplemented by additional facts on the side margins. It is cleanly laid out and nicely illustrated but I found the transition from block printing to movable type confusing. There is a timeline of the history of printing at the back.

Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press, Bruce Koscielniak. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.
This lively picture book presents lots of information about the process of printing and its development by Gutenberg in a friendly humorous way.

Johann Gutenberg: Master of Modern Printing, Michael Pollard. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, Inc., 2001.
Readable account of Gutenberg's work as a printer set in the context of his time with looks back in history to printing in ninth century China and forward to the use of computer technology today. Illustrated with period illustrations.

Fine Print: A Story about Johann Gutenberg, Joann Johansen Burch. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1991.
This short chapter book tells how Gutenberg invented movable type. It gives an excellent view of city life in fifteenth-century Germany, as well as information on handwritten books, the making of paper, and the printing process.

Gutenberg, Leonard Everett Fisher. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993.
This picture book gives a little background on printing history, but concentrates on the story of Gutenberg: his experiments with printing and the trials of his business life which included scheming partners and bankruptcies.

Picture Books and Fiction Relating to Books
Anna the Bookbinder, Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Ted Rand. New York: Walker and Company, 2003.
This is a warm and touching story of family love with lots of details about bookbinding. Anna's Papa is a binder with a bindery in his basement where Anna spends much of her time. He does quality work and works hard to compete with big binderies with lots of employees. Anna surprises her father by stitching an important commission when her pregnant mother goes into labor.

Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking, W. Nikola-Lish, illustarted by Bonnie Christensen. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 2007.
Simon, a peasant's son, learns the ways of work in a monastery scriptorium and a valuable lesson in imagination and creativity as he works to earn permission to illustrate the margins of manuscripts.

Marguerite Makes A Book, Bruce Robertson. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999.
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells of Marguerite, a girl in medieval Paris. Her father illuminates books and she helps him finish an important commission of a book of Hours for Lady Isabelle.

The Flame of Peace, Deborah Nourse Lattimore. New York: Harper Trophy, 1987.
A young Aztec boy, Two Flint, braves nine evil demons and brings the magic flame of peace to his people. While this isn't about books, the illustrations in this picture book were inspired by and are in the style of Aztec manuscripts. A nice touch is the page numbers which are written in Aztec as well as Arabic numerals.

The Sailor Who Captured the Sea, Deborah Nourse Lattimore. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.
In this picture book about the Book of Kells from Ireland, three brothers leave their trades to become scribes in the belief that the completion of the book will save their people from Viking invaders. The book is out of print but the story can be found in the collection, The Sailor Who Captured the Sea and Other Celtic Tales, published in 2002 by HarperTrophy.

The Man Who Loved Books, Jean Fritz. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1981.
This picture book is the true story of St. Columba who founded the monastery on Iona which produced many books. It is told in Jean Fritz's lively style and simply but beautifully illustrated by Trina Shart Hyman.

Across A Dark and Wild Sea, Don Brown. Brookfield, Ct: Roaring Brook Press, 2002.
Another story about St.Columba also known by his Irish name Columcille.

St. Jerome and the Lion, Margaret Hodges. New York: Orchard Books, 1991.
I chose this picture book because Jerome is the patron saint of librarians. He governed a monastery in Bethlehem by day and translated the Bible into Latin at night. The story itself has nothing to do with books but it is well told and beautifully illustrated by Barry Moser.

The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs, Tamara Bower. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. Based on a story found in an ancient papyrus scroll, this picture book tells of a shipwreck on the island of the soul and a happy homecoming. One line on each page has been translated into hieroglyphs. The illustrations were inspired by papyrus scrolls.

James Printer: A Novel of Rebellion, Paul Samuel Jacobs. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997
This children's novel tells the story of James Printer, a Nipmuc Indian and apprentice to Samuel Green, master printer at Harvard College in 1675. Told in the first person by Samuel Green's eleven year old son Bartholomew, it has lots of details of the printer's world in the midst of a dramatic story of King Philip's War.

For Adults

Instructional Books
For Teaching in the Classroom
Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet: Sixteen Earth-Friendly Projects From Around The World, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord. Newburyport, MA: makingbooks.com, 2004.
Written for educators and families, Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet contains sixteen projects based on traditional books from four continents with historical information, detailed directions, suggestions for variations, and readings to use along with the projects are included.

Susan's Ebooks
Susan has six ebooks available with detailed step-by-step directions and lots of reproducible pages. Titles are:
Making Books for Young Learners
Homes for Poems: Making Books for Poetry
Festivals of Light: Making Books for the Holiday Season
Gung Hay Fat Choy: Making Books for Chinese New Year
Yearbooks: Making Books to Celebrate the School Year
Getting To Know You: Books That Tell Who You ARe And What You Care About

A Book of One's Own: Developing Literacy through Making Books, Paul Johnson. Portsmouth, NH: Hienemann, 1998.
Paul Johnson is a well-known English educator who integrates the book arts into the curriculum. His work has both artistic creativity and educational theory. As in all his books, it is well illustrated with children's work.

Literacy Through the Book Arts, Paul Johnson. Portsmouth, NH: Hienemann, 1993.
This book expands on the ideas and forms presented in A Book of One's Own.

Pictures & Words Together: Children Illustrating and Writing Their Own Books, Paul Johnson. Portsmouth, NH: Hienemann, 1997.
This book focuses on the content with information on writing and illustrating. It covers both the big picture- the narrative line and overall concept and the little- techniques for drawing people and perspective. It's deep and thorough.

For Making On Your Own
Cover To Cover, Shereen La Plantz. Asheville, NC: Lark Books, 1995.
The ground-breaking book that introduced making artists' books to a broader audience, covering many simple and complex book forms.

The Art and Craft of Handmade Books, Shereen LaPlantz. New York: Lark Books, 2001.
Shereen's second book which expands upon the first. Interesting book forms and lots of photos of books for inspiration.

Handmade Books And Cards, Jean Kropper. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, 1997.
An excellent introduction to simple book forms and cards. Clear directions and lots of photos of work by different artists. Again, the photos can be as worthwhile as the instructions.

Creating Handmade Books, Alisa Golden. New York: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc, 1998.
This book takes a different approach with all the work included by the author. A wide range of simple and more complex forms with clear instructions and personal reflections.

Books, Boxes & Wraps, Marilyn Webberley and JoAn Forsyth. Kirkland, WA: Bifocal Publishing, 1995.
No color photos in this one, but it's no less of a book. Illustrated with charming line drawings, it contains a wealth of different forms with clear instructions and diagrams.

Creative Bookbinding, Pauline Johnson. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1990.
This reprint of a 1963 book is an oldie but goodie. This was the main resource when I started. Lots of information on simple bindings, folders, and a large section on printing techniques for covers and endpapers.

Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman, Kojiro Ikegami. New York: Weatherhill, 1986.
Beautiful book, clear instructions with photographs, many styles of Japanese bindings. The real thing from a Japanese master.

Non-Adhesive Binding, Keith A. Smith. Fairport, NY: The Sigma Foundation, 1990. order from http://www.keithsmithbooks.com.
An excellent resource with many simple, combination, and complex bindings and a focus on the making of books not just the binding. He has lots of other titles as well.

Books, Boxes, And Portfolios, Franz Zeier. New York: Design Press, 1990.
Basic techniques of cutting, folding and pasting, emphasis on boxes and portfolios, but information about books as well.

Making Memory Boxes, Barbara Mauriello. Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2000.
I had the good fortune of taking a weekend workshop with Barbara and it was wonderful. Her book has detailed directions for a variety of different books.

The Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume I: Basic Forms: How to Make Pop-Ups Step-by-Step, Carol Barton. Glen Echo, MD: Popular Kinetics Press, 2005.
This is a workbook with do-it-yourself models. Each form is illustrated with a pull-out card that can be cut and assembled, then stored in a pocket within the book.

How To Make Books, Esther K. Smith. New York: Potter Craft, 2007.
Lots of interesting book forms from simple cut and fold books to stitched bindings. The book contains design ideas as well as construction information and features recycled materials in some of the books. I especially like the Cake Box Book.

Books About Book History
The Book Before Printing: Ancient, Medieval And Oriental, David Diringer. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1982.
Originally published in 1953 as The Hand-Produced Book, this reference book is wide in scope, dense with information, and a good resource.

The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking, Douglas C. McMurtrie. New York: Dorset Press, 1971.
This reprint of a 1943 book begins with Primitive Human Records and goes through to Modern Typography. Gutenberg comes along about a quarter of the way through the book, so the biggest focus is on printed books.

The Book on the Bookshelf, Henry Petroski. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
This book is more about the storage and presentation of books than the books themselves but there is lots of fascinating information about the books as well. I found the early chapters from Egyptian scrolls to chained medieval books the most useful.

The Story of Writing, Andrew Robinson. London: Thames & Hudson, 1995.
This book has three sections: How Writing Works, Extinct Writing: Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Linear B, Mayan Glyphs, Undeciphered Scripts, and Living Writing: The First Alphabet, New Alphabets from Old, Chinese Writing, Japanese Writing. There are lots of illustrations.

The Story of Writing, Donald Jackson. New York: Taplinger Publishing Co, 1981.
This book is on the Roman alphabet was written by a well-known English calligrapher who is Scribe to Her Majesty the Queen. The main focus is on the calligraphic hands from the Dark Ages through the Renaissance. The history is enhanced by his perspective as a working scribe.

A History of Writing, Albertine Gaur. New York: Cross River Press, 1992.
This book has the broadest scope with chapters on The Fertile Crescent, Ancient Mediterranean, Pre-Columbian, Far East, Semitic, Indian and Southeast Asian, Greek and European. It also covers social attitudes towards writing and literacy.

The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing, Ewan Clayton. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press, 2013.
A history of Western calligraphy and writing from its Roman foundations to today's digital world by Ewan Clayton, a well-known calligrapher and design professor from the UK.

Paper: Paging Through History, Mark Kurlansky. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.
Mark Kurlansky brings his expansive research and fine writing to the subject of paper.

Writing Materials of the East, Albertine Gaur. London: The British Library Board, 1979.
A slim book focusing on the surface materials used for writing with some nice illustrations of books and writing from India, China, Burma, and Sumatra.

The Story of Chinese Books, Lui Guojun and Zheng Rusi. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1985.
History of Chinese books from oracle bones through slats, scrolls, and accordions to sewn bindings with information on block printing and movable type. A good resource but hard to find. Printed in the People's Republic of China.

Chinese Traditional Bookbinding: A Study of Its Evolution and Techniques, Edward Martinique. Chinese Materials Center, 1983.
A history of Chinese books from slats to scrolls to accordions to sewn bindings. Interesting illustrations. A good resource but hard to find.

Aztec and Maya
The Art of the Maya Scribe, Michael D Coe and Justin Kerr. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 1997.
This is a big beautiful art book that is filled with information with chapters on the Maya script, the scribes, the tools and materials, and the books.

The Aztec and Maya Papermakers, Victor Wolfgang von Hagen. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1999.
This is a reprint of a 1944 book. The focus is on the importance of amate or bark paper in the Aztec and Maya world and how it was made. The story is told in a narrative style that I didn't expect. There are lots of good stories and interesting tidbits in this book.

The Codex Nuttall: A Picture Manuscript from Ancient Mexico, Zelia Nuttall, ed. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975.
Facsimile of a Mixtec manuscript

The Codex Borgia: A full Color restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript, Gisele Diaz and Alan Rodgers. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1993.
Facsimile of a restoration of a pre-Columbian manuscript from about 1400 in central Mexico.

A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Christopher De Hamel. London: Phaidon Press, 1986.
This well illustrated and thorough book about illuminated manuscripts from the 7th to the 16th century is organized by the uses of the books: for missionaries, emperors, monks, students, aristocrats, everybody, priests, and collectors.

Scribes and Illuminators, Christopher De Hamel. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.
This short book focuses on how the books were made. There are three sections: Paper- and Parchment-Makers, Ink-Makers and Scribes, and Illuminators, Bookbinders, and Booksellers.

The Illuminated Manuscript, Janet Backhouse. Oxford: Phaidon, 1979.
This is a well illustrated and explained survey of the illuminated manuscript from the seventh to the sixteenth century.

Painted Prayers: The Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art, Roger S. Wieck. New York: George Braziller, Inc. in association with The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1997.
This is the catalog to accompany an exhibit called "Medieval Bestseller: The Book of Hours." There is detailed commentary on all the illustrations.

Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life, Roger S. Weick. Baltimore: George Braziller, Inc. in association with The Walters Art Museum, 2001.
Illustrated with manuscripts from the collection of the Walters Art Museum, this book explores the Books of Hours in depth, with a detailed description of the contents, as well as their placement in the social and religious context of the time.


The Joy of Making Books: Susan's YouTube Tutorials
The Joy of Making Books is a series of short tutorials. The tutorials are broken down into the simplest segments so that you can mix and match. The emphasis is on simplicity, freedom, and FUN.

Organizations and Links
Peter Verheyen's Book Arts Web
Links to a huge number of book arts sites--organizations, suppliers, schools, individual binders, calligraphy, letterpress printing, papermaking, tutorials, etc. I think it is THE place to start for book arts info on the web. Peter also runs an excellent Book Arts List for online communication about the book arts. Information on how to join is available on the site. There is also an Archive to look up past messages.

Calligraphy and Artist Book Galleries
A site from Australia focusing on calligraphy and artists' books as well. Includes a Calligraphic and Book Arts World Travel Guide.

Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild
Extensive links in the Resources section.

Minnesota Center for Books Arts
MCBA celebrates the book as a vibrant contemporary art form that takes many shapes with studios, an exhibition space, a studio shop and an archive and reference library.

Center for Book Arts
Website of the country's first book arts center in New York City with information on events, classes, and membership.

Austin Book Arts Center
Austin Book Art Center "rejects the millennial notion that the printed book is no longer relevant" and brings workshops, studio space, and events to Austin, Texas with an open and inclusive approach.

Books and Journals

John Neal Bookseller
1833 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC 27403
Specializes in books on calligraphy and the the book arts. You can order online or from their print catalog. John Neal also publishes Bound and Lettered and the Letter Arts Review.

Bound and Lettered
Bound and Lettered contains articles on Artists' Books, Bookbinding, Books for Kids, and Calligraphy and is published quarterly. It was established by Shereen LaPlantz, the author of Cover to Cover, as Tabellae Ansatae.

For 30 years, Judith Hoffberg published this wonderful magazine with an emphasis on artists' books, mail art, and Fluxus, but with a wide knowledge of the art world and an intrepid spirit. Judith has passed but the archive remains online.

The Bonefolder, an outgrowth of the Book Arts Web, is a peer-reviewed e-journal for bookbinding and the book arts.

Book Arts Newsletter
Chockful of book arts news including exhibits and calls for entries, the Book Arts Newsletter comes out every 4-6 weeks. It's a great place to find out what's happening and to share your news.

Book History

The Illustrated Book: A Survey of Genres
Richard Minsky approaches commentary with the same intelligence and individuality he brings to making books. The works are grouped by interesting categories, such as cave paintings as self-publishing. This is a site by someone comfortable with the way the computer allows one to skip around with hyperlinks; it's not a straightforward outline approach.

Bookbinding from the International Dunhuang Project
A history of bookbinding in China illustrated with books found in the Caves of Dunhuang in 1900.

The Preparation of Palm Leaf Documents
Archived article from the Journal of Indian States History with information on the preparation of palm leaves for writing with drawings of writing implements and photos of pages.

Forerunners of Paper
Descriptions of materials used before paper, clay, bark, papyrus. If you "Continue the Tour" on the bottom of the page, it will lead you from the invention of paper through history to paper in our lives.

Individual Artist Sites
Website of Ed Hutchins, who creates editioned books that are both playful and profound. Some of his thoughts on what is a book and teaching are included on the site.

Karen Hanmer
Website of Karen Hanmer, a versatile book artist of great depth whose works run the gamut from small edition books to fine bindings.

Stephanie Mahan Stigliano
Stephanie uses a range of media and materials in her poetic books on a variety of personal and universal themes.

Jalex Books
Website of Jody Alexander who makes artist's books and installations.

Mission Creek Press
Roberta Lavadour makes handmade papers from natural fibers in eastern Washington and wonderfully inventive artists books.

Emily Martin and the Naughty Dog Press
Emily Martin creates thought-provoking and humorous books in Iowa, including I Live in Iowa, How Can I Live in Iowa?, Yes, I Like living in Iowa.

Purgatory Pie Press
Dikko Faust and Esther K. Smith collaborate with other artists as well as create their own books with letterpress printing. They explore a variety of book structures and their design is elegant, humorous, and hip.

Where to Buy Art & Bookmaking Supplies

While I now concentrate on using recycled, or repurposed materials for my teaching and casual bookmaking, I do use art materials in my work. Here are some of the sources I have used for art papers and bookbinding materials.

Brooklyn, NY
Talas has an extensive online catalog of supplies for bookmaking. While most of their sales are made online, their location in Brooklyn is open without appointment. I have found them helpful and prompt.

Bookmakers, Inc.
Riverdale, MD
I have also ordered from Bookmakers. They have a good selection and are very helpful.

Paper Connection
Providence, RI
I first bought paper from Lauren, the owner, when she worked for a Japanese paper company in Boston. She specializes in Japanese papers, although she also carries handmade papers from Nepal and other locations. You can order online or visit the Providence location by appointment. Check out the News for interesting blog posts about paper.

Paper Source
Paper Source has a selection of decorative papers, a small selection of bookbinding materials, rubber stamps, and interesting stuff. There are locations around the U.S.

Hiromi Paper
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Hiromi Paper has an excellent selection of papers from around the world with a concentration on Japan.

Dick Blick
Dick Blick is a large art store with some bookmaking materials and lots of just about everything art related. There are locations around the U.S.

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