The last two Saturdays I spent with Nina Judin, who taught to two others and me a Coptic binding with headbands. Her workshop is located in a souterrain flat in the center of Amsterdam. It was rather cool down there, taking away the heat of my overexcited days in a pleasant way. Although it was half way in the cellar, it had enough light, coming from two direction - through windows at the front and on the back facing a patio. The whole atmosphere was so relaxing... Thinking back her studio seems like an island of peace in the last weeks. I had been stressed for days, working too hurriedly, always with my eyes not on my work in front of me but on the huge stack of work still to be done. Going there was like stepping out of it all.
A week before the course I booked my trip to Amsterdam. - And was shocked to learn that on Saturday mornings trains to Amsterdam don't take 3 hours like on almost every other day and time but 5. The workshop started at 10.30 a.m., I should reach the station at least half an hour earlier to this,... I seriously thought of bailing out - and I am so glad that I didn't!
This was going to be the first time for me to learn, not from a book, or by trial and error, but from another person. In the description it said this was a course suitable for beginners. So I thought that, since I had already some practice in (Coptic) binding books, I wouldn't learn much on the technical aspects of binding books, and expected to learn mainly how to give a good bookbinding course. At the same time I was rather nervous, expecting from myself to deliver a perfect book in these two days. But with both assumptions I was completely and utterly wrong. I learned so much these days, in every aspect and mostly about binding books! I made a book that was in no way perfect. My struggle to do so is just another indication for the stress I am feeling at the moment and that I am mostly putting on me myself. Another indicator for my momentary restlessness was the speed with which I was working hurriedly and unfocused. Although I realized it, I just couldn't turn it off - at least not during the first session last week.
I heard people saying before that they learn many small details on workshops, but only now I realize how true this is. I want to share the most important idea for me: this makeshift construction of a thin awl:
It is just a bookbinding needle attached to the handle of an x-acto knife (or hobby knife). Of course I have bookbinding awls here. But they really are too thick to use them for punching holes in paper for binding. I had tried different methods for punching holes into sections before, but this is really the best way I have seen so far to do it.
I don't even want to try to give a complete recount of all the things I learned; it started with the most basic things, really. The following picture shows a detail of how the stitching looks like on the Coptic bound books I usually make:
And this is a detail of the stitching we made at the workshop:
I hope this is visible - the black thread makes it harder to see... Both books are bound in a 2-needle style. But at the book on top the thread only loops around the previous section, and on the other pictures you can see thread that loops around and then it tugged under itself.
I can't say often enough how much I enjoyed the whole experience and atmosphere. If you can arrange it, try a workshop with Nina Judin yourself. And if you can't make it to Amsterdam, maybe you want to have a look at her boks online.
And also have a look and see what Dymphie wrote about our workshop here.
Below you see the three books we pupils made, the one lying in front of the others is mine.
Good bye for today and thank you for reading!
Edit: You can see the ends of the thread for the headbands still hanging around in the photos above because I intended to make them new and again because I was so dissatisfied with them. Now I am finished with this and can show you some more pictures of my book: