Extra Small – My entry for the miniature bookbinding competition

A couple of months ago I entered a bookbinding competition thinking it would be fun. I didn’t anticipate being stressed out with a new job, exams and lack of inspiration! It took me a lot of courage and strength to finish this book in which everything went wrong. But in the end, I mailed it to the museum. I think the endpapers weren’t even completely dry when I had to send it in!

Today the catalogue fell into my mailbox and I opened it excited, scared and a little nervous.


In the first section are all the books that didn’t go through to the next round due to the quality of binding or looks (even though they all look so lovely!). I didn’t see my book anywhere! So I was convinced that they even excluded mine on account of being too ugly or too badly made.

So I closed the catalogue. I didn’t feel like flipping through the pages anymore.

After a couple of minutes, I decided to honour all those bookbinders whose books were chosen. And suddenly on page 64 in the second section: my book with a full page picture!


(I blurred out my name and my neighbours name for privacy’s sake)

My book is on the left!

I’m so proud of myself and I will definitely challenge myself like this again.

The Island

Least successful book in history. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Who knew that something so tiny could make me stress and cry so hard!

Next time I sign myself up for a competition, I’ll keep in mind that I’m going to uni and a fulltime job at the same time and might not have so much free time left! In the end, I managed to mail it in on time. But I’m not proud of this work. Therefore, I’ll only show some pictures here that hide the hideousness of it all. IMG_7214

The book is about an island in Amsterdam that was squatted during the seventies/eighties. I wanted to show the demise of this with the black creeping up towards to colourfulness of the book.


The ‘shadows’ of the pink/reddish buildings are a nice effect but completely accidental! While I was attaching my leather to the book, I noticed that my buildings started to move. I managed to not throw the entire hellhole in the bin, and now kind of like the effect.

The endbands are different on top than on the bottom. On top it’s still happy and cheerful (and the same colours as the illustrations inside the book). The bottom is showing that demise, even in the headbands.

Even if the results aren what I wanted. I’m happy I participated and I will enjoy seeing all the little books at the exhibition. I did learn a lot from this tiny project!

De Humanis Urbis Fabrica

I made this book for a friend of mine who is doing a course in photography. He wanted the book to open smoothly and allow his pictures to lay flat. I suggested a coptic binding where the pictures were attached to black hinges.


I added the title with my tiny, very unreliable, often overheating foil press. The font is Helvetica and I used black foil to make the letters stand out more.


This was actually quite more of a challenge than I previously anticipated. Because of my tiny press, I couldn’t print more than one word at a time! I measured my words and the needed space between them. I then made cardboard cut-outs against which I laid the book cover while pressing.


But in the end I got there, word for word.


This was the final result:


Handboek voor den boekbinder

Or translated in English: Handbook for the bookbinder.


I made this book while still in class. It was one of the three made for the class around French bindings. I really enjoyed making this book. Not a lot of things went wrong! The only thing that made me grumble was that I accidentally got blood all around the bottom edge (I stabbed myself while sewing, yes I’m an idiot). At least it gave me a good excuse to finish off all three sides with a smooth sandpapered edge.


Because of this, the entire books feels so luxurious, light and smooth in your hands.


The paper on the outside continues on the inside.


And I added double headbands in cream/navy stripes.


Binding of: 1984

I always feel guilty when I get new followers when I haven’t posted anything in weeks (or months)..

So I’ll post some very horrible pictures of one of my books. I can’t make better ones, because my teacher has them for grading.


I basically made these pictures to justify my choice of endband colours. They’re still so christmassy, but the only two bright colours in the book-illustrations..


And these are my endpapers on the front side. I posted about them in November originally. I’m happy I finally got to use these.

It’s crazy how much time these books take.

New tools!

It was the annual bookbinding fair in Belgium yesterday! I didn’t need much, just really wanted to get a teflon bone folder as I’ve been jealous of my colleagues in class.. But there was another little thing that I was hoping to find; a polishing iron. They’re quite expensive  to buy new but hard to find second hand..


Then suddenly at a some French stall, I saw this one lying around (and some others). I asked one of the teachers who were there aswel if they wanted to check them out with me so I wouldn’t buy a horrible on. Eventually a teacher specialised in French bindings settled on this one:

It apparently as the same shape as the ones they use in the bookbinding school La Cambre in Brussels, just the shape of the handle is different. She suggested I replace the handle with something that comes closer to the polishing part so I can hold it better (which is a nice job for my dad). And the iron needs to be polished, which I somehow find a bit ironic; a polishing iron that needs polishing.

There was a bit of confusion when agreeing on the price. At first they said it was 20€ (vingt in French). But when I came back to buy it, the price changed to quinze (15). My French isn’t that good so I kept arguing that before it was 20, much to the confusion of the seller and the people around me. Eventually we all laughed it off, or at least I did.

Headbands: 1984

Last of the headbanding posts, I promise!

I saved the best one for now.. This book is 1984 by George Orwell. And it has amazing pictures in it, some of which I have posted already when I blogged about the endpapers. All of the pictures are in hues of brown/grey/black.. But they also have an occasional green or red accents. So to make them stand out, I decided on red and green headbands.


Yes, this does make it a bit christmassy. But I added a small twist for my top graphite edge..   (also, if you look closely, there is another small bloodstain in the bottom of this book, not sure how I keep on puncturing my fingers while sewing)



See! The colours aren’t that christmassy anymore. And it has this very cool disruption by the invasion of the grey/brown/black colours (just like in the pictures!). You can already guess that I’m quite proud of this. Sorry for that.

Headbands: Handbook of a bookbinder

Second series of headbands.

This is the book where I’ve tried not to do anything fancy.


It’s very light and fresh, with a yellowy leather back and blue endpapers. I eventually decided (after much inner debate – so much debating went on in my head), for a creme and dark blue alternating headband, nothing fancy.

I do think they came out alright. On to the next one! I have something special planned for it..

Headband: Dante pt. 2

I found some time to do the other golden side of my Dante book. I didn’t damage it too much. Just a few bumbs near the head of the book. I’m relatively pleased about it all. Just made a small mistake with one of the pearls of the dark grey thread.


Headbands: Dante

I’ve finished one headband of my Dante book. The colours are black, gold, dark grey and lighter grey. Now I’m left to decide wether or not I will make the top one matching or if I will make it in a completely different order of colours..