Submitted by: Kaitlyn Frolek, Gallery Assistant

Book binding can be challenging experience, but the rewards are amazing! The upside is that each time you do it, the process gets easier. I first learned to book bind when I was in high school, and learned a very simple binding technique. It was so simple the entire book was made in under an hour. A few years later, while I was taking some drawing courses in university, I again had the opportunity to learn a more difficult variation of a hand bound book. This was when my love and admiration for making books started. The process, I admit, can be extremely trying, and I did end up with a few band aids on my fingers by the end of the procedure, but the beauty of the handmade book was well worth the initial pain.

Handmade books can be used for a multitude of purposes, such as recipe books, address books, notebooks, and my favourite, sketchbooks! I find myself making more sketchbooks than any of the others because they can be made for a fraction of the cost of buying new from an art supply store.

There are a wide range of different techniques and stitches that can be used; below I have listed three that are most common.

1. Coptic Stitch Binding

Coptic Stitch Binding

The term Coptic stitch means multi-section binding. This form of stitching originated in Egypt centuries ago and is one of the oldest forms/techniques used to make books. This technique uses multiple “signatures” or sections of paper to be bound together using a chain-like stitch. Coptic stitch binding can be difficult the first time around, but it makes a very strong and long lasting book, if you keep your perseverance up!


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2. Japanese Stab Book Binding

Japanese Slab Book Binding

Japanese Stab Book Binding is a traditional Asian style of book binding used in Korea, China, Japan, and Vietnam. It is one of the earliest forms of book binding, and uses more absorbent papers for Calligraphy work. This technique uses single sheets of paper rather than a stack of paper, or what we call a “signature”, which means there is more possibility to use different types of paper. This method is not as restricting as Coptic stitching, where you can only use one type of paper, and are limited by your stitch.


Informational/Tutorial Video:


3. Simple Stitch Binding

Simple Stitch BindingStitch Binding is the easiest type of binding and used most commonly to make small books with scrap or leftover paper. This is the best method to start with as a beginner book binder. It takes you through the basics of stitching, and is also a fun and creative way to start book binding!


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Each of these stitching techniques can be used to create a variety of differently shaped books, as simple as a regular square book, to the more elaborate accordion style books. So start off simple, and practice your stitching, then start to get creative!