I read somewhere that a bookbinder has to make at least 100 books before they can claim to have the necessary skills to do quality work. Each of the 100 books is intended to provide one or more lessons in what not to do.
My pace of practice is painfully slow because of my obligations as a parent with a special needs child. I have to squeeze in working on books whenever I can find an hour here or there. Because of that, I was trying to make every book count by working meticulously and following all of the notes I had from my teacher.
Then I remembered the 100 books. I’m never going to get the skills I need working in this controlled way. I just need to dig in and make the mistakes and learn. I also remembered that I love this, and it’s not supposed to be a chore.
Below is an example of one of my recent books. I went on a walk during November when the gingko trees are in full bloom in the neighborhood. The shape of the leaves made me think about putting them on the cover of a mini book. I went home and made it without worrying that it wasn’t a conventional size or that I’d never tried freehand cutting shapes with an exacto or glued paper on book cloth. It was fun to create that way.
It’s true what they say about learning from the mistakes of each book. This last time, I stopped myself in several spots remembering what I’d not liked about what I had done in the step the last time. I didn’t cut the corners too short before turning them in and gluing them down. I didn’t run my exacto too far over the board and into the spine piece when trimming the cloth on the inside of the board before casing in the text block. These are small details here and there that will start to become good habits.
I don’t know where I am exactly in my 100 books, but I know I still have a long way to go. I’m hoping to take a few more classes from my teacher at the SF Center for the Book when I can fit it in. My leather working skills are really what I would like to focus on next.