haptic considerations

From "Reading by Hand: The Haptic Evaluation of Artists' Books" by Gary Frost:

Are there any additional approaches that will assist evaluation of artistic works in a book format? I suggest that there is an additional topic that could propagate additional tools.
This topic is the aesthetic consequence of a work of book art in the hands of the reader where tactile qualities and features of mobility are appreciated. This is a haptic [pertaining to the technology of touch] domain where the study of touch as a mode of communication is at work. Such evaluations call up deeply embedded perceptions and sensory skills where the hands prompt the mind and where the reader’s understanding can be far removed from the intentions of the artist. .... But how can we provide effective description for a more critical experience of the corporeal book? We can lift it, open it and turn a page. Is it docile or springy on opening, solid or tentative on closing? Is there a live transmission of forces through the structure or is it crippled? What instigates the reader’s ergonomic of comprehension and how are haptic features consequential to the evaluation of book art? .... [A]ll books are art in a world of subtle and critical manual evaluation. If we could delineate it, a manual evaluation or haptic criticism would lay out a physics for book art criticism, using words.

Frost, Gary. "Reading by Hand: The Haptic Evaluation of Artists’ Books." The Bonefolder 2.1 (2005): 3-6. Book Arts Web. Philobiblon. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <http://www.philobiblon.com/bonefolder/>.

the kettle stitch

The kettle stitch, which holds the tension along each signature and acts as the change-over for many bindings, is a persnickety little stitch until you get the hang of it. When learning the coptic or sewn-to-tape bindings a common problem is an incorrect kettle stitch that does not 'lock' the tension, or a kettle so successful it cinches the head and tail while the center of the spine bows outward. These diagrams illustrate how I execute the kettle stitch, along with a trick for regulating the sewing tension both along the spine and between the signatures.

On reaching the head or tail of a signature, I exit the last sewing station, make certain the thread is nicely taught, then clamp down with a forefinger on the fold about 1/2" inside the last sewing station. The thread (and tension) is held firmly by this finger, and the end of the signature pops up just a bit. That tiny bit of extra space will prevent the kettle from cinching too tightly. I hold this position until the kettle stitch is completed with my other hand, locking the thread in place.

To execute the kettle stitch while holding this posture may seem acrobatic at first, but it can be easily done using the technique recommended in Non-Adhesive Binding, Volume III by Keith Smith. Having made certain to place the sewing stations a distance from the head and tail that is shorter than the length of your needle, its point will emerge from between the signatures and can be pulled through the loop in one easy motion. To tighten the kettle stitch keeping that extra iota of space, pull the thread straight upwards. And finally, release the finger that has been clamping your signature down all this while.

Another helpful technique is the french link stitch, which regulates the tension across the spine (between the signatures) by linking each stitch spanning a tape to its neighbor. The french link stitch is an extra step, but the herringbone-like pattern it creates can be a lovely addition to an exposed spine.

french link stitch diagram

workshop: book arts 101

I am very excited to announce the upcoming workshop Book Arts 101 at the Textile Arts Center. This is a class for anybody who loves textiles and wants to explore book arts, or book artists who want to expand their repertoire of fiber skills. We will be binding basic non-adhesive structures, but delving into big ideas over the course of 4 Sunday classes. As if the promise of awesome handouts and a slideshow are not tempting enough, students have access to open studio hours at TAC during all 4 weeks of class. Sign up here!

Book Arts 101

Textile Arts Center, 505 Carroll Street, Brooklyn

Sundays 11:00-2:00, January 12 - February 2

Explore the basics in this course that looks at bookbinding as a fluid and expressive art form - and one that dovetails with fiber arts!

Students will learn the fundamental vocabulary and tools of bookbinding as we create 5 non-adhesive books. By viewing the book as an interaction rather than an object, and paper as a fiber rather than a surface, students will be able to connect textile and book arts. Each book model will explore the opportunities for this connection through techniques including embroidery, needle weaving, natural dyeing, and resist techniques.