How To – An Old Fashioned Bookbinding Tutorial with Esther of Purgatory Pie Press

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Some of the letterpress samples that decorate the tiny Purgatory Pie Press studio.

Some of the letterpress samples that decorate the tiny Purgatory Pie Press studio.

The tiny work studio in Tribeca, NYC that houses Purgatory Pie Press is a throwback to simpler times. The manual elevator is only accessible at odd hours, the air smells of ink and inside the studio is a comfortable peace due to the lack of computers whirring. Esther K. Smith and her husband Dikko Faust each work in their corners, collaborating at times. Dikko uses a letterpress and hand-sets wood and metal type while Esther designs and stitches books. We sat down with Esther to get a one-on-one lesson on the craft of binding books. You can check Esther’s handmade creations and her books on Purgatory Pie Press’s Krrb corner.

Check out the video below.

Aside from making speciality books, Esther has written several guides on book-making and paper crafts, including How To Make Books and The Paper Bride. You can check Esther’s handmade creations and her books on Purgatory Pie Press’s Krrb corner.

Amen, sister.

Amen, sister.

A Step-by-Step How To on Book Binding

Every scrap of paper in the studio is reused.

There is potential in every scrap of paper.

1. Collate the papers you want to bind together.
2. Use a binder clip or a bull clip to hold your pages together. Esther recommends that you use a piece of scrap paper to buffer the indention of the clip on your pages.
3. Decide where you want to punch your holes. Make sure that you give yourself an inch in the inner margin as a gutter.
4. Use an awl, hole puncher, or drill to create the holes.
5. Feed your thread through the eye of the needle, then weave it through the tail of the thread itself to secure it in place.
6. As you go through the first hole, leave a small tail of thread so that you can tie the ends together.
7. Go through the same hole again and around the spine to lock the binding.
8. Continue down the side of the book and back to your original starting place.
9. Tie a square knot with the loose ends – left over right, then right over left.
10. Cut or fray the ends of the knot to complete the look.

Easy as pie! See? Look what I made!

Binded by yours truly.

 
  • Nice! I wanna try this to make doodling pads! I took a book binding class at Booklyn maybe 6 years ago, but i forgot everything :-( I think it was a different technique though. this looks easier!

  • Really great article.  Thank you for the information!