How does a graphic designer showcase their work at a meeting with new clients or even friends for that matter? You don’t want to open a website and fumble through online images, the whole beauty of our work is its tactility and texture. We wanted our clients to be able to hold our work and get a good feel for its materiality and proportion with a little more finesse than toting around a manila envelope.
We studied the small sketchbooks that I made themed from Dianna’s wedding fabrics and wondered if we could make a bigger, bolder coptic bound portfolio book with the same character of the mini versions. And, while we’re at it why not stitch fabric pockets to house each project.
What is Coptic Binding you ask? Coptic Binding is dated back to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD. The name comes from the “copts”, a name given to Egyptians who converted to Christianity in the 1st century. This method was a variation of carpet weaving and they used it to hold their papyrus books together between wood covers (beautiful I can imagine)!
Why is it so great? Not only is coptic binding striking but it is also functional and here at Fourth Year Studio we are all about getting the most bang for your buck. It is great for sketchbooks because when opened to any section, be it the first page or the last, the book lays flat. There’s no using one hand to hold the book open while the other is drawing. There is something to be said about a hand stitched binding versus a saddle stitch (staple) or coil binding. Due to the size of our book it took two people; one to pull the thread and another to keep the book tight.
How do you do it? There are several tutorials on line, but in college I made my first coptic bound book during a graphic design class and since have made more than a dozen books from those same instructions. You start with 2 covers (matte board, chip board, or thin wood work great), at least 5 signatures (folded sections of paper ex. if your book is 4×6 then your paper is 8×6 folded horizontally — you can put as many sheets in a section I like to use 3), waxed thread (you can get online — try etsy), an awl, and a large enough sewing needle to thread a 3 or 4ply waxed thread. If you are interested in trying it for yourself use the web to search for tutorials or for detailed illustrations reference Volume III Non-Adhesive Binding: Exposed Spine Sewings by Keith Smith.
Do you think this technique will showcase our product well?