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Shoemaker's Children Have No Shoes

Crystal Shaulis

 

Ladder Binding

 

The last time I bound a book specifically with myself in mind was back during my internship days. I was hanging around the studio late one night and did some experimental printing with wood type on the Showcard proofing press. It came out pretty nice and made it into a new journal's cover. I took quite a few photos of it, but it's now long gone. 

Since that first journal, the only others I've kept for personal use were 'mess-ups' - books not good enough to sell, but not bad enough to throw away. However, a couple months ago my mom and dad gifted me something incredible: a 50-pack assortment of gel pens. *heart explodes* Okay - I'm a child of the 90's and I LOVE gel pens (there, I said it). Chances are, if you've bought a book recently, I've signed a "thank you" in crazy metallic blue with flecks of glitter in it. Or maybe even a color that matched your very book. So you can thank my parents for that.

Now, a notebook with a very specific purpose was needed - one filled with black paper that would let this variety pack shine and shimmer. I was oscillating between going for an all-black book (thread, cover, pages) or some crazy neon stuff with yellow thread and metallic blue covers. While digging through scraps, out fell a couple sheets of paper I had made for Elizabeth Kerlikowske's chapbook, Chain of Lakes. These were made using beach grass collected from the shores of Lake Michigan. Perfect! The thread selection was easy: natural linen thread blended perfectly with the beach grass paper.

The binding: Many people have asked me about my bindings; I've never really been sure how to answer. A year and a half ago I made a blog entry about how it came to be and christened it the 'Ladder Binding' or Ladder-stitch. You can even see the very first book bound using that technique! Back then, I was still getting my toes wet in this bookbinding business world. When people would ask about it, I'd explain that it's a variation on Coptic, a point of reference for many fellow binders. However, in the past year, it's become apparent that this stitch, the Ladder Binding, is indeed the brand of Lake Michigan Book Press and so I am now formally calling it just that.

One last touch is the interior back pocket - Instead of using paper or book cloth, the accordion fold was created from bookbinding mull, a look reminiscent of the nets we my dad and I used to catch minnows while ice fishing Michigan's lakes.

All these elements put together are the very essence of Lake Michigan Book Press! But now that it is bound and ready, I'm afraid to use it! It's too pretty! Too natural looking and classy for something as in-your-face as a gel pen! Perhaps only neutral-color gel pens should be used inside. Hmmm.

Would any of you be interested in a book that features seasonal handmade paper such as this? It would be nice to create a limited-run of books that include leaves from fall, flower petals from spring and grass from summer. Let me know in the comments!


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