Pushing the limits of different structures is always on my mind, and the sewn board binding affords several opportunities for exploration. I learned Gary Frost’s adaptation of this binding from Barb Tetenbaum in the mid-90’s at the summer book arts program at Whitman College, and have made hundreds of books using it since. This piece was made for the ranch hands and staff at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Art and Agriculture during my fall 2021 residency there
The flex at the connection of the floating spine to the cover material creates a fun spot for a wide range of pop-ups–this book used it to reveal some relief prints of field grass seed heads.
If you’ve made this structure before, the following images will make sense. Instead of separate spine bookcloth and cover material, both are formed from one sheet of strong paper. The book pictured is made with monotype printed Rives BFK 250 gsm paper.
Shapes can come with associations that can be hard to shake. When I first started experimenting, the basic bird mouth idea was hard to ignore, then diamond tuck and roll from the 70s came to mind, then a friend mentioned punk leather gear. So, perhaps the applications might be broader than I’m imagining. If you do something interesting with it, send me a photo!
If you’re not well-versed in the sewn board binding, I’ll be teaching a quick version at the Focus on Book Arts conference in July in Forest Grove, Oregon. Join us.