Bookbinding Adventures

It’s been a while since I took an in person bookbinding class but when I saw that the Austin Book Arts Center had a workshop on making a botanical press I knew I didn’t want to miss out.

The history of pressing plants and flowers dates back to the 16th century and it was a way for botanists to record their findings. By pressing flowers and plant parts their shape, texture and colors can be preserved for hundreds of years. I not a gardener or botanist so it’s not that I’m building my own herbarium but I love the idea of incorporating some nature into my journaling. Presses can be quite simple to make or buy and some can be small enough to use on the go.

The one we made is 9 1/2 by 5 1/2 and composed of two wooden cover boards, a leather wrap and print paper, and corrugated cardboard. So it’s quite portable and the leather wrap works to hold everything tight between the boards.

We sewed a long stitch binding and kettle stitch, both of which are simple and stitches I’ve done many, many times. However what was a bit harder to do was punch through the leather and get all the holes straight and sew through and make sure all stitches were tight. That was a bit unwieldy in my opinion not so much the size of the book but the leather which was nice but not very pliable, although I’m sure that will soften over time.

My stitching wasn’t the best but I always think that part of the beauty of a handmade item are those little imperfections. The best part is knowing you made it and learned something. If you are wondering about the lose pieces of paper you see in the photo of the open book, those are where you place the flowers and take them out after about a week and then you can replace with another piece of paper and continue to collect more specimens.

Also, as an added bonus as our class size was only seven students we got to do some additional work on our press if we wanted to. Our instructor showed us how to do some embossing, stamping and tooling on the leather. I opted to try out the (very hot!) stamping machine and added my name to my botanical press. I loved this!

If you are interested in making your own botanical press, you can find kits online or you can also check out this article from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

Now I just have to wait until temperatures cool down and can go back out for nature walks. Which means not until fall! Haha…

Anyway, would love to know if you enjoy collecting flowers or if you’ve are enjoying some craft making lately.

  1. June 14, 2024
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