Author Archives: Rahel Zoller

Print your own Design on Book cloth

All you need is some A4 book cloth and an inkjet printer. Every material will have a slightly different outcome as it depends on the finish of the book cloth, your printer and if your screen is calibrated. That means you will need to do some tests.

Below you will find a selection and tests on different book cloths that are suitable for printing. Some images work better than others. A common problem is the printer has difficulties taking the book cloth in, or recognising it. If this happens, what you can do is tape the top of the book cloth onto a sheet of paper with a small gap. Like this, your printer will recognise the book cloth as a sheet of paper.

The photographs are from a series of Ruby Rossini’s own Quarantine Residency: Looking for nature where nature is not. Ruby completed her MA in Design for Art Direction at LCC last year. She now works as a multidisciplinary Designer, Art Director and Photographer. Her personal works focuses on the theme of belonging and identity through a variety of different media which are visually explored through Image-Making.

Wicotex Saphir is a Natural woven rayon cloth. Texprint White and Velprint White are flocked materials with printable textile structures.

Wicotex Toile Canvas is a Open weave cotton book cloth that transmits the sense of originality. Brilliance White and Wicotex Printex are natural woven rayon cloth.

Wicotex Brillianta Calandre, Wicotex Imprimex and Wicotex OLB Premium are all natural woven rayon cloths with slightly different finishes. The Wicotex Imprimex took very long to dry.

Wicotex Finesse, again is a natural woven rayon cloth. Kashgar is a luxury woven material with the natural lustre of real satin. Wicotex Magic is a classic woven textiles with the genuine touch and feel of the finest linen.

Order your A4 book cloth samples at Winter and Company

If you have an A4 inkjet printer you can, for example, create an A6 (or slightly bigger) Single Section Case Binding.

Single Section Case Binding

You can find out how to make your own Single Section Case Binding with a step by step guide illustrated in the two books below:

A step-by-step guide by Kathy Abbott

Making Books
A guide to creating hand-crafted books
by the London Centre for Book Arts

Featured Graduate: Shihui Yang with a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Long Stitch Binding

Shihui Yang is a book artist based in Singapore. She started her book arts journey 8 years ago when she came to London to undertake her Bachelor’s degree in Book Arts and Design at London College of Communication. Whilst in the UK, she has worked with global publishing house, Dorling Kindersley, which saw her creating professional book mock-ups for presentation at international book fairs. She also did work experience at the London Centre for Book Arts where she learned how to run a workshop and deepened her book making skills. Upon graduation, she continued to explore the different formats and structure of the book as she worked as a junior art director at an advertising firm.

Longing to take her passion full time, she started Based Book Arts Workshop – an independent creative workshop dedicated to educating book making and book arts. She has since been conducting bookbinding workshops and creating works at a quaint printmaking workshop – The Bee’s Knees Press

Since we are all spending more time at home nowadays, she has turned her Long Stitch bookbinding workshop into an online tutorial for you to download and to make your own long stitch binding without using any glue.

Image is showing a Long Stitch Binding and all materials required for making it: awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser, scissors
Long Stitch Binding and Tools

Download tutorial here:

Before starting you might want to make yourself familiar with the terminologies of a book, which are used in this tutorial as well as create your own punching cradle by following the step-by-step guide here.

Image is showing all materials required for a Long Stitch Binding: cover paper, text paper, waste paper, awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser
Materials for a Long Stitch Binding

The Architecture of a Book

“The book is an intimate communicator, revealing its secrets to those willing to move its pages and interpret its signs”
Anne-Catherine fallen, “In Context – Contemporary Artists’ Books and their Antecedents

The image is showing icons of a book, explaining its architecture
Terminologies of a book

book — A portable container consisting of a series of printed and bound pages that preserves, announces, expounds, and transmits knowledge to a literate readership across time and space.

codex — The physical form of Western books, i.e., printed leaves open at the right and bound together at the back edge.

cover — Thick paper or board that attaches to and protects the book block.

dust jacket — A protective paper sleeve around the cover of a book.

endpaper — The leaves of paper that are glued to the front- and backboards of a hardback book to strengthen the joint between the boards and the book block. They are often decorative.

french fold — A method of binding whereby a sheet of paper is folded in half and the open ends are bound into the spine so that the fold forms the fore-edge of the book.

fore edge — The outer vertical, trimmed edge of a book, opposite the spine.

head — The top of the book

hinge — A fold in the endpaper between the pastedown and the flyleaf

recto/verso — The two sides of a leaf in a codex. Recto is the right-hand, verso is the back of that same leaf, not the page facing to recto.

spine — Section of book cover that covers the bound edge. 

tail — The bottom of the book

For more details on book terminologies and book structures you can order a free copy of: Size|Format|Stock by emailing It is a booklet that was written by Justin Hobson from Fenner Papers in collaboration with Zoë Bather at Studio8. A great reference book for graphic designers and book makers.

Reference on the above terminology and further reading can be found here:
Fawcett-Tang, R. New Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2004
Haslam, A. Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2006
Smith, K. A. Structure of the Visual Book. New York: Keith Smith BOOKS, 2002
Stanley, R. Book Design, Systematic Aspects. New York & London: R. R. Bowker Company, 1979

Watch the Anatomy of a Book a short film by the New Yorker in which, antiquarian booksellers reel off the special language they use to catalogue a book’s condition and describe the methods for fixing its faults:

Paper and its properties

As we live in uncertain yet innovative times, new and unique recycled papers have emerged. Paper manufacturers are challenging the medium in a multitude of ways. Gmund Bier for example is made of chlorine free pulp and spent brewer’s grain. The names of the collection indicating their fermented origins: Lager, Pils and Ale. G . F Smith created Extract, a paper made out of 90% of the waste from a coffee cup. Every 380gsm sheet of Extract paper contains at least 5 upcycled coffee cups. Curious Matter by Arjowiggins has a unique texture, created from raw potato starch, the by-product of the processing of potatoes into chips and fries in the food industry, and transformed into a surface coating that is unexpected to the touch. Fenner Paper distributes Crush by Favini. An eco-friendly paper that has been given a distinctive flecked texture and appearance by adding residues from fruits and nuts that are taken from agricultural food waste.

This image shows G F Smith, Extract paper swatch book on top of empty paper cups
G F Smith, Extract – Paper swatch book

When choosing paper for your project you want to make sure to think about its properties, history and usage as well as how it can communicate your project.

I spoke with Vanessa Fletcher, Consultant and Student & Graduate Specialist from G . F Smith about paper and how to choose the best material for your project.

Vanessa, how do you find out what the ideal paper for a particular project is?

As a consultant for G . F Smith, I am privileged to be involved in lots of unique projects. To really help a customer though it’s important we know what the specific use is for. Are they creating something that will need a paper to work in a particular way, or are they looking for a very specific colour. I ask as many questions as possible so that I can start to suggest a more bespoke offering. G . F Smith has a huge collection of papers, it can often be overwhelming to know which paper will best suit your project without any guidance. Our papers are specified for all types of projects, from packaging to greetings cards. If we find out exactly what the client is using the paper for, we are better informed to let them know which papers will suit their job. One client once asked me for a paper that was lucky! They were designing all of the assets for a new hotel in Hong Kong, they wanted the paper to have some connection to luck and prosperity as that was an important guideline for all materials used in the hotel. I was able to suggest a few papers based on colour, provenance (a lot of our papers are made around the world in unique mills with a lot of history) and what the paper was made from. For other less demanding projects, I could be asked to select a paper based on its printability. Some books will require a paper that is more opaque, while others will want a paper that can reproduce incredibly vibrant colours. We have a paper for almost every purpose!

The papers at G . F Smith vary in texture and materiality. How do you examine and assess a paper sample?

It sounds obvious but feeling the paper is hugely important. You can gauge how it will suit your project by sometimes just feeling it’s texture. It’s often feeling the difference between gsm’s that will inform a choice too. Look at the paper under different lights, colour can seem very different in natural light compared to synthetic light. I always suggest asking yourself when assessing which paper to use: is this right for the project? If you’re designing a high end coffee table style book full of rich colour printing, but you love the idea of a heavily textured paper, this might be the wrong use for that paper.

When making a final choice between similar papers do you have any tips for making a decision?

This is often a common problem when choosing between white papers. G . F Smith carry a huge amount of coloured, textured and specialist papers which are usually very unique and if specified there aren’t too many alternatives. However, G . F Smith also carry many white papers in our “fine uncoated” and “fine coated” collection. The difference between one white paper and the next can be confusing, but there are a few things to consider when making a final choice between similar papers. Cost can be a huge consideration, a paper that is made from cotton content will be more expensive than a regular paper. Also, does your project require a paper that is made from recycled content? Many recycled papers look very clean and almost identical to those made from virgin fibres. Weight and bulk are also a consideration; a paper with a higher bulk can be a great way to reduce the weight of your book but keep the thickness. This is often a key consideration for books that are shipped internationally as it makes for cheaper shipping.

When choosing paper the cost inevitably plays an important part in the final decision, both as a total cost across a project and the cost per item produced. Our students usually only need small quantities and therefore this isn’t always the case but could you give us an example on how costs can be considered without scarifying the quality of paper when it comes to commercial projects?

Cost is inevitably a huge deciding factor when producing a project. We are lucky that at G . F Smith we have a range of papers to suit most budgets. We do also try and recommend that paper is thought about carefully in a budget, its often the case that compromising on the material can make a job very expensive as it can sometimes lead to unsatisfactory printing etc and result in a reprint with a better paper. 

Can you give a good example of when a cheap paper has been the best choice for a project?

Our affordable papers are used for so many jobs, probably for jobs you’d expect to be produced on far more expensive papers. Quite often big fashion house look books, high end magazines and books will specify lower price point papers because of the sheer volume. However, sometimes a paper will be too beautiful to pass up pn the opportunity to not use for a specific project – that’s where you can get creative with budget. It’s often the case that a more expensive paper can be used if you are think about alternative solutions. Can you use less paper by making it smaller? Can you mix paper types and instead of using lots of expensive paper, mix in some affordable ones? Also think about your printing process, can you use less colours, less special finishes etc. Some beautiful print has had as little as just black ink on an amazing paper.

Do you have any advice for our students on how to create something intriguing and special during lockdown without having access to any particular facilities?

It’s difficult to think of making when you aren’t surrounded by your usual facilities and resources. Home inkjet printers can be great though, and experimenting with papers in them can have some nice outcomes. Paper can be used for more than just printing on too. Cutting, tearing, scorching, sewing into, folding are all ways to create and make without any facilities. There are interesting print processes you can experiment with too at home. Creating designs from cardboard to print ink/paint onto paper. Cyanotype is also a great technique. Sometimes the best and most explorative design can come out of restriction. I’d suggest using the G . F Smith sample service to order some sheets that you like the look of…sometimes just having the paper there in-front of you can inspire something you hadn’t thought of.  

The sample service at G . F Smith is available for students to have up to 12 x A3 sheets sent to a home address. Send your request to: studentsamples@gfsmith with your name, address and course. If you can’t access a G . F Smith swatch book, take a look on their website where you can see a full size image (and you can download it) to get an idea of what you’d like to order. Also, have a look at G . F Smith’s student update for this month here:

Featured Graduate: Miriam Brüggen with a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Punching Cradle

Image showing Miriam Brüggen at the printing press at the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo
Miriam Brüggen printing at the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo

Miriam Brüggen is a graphic designer and visual artist based in Berlin. She graduated from London College of Communication in 2017 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Design for Visual Communication – during this time she focused on book and letterpress projects. After graduation she pursued a career in the field of spatial and communication design, and, in collaboration with architects, interior / product & motion designers creates analog and digital touch points for brand spaces. In her free-time, she follows her passion for book and print projects, since she values the work with physical materials.

She just returned from a 6 month trip to Japan, where she explored traditional bookbinding and printing techniques and worked for the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo. During that time she learnt to value the benefits of a sewing punching cradle, which allows to bind books very precisely.

Miriam created a step by step guide for you on how to create your own punching cradle below.

Showing Miriam's desk with a  punching cradle
Miriam’s desk with a punching cradle

Step-by-step Punching Cradle

You will need:

• Sharp Blade
• Ruler, Pencil
• PVA Glue
• Glue Brush
• Bone Folder
• Waste Paper

• 2 x large pieces of grey board (2.0mm–2.5mm), W 120 x L 330 mm
• 4 x small pieces of grey board (same weight), W 120 x L 105 mm
• 2 x strips of book cloth: W 80 x L 330 mm

Showing book cloth and grey board
Materials: book cloth and grey board

Start with the four small rectangles that support the cradle body.

Draw a triangle on two of them. Take the long edge (120 mm) for the bottom side of the triangle. It should start about 15 mm from each corner and the tip should be 45 mm away from the top edge.

Image showing cutting instructions on grey board
Cutting instructions

Cut the triangles out

Image of triangles cut out
Triangles cut out

Glue each of the remaining pieces on one of the untrimmed rectangles. The support legs are done and you can place both under a weight for a short while (some heavy books will be fine!).

Showing the support legs glued together
Support legs

In the meantime, make the cradle body. Take one strip of book cloth and mark the centre of the short edge. Repeat same step with the other piece of book cloth.

Image is showing two pieces of book cloths
Mark the centre of the book cloth

Add two marks, the first, one board thickness to the left from the middle, the second, one board thickness to the right (use the two cut out triangles as a gauge).

Image showing how to use the triangles as gauge
Use the triangles as gauge

Brush the book cloth with glue and attach the long grey boards to the lines.

Take your bone folder, flatten the cloth and score down the middle, this will neaten the joint.

Image of the usage of a bone folder
Use a bone folder to define the joint

Repeat with the other side: Brush the cloth with glue and put it on the grey boards, try to align it with the cloth underneath.

Image showing how to attach the book cloth
Attach book cloth from the other side

Neaten the joint from this side, too.

Image of the usage of a bone folder

Eventually, it should look like this. When you are ready, put it under a weight for a couple of minutes.

Image showing both joints together
Both boards joined together

Measure and mark up 10mm from the edge of both short sides. Create a slit by cutting the thickness of one grey board. The slit’s width should be 128 mm in total to fit the support legs. Take 64 mm from the centre of the cradle body to the left and right.

Images shows how to measure
Measure 10mm from both the sides

The depth of the slit should should equal the thickness of one grey board (use one of the rectangles as gauge. It should be the exact thickness, if its too wide the cradle body will sit lose).
The slit’s width should be 128 mm in total to fit the support legs. Measure 64 mm from the centre of the cradle body to the left and right.

Almost done, now you can slide each side over the support legs. If necessary, enlarge the slit to fit the cradle body.

Image on how to construct the punching cradle
Constructing the punching cradle

Et voilà. Below a printable version of the whole process. Miriam also prepared a short hand out with her notes and some step-by-step illustrations.

Image of punching cradle
Finished punching cradle


POD (Print on Demand)

Print on demand was developed after the beginning of digital printing because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing. Therefore, POD is a printing process that allows for the production of single copies of a book, as and when an order has been received, allowing for short print runs, low production costs and immediate responses to an audience.

During this uncertain time, POD is an ideal medium to get your work printed and out there. I will show two projects, which explored and challenged the possibilities of POD, both have been produced in the timeframe between 2008 and 2012, which feels like a long time ago but given the circumstances the work still feels relevant and up to date.

You might argue that a POD publication is poor in its physical quality, but if you allow it to be like Johanna Drucker states in her The Century of Artists’ Books, a “self-conscious record of its own production” you are giving it the freedom of being what it is. A book printed without you having influence in its production.

Image of books: Variable Format
Variable Format, 2012

Variable Format is a sample book, a model, a serial system that explores the technological margins of print on demand and how reading is informed by the materiality of the book object. Examining the quality of print reproduction, paper, binding, cover and size, the book has been produced in twelve formats using different options of print on demand. Conceived by Lynn Harris, published by AND and designed by Åbäke with Pierre Pautler. Materials collected from the now closed library of the Byam Shaw School of Art form the content of a publication that is spread through twelve POD platforms. Instead of being resized to fit the various formats, a single layout is cut, so each printed artefact acts as a unique “framing” of the same source

Open spread of the book: Dear Lulu and it's cover
Dear Lulu, 2008

Dear Lulu is a test book which was researched and produced by graphic design students at Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany, during an intensive two-day workshop with London-based designer James Goggin (Practise). The book’s intention is to act as a calibration document for testing colour, pattern, format, texture and typography. Exercises in colour profiling, halftoning, point size, line, geometry, skin tone, colour texture, cropping and print finishing provide useful data for other designers and self-publishers to judge the possibilities and quality of online print-on-demand — specifically, with this edition. The project was afterwards extended to other platforms, such as Blurb and MagCloud.

A book can also be presented as a video trailer, as a single line of text, a performance documented, an essay, a series of stills, or as a downloadable pdf file. The book exists in physical form and in conceptual form. It travels further and quicker as an idea than as an object. Source: ABC

Featured Graduate: Azelia Ng Wei Zhen

Azelia at the Design Block at LCC
Azelia at the Design Block at LCC

Azelia Ng Wei Zhen, is a graphic designer based in Singapore. She studied at London College of Communication BA Hons Graphic and Media Design and graduated in 2018. Azelia now works primarily in the field of graphic design but isn’t defined by it. She finds herself coming back to researching the book as an investigation and explores experimental publishing and artist’s books. In this Featured Grad post, she talks about how she has continued her practice after graduating from LCC and how she is working within the times of COVID 19.

1. Tell us about yourself. Have you always made art?

I do enjoy the art of making things and that to me is making art, which I guess started at a young age as I’ve always been curious about the things around me, especially in form, texture, and tactility. 

I’m a (graphic) designer, the reason for the brackets is the acknowledgment not to be pigeonholed by a single definition but rather one that expands and changes from time to time. The work that I do is print-centric but the principles that drive them are the synergy between craftsmanship, ideation, and the experience that resonates with people.

The image shows a book spread which is Azelia's interpretation of The Machine Stops by E.M Forster
Azelia’s interpretation of The Machine Stops by E.M Forster

2.  How did you get started in bookbinding?

It was one of the assignments on the course to interpret a classic read, The Machine Stops by E.M Forster a short story, which became a revelation of my relationship with the book as I explored book design. In time I was engaged in everything and anything to do with the book medium, from designing to making a book.

Most of all it’s therapeutic and fun. The tangible appearance of the final object once all the pages are folded, put into its sequence and sewn together does oddly fascinate me—as if I could control time and space within the book.

3.  Who are your biggest influences?

Irma Boom (Book Designer) + Tauba Auerbach (Artist and Book Artist) + Rahel Zoller (Book Artist + Bookmaker) = Respectable women in the realms of books. When it comes to their approach in the way they do things or the conceived idea, these ladies never fail to bring a pleasant surprise. Through their work, I understand that good + thought-provoking work does not happen by chance, they are the result of careful thought and meticulous attention to detail.

Essentially, the experience that people encounter in context to the subject matter is what influences the work I do. Designing for the senses requires intricate detail and the book medium embodies lots of potentials which is probably why I’m so interested in it—the paper; its weight, colour, opacity, texture; the typeface and how the final design floats on white space. Also, don’t get me to start on the reading experience or the binding. 

The image shows Azelia's desk
Azelia’s desk, working from home.

4.  Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated?

At the moment it’s my little nest, my bedroom, and makeshift studio, where I engage my hands in making, working and playing. With the current situation of COVID-19, I think many people are working from home and it has since become the new norm, possibly a post-COVID-19 condition. 

My workspace is organized with everything essential reachable at arm’s length (also the space I have isn’t very big as well) and mainly three areas – the digital, craft and library sections. In the digital section, I have the main desk, a glass table, to do daily work with the computer, Wacom, stationeries, important documents and underneath it is an A3 printer, which I use to do test prints of the mockups that I’m making.  

On my left is the craft area, a flat cabinet, used as a table with a cutting mat on top and it’s where I keep the necessary tools involved in tangible experiments—binding tools, adhesives, paint, paper, brush and etc… This is where I do my experiments + mockups, making and creating in the physical form. Lastly, I’ve got a personal library, with books of my interest and books collected during my travels in different countries. 

In a workspace, it is important to organise it to one’s workflow, and for me, I needed additional space, like a workshop area, where I focus on physical experiments without the need to clean up or shift things around just to do day to day things.

5.  Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you to yourself if you could travel back in time?

Firstly, do not rely just on computers to realize your project but rather utilise the many facilities in LCC to its fullest potential – BookArts, Letterpress, Screenprinting or the 3D workshops. As a designer, it is important to know the process required in the production of the work into its physical format. It better informs one’s practice by the understanding of variables in materiality and print production which can alter/ affect the final piece, to design with those variables in mind and to challenge them.

Lastly, always talk to the technicians, they are charming and one of the most interesting bunch within the school compound (tutors? not as much). Every technician has something different to offer, be it their life experiences or the comfort and advice they bring in the stressful period of submissions. They are also like spies living double lives, having things lined up outside of their day job—some are established artists.

6.  Where can we see more of your work?  

Since graduation, I’ve worked on commercial work in local design studios in Singapore, and outside of work I’ve participated in exhibitions and have organized a ‘Book Talk: Behind the Book’ at National Design Centre but at moment I’m preparing to open a tiny online shop, The Other Studio, turning my bedroom into a studio to create and make things.

The image shows Azelia moderating the 'Book Talk: Behind the Book' at National Design Centre
Azelia moderating the ‘Book Talk: Behind the Book’ at National Design Centre


Alternative Bookbinding Tools

Want to do some bookbinding but don’t have any tools to hand. Here are some alternatives: Instead of a bonefolder you can use the handle of a blunt butter knife or any wooden/plastic cooking spoons. Instead of a pricker use a regular needle and a wine cork as a handle. Instead of bookbinding thread use tooth floss (it’s already waxed) and instead of a bookbinding needle just use a regular sewing needle.

Bookbinding tools, bonefolder, pricker, thread and needles

Try it out with a simple Three-hole Pamphlet Binding:

Paper and alternative bookbinding tools

1. Use between 4 to 8 sheets of A4 paper for your section and a heavier paper/card (roughly 250-300gsm) for your cover.

2. Start by folding each sheet of paper in half, keep the corners aligned and use the handle of the butter knife/wooden/plastic spoon to create a sharp fold.

3. Stack the sheets of paper inside each other and put the cover sheet onto the outside.

Folded sheets of paper and alternative bonefolder

4. Use the needle and the cork as pricker to pierce 3 holes, with equal distance, from the inside to the outside of your book.

Alternative pricker in use

5. Cut a length of the tooth floss roughly twice as long as your spine and feed it through the needle. Start sewing through the center hole to your right or left.

Alternative thread, tooth floss

6. Skip the centre hole and continue to the hole on the other side.

7. Now finish sewing by coming through the centre hole again.

8. To tie a knot, make sure that both ends of the thread are on opposite sides of the central thread. Tighten the thread taut and make a knot on top of the central thread. Trim your book once it is sewn.

Follow step-by-step guide here.

Or watch Simon Goode’s three-hole pamphlet binding. He explains how to properly cut the book afterwards

Bookbinding: Three Hole Pamphlet binding explained by Simon Goode