Category Archives: Book Arts

Print Curiosities: No.4 – Chisato Tamabayashi

Print Curiosties: No.4 is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht

There should always be one work of art in your collection that simply invokes a feeling of joy. Pop-up book ‘Airborne’ by Chisato Tamabayashi, instantly puts a smile on my face. The book consists of six full page pop-ups, illustrating the journey of a hot air balloon. The simple narrative, bright colours, pop-up surprises and interactive sliding tabs, remind me of some of my favourite childhood picture books.

Open page of a book depicting a large group of hot air balloons, of different sizes, colour and pattern. Some of the hot air balloons are pop-up and appear to float as the stick up from the page.
Final Pop-Up Page from ‘Airborne’ by Chisato Tamabayashi. Artist’s Book.

Chisato is a paper and book artist that studied Graphic Design at London College of Printing. She also holds an MA in Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art.

Like children’s picture books, Chisato’s artworks do not contain text. In an interview in Voice (2015) she explains: ‘I believe that visual language is universal, so hopefully the narrative I’m suggesting in my work can communicate through the imagery alone or take people along on their own imaginative journeys.’

Chisato illustrates and prints every part of her books. ‘Airborne’ provides the sense of awe and satisfaction that comes from something well designed and constructed. For ‘Airborne’, Chisato screen prints all the pages and separate parts for each pop-up piece. She then carefully cuts out each element. Once this process is completed, she constructs the pages together and hand binds them into a book. Painstaking care and patience is needed in every step of the process. It is this care that translates into a delightful tactile experience by the reader.

It is important to Chisato that the reader experiences this tactility. ‘I think tactility is very important and maybe that’s why I choose a book format. To enjoy an artist book, you have to touch the book, go through it at your own pace, feel the paper, listen to the noises (sometimes my pop-up pieces make noise!) and enjoy the images.’

Read the full interview with Chisato in Voice, an online art and illustration magazine.

Follow Chisato on Instagram to see her latest work, or view her portfolio on her website.

How to prepare a print ready artwork for printed pages

Understanding how to set up a document on Indesign can be confusing the first few times you try, but it is the best program to use to design and format the content for your books. Here is a guide on how to prepare your print-ready artwork.

How to set up your document?

Open InDesign and select file/New Document. Here is an example of an A4 Portrait book with 48 pages. (48 is the minimum number of pages needed for a multi-section binding)

Screenshot of the InDesign file set up showing the correct set up for an A4 document with 3mm bleed and 15mm margins
  • Choose your page size and the orientation. (Here we are doing A4. The size is 210x297mm)
  • Set up the margins all around with a minimum of 10mm on top, bottom and outer edge. I suggest using 15mm all around as a safe start.
  • Check carefully if your binding will require a larger margin. For example – Japanese binding will require a larger margin so that you have space to sew. Very thick books might also require a larger margin as you get towards the centre pages.
  • Set a minimum of 3mm bleed all around the pages.

How shall I set up my pages?

Your first page inside the book will always be on the right hand-side.
Below you can see the order of your pages. Please start your layout with the 1st page of the content. If you want to print your cover you will need to make a separate document and print as separate files. 
You will also need to include any blank pages where needed. You will not be able to ‘add in’ any blank pages during the binding process, unless you are perfect binding or single sheet sewing.

Screenshot of InDesign showing first three pages of a document
Screenshot of InDesign showing first three pages of a document

Why did we set up margins?

The binding edge (where the pages will be bound together) on your pages will alternate from left to right to left to right.

Screenshot of InDesign demonstrating the binding edge
Document demonstrating the binding edge

As mentioned above, in Japanese binding, we pierce the holes along the spine (binding edge). These holes can be up to 10mm into the page. It is very important that you leave enough margin on the binding edge inside of your pages so your content isn’t cut-off, or sewn into the spine. I would recommend a minimum of 20mm.

All the document settings can be changed at any point, and can be set to affect the whole document, or a particular page

Screenshot of InDesign showing incorrect use of margin
The text will get trimmed on the edges

The above right-hand side page has no margins. The text will get trimmed off on the edges.

Screenshot of InDesign showing correct use of margins, with 20mm on the binding edge and 15mm on all other edges
This page has 20mm margins on the binding edge and 15mm margins at the top, bottom and outside.

This page has 20mm margins on the binding edge.
It also has 15mm margins at the top, bottom and outside.

As mentioned before, the size of margin on the binding edge can change depending on the thickness of your book (the amount of pages). Especially with Japanese binding, the thicker the book, the larger the margin needs to be.

If you are concerned, you can always email us at and we can look over your document, or give you some advice.

Why do we need bleed on the document?

To print a full bleed image, the printer will print on a larger sheet and trim it down.
If you want an image to be full bleed, you need to allow space for the image to “overflow” off the page.

You should always include bleed on your document, as it is needed for document imposition. We recommend to leave 3mm bleed all around the pages.

Screenshot of InDesign showing incorrect use of bleed
document set up with no image in the bleed

This page has a full-page size image on it but has not been extended to the bleed. When trimming, some white borders could appear on the edges.
These edges happen because the sheet can shift slightly inside the machine during the printing process. 

Screenshot of InDesign showing correct use of bleed, with image extended to outer limit
Document set up with image extended into 3mm bleed all around.

This page has 3mm bleed all around. The bleed is shown by the outermost line around the document. You will need to extend your images up to, or beyond, this line if you want to have them printed full bleed. In Indesign the black line all around the page shows where we will trim, and will be printed as crop marks.

Screenshot of InDesign showing both correct and incorrect use of bleed

Here is a close up of the two documents set up.

The top page has not been extended to the bleed.

The bottom has been fully extended to the 3mm bleed.

Now you are ready to export your PDF.

Make sure you export as a High quality print PDF, and remove the crop marks. Use the document bleed settings (this should have been set at 3mm).

InDesign export set up

At LCC we don’t include the crop marks so we can work out the pagination. This can change for different print companies and printing techniques, so double check with your printer to see how they prefer to work.

Now you are ready to bind!

You can find tutorials on the Book Arts-Learning resources page of this website, and on on our Moodle page, where you can also book an online 1:1 with a technician. Alternatively, you can email us at

You can also attend a workshop on File prep for book binding, with Esmeralda in the Digital Space.
This workshop goes into preparing files in more depth and can be booked here :
You can also ask any questions, or organise a 1:1 with Esmeralda at

For Printing enquiries, you can email Claire in Reprographics at

This post was made with the help of Folio Atelier, a bespoke bindery based in Margate.

Inside The Technician’s Toolbox – Part 2: Klara Vith

Drawer full of multiple containers holing tools.
Klara’s tool drawer

Specialist Letterpress Technician Klara Vith shares her sketching and bookbinding toolbox with us.

Klara’s tools are housed in various boxes, leather and felt roll cases and pencil cases that all sit neatly in a drawer.

We asked Klara:

What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?

Knife protectors for all sharps, this includes cutting knives, scalpels and shoe knives for cutting paper. Sharp covers can be easily made using paper and tape. These covers provide protection and keep points sharp

shoe knife and paper knife protector.
Shoe knife with paper and washi tape knife protector

What is your favourite tool?

My Rotring Isograph technical drawing pen. These pens can be refilled, the ink flows really well and the nibs come in various sizes so you can draw with super fine lines.

Rotring technical pen packaging.
Rotring technical pen

What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?

My handmade ‘Nifty Tool’. I designed a clear sheet of acrylic that has a pica grid laser engraved into it. It has a small wooden handle and allows me to make square alignments easily and square off the edges of my prints.

Print Curiosities – No. 2: Maev Lenaghan

Print Curiosities is back! We have expanded our series to include a variety of print and book curiosities from the personal archives across the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress Team. We have asked our technicians to delve into their collections to select, share and write about some of their favourite, special or unusual works of art.

Print Curiosities: No. 2. is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht.

Having spent nearly a decade editioning prints privately for artists and for Graphic Studio Dublin and Stoney Road Press publications, I have accumulated a good collection of printer’s proofs. Some of these prints are large colour multiple plate prints created by some of Ireland’s top established artists.

Small bear printed in grey and gold ink with hard and soft lines and a pale grey wash for texture
Maev Lenaghan, ‘Small Bear’, etching.

Today I have selected to share something a little more subtle and delicate, but equally noteworthy and special.

‘Small Bear’ is one of the most prized etchings in my collection. The print was gifted to me by artist Maev Lenaghan. Maev studied printmaking at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and holds an MFA from Konstfack in Stockholm. She currently lives and works in Sweden.

Maev is interested in narrative and storytelling across Fine Art, Illustration, Literature and Design. Her work explores our relationship and connection to wilderness, working with media such as books, drawing, painting, pastel and printmaking.

Maev is a contributor to I DO ART, an ‘independent dissemination platform for art, with a focus on personal stories and attitudes, visuality and process’.

“My artistic practice springs from ideas that are in essence narrative, that take stock of life in the face of an imperturbable wilderness.”

In 2012, Maev created a series of etchings depicting oral storyteller Clare Murphy in action on Story Night, a regular monthly community storytelling event in Galway, Ireland. These prints were exhibited as part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Woods?’.

She describes this show as “a peek at the richness of our interior lives, and then takes a walk to the edge of our society, in search of wilderness. As a species our strength lies in communities, in imagination and communication, and we are reminded of this amidst lively human interaction. We gather together in communities for protection, vulnerable as individuals. Most of us live removed from places where nature is still wild and foreboding. Yet even amongst those of us who have lost sight of our vulnerability beyond the societies of our making, there are yearnings for wilderness, for the great outdoors.”

Most recently Maev exhibited in The Space Gallery in Shanghai, China, with a show titled THIS BRIGHT EARTH. Another recent exhibition ROOTED IN SILENCE at Galleri LOKOMOTIV, Örnsköldsvik in the north of Sweden received an excellent review. The review is written in Swedish, but you can translate it online.

Open page of book with text on the left page. On the right page is a woodcut image that has an abstract texture and is printed in grey.
Maev Lenaghan, ‘I am a Maev, not a Moose’, artists book

“My latest work encompasses woodblock prints, linocut prints and artist books. These culminated in an exhibition in the north of Sweden which I called ROOTED IN SILENCE. There are two levels to the work: as a balancing of line, colour, emptiness and movement to create energy on the picture plane and to reflect experiences whose very nature are unspoken. Whether recalling the feelings of watching a  bonfire burn on the Swedish traditional night of ‘Valborgmässoafton’, visiting the  zen rock gardens of Japan or observing the exposed roots of trees; these are memories of being mesmerised by something. These are experiences that quiet the mind and speak to the unconscious and that I believe elicit the emotive response of stillness that you are looking for with the exhibition titled ‘Silence’.”

Detail of a small bear shows the bear's head and front paw printed in grey and gold ink. There is a combination of hard and soft line and a pale wash
Detail of ‘Small Bear’ by Maev Lenaghan.

I met Maev whilst working in Graphic Studio Dublin, one of Ireland’s oldest printmaking co-operatives.

‘Small Bear’ was created for Graphic Studio Dublin’s 50 year Anniversary exhibition titled ‘Gold’. The image is only 10cm x 10cm in size, but by looking at it closely you can see that contains a variety of beautiful line and texture that you can look at for hours. I come to it again and again and it always gives me joy as well as inspiring me to want to make etchings. This deceptively simple image contains three different etching techniques. This really demonstrates the quality and expertise of Maev’s drawing, mark making and printmaking. The etching is made of hard ground and soft ground line as well as sugar lift for a textured wash.

I chose this print not only for its beauty, and accomplished technique, but because it reminds me of the spirit of generosity in the printmaking community as well as the power of patience, subtlety and stillness and the complexity and simplicity of storytelling. You can explore more of Maev’s recent narrative works on her website and instagram.

Farewell Ling Chiu!

We would like to say a fond farewell to our amazing Technical Coordinator, Ling Chiu, who is leaving the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress team at LCC to begin an exciting two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios in London, and a month-long residency at AGALAB in Holland. We’ve been chatting to Ling to find out about her time here at UAL and her future plans.

Ling joined UAL in 2014, as a temporary printmaking technician at Wimbledon College of Art. She was already working as a technician at Thames-side Print Studio, and as a Curatorial Assistant at UCL Art Museum, and thought “why not try something new?”. Like many artists, she was juggling a creative practice with a mixed bag of freelance education and part-time work.

“Wimbledon’s printmaking workshop was magic – tiny but bold and ambitious. I worked with one other technician to run it, and we covered screenprinting, etching, relief printing and large format digital printing! It was exciting to work with a mix of fine art, costume and theatre students, and the technical team was very closely knit. We had competitive bake offs, Friday breakfast fry-ups, and ran lunchtime origami sessions for staff and students.”

Three years later, she moved to LCC as the full-time Printmaking Technical Coordinator. Formerly the London College of Printing, Ling was joining a College and team with deep and wide print knowledge. She wanted to balance that legacy with innovation, inclusive practice, and promoting printmaking in a College without fine art or printmaking courses.

“If I had to look back and pick one thing I’m most proud of, it would be developing the Printmaking traineeship with the team. We started with a single Arts Temps trainee and a ten-day paid programme! Now we’re known for providing good, paid, opportunities for students to train as technical staff, and get experience supporting day-to-day running, or some of our Outreach teaching. We’ve worked with DPS students, students from across UAL, alumni, and I’m especially proud to promote women in printmaking, and women in technical roles.”

Did you know? Ling is something of a Health and Safety nerd. She actually has a NEBOSH qualification in Occupational Health and Safety, which she completed while she was at LCC, alongside as PG Cert and PG Dip in Academic Practice.

“I think people have the wrong idea of Health and Safety – H&S is super-inclusive, and super-enabling. People think Health and Safety is all about paperwork and stopping people from doing what they want, when actually, it’s about how we can do exciting things, but make it safe for everyone to participate – who doesn’t want that?”

Ling is now embarking on a two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios, where she also has her own studio. She plans to develop her own visual practice, while writing about, thinking about, and delivering printmaking that is inclusive, sustainable, safe, and beautiful. She will return to AGALAB in Holland later this year for a month-long lithography residency, working with vegetable cleaning agents (VCAs), and researching water use and workflows in printmaking processes.

“There is a place for printmaking 10, 50, 100 years from now, but it is incumbent upon us to be responsible makers; to not live in a bubble. We must use what can be grown when we can, and be precious with anything mined, distilled or shipped. We need to include more people, which means acknowledging where there are barriers: these lovely presses and processes were not designed for my body, my person, my ability, and they may not be designed for yours either… but I am going to do it anyway, and help you do it, too. This is how printmaking not only survives, but thrives.”

Ling will be greatly missed by both students and staff in the workshops, as her enthusiasm and expertise is top notch! She kept us all happy and motivated, with an excellent balance of humour, candidness, knowledge, kindness, respect and of course enough sweet treats!

We are super excited for the future that Ling has created, we wish her all the very best on her new adventure and look forward to following her progress on her Instagram.

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