Board Slotting as a Structure for Artist’s Books

Although board slotting was originally developed as a strong, minimally invasive method of conserving books, I’ve wanted to try it on an artist’s book for a while.  Slotting seemed a great way to firmly attach wooden or alternative material without visually interfering with cover.  Accra Shepp created this artist book titled “Atlas”, in an edition of 12.  It was a perfect candidate for board slotting- the boards were an oversize (18 x 12″) medium density fiberboard, covered with a gorgeous burl veneer that deserved to be unobscured by covering material or interior linings.

A number of the NYC bookarts community worked on this project– Paul Wong, of Dieu Donne  Papermill, made the paper, Edward Fausty printed the collotypes, Earl Kallemeyn printed the polymer plates,  Dikko Faust of Purgatory Pie Press printed the metal type and letterpress and even the leaves came from the NY Botanical Garden.











There were some technical challenges- the entire book weighed 5.25 lbs, there were many fragile plants imbedded in the paper and the book included a final signature made up of a single folio!   In keeping with the overall meaning of the book, the artist wanted a simple, unobtrusive, elegant method of binding this book that used natural materials. We decided slotting was the best method of accomplishing this goal, in conjunction with a non-adhesive modified longstich spine.  In keeping with the natural and open nature of this text, I slotted completely through the ends of the board, hoping it to become a decorative element reflecting its visual honesty.

 The binding had to be very flexible, with lots of throw-up and minimal page drape to keep the tissue paper collage elements and actual plant materials from unduly flexing. The spine is a Japanese linen bookcloth that was laminated with PVA to a piece of Strathmore 400.   This not only stiffened the cloth, helping to control the opening and lessen the text block from torsion, but it prevented the sewing holes from opening up excessively and the interior white lining visually lessened the impact of the slight gaps between the signatures.  It was sewn longstich with Best Blake 18/6 unbleached linen thread. The  relatively loose twist in the thread allowed it to be flattened and firmly consolidated in the spine folds, adding a pleasant feeling solidity to this non-adhesive structure.  There were only 5 signatures, and numerous collage elements, so the extra swell helped to keep the boards relatively parallel.  The technical information on how a board slotting machine was modified to accommodate these oversize boards is at the board slotting blog.

It might be possible to devise some kind of endband for this structure, somehow incorporating the slot at the end of the boards, and I’m interested in trying it with alternative materials, such as plexy or metal.  Even the hinge in the slot could be made non-adhesive with some type of treenail, pegging or sewn attachment.  

This structure seems useful when a flat opening, cost effective, non-adhesive, unobtrusive binding style is desired.  I could imagine it being useful on a variety of artist books. To my knowledge, this is the first time board slotting has been used in making a new artist’s book.  



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