F&M College Library

Artists' Books at Franklin & Marshall

Stellar picks

Making Books ~ Bibliography with Reviews

 = a stellar pick!




Golden, Alisa.  Creating Handmade Books.  New York:  Sterling Pub. Co., 2000.

   Golden’s first book about making books contains the basics, such as step-by-step instruction for common structures, tool lists, and a glossary. Although the information presented is beginner level, the author’s own process for creating content relies heavily on letterpress printing, a studio practice that is out of the reach of many beginners because of expense, space, and training. Only Golden’s work is shown in the photographs, which further limits the usefulness of Creating Handmade Books for readers who want a broader range of ideas and inspiration.  Her “personal journey” narrative takes up a full eight pages of Preface, with episodes continuing at frequent intervals throughout. Students looking to be less invested in another artist’s path and more involved in learning how creative and versatile the art of making books can be would do better with a guide like Shereen LaPlantz’s classic Cover to Cover (a stellar pick reviewed below). Creating Handmade Books was followed in rapid succession by two similar books by Golden, also published by Sterling, suggesting a rush-to-market strategy to take advantage of the make-your-own-books craze of the early 2000s.  Z271 .G62 2000  



Golden, Alisa.  Unique Handmade Books.  New York:  Sterling Pub. Co., 2003.

   Innovative structures, unconventional materials, and books made by other artists distinguish this volume from Golden’s previous Creating Handmade Books and help make up for that book’s shortcomings. Chapters such as “Transforming Everyday Life” and “Collaborations, Compilations, and Exchanges” take this volume beyond mere technical manual by demonstrating what a book can possibly be and encouraging engagement with the community aspect of book arts. Still more craft than art--one project is a “stuffed pillow book”--Unique Handmade Books nevertheless will inspire readers who have some previous experience.  Z116 .A3 G65 2003



Golden, Alisa.  Expressive Handmade Books.  New York:  Sterling Pub. Co., 2005.

   Golden’s third volume is intensively self-reflective. If learning to make books under a heavy cloud of the author’s grief is not your cup of tea, the same technical content can be had elsewhere for a much less emotional price.  Z116 .A3 G64 2005

 LaPlantz, Shereen.  Cover to Cover:  Creative Techniques for Making Beautiful Books, Journals & Albums.  New York:  Lark Books, 2000.

   This is an excellent book about making handcrafted books, plain and simple. LaPlantz begins by acknowledging the “explosion in book arts” in the 1990s (Cover to Cover was first published in 1995) and distinguishes book arts (“all types of handcrafted books”) from artists’ books, which are more conceptual than craft. Cover to Cover is ideal for beginners because of the skill-building chronology of the projects and the abundance of models:  format models, project models, and stitching samples. All of the models are photographed from angles that show their structures clearly. The technical drawings are adequate, and books by many other artists are shown in large, full-color photographs. An aspiring book maker could work his or her way through this book methodically, advancing from Pamphlet Stitch to Jacob’s Ladder, while building skills as well as a reference library of format models. A short but helpful bibliography rounds out this manual.  Z271 .L44 2000



LaPlantz, Shereen.  The Art and Craft of Handmade Books.  New York:  Lark Books, 2001.

   Individuals who have learned basic techniques and have familiarity with the common tools and materials used to make books may find their next challenge in this, LaPlantz’s second book. Many structures from her 1995 Cover to Cover reappear, but this time in combination formats, such a “concertina with pop-up panels.” Some structures border on tedious:  “dos à dos single and double-signature tacket binding” anyone? How about a “double-layer interwoven slit concertina”? A nice feature of this manual is the Gallery at end of every chapter, where an impressive 59 artists total are represented, offering plenty of inspiration. Art and Craft shows many ideas for adding content to handmade books; specific themes include abecedaries, bestiaries, and counting books. LaPlantz includes instructions for making wheat paste in a microwave and constructing a sewing cradle, two very nice features that help move this book beyond the basics.  Z271 .L43 2001



Doggett, Sue.  The Bookbinding Handbook:  Simple Techniques and Step-by-Step Projects.  Edison, NJ:  Chartwell Books, 2008.

   This handbook by British artist and teacher Doggett is more about bookbinding than books arts/crafts, as she draws on traditional binding and conservation practices and their associated tools, materials, and terminology (kettle stitch, book block, etc.). The author’s hand-drawn and -colored illustrations are charming and clear. The formats shown progress in complexity from folded books to case bindings.  Emphasis is on structure rather than content, and many of the examples would make fine blank books.  “The Projects” chapter gives instructions for making practical items, for example an address book with notepad. Book artists can apply Doggett’s formal structures to their own content to make technically sound, conceptually interesting, and visually appealing work. A selected bibliography includes some classic bookbinding manuals.  Z271 .D567 2008  


Weston, Heather.  Bookcraft:  Techniques for Binding, Folding, and Decorating to Create Books and More.  Beverly, MA:  Quarry Books, 2008.

   Weston’s Bookcraft, which is an introduction to the craft, shows how to make blank books in a number of formats. The written instructions are supported by excellent step-by-step photographic illustrations as well as technical drawings. The last chapter, called “The Complete Book,” shows the marriage of content and structure in eighteen books by various artists. Two of them are in Franklin & Marshall’s collection:  Turn Over Darling by Ron King and Le 6 Avril 1944 by Jacques Fourier. In Suggestions for Further Reading, Weston includes not only other how-to books but also books about artists’ books, giving readers a path to the literature that takes making books from craft to art.  Z271 .W457 2008



McCarthy, Mary.  Making Books by Hand:  A Step-by-Step Guide.  Gloucester, MA:  Rockport Pub., 2000.

   Making Books by Hand is another of the myriad “make your own books” guides that was published around the turn of the (21st) century.  Most are barely distinguishable, one from the other, and in this regard McCarthy's is no exception. Her approach is anyone-can-make-a-book simple:  use common tools and materials to make blank books. Instructions for making accordions, journals, scrapbooks, photo albums, and portfolios are accompanied by step-by-step photographs. A gallery at the end of the book shows the author’s and other artists’ books, giving readers some ideas for adding content to their blank pages. A short list of suggested readings is included.  Z271 .M33 2000


 Moote, Cherryl.  Simply Bound:  Beginnings in Bookbinding.  Toronto:  At Your Ease Pub., 2001.

˜ Moote, Cherryl.  Copied, Bound & Numbered.  Toronto:  At Your Ease Pub., 2003.

Readers should not be deceived by the no-frills look of these two self-published black-and-white, spiral-bound books by Toronto artist and educator Moote.  The content is rich and inspiring.

   Simply Bound:  The basics of bookbinding are taught through a series of small book and cover mock-ups that serve as references for future, larger projects. The structures are primarily single signature and accordion, and there is a chapter on making simple covers for them. Only basic tools are needed and many of the books require no glue. There is a lure to books made without adhesive.  A book that can be made just by folding and cutting (and maybe a little sewing) paper is the perfect container for content that is conceptually and visually complex. Moote's methods make bookbinding accessible to almost everyone, as there is minimal investment in time and materials. Most of the visuals in Copied, Bound & Numbered are diagrams, but they are numerous and effective. A photograph at the beginning of every section introduces that section's book form. The author’s talent and education philosophy are evident, and her books are refreshingly absent of the glossy color photos and other tricks that some mainstream publishers use to mask a lack of substance.  Oversize Z271 .M655 2001  

   Copied, Bound & Numbered: This is one of the few “how to make books” books that addresses the specific considerations artists encounter when they want to produce multiples or small editions of their work. Moote includes a very helpful chapter on using photocopiers and printers to reproduce content. Like Simply Bound, CB&N is a welcome relief from the often self-conscious and contrived book arts and craft how-tos.  Oversize Z271 .M66 2003


Barton, Carol.  The Pocket Paper Engineer:  How to Make Pop-Ups Step-by-Step.  Vol. 1, Basic forms, 2005; vol. 2, Platforms and props, 2008; vol. 3, V-folds, 2012.  Glen Echo, MD:  Popular Kinetics Press.

   The Pocket Paper Engineer is a three-volume workbook series by paper artist and teacher Barton. The series is equal to a basic course in pop-up paper engineering, which the author defines as “opening a flat page to reveal a three-dimensional form.” The title is slightly misleading; Pocket refers to pockets that are bound into each book to store pop-up mock-ups:  perforated do-it-yourself cards that you tear out of the book and make. Each workbook is an in-depth study of one specific pop-up technique and builds upon skilled learned in the previous volume. Even though each volume includes its own tools and materials list, general directions, assembly instructions, and resources list, they do not necessarily stand alone. For example, Volume 3 refers back to a previous volume “for complete instructions.” Volume 3 does have an excellent chapter on making editions and could be purchased for that content alone.  Spec. Coll. Ref. TT870 .B2425 2005





˜ Booklyn Artists Alliance.  Booklyn Education Manual, abridged ed.  Brooklyn:  Booklyn Artists Alliance, 2005.

   Another simple charmer packed with information, this 24-page single-signature book is an abridged edition of the full-length Manual which is available as a free download at Booklyn’s website, http://www.booklyn.org/education/000240.php. Both formats are “anti-copyrighted” and available for anyone to copy/distribute/share in the (free) spirit of incorporating book arts into school education as a means of self-expression. The abridged edition has instructions for one-sheet, accordion/concertina with cover options, flag book, stab binding, pamphlet stitch, and Coptic stitch. The unabridged version includes lesson plans and instruction sheets for specific projects in school settings, which were written by a collective of artist educators. The Booklyn Education Manual is an excellent choice for anyone interested in learning simple but versatile book forms that require minimal investment in tools and materials.  Spec. Coll. Ref. Z116 .A3 B576 2005 

˜ Smith, Keith A.  Non-Adhesive Binding, Vol. 1:  Books Without Paste or Glue, 3rd ed.  Rochester, NY:  Keith Smith Books, 1993.

   Often referred to simply as Books Without Paste or Glue, volume 1 of Smith’s Non-Adhesive Binding series is one of his most-cited books. It is an artists’ book about artists’ books and transcends the craft aspect of the discipline.  Smith is truly innovative, and many of the structures shown in other how-to-books originate with or derive from his inventions. He writes and works from the perspective that “[binding] helps determine content,” emphasizing the relationship between container and contained. Conceptually difficult but practically simple, a “needle, scissors, and a few other minor tools” are all that one needs to get started. Smith makes intentional decisions about the formal properties of hand-bound books--paper quality, color, typography. Artists who teach in academic art programs commonly choose Books Without Paste or Glue as a reference for their students. Includes a bibliography.  Spec. Coll. Ref. Z271 .S66 1993 vol. 1






Lindsay, Jen.  Fine Bookbinding:  A Technical Guide.  London:  The British Library, 2009.

   Lindsay is a formally trained, professional bookbinder in London. She guides the reader through all of the steps necessary to create a book bound in leather; that is, a fine binding. Highly specialized and expensive equipment, tools, and materials are required.  Meticulous workmanship is stressed, and the instructional level is suited to professionals who work as conservators and fine binders, and students who are enrolled in formal academic programs or are undertaking apprenticeships.  “Armchair” binders, collectors, and connoisseurs also will appreciate the book for its thorough treatment of beautifully bound books. A bibliography is included.  Z271 .L62 2009


Zeier, Franz.  Books, Boxes, and Portfolios:  Binding, Construction, and Design Step-by-Step.  New York:  Design Press, 1990.

   This is a classic, well-respected book by a Swiss designer and educator.  Although Zeier wrote it as a textbook for formal academic programs, anyone who wants to acquire bookbinding skills on their own will find it useful. No prior experience is necessary, no expensive equipment is required, and the projects progress from simple to more difficult. The projects are practical; for example, Zeier starts off with instructions for making an accordion book to hold the beginning binder’s paper samples. His hand-drawn, color illustrations are precise and austere (Swiss design!), which actually is quite inspiring because it encourages individuals to develop a personal style facilitated by their technical training. Books, Boxes, and Portfolios includes a scholarly bibliography that emphasizes history and conservation.  Tech. Services Ref. Z271 .Z4413 1990



Cambras, Josep.  Bookbinding:  Techniques and Projects.  Hauppauge, NY:  Barron’s, 2007.

   Originally published in Spanish in 2006, Bookbinding is a text written by Barcelona professor Cambras to support formal training in the field. The volume begins with a short history of bookbinding, followed by several pages of inspiration for book decoration derived from contemporary art. There is a series of step-by-step projects, as well as a section that shows how to repair a damaged leather-bound book.  A studio or shop equipped with the heavy machinery of the practice--guillotine, backing press, plough, book press--is required to perform many of the projects efficiently. The most useful part of Bookbinding, at least to artists and writers who want to make books to hold whatever content it is that they are producing, is the chapter on “Paper Painting Techniques” (you did that with a potato?). These unique, hand-decorated papers can easily be used with the more accessible projects shown in Johnson (below) or Zeier (above).  Oversize Z271 .C2513 2007 

˜ Johnson, Pauline.  Creative Bookbinding.  Seattle:  University of Washington Press, 1963.

   Johnson (1905-1994) was a professor of art at University of Washington and a nationally known art educator. She taught bookbinding as a means of expression and through Creative Bookbinding (reprinted by Dover in 1990), continues to influence contemporary book artists with her innovative ideas. Although some of the content is dated--one of the projects is a desk blotter!--Johnson’s art education style is timeless and can be applied to a broad range of students’ ages and skill levels. She covers history, design, proportion, and working procedures, and shows how to make utilitarian objects such as scrapbooks and memo pads. A 70-page chapter showing numerous techniques for hand-decorating paper complements the binding information. The black-and-white photographs of finished projects, many made with decorated papers, are inspiring. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography.  A true classic.  Z266 .J6






LaPlantz, Shereen.  Innovative Bookbinding:  Secret Compartments & Hidden Messages.  Bayside, CA:  Press de LaPlantz, 1997.

   Well-known book artist and author LaPlantz (Cover to Cover) designed this intriguing instructional manual that contains actual examples of the secret compartments and hidden messages that it teaches, so that readers can actually see the forms in action. There's a tiny book hidden behind a window, a pamphlet placed in a slipcase, a tunnel, and a pull mechanical. Innovative Bookbinding was hand-bound in an edition of 1000 and has a hand-printed cover and laser-printed text. It focuses mainly on three-dimensional paper forms such as origami books and mechanicals. The instructional level assumes experience with basic techniques, materials, and tools, and LaPlantz refers readers who don’t have that background to Cover to Cover.  Spec. Coll. Rare Book Z271 .L45 1997

˜ Wrekk, Alex.  Stolen Sharpie Revolution 2:  A DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture.  Portland, OR:  Lunchroom Pub., 2009.

   SSR is a zine about zines.  Originally published in 2002, it serves as a handbook for making self-published magazines, usually about a topic of interest to a very specific population. Wrekk is a veteran of the practice who writes to share her knowledge of zine culture, inspire others, and encourage DIY ethics:  “taking control back from corporate consumer influence.” The book is pocket-sized, about 5 ½" x 4”, and is a how-to but so much more. Techniques covered include cut-and-paste (a.k.a. scissors and gluestick) layout, xerographic publishing, pamphlet-stitch binding, block printing, making paper, and making envelopes. The practical information covered includes using the U.S. Postal Service efficiently, finding a distributor ("distro" in zine-speak), and tabling at zine fests. An exhaustive (as is possible) chapter of resources lists events, classrooms for rent, academic and public library collections, distros, and web resources. Okay then, go grab an idea and a Sharpie and get pasting!  Spec. Coll. Ref. Z 285.5 .W742 2009




˜ Smith, Esther K.  How to Make Books.  New York:  Potter Craft, 2007.

   Smith, cofounder of Purgatory Pie Press in New York City, writes with this 21st century DIY sensibility: the joy of making things.  It is a welcome relief from the previous generation of book arts/craft books that were driven by tedious, self-conscious content. First-time book artists will appreciate Smith's talent for demystifying the process, and those with more experience will find her experimental approach and anecdotal narrative to be motivating and original. Artists without much money or space (or both!) will be encouraged by how much can be done with minimal tools and found materials. Even the design of How to Make Books--hand-set letterpress typography, hand-drawn illustrations, and binders board covers--reinforce the DIY aesthetic. F&M's Artists' Books Collection has two of the books shown, High Anxiety by Bill Fick and Brains & Spines by Jessie Nebraska Gifford. Instead of a bibliography, Smith includes a list of “Some Books That I Like,” giving readers a glimpse into some of the things that inspire her own process.  Z271 .S63 2007



Lupton, Ellen, ed.  Indie Publishing:  How to Design & Produce your own Book.  New York:  Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.

   Lupton’s book primarily is about book design and self-publishing (the design of Indie Publishing is a product of the Graphic Design MFA Studio at Maryland Institute College of Art), but there still is enough DIY to warrant review here. The chapter, “Handmade Books,” features simple structures made with easy-to-find tools. The common formats of accordion, single- and multiple-signature pamphlets, stab binding, and hardcover books with spines are explained. And business-y content is covered:  marketing, writing press releases, distributing, navigating copyright, and getting ISBN numbers. The final essay, “Artists’ Books as Indie Publishing,” has excellent bibliographic notes. Two of the books discussed are in F&M’s collection:  Beaut.E(Code) by Karen Hanmer and Twentysix Gasoline Stations by Ed Ruscha.  Z285.5 .I53 2008

 = a stellar pick!