Bookworks, by Sue Doggett is a visually inspiring book. It’s an ideal beginner’s book for anyone interested in creating handmade books. It’s also a useful guide for intermediate book artisans who want to revisit basic technique, or bring handmade books back into their daily routines.
The techniques and bindings range from simple to complex, and cover several key bindings — such as accordion books and pocket fold books — that many artists want to include among their handmade journals.
This book shines in visual detailing. The hand-drawn how-to guides are clear, and the suggested projects include wonderful details that can be mastered by beginners.
About 3/4 of the way through this book, the author presents 10 different projects — including a photograph album, theater book, star book, and poem book — to give readers a sense of direction with their first and later projects. You’ll even learn how to rebind a book that has been well-loved and is falling apart.
- Basic, easy-to-follow, and (generally) well-illustrated directions for most steps in basic book binding.
- Examples include books with rich textures and detailing that will delight beginners and intermediate artisans who want to expand their range and skills.
- Practical, simple projects that bring handmade books into immediate, everyday use.
- Some directions are a little vague — for example, “fold the paper into about eight sections” — and may overwhelm beginners who want to copy their earliest projects, line by line, from specific examples. While many (most?) students are eager to explore, some need more precise directions.
- Most of the ten final projects could benefit from more photos, for beginners who have difficulty visualizing.
- Attempting to avoid an excessively “by the numbers” set of projects, some instructions seem heavy on illustration and light on detailed finishing and concept tips.
In general, I think this book could provide instructions and inspiration for many book artisans. The ideal reader might be someone who’s made books by hand in the past, but wants to revisit familiar (or simple, new) techniques to get back in practice. Many of these project ideas will delight mixed media artists, as well.
I read this book frequently when I taught classes involving basic book arts, and I still think it’s a useful book to make available to students who need a “second opinion” about ways to construct a particular style of book.