Photographic processes pop-up book

One of my classes this semester focused on photographic archives. The class culminated in a group assignment for which we were given a fairly free reign, and my group, which was working on the identification of photographic processes, decided to create a pop-up book (along with an Excel spreadsheet with additional information). This book presented a number of interesting challenges, partly because all of the books I’ve bound to date have been blank journals/notebooks, and partly because of the collaborative nature of the project. In the end, though, it was a lot of fun.

One of my group-mates made an image for the cover.

One of my group-mates made an image for the cover.

She made this one, as well. It's interactive!

She made this one, as well. It’s interactive!

The title page again. A flash drive (containing the rest of the project) is attached to the ribbon bookmark.

The title page again. A flash drive (containing the rest of the project) is attached to the ribbon bookmark.

From the start, I had decided that the pop-up book would be structured in single-sheet (two-leaf) folio signatures, so that everyone could use the backs of the pages for whatever mechanical things were necessary to create the interactive portions of the book. It also enabled everyone to work on their individual sections separately, before binding; otherwise, a bound book would have had to be passed from person to person. However, because we were using single-page signatures, sewing up this book took a lot of time, and it also wasn’t the most economical use of thread. However, given the constraints of the project, I still think this was the best decision.

Initially, I’d planned on trimming the pages after sewing and gluing the text block, as usual. Once my classmates returned their pages to me, however, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be possible; some of the pages wouldn’t lie flat enough to be trimmed evenly, and other had content that was right at the edge of the page (and even wrapping around it).

Another challenge was also part of the original plan—gluing the pages together back to back (so, the last page of each signature was attached to the first page of the next).  The complicating factor was—once again—the inability of the pages to rest completely flat. I was able to work around this with some patience, but it would have been much simpler if I could have pressed the pages perfectly flat under weight per usual, and the pages did buckle during drying. I decided not to worry about it, since I couldn’t devise a way around it. I just decided that it would be part of the aesthetic (something I can let slide in a class project, although I couldn’t if it was a gift or something for sale).

The page on Daguerreotypes has a mock daguerreotype in the center. This was one of several pages that made gluing everything flat impossible.

The page on Daguerreotypes has a mock daguerreotype in the center. This was one of several pages that made gluing everything flat impossible.

Once the text block was prepared, all that remained was creating the case and attaching the two portions. There was nothing special here, other than the size (the notebooks I’ve bound thus far were quite a bit smaller), so I won’t go into too much detail. The only real deviation from the norm were that I used the same paper for the endsheets as I did the rest of the text block (a matter of economics, since a minimum order was, I believe, something like 50 sheets). In any case, the final touch was a ribbon bookmark with a flash drive attached, as noted above—the drive contains the other elements of our project, including an Excel chart providing tons of information about different photographic processes and the PowerPoint slides from our presentation.

My page, on photogravure. Less impressive than my classmates' pages, but flatter!

My page, on photogravure. Less impressive than my classmates’ pages, but flatter!

This was probably the prettiest section of the book, but it was also difficult to work with.

This was probably the prettiest section of the book, but it was also difficult to work with.

The details on this page are lovely.

The details on this page are lovely.

The page on chromogenic negatives makes use of color overlays to demonstrate how images are created. The plastic overlays are held into place via Japanese stab binding—a nice touch, even if it did mean the pages couldn't be trimmed.

The page on chromogenic negatives makes use of color overlays to demonstrate how images are created. The plastic overlays are held into place via Japanese stab binding—a nice touch, even if it did mean the pages couldn’t be trimmed.

All in all, this was a fun project, and I was grateful to be able to work some bookbinding into this semester’s hectic schedule; I had no time for personal projects, so it worked out well that my classmates suggested a book as our final assignment.

Comments

  • I am impressed that a group project could work out so well. Of all the work I did in grad school (a while back), the group assignments were my least favorite and most complicated.
    That you could break this down, and pull it all back together in this medium is most impressive.

    clareobdoyleDecember 7, 2011

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