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Methylcel (Methyl cellulose) Purchase Methylcel

Pour 1/2 c. water into a bowl that has a tight fitting lid. Slowly sprinkle 2 teaspoons of methylcel (do not just dump it in -- sprinkle, stir, sprinkle, stir) onto the surface of the water and mix briskly and thoroughly. It's ready to use in 15 minutes or so. Pour just what you need into a separate bowl as needed. Lasts for months and months when made with distilled water and stored with a tight lid. Adjust consistency by adding more or less water.

Our methylcel can also be mixed with pigments for making gorgeous paste papers.


I've never tried methylcel for marbling (I've always used Carrageenan) but am told that it makes a great size. Here is a recipe I found on the web:

  • 1/2 c. methylcel
  • 4 qt. cold water

Stir every 15 minutes for first hour, then let sit for another hour before using. This yields a very thick solution.

If someone has tried this and has a better recipe or recommendations, please click the "contact us" link (left) and let me know.

Purchase carrageenan

Kris Henderson

Books in Sheets

Using art papers for covering book board can be a challenge. I have some wonderful paper with a flocked pattern, but the first time I used  it I also used straight PVA (Polyvinyl Adhesive). After gluing out the paper (effectively adding moisture to it) the paper and the flocking shrunk at different rates and the paper was horribly wrinkled. The project couldn't be saved. Now when I use any paper where I think wrinkling may be a problem I mix 50/50 PVA and (pre-mixed) methylcel.

Fabricated Metal and Leather Journals

Night Before Christmas Star Book

Which Adhesive When

There are so many opinions about which adhesive to use for a particular task in the bookbinding process that it isn’t possible to make a definitive list. The chart below was put together from several sources and is weighted with my opinion.

Some bookbinders use a mixture of 2 adhesives.

Be sure to plan projects ahead of time because some adhesives need time for preparation. Animal glues are not included in the chart.

Methyl Cellulose
(wood or cotton)
Flexible, reversible, slow drying, doesn't stain, good shelf life
(synthetic, adhesive)
Flexible, not reversible, quick drying, stains, good shelf life
Wheat Starch Paste

Flexible, reversible, slow drying, doesn't stain, stretches paper, poor shelf life (refrigerate)
- - 100% Lightweight paper on paper or book board, backing fabric, leather to board, slows drying time of PVA
- 100%
Can be thinned with water
- Heavy, board to board, cloth to board, heavy papers, wood to paper/board, adhesive bindings
100% - - Size paper, clean spines, collage, paper to paper, “paste paper,” add to PVA to increase strength, flexibility and adhesion
1 part 2 parts  - Good general bookbinding adhesive, batting to book board
1 part 1 part - Good general bookbinding adhesive
- 3 parts 2 parts Good general bookbinding adhesive
- 1 part 1 part Paper to paper, paper to board, book cloth to board
(See recipe)
- - Marbling paper (size)
What is PVA?

Case-Bound Leather Journals

Polyvinyl Acetate:
A general purpose, resin based, internally plasticized polyvinyl acetate emulsion that contains no solvents. It is fast drying, very long lasting and forms a transparent, flexible film. It is thermoplastic and can be also used to form a heat set adhesive. Used for tightening books in their cases, adhering paper to paper, cloth to wood, filling in cracks in art canvases and repairing ceramic objects. Holds firmly to plastic materials. Can be used on vellum. Very useful for patching tears in paintings and reinforcing the bend at edges of paintings. In very dilute form can secure fraying threads. Good wash-up properties; pH neutral.

Purchase PVA

Book Board

What is book board? Book board is a heavy, dense cardboard-type product. For bookbinding you'll want to use acid-free board. It is sometimes called "binders board" or "Davey board."

In your words:
I am always awed by the beautiful creations on your website, it seems as if they are never-ending and I would like to have just an iota of your imagination!

-- Carolyn W.

Christine Cox

Christine Cox
Silk Chrysanthemum
(11 1/4" X 8 3/4")
The size of this book required that I laminate 2 pieces of book board together for each of the covers. They were also covered with a thin layer of batting for just a little cushion underneath the 100% silk cover material.

What is Davey Board? Davey board is a brand name of book board and is considered the industry standard.

Operetta Book Kit

How do I cut book board? Book board is very dense so it can be difficult to cut. The best way is to mark a line with a ruler and then to use a mat cutter or heavy knife to score a line. The board is really too dense to cut all at once. It usually takes about 4 or 5 passes to cut all the way through. Making several passes like this also helps keep your cutting line straight. The number one thing you can do to make this job easier on yourself is to use a sharp blade. If you aren't sure of the last time you sharpened your blade, do it now.

Sally Monahan
Mountain Book
This book is very 3-D as there are up to 5 layers of book board on the front cover. The effect is dramatic and beautiful.

We now have the instructions for making this book in The Muse.

Waxed Linen Thread

Distressed Leather Journal

Nancy Parker
Fabricated Metal Cover/Braided Stitch
There are more pictures of this book and others

Camille Purpura

Wood Book/Greek Stitch
There are more pictures of this book

Christine Cox
Cedar and Copper "Peter Pan"
There are lots more pictures of this book.

Just look at this unbelievable book by Fran Kovac! It's made from mahogany and the stitch is the 'caterpillar stitch' featured in Keith Smith's book Non-Adhesive Bindings, Volume III; Exposed Spine Sewings. Fran learned it from Dan Essig. Being the experimenter that Fran is, she then developed the little spider on the side from a similar stitch! She also used a wood burning tool to burn in a spider web on the inside of the back cover. This book is in the collection of Christine Cox (yeah!).
Weaver's Knot
When sewing a book you may run out of thread. Binders use a weaver's knot to tie a new thread to the old. This goes on the inside of a signature unless you are sewing a cased in book in which case the knot is started on the outside of a signature. I carry these drawings in my wallet because I know that some day I'll need the directions and I don't tie these knots often enough to feel comfortable doing it from memory.
Step 1
On the inside of a signature (on the outside if the book will be cased in) make 2 loops in the old piece of thread. Note in the drawing where the thread falls in front and where it falls behind.
Step 2
Bring the right loop up through the left loop from behind.
Step 3
Pull the thread end coming from what was previously the left loop and tighten just that loop.
Step 4
Insert the new piece of thread into the remaining loop (formerly the right loop) and pull everything tight. Trim the old thread to about 1/4" and separate the plies of thread to make it harder for the knot to come undone.

Christine Cox

These books were made using moiré fabric and Book Cloth. You'll also need a Japanese Screw Punch with a 1mm tip to punch the holes. A drill will work but you won't get this precision without spending a lot of time. Above are detail shots of the stitching (a complex variation on Keith Smith's Braided Sewing). Below is the cover from the plum and royal colored Book Kit.

Christine Cox

Book Cloth
What is book cloth? Book cloth is a special product made for bookbinders. It is fabric which has been backed by a moisture barrier so that adhesive will not seep through.

All book cloth is not created equal! We've even seen some that looked like a picnic table cloth. Yuck! You'll never get that kind of cloth from Volcano Arts. We carry fine Japanese book cloth because it looks great, wears well and comes in fantastic colors.

Kris Henderson
Materials: 'vintage' book cover, book board, clock and other Bookbinding Supplies

Carole Lamb

Mieke Mulder

Original and Li'l Traveler Journals


A Scalpel loaded with a Curved Blade is wonderful for thinning leather. Click the image for a larger view.

How to Install and Remove Blades from Scalpel Handle (click any image for a larger view)

Carefully unwrap the blade from its foil package. Caution, the blades are unbelievably sharp!

Hold the blade in one hand and the handle in the other and look at their orientation (figure 2). You want to make sure that the slope where the handle meets the skinny little shaft and the slope at the bottom of the blade is the same.

You'll also note that the skinny shaft has a groove cut all around the sides. The hole in the center of the blade slides along those grooves.

Now, hold the scalpel handle so that the skinny shaft is pointing away from you. Hold the blade (oriented correctly to the slope in the handle) in your other hand.

Starting at the tip of the skinny shaft, slide the blade along the grooves until it is seated solidly (see figure 3).

To remove the blade, simply flex it a little so that it clears the bump in the skinny shaft that holds it on and then slip it off the tip (see figure 5).

Note: Scalpel blades are incredibly sharp. They are custom made to cut flesh. Some people hold the blade in a pair of pliers when changing the blades. That could be a good way for a beginner to get comfortable with the process.

Figure 5: Flexing blade to remove

Figure 1: Blade and handle, ready to go

Figure 2: Slopes at bottom of blade and on handle should match

Figure 3: Installing blade (removing is the reverse motion)

Figure 4: Correctly installed blade


Volcano Arts Teflon® Folder
Potters love our Ergonomic Teflon Folder as much as book artists do.

Christine Cox
Starry Night

I made the covers of this book by fusing the glass and then screen printing the stars (from a NASA photo) with PMC onto the top cover and firing it again. It's sewn with a Coptic stitch using our 4-Ply Waxed Linen Thread.

Using my Volcano Arts Teflon® Folder I'm able to fold an entire signature of up to 6 folios at once with very little telescoping at the fore-edge. That's a real time saver.

Japanese Screw Punch

Removing Debris from Tip
There will be times when your Japanese Screw Punch tips become clogged. Though the tool comes with a self-cleaning mechanism, it isn't perfect and you'll just need to remove the tip from the tool and then use a sharp object (such as a needle or an awl) and poke the bits of leather and/or paper out. It's simple!

We don't recommend the Japanese Screw Punch for book board but lots of people do. Please be aware that cutting through book board may diminish the life of your tool.

Click image for larger view

Measuring Rules
Our measuring rules have a million uses. They save so many steps when doing standard measuring tasks. Get precise measurements without measuring!

Traditional clay, polymer clay and silver clay artists love our measuring rules
for rolling out their clay to a perfectly even layer! Just lay one down on either side of your clay and roll away! Bookbinders use these for measuring turn-ins and joints, and card and scrapbook makers love them for drawing or cutting borders. Glass artists use them as a guide for cutting glass. They're great for making metal mesh frames and so many other great projects.

Note: our rules are steel now, not brass. They work the same.

Cork Backed Measuring Rules
Here's a great tip for using our Measuring Rules while cutting glass. There are several ways to measure the glass to be cut. My favorite way is to use a rule backed with cork.

Being metal, the rules are normally too slick to hold steady while cutting glass. To remedy this I use spray adhesive (available everywhere) to glue a strip of thin sheet cork to one side of a rule. In the case of the samples at right I glued cork to one side of my 3/4" and 1" rules.

You can use E6000 rather than the spray adhesive but E6000 has to dry overnight before being functional, whereas spray adhesive is ready to use almost instantly. Another benefit of using spray adhesive is that it has a light tack so it can be considered temporary. The tack is strong enough to hold the pieces together without being a mess if you remove the cork from the rules some day. Goo Gone will easily take off any residual stickiness.

After you've glued the cork to your measuring rule you'll still be able to use it in all the ways you've learned to love. Simply turn the rule over and it's flat again.

I was weaving some paper to use as a book cover and needed a shed stick (something to hold the paper open so that I could weave between the strips). Of course my 1/2" measuring rule worked perfectly. Click the image for a larger view.

Let's say that you want to trim the turn-ins of a book to 1". The old way would be to use a ruler to measure 1" at either end of the cover material, then line up the ruler along the 2 marks and use a knife to cut along the ruler. With our measuring rules you save steps because you just lay the 1" rule down next to the book board and cut. No measuring!

Are you a card maker or a scrapbooker?
If so, you'll love our measuring rules too!

  • Make borders or stripes for your cards or pages. Put down a piece of colored cardstock onto your table. Lay one of the rules down on the cardstock and cut the strip of cardstock off the edge with a utility knife. Now you have a stripe. Cut several and you can march stripes across your cards and pages. The rules come in 5 sizes, so you can make your stripes various widths.

  • If you want to cut a 1/4" off 2 edges to make a front panel that's slightly smaller than the larger card behind it, just lay the 1/4" rule down on one short edge of the cardstock and cut along it. Then lay the same rule down on a long edge and cut that off. Voila! The panel is now 1/8" smaller than the card behind it with a small amount of effort. To do that with a ruler you would have measured each end of each cut, made pencil marks, laid down the ruler and then made the cut.

  • If you need to make a mark or cut 1 1/4" in from each edge - for example - lay both the 1" and 1/4" rules alongside each other along each edge and you have your measurements.

Hole Punching Cradles

What is a hole punching cradle used for? A Hole Punching Cradle holds the sections of your book as you punch holes in each section. Other methods may leave your holes misaligned which will leave your book structure weak or unsightly. By using a book cradle the work goes fast and is very accurate.

Hint 1: Number the top of each section of pages. This will help you keep your sections in order and oriented the same way. It will also make your holes line up perfectly, if you used the book cradle.

Hint 2: Jog each section up against one of the supports when it's in the cradle. Also jog the template up against the same support. Having everything tightly jogged against the support is what makes the holes line up.


Nathan Wilts

Beth Wilts

Bookbinding and kits

Metalsmithing and
silver soldering

Soft soldering and stained glass

Eyelets, etc.


Marbled paper
and marbling supplies

Books and videos

and mica

Sales and specials



The Muse

Idea center

Site index