The book Headbands: How To Work Them by Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille (Oak Knoll Books 1990) was waiting for me at our post box yesterday. What a yummy, nerdy bookbinder’s book! Seriously, you can keep your “craft porn” books full of pretty colored pictures and the stylist’s arrangements of flowers and ceramic bunnies: My favorite craft books are dull-looking things with black and white pages, unimaginative covers, plain, practical, often cheaply printed…but the pages are packed with techniques, tricks, diagrams, long paragraphs of erudition—the sort of information that a devoted craftsperson can sink her teeth into and take sustenance from!
Books by Keith Smith, for example, Aldren Watson’s beautiful pencil-drawn instructions, or Manly Bannister’s utilitarian textbook…my copies of these books are dog-eared and dirty from years of use…I go back, again and again, to these masters of the fundamental lessons.
And now I can add Headbands… to that short list of precious bookbinding books! It’s full of delightfully clear drawings and instructions on how to work 14 different headbands. I really bought it to learn the coptic headband, but fell in love with all the others, and I can’t wait to try each one out!
What is a headband? It is possible to make books without headbands, and yet a headband, if it has been stitched on, is a functional part of the book, providing strength to the binding, pulling the signatures at head and foot together, protecting the edges of the signatures or gatherings when the book is slid in and out of a bookshelf. Faux headbands have been available for a long time…but these are glued on to the spine of a bound book, and are purely ornamental.
The headbands pictured here are examples of the most basic headbanding technique (headband with a bead on the edge), and while I did learn to make them from my new book today, I have had the instructions for the very same headbands in a few of my older books…I just never bothered to read them! Instead, cocky and impatient, I made up my own way of doing headbands, and I thought they were pretty slick, until I learned the proper way. *Um, so, yeah, rock and roll (and rue)…*
Today’s headbands, I happily concede, came out so much prettier, and they are neater, too.
And, suddenly, I want to put a headband on everything in sight…I can’t get enough of stitching them, and I have run out of bound text blocks to put them on!
Last night I had visions of stitching a headband that continued onto the covers of a book, and went all the way around, becoming a sort of ‘piped edging’. And that got me thinking about edging quilts this way. Help! I think I’m possessed.
I loved using the variegated threads to make these, and unusual color combinations. I have used a bit of silk thread, but mostly I used whatever I felt like using…some Klippans Lingarn linen threads, some DMC Perle No. 5, some crochet yarns. I love traditional techniques, yes, but I don’t believe in slavishly recreating things from the 15th century: I’m not interested in making replicas—that’s not very inventive or creative, and I like to experiment with things, and to use what I have on hand, and I don’t like being told that in order to make something I have to first buy “a traditional such-and-such from some Snooty & Sons, est. 1708, purveyor to H.M.”!