The Joy of Making – Miesner

I am excited to see that so many groups have already posted when the 3rd six weeks has just begun.  Good job ladies about being proactive with your assignments.  I’m also excited (as they are) to be moving into the prototyping or “Making” phase of the project.  I love research and writing and planning, but I have to agree that much of the fun of engineering or design (and medicine) comes in actually diving in and getting your hands dirty.

I agree with the sentiments of this other blogger.
I agree with the sentiments of this other blogger.

On Friday in class they were talking about the workshop and Ms. Jo made the comment that “we were made to make stuff…even since the cavemen (or women).”  I do think this is true.  There is a certain joy in actually creating a physical product.  I even think making could be considered Biblical, as we are “made in the image of God” in Genesis.

With the growth of the “Maker Movement” there is an accompanying interest in the educational and motivational aspects of making.  I haven’t done any official studies on this topic myself, but I can see that my students, especially the 8th graders, are much more motivated to learn when there is something they make with their knowledge.  The 8th graders are currently designing and building balloon powered Eco-Racers, but that’s a story for a different blog.

My Saturday morning plans were rescheduled for afternoon, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to experience a little making myself.  Instead of being the teacher, I was a student in the Bookbinding Workshop developed by our own Ms. Alamaraz and Ms. Pena as a part of the Maker Studio class (also with Ms. Jo). ( I took a picture of them teaching, but for some reason it won’t upload, so instead here is one of Ms. Goka supervising – after a 24 hour night shift for a school sleep over).

Ms. Goka checks in (original image)
Ms. Goka checks in (original image)

Our wonderful teachers began class with a short history of bookbinding.  Though I do not have a copy of their presentation, this one has some excellent detail if you want more information.

After “tooling up” a little with information, we began to “imagine” our books as we selected covers and papers.  I decided to make mine with some lovely tea-stained paper (also provided by our teachers) and some graph paper for a antique, yet modern feel.  Here is my first signature:

My first signature folded (original image)

According to the Glossary of Bookbinding Terms, a signature is “a group of two or more pages folded together.  I always thought a signature was when you write your name and that folded pages were called “folios.”  The Glossary of Bookbinding Terms did not include folio, but in trawling elsewhere on the internet I discovered that folio has several uses:

Traditional usage: A sheet of paper folded once in the middle, making four pages of a book. Also may be called a signature.
Common usage: A numbered page of a book or the actual number printed on the page. “Low folio” refers to the half of the folio in the front part of the book, or the half of the folio with the lowest numbers. “High folio” refers to the half of the folio in the back part of the book, or the half of the folio with the highest numbers.
Occasionally used to describe a large book, 15 or more inches high, made with folded pages. From Latin folio, a leaf. (Definition from here)

I was unsuccessful in my search for the origin of the term signature. I will need to consult the Oxford English Dictionary, but time is running short, so on with the making.

After folding our signatures we poked holes at even intervals along the folded edge to make spaces for the actual binding.  I didn’t take a picture of this process because I was engaged in working, but we used tacks to just prick holes in the paper.

Once there were holes we were able to begin sewing the signatures together to make the text block:

Sewing a signature (original image)

You use one kind of stitching for the first signature, a slightly different technique for the second, and then the same basic loop and re-insert technique for all the other signatures.  We started with 8 to attached, but I finished sewing mine a little early so I added a few more.

I think a hand-bound book might make a good Christmas gift, but I was worried that I would forget the binding technique after practicing just once.  Ms. Langley, one of our Ann Richards English teachers who also attended the workshop, recommended that I visit Sea Lemon’s YouTube tutorials if I needed a refresher.  If you want to learn, here’s a place to start:

After sewing all the signatures together we added glue for reinforcement and then clamped it all down to dry:

Clamped and drying (original image)
Clamped and drying (original image)

I left a little early, so didn’t quite get to finish mine, but addition of the cover would come next.  Perhaps I’ll have to update later with the final image.

When my students write blogs I tell them not to just list the process or describe what they did, but also reflect and think about the why behind their decisions and design.  For me, book binding was just an adventure in learning something new.  Though I made something, I’m not sure I was really “making” in the thinking sense.  There were clear instructions (good job girls!) and as long as I followed along I was successful.  I wonder how the outcome would have been different if we would have just been given materials and told “try to make a book”?  Perhaps we would have discovered the next new amazing book creation technique.

Reverse engineering could be a good way to do this open ended version.  Give someone a book and have them try to figure out how it was made.  We’re going to need to do some reverse engineering on our prototypes for Biomedical Design class.  During a trip to Target today I made an impulse purchase of a potential item for reverse engineering:

Wind up Record Player
Wind up Record Player

One of our senior design groups has an ambitious plan for a wind up breast milk pump.  Maybe they can take this toy apart and use the winder parts?

For now, I know how to make a really nice book and also was able to enjoy spending time with fun and interesting people.  I hope your weekend involves much making and creativity and warmth in this chilly weather.  Happy reading!

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