Tacketing Stationer’s Bindings

This past weekend I attended a bookmaking workshop.

I’m always looking for a new book/box-making class in Atlanta – they’re not plentiful. So when the Guild of Bookworkers SE Chapter offered a workshop by Chela Metzger on Tacketing I responded immediately reserving my spot – then I asked – what’s tacketing? I found a few references on tacketing on google that, to tell you the truth, still left me a little confused.

However, you get the benefit of my googling today. This is an explanation of Chela’s workshop presented at Syracuse University… This course was inspired by the varied and beautiful lacing and tacketing found on account-books, or stationery bindings in medieval and early modern Europe. These blank books were created to hold records of businesses and organizations, and have a different set of aesthetic and structural practices than the bindings found on regular scholarly and religious books. Lacing on these books is somewhat like appliqué or lacing on western gear and can be as complex as the Islamic inspired mudejar star patterns found on stationery books in Spain, or the simpler lines and X patterns found all over Europe.

Tacketing is a sort of “staple”, usually of twisted parchment, which holds the pages to the cover, or holds the cover together, and tackets can also take many forms. Participants had an opportunity to make their own parchment tackets, practice lacing and tacketing techniques off the book, practice making loops and buttons off the book, and then create at least one traditional stationery binding, combining techniques as desired. Prior experience hand sewing books is useful, but not required. ( Follow this link to Chela’s attachments – they’re amazing)

Back to this workshop – it was absolutely fabulous. Chela is a great teacher – knowledgable not only about the techniques of tacketing and bookmaking but also about the history. I still can’t get over how giving and flexible she was. You’ll see in the pictures below that we varied the cover a little (maybe not strickly historical) but the inside block and tacketing with strips of vellum are authentic.

Starting out with 6 signatures prepared for us before hand – we designed our covers, then punched and sewed the signatures to thin leather straps. The next step was making the real vellum covers by folding the vellum and lacing on leather strips. The last step was “tacketing” the signatures to the cover.

The highlight of this workshop for me was working with materials and techniques I’ve never used before that can be used with other media. For example: the wet strips of vellum that harden like rawhide…I can’t wait to use that on something else. PS: Don’t burn real vellum – it smells and hardens like a rock.

Here are a few students books.