One of the highlights of my time at the Creative Light Photography Festival was making my first concertina book guided by one of our speakers and workshop leaders Marianthi Lainas.  She guided us through the construction of a six-page book with a hard cover front and back, using handmade hinges to join the pages together.  She demonstrated every stage of the process and gave us a comprehensive “how to” guide full of hints and tips for when we try the process again without her.  I have many of the tools required at home already and so there is little I need to purchase other than some glue and glue brushes and some paper to dress the covers.

We began by cutting the hinges by hand with a scalpel.  We cut them longer than we needed so we were able to trim them to size at the end of the joining process.  We then cut the cover boards, made of much thicker cards, again by hand.  This was more difficult and required about four cuts to penetrate the board.  We were then able to set about a much easier task of cutting the pages to size with a guillotine.  We were ready to begin joining the pages together with the paper hinges.  This was a more complex process requiring hinges of 30mm.  The hinges are joined to the two pages in stages.  First, attach about 15mm to the back of the first page, making sure the grain is vertical and then join the second page using the same technique and ensuring the pages line up horizontally.  Careful attention to the spacing is required in this process to ensure that there is room for the pages to bend (the hinge gap).  When folding backwards a 1mm gap is required whereas the inward folds need 2mm, depending on the thickness of the art paper being used.  We also used architects’ spacers to ensure accuracy in this task.  Be sure to align and fold the pages as you join them together and trim the hinges.

After that process is complete, we set about dressing the card covers.  This is more difficult to describe and is trickier than it looks.  Marianthi provided us with two pieces of cut card – one a triangle to ensure the corner cuts were accurate and would allow for the thickness of the card, and the other a 2cm card ruler to cut the paper to size.  The glue should be applied liberally but not excessively to the card on what will be the front of the board first.  Use the bone folder to smooth out any excess glue and ensure the paper is stuck firmly to the board.  This can take a while.  Then fold over the edges, using the bone folder, on what will be the inside of the cover and the one that the concertina book will ultimately be attached to.  Place your completed book between boards and under weights to dry overnight.  Of course, this is only a brief articulation of a complex process, and one that needs to be given time, first to master, and second to achieve high-quality concertina books.  On the following day, we received our finished books:

My first Concertina Book – Alison Price, October 2022

And we were also treated to a talk from Marianthi about her practice using cyanotypes. She works on the coast near her home in Northwest England and I was particularly struck by her Notes from a Sandbank Collection  She speaks of her interest in the littoral zone between land and sea and how the seas ebb and flow creating temporary sandbanks.  The cyanotypes positioned by Marianthi come into direct contact with seawater, sand, and light and images begin to emerge, on a sunny day at least, within a few minutes.  But these images continue to emerge and change over several days.  The production of handmade books is a central part of her practice.

Thank you Marianthi for guiding us through our bookmaking experience and sharing your beautiful cyanotypes.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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