Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crisscross Binding a.k.a. Secret Belgian Binding

Here is another example of how book art is like folk art; someone learns a binding and teaches someone else, sometimes without knowing the origins; a legend grows. Hedi Kyle taught what she and a student called the "Secret Belgian Binding" because neither knew who had created it, only that it originated in Belgium. Slowly the word circulated around the United States that Anne Goy created the structure and actually presented it in 1986. Anne calls it "Crisscross" binding and I hear that she would like others to refer to it by that name as well. 

"Secret Belgian Binding" is now the nickname, and I think it will be hard to shake, particularly since those who have heard of it know instantly what binding it is. Crisscross seems more generic and could refer to other bindings; a binding that has claimed a similar name, but is quite a different binding, is Crossed-Structure Binding by Carmencho Arregui. Both structures are inventive and striking and extremely useful.

I watched Emily Martin demonstrate Crisscross at the College Book Art Association conference and noticed that she sews the book block first, then weaves the cover around it. I believe that to be the more elegant version. On the other hand, I find that weaving the cover and then sewing the signatures to the spine with a curved needle is easier to teach (I learned it originally from this online source). I show a streamlined version on page 159 of Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms. The introductory paragraph will be corrected in future editions to credit Anne Goy.

Addendum 3/19/15: Peggy Seeger emailed me to direct me to the online instructions that she and I first saw that are no longer at the "online source link," above. They are by Annette Hollander at this link:

Another post that plays with this structure is here.

photo by Sibila Savage

1 comment:

Sally said...

Thanks for this information, Alisa. The history is so much fun. I learned from Emily in the early 2000's. She taught the Cross-Structure with the Crisscross, and called in Secret Belgian still at that point. That was probably good. I was new to binding and would have been overwhelmed just by the similarity of names.