This blog was started as a way to share some of my experiences during graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and through the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA. I have posted on a variety of topics centered around bookbinding and book conservation. You will find images and descriptions of  book structures, book repairs, workshops, and trips that I have taken.

As a conservator for special collections at Duke University Libraries, I am a regular contributor to the Preservation Underground blog. Please subscribe there to see some of my more recent projects.

AIC Professional Associate


20 thoughts on “About

  1. Great meeting you at the Open House, Henry. Great blog! Mine is not really a “blog” but something I created when I moved to NYC so that I could post some pix online. Guess that’s obvious by the fact that my first update was on the day I created the page, and was also my last update. :-p

    Best of luck at NBSS, and get in touch if you drop by NY.


    1. Yea, it was really great meeting you too! Your “blog” is also quite nice. I really like your inlaid frogs and that Carolingian binding. I’m hoping we do one of those this year. I’ll definitely see if we can drop by your studio if/when we do a NYC trip.

  2. Have really enjoyed reading your blog so far, keep up the good work! Sounds like you’re having a good time at NBSS, how lucky you are to get to go! If you get the chance, please post the destinations to be visited in the student trip to the UK, am sure it will be spectacular. I am studying bookbinding and restoration of books and paper in Firenze, very rich surroundings historically for same!

    1. I’m so glad you are enjoying it! We are still working out the exact itinerary of our London trip, but I will definitely share more when the details are finalized. Talk about lucky – I’m sure that you get to see and handle some real treasures in your studies. If you ever find yourself in the Boston area, drop by for a visit!

  3. Henry, many thanks for your great, generous blog!
    I’m a book conservator from Chile, a book artist and, most of all, a passionate of bookbinding history.
    Some time ago I saw a rare and beautiful book in Flickr -a book from the National Library of Sweden-, and when I discover your blog, I knew you was the right person to whom ask about it.
    The book is this:
    Have you seen it before? If yes, do you have some idea of how is the binding constructed? I know how it works a ‘dos-à-dos’ binding, but this book opens in six different ways!
    Many thanks in advance (and sorry for my english…).
    Best regards,
    Olaya Balcells

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Olaya! I’m glad that you have found my blog to be useful.

      I saw some pictures of that fascinating 6-part book on the listservs back in the Spring, but have never seen anything like it in person. From the pictures, this is my best guess of how it is constructed. There are six texts in 3 pairs: 4 small texts and 2 larger ones. The larger ones are at the center and in typical ‘dos-a-dos’ arrangement, with the spine of one lined up against the fore-edge of the other. The tricky thing about it is the gilding and gauffering on all four edges, since you can’t see any spine folds for the larger texts. I had to look very closely at the last image in the Flickr stream to figure it out: the two larger ones appear to be sewn with “meeting guards” (see Tom Conroy’s article in the BPG Annual Vol 6 http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v06/bp06-01.html). On either side of the larger books are the two pairs of smaller ones, with their spines facing one another. I would guess that they are all sewn with an unsupported chain stitch and the only thing attaching larger text to smaller text, and smaller text to binding is adhesive. It would be interesting to see some images of the sewing in the gutter to learn more about the construction.

  4. Just discovered your incredible blog. Am fascinated by all of the articles and have spent the better part of this morning delving into several with the happy decision to bookmark and save the rest for my later enjoyment! Thank you so much for all of your very special photography, details, and sharing of your incredible talent.

    Quick question: when you say you use Mohawk SuperFine paper for book text blocks, could you share EXACTLY what kind? I have been researching what to buy and find there are several types and colors. The paper you use in your blocks is perfect and beautiful. It’s exactly what I’m looking for. I’m a little confused as to what would be the best weight and texture, etc. I am sewing text blocks with coptic stitching; book sizes relatively small — 5 x7, 4.5 x 6, 2.5 x 4, etc. But I wish my paper to be pen worthy of the highest order.

    I am a “beginner” bookmaker and alas, have not found any studios or classes or even interest in my local area (Monroe, Charlotte, NC) concerning bookbinding. So am winging it on my own with online surfing and you tube videos. Boy oh boy would I have appreciated being able to go to Duke and meet you. It would have been an honor. I am a student of the books by Keith A. Smith, also, that you may know I am a serious student.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to such, what to you would be, a very trivial question. Sincerely, Susan Wandler

    1. Thanks for reading my blog, Susan! I’m glad that my pictures and writing are helpful for other bookbinders. I believe that the exact type of Mohawk that I was using for those textblocks was the Superfine Smooth Ultrawhite (http://www.mohawkconnects.com/products/paper/mohawk-superfine). It’s a really nice paper for writing and quite affordable, however, it is a bit stiff for smaller books or models. I have come to appreciate papers with a bit more drape to them for smaller books, so that you get a more realistic book action. I encourage you to experiment with some different stock and see what works for the structures you are making. Also, have you considered taking a workshop at the Penland School of Craft (http://penland.org/books/index.html)? They have some excellent facilities and instructors for books and printmaking, and they are only about a 2 hour drive away from you.

  5. Thank you so much for your very gracious reply to my paper question. I have been researching Mohawk paper varieties for a couple of days now and am excitedly awaiting a delivery! And yes, I am aware of the Penland school. Every winter I peruse the book arts offerings section for the coming year and drool over all the luscious possibilities. 🙂 One day…

    Thank you again for your courteous reply and I look forward to seeing continued posts on your blog. Best, Susan

  6. Hi Henry,

    Really enjoyed an afternoon spent looking through your blog, particularly the example of the long and link stitch with the yapp edge on page 4. Can you give me any further information about the construction? From some videos I found online I can see that a major limitation is the spaces necessary between the holes punctured through the spine. Did you use a thick stock paper, or just large signatures to get around this? Any other info would be much appreciated, itching to make my own!


    1. Thanks, Alex. Historically, the long and link stitch bindings are not especially refined. I believe it is pretty common to have rather thick sections, compared to what we are used to seeing with modern trade binding. You may have noticed that some of the wrapper designs just have slots cut in them, so there is no need to worry about spacing holes on the spine – and actually it can make the binding “expandable” if additional sections are needed later. For additional information on designs with the pierced wrapper, have a look at my blog post here: https://henryhebert.net/2010/12/27/return-of-the-kettenstichheftung/. Also, I’d recommend looking at Adam Larsson’s work, Szirmai’s text, and Monica Langwe’s book Limp Bindings from the Vatican Library. Best of luck!

  7. Hi Henry,

    I am writing a paper about bookbinding and how it changed through 14th-16th centuries and on that will be turned into a physical as well as an online exhibit for school, and I am in need of a good picture of linked sewing. I know you have one here, https://henryhebert.net/2012/04/19/sewing-models/ and I was wondering if I could have permission to use one of those in the online exhibit? None of this will be for profit of course, only to give a visual example.
    Thanks for your time!

    1. Sure, Carolyn – I don’t mind you using any images if they are cited appropriately. Good luck with your paper!

  8. Henry, appreciate your notes on this blog. In whip stitch binding, don’t you experience a fat spine? The thickness of the thread should create a bulge and therefore an uneven text block. How did you compensate for that?

    1. Hi Peter,

      Yes, you can get what we call “swell” in the spine for a whip stitched binding. There are a number of variables as to how significant this amount of swell can be. Altering the paper, thread, or sewing style can accentuate or reduce it. But most textblocks sewn through the fold have swell and there are a number of ways to compensate for it or build it into the structure of the book. Rounding and backing the textblock is probably the most common method and allows you to control the shape by forming a “shoulder” into the textblock. You can then line the spine and affix boards of the same thickness as the shoulder to keep it in place. Have a look at any case binding with a rounded spine or any of the manuals on rounding and backing for visual reference.

      Hope that helps!

  9. In your post about the millimeter and Rubow bindings, you have a link to the wiki about Jørn Rubow. That is the right Rubow, the guy who had the idea for the binding. Apropos the name of your blog, do you know the Danish proverb: You can do the work of the mind without the hand, but not that of the hand without the mind?

  10. Hi Henry, thank you so much for this wonderful, thoughtful resource. As a beginner bookbinder it is a treasure trove.

    1. Glad you are finding it useful! Maybe one of these days I will get some free time to actually post some more bookbinding projects here:)

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