A Belated Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Bottom’s Song”

Earlier this year I decided to try a different binding structure. It’s a stub binding and another one which allows for full spreads to be bound. It was supposed to be a “quick” book but took quite a bit longer than anticipated. Then I had to put it away for a while… to try and forget the mistakes. I took it out this week and quite like it now. Ahh… the kindness of passing time and failing memory.


As it was almost midsummer when I started, I turned to a snippet of a favourite Shakespeare play, Bottom’s Song, which mentions 7 birds, most of which have been in and out of our garden this year making lockdown just about bearable.


Blocks and bird proofs


Cover proofs and first dummy book


More tests and text trials

For some reason .. .(I blame Covid), there were quite a few problems, ink not drying, woodcuts  unsatisfactory and re cut, wrong initial papers, hurried printing and some general dithering. But I have a determination to have some projects completed this year so I did persevere. I’m glad because it was quite a good lesson in this type of binding.

There are many types of stub binding, This is my first go and is made of two concertinas which form the spine and the “stubs” onto which the text and image pages are sewn. It’s not complicated, just a bit fiddly and has to be done in a particular order. The inner stub is dark paper and the outer stubs are red which give a red spine and flashes of red in the folds


I had made a couple of dummy books and found that a nice thing about this binding is that it tends to fall open in between the main stubs meaning that the birds themselves appeared to be “hidden” in between the sections which rather suits the atmosphere of the play.


The sections and the bird inside.

The embossed endpapers, printed sections and covers before assembling the book.

The 7 sections are made of hand printed papers and include some text about each bird, their old names and a superstition or two. The woodcuts of the bird are then enclosed inside each section.
The endpapers are embossed with the section design. It being night, the paper and prints are quite dark.

I cut a small feather woodblock for the prelims and ends. printed in gray.

Lovely Bottom is on the cover. His affectionate song to cheer himself up and show his friends he is not afraid to be left in the dark at the mercy of scheming fairy folk, mentions our familiar birds. It ends with the dubious “cuckolding” cuckoo.






Apart from actually completing this little booklet, my great achievement was keeping the backs of  ALL the prints and text pages clean! It’s essential with book work as all the backs can be seen. I think I had to print one extra section and only two extra birds!  Phew.




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One Comment

  1. Wow, I love this and I spotted my lovely blackbird. I’m totally in awe of your imagination and artistic talent.

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