Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Box

This is the largest box I've made to date and I'm really excited about the possibilities it has opened up. I had always seen the 38" x 26" dimensions of the bookboard as the limit. After watching a home improvement show about how laminated plywood beams are made I decided that more than likely those limits didn't exist. For each of the 11 pieces that make up the structure of the box, I cut 4 strips of .059 bookboard and laminated them, overlapping the seams of each. The box measure 42" long, so I used one piece of 38" and one piece of 4 1/2" and reversed the placement on each layer. After the glue had dried I trimmed the ends down to the proper length. This produced a super strong and stable piece of bookboard that I knew could support the weight of the finished box. Since the box is so large it was important to build it with 1/4" walls, standard 1/8" walls would have made for a very flimsy and unwieldy structure. Trimming the pieces was a bit tricky. As with the pieces of any box it is so important that they are cut at perfect 90 degree angles through their width. 1/4" thick pieces do not fit into the board cutter so they are all hand cut. It takes a real steady hand and perfect attention to keep the blade straight when cutting through that thickness. Once all the pieces were finally trimmed and glued, I covered the box in a lime green linen cloth and lined the trays with a deep wine colored Dupioni silk. I really like this color combination and am very happy with the finished product. I'm looking forward to applying this new technique to the creation of some unique and impressive custom portfolio and presentation pieces.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I am very excited about my recent move to a much larger studio. It feels good to spread out and have more space around my equipment. I'm still trying to get everything in order and figure out the best way to use the space. More than likely I'll move things around before I'm satisfied but here are some photos as things are for the moment. I'm looking forward to taking on some new, exciting and larger projects as the year winds down.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Photographer's Portfolio

Long Beach photographer Wes Kroninger found me through this blog and was surprised to find that I was only 1 mile from his office. After a few visits to my studio and some time living with fabric swatches and foil stamping samples, Wes decided to go with a black hidden screw post portfolio and slipcase set with a subtle foil stamped logo in the bottom right corner. The foil stamping turned out great. Since the letters in his logo had plenty of space between them, I was able to use 2 different colors with just one die. The grey inner liner behind the pocket matched well with the logo and connected the outside and inside of the presentation together. I really like the the matte black "WK" that Wes chose to put on the portfolio's spine. It's these very small details that often make all the difference.

You can visit Wes Kroninger's website here and his blog here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This was a fun project but I have to say I was a bit hesitant when my client said that he wanted his book printed on parchment. The thought of cutting, folding and stitching animal skin made my pescatarian stomach a bit uneasy, but I decided I was up for the challenge.

After the book layout was complete, the paper was purchased from Pergamena in New York, sent out to a printing company that specializes in printing on parchment and then shipped to me in Long Beach. When it arrived at the studio, I cautiously opened the package and was surprisingly delighted at what I saw. Each page was unique and beautiful with varying textures and colors, no two were alike.

Of course working with parchment is nothing like working with paper so it was a learning process, fortunately a smooth one. Each sheet had to be trimmed carefully as the printing was not consistently in the same place on each sheet. Then each sheet was scored, folded and pressed overnight. Next the signatures were collated, station holes punched and finally the book block was stitched, glued up, pressed again and then into the guillotine for a final trimming. The client wanted suede endsheets with a decorative border stitching. He also wanted the endsheets to be one continuous piece so I cut the suede to fit the bookblock, ran it through the sewing machine for the decorative stitching and then stitched the suede wrap to the bookblock.

The raised ligature on the front cover was hand cut and then carefully covered in a dark brown leather. The book's title, "Unrequited" was foil stamped on the spine in 22K gold on the Kwikprint and finally the bookblock was cased in, pressed for a few days and turned over to a very happy client who then passed the gift on to it's intended recipient.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Architectural Photographer's Portfolio

This was the second run of Los Angeles based photographer Lawrence Anderson's portfolio so I decided to record a little of the action this time.

The development of this portfolio was quite involved and required the coordination of many designers and craftspeople. Every
aspect of the presentation, from the printing and paper choice to the durability and appropriateness of the shipping containers was considered. It was a fun process which resulted in an extraordinary presentation of Lawrence's work that has seen nothing but rave reviews from it's recipients.

At the core of this piece are two hefty and beautifully printed stacks of 13 x 13 images. Each stack slides into a diagonal hard edged pocket that has a birch veneer backing. The pocket is secured inside of a folder that is covered in a rich dark blue textured Japanese bookcloth. Each folder has the Anderson logo embossed on its cover.

The two folders then fit into the notched tray of a drop spine box. The notch in the tray is angled to match the inner pockets and allows for the folders to be lifted out. At the bottom of this tray is a repeat of the veneer liner that is the pocket back. The box is covered in the same dark blue fabric as the folders and has a smooth linen cornflower accent color on the flap and around the tray. The box stays securely closed with magnets that are hidden in the bright blue flap that is angled at the same degree as the notch in the tray and the pockets in the folders. A smaller version of the Anderson logo is embossed on the box cover along the edge of the angled flap.

The top left photo shows the box tray and cover as separate unlined pieces before they are glued together. The top right image is the embossing of the logo. The bottom left is gluing the veneer liner into the bottom of the box tray and finally gluing the angled liner onto the inside of the magnetic flap. Once all of the pieces are glued together, they are pressed under a lot of weight for 2 days and are then ready to send off.

You can find out more about Lawrence Anderson and see his amazing work at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Making Envelopes

This project was not typical of what comes through the studio but it was certainly a fun diversion. A very special client of mine from San Francisco put in her yearly request for year end gifts for the students at her daughter's school. This year it was these sturdy and colorful envelopes that will hold 4 x 6 photos taken throughout the school year.
Choosing the papers was the first step and of course the most fun. We met at my favorite paper store on earth, Flax Art & Design in San Francisco, and spent some time finding the perfect papers for the kiddos. Next, back in Long Beach, using PVA and a paint roller, I carefully laminated these very thin almost wrapping paper papers together with their much heavier liner papers and pressed them overnight. The next day after crunching the numbers, with a little trial and error, I creating a template out of bookboard and trimmed the now heavyweight paper to size.

Scoring, hole punching and eyelet setting were next and then came folding and gluing the paper into it's 3 dimensional form. The ribbon was threaded through the eyelets and finally the 21 name plates were laid out, printed and adhered to the inner flap of the envelope.

I really enjoyed having these colorful envelopes around the studio for a few days. They were a nice change from the standard black clamshell portfolio boxes that so often taking up the space on my pressing table.

Friday, May 22, 2009

3 Prototypes

MEA Digital, a marketing agency based in San Diego, contacted me to build an edition of slipcases to house some promotional materials that they were planning on sending out. Since the 3 pieces, 2 books and a CD case, were all different sizes, a simple slipcase wasn't going to fit the bill.

A three paneled presentation folder seemed to be a more practical solution. On the center panel, there is a thin pocket that the back cover of the large horizontal book slips into. It is the primary focus when the folder is opened. To the left is a similar pocket that will hold a smaller book and to the far right is a solid panel that the cardstock CD case will be adhered to. The right panel overlaps and attaches to the left panel via hidden Rare Earth NdFeB magnets. This design was a big hit so now it's about color. I made 3 prototypes, red outside with grey interior, red outside with black interior and finally an all black folder. The embossed "m" logo entered the picture on the final all black folder and really adds a great touch in my opinion.

Check back to see the progress of this project and to find out more about MEA Digital you can visit their site at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Walnut Plywood Portfolio

Woodworking in the studio:

This wooden portfolio was built last week for a Los Angeles graphic designer, Tracie Fong. She chose to go with a sturdy walnut plywood cover and wanted a dark brown stain to contrast the aluminum screw posts and matte silver foil stamp of her name. This portfolio is simple for her to assemble as she can change out the interior pages with a quick twist of 3 screws. She wanted to include a CD with her presentation so I created a pocket that is centered on the inside front cover that perfectly and securely houses the disc. The entire inside of the portfolio is finished in a chocolate brown linen bookcloth.

Since Tracie plans to fill her portfolio with her own printed pages, I included a template for her to use a guide for printing, trimming and hole punching to ensure perfect alignment with the covers.

Tracie's work can be seen at

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet Some of My Tools

My first day on the blog:

With this blog I plan to create a place where my clients, potential clients, bookbinding enthusiasts, artist, designers and all other interested folks, can follow the daily goings on at my studio. I will document some of the most interesting custom boxmaking, bookbinding and presentation projects that come before me. Before I get into the details of these projects, I thought it necessary to introduce a few of my tools.....I could make almost nothing without them.

At the top left is a WireMac 31 which is a wire binding machine. I barely use this but it's great to have around for a quick bind. Next is a Ridgid table saw that I use for cutting plywood for custom wooden portfolios. At the top right is a Kwikprint 55. I use this daily for embossing and foil stamping, a great way to further customize portfolios and presentation pieces. Another work horse of the shop is the Kutrimmer 1071 at the bottom left. This cuts my bookboard and after many solid years of use, it is still making straight sharp cuts. At the bottom center are the tools that no bookbinder can do without and the ones that I am most attached to. Not shown in this "basics" group, (because it shouldn't be in pictures) is my glue brush which is a 75 cent ace hardware brush that I have used daily for 5 years. I dread the day when I have to retire this brush. The dried glue on the handle is formed perfectly to my hand. Finally at the bottom right is the Dahle Guillotine cutter, a necessity for for creating flush edged journals, albums an sketchbooks in a pinch.

More photos of the studio will come but for now the projects will take center stage.

Welcome to my blog....I hope you'll check back regularly to see what's new at Kristin Dunn bookbinding and design. I hope you will also visit my website at