Thursday, July 31, 2014


Lille ... also known as 'Paris of the North' ... nice to visit for one day! Last Tuesday we took the Thalys from Rotterdam and in two hours we were in Lille. Arriving at Euralille isn't exactly the best way to enter the city. This modern concrete monstrous environment doesn't give you a warm welcome ... but within five minutes you forget about that. Lille is a beautiful French-Flemish city, very nice to stroll around.

There are plenty of nice boutiques, salons de thé and restaurants in 'La Vieille Ville', the old city. Winding cobblestones streets, ancient facades - often very colorful -, hidden passages and nice squares. In short it is a feast for the eyes to walk through Lille.

Unfortunately the museums are closed on Tuesdays, otherwise we certainly would have visited Le Palais des Beaux-Arts or the museum of modern art. Fortunately the shops were open, and we managed to find a really nice one; L'Atelier La Sorciere Verte, a boutique for paper artists, writing and bookbinding. In French it even sounds better: Boutique de Créateurs en Papeterie, Ecriture & Atelier de Reliure. A lovely shop to nose. A lot of beautiful paper! When you are in Lille and you love paper, don't forget to visit this shop!
Since we were in France we couldn't go home without some really nice French (smelly) cheese as well, so we saw (and smelled) a lot of funny cheeses that day :)

It's definitely worth visiting Lille! .. I had a lovely day ... and now ... back to business ... I have some books to bind today :)

Prien at Lille

Prien at Lille

Prien at Lille

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fine Binding

France France France ... here I come ... even twice this week :) Lille is on my agenda for Tuesday and Paris for the weekend ... could be worse :) So with France in my head, today a binding method called Franse Binding (French Binding) in Dutch. The exact English verb is not easy to find, perhaps Fine Binding - if someone can help me with it .....?

Binding method
The Fine Binding method has been in use since the 18th century. For bookbinders this is one of the most beautiful ways to create a book. You can recognize this method by the spine cover, which is not attached to the spine and the visible lack of the board edge. If there are raised bands, they are most of the time false, the headband, on the other hand, is always hand embroidered, so not false at all.
The advantage of the unattached spine cover is that the precious decoration of the spine - usually gold leaf - is protected, because the spine cover doesn't move when one opens the book and therefore it will keep its shape.

In practise
A lot of bookbinding skills are required to make a beautiful correct Fine Binding. Somewhere at the internet I read that an experienced bookbinder works for at least twelve hours at this binding. The steps in making such a book are:
- folding the sections and endpapers
- glue, trim, round, abpress and glue the book block
- creating the covers
- board lacing
- embroider headband
- prepare the cover material
- tie up for the fake raised bands
- apply flush joint
As you can see making such a book is a lot of work and therefore almost priceless. Since we don't have the habit of using gold leaf at the covers and spines of our books, one of the biggest advantages of the Fine Binding became superfluous. Of course it is fun to maintain the craft is this bookbinding method, so I made one ... once .. but learned a lot of it and I can use some of the tricks a learned for other books or possible new ways to bind books ...

Prien Franse Binding

Prien Franse Binding

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Guestbook

Guestbooks are not exclusively connected to weddings ... they also fit well on other occasions, such as an official opening of a foundation. One of the board members of Stichting Zorg en Onderwijs Nu wanted to give her foundation a present that would last for a long time and that was also a present for the kids they represent. Together we developed a guestbook with blank pages of thick off-white paper, suitable for writing or drawing. It had to be a sturdy book that could withstand some rough handling.

The foundation's logo is brightly colored and was an excellent starting point for the cover.
I bound the book in a traditional sturdy multi-section-case-binding, with the advantage of lying flat when opened. To accentuate the bright colors, I used red yarn for the sewing. For extra strenght the corners of the book have been provided with an extra layer book binders linen.

I love making personalized guestbooks! It is always a pleasure to develop a unique book together with a client. There are so many opportunities to give or use a book that has been made for that particular situation. Every person or occasion has it own story, and that is what makes it interesting: Matching the product with the occasion according to the wishes of the client. 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

A beautiful second life for books

... wow ... Swedish bookbinder gives old books a beautiful second life!

Cecilia Levy, graphic designer, bookbinder and paper artist makes makes stunning objects of second hand books. Instead of creating books she tears books apart and cuts the pages into small pieces. Those pieces are reassembled in new dreamy delicate objects, such as teacups, bowls, eggs or boots. Some of these products are off-white, others show text, or text details ... just take a look ...

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Prien about Cecilia Levy Paper Art

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prien's Personalized Guestbook

Spring and the beginning of the summer means Wedding Season ... so I am and have been quite busy making wedding booklets and guestbooks. As you already know it has been quite hectic, so I haven't show you much of my work lately, but I didn't want you to miss out on this special one.

In June Jan & Inge asked for a personalized guestbook for their special day. In close consultation we designed a beautiful A4 guestbook. Both the inside and the outside have been personalized. The book contains 70 pages with 204 squares for personal messages and some nice doodles at the bottom. These small drawings from Jan & Inge reflect their lives and personality. The doodles of the bikes have been chosen for the cover as well.

The book has been bound  in a multi-section case-binding, so it is strong and durable. It method also has the advantage of lying flat when opened, so it is easy to write in. The sections are sewn together and case-bound into a hard cloth-covered board-based case, with endpapers used to attach the book block to the case.

This is just one of the countless opportunities. You can always contact me if you have specific wishes or ideas for a special book.

Prien Personalized Guestbook - cover

Prien Personalized Guestbook - cover

Prien Personalized Guestbook - cover

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Japanese Patterns

Japan - land of the rising sun - inspires me in so many ways. When I visited Kyoto and Tokyo I bought a lot of beautiful Japanese paper, with all kinds of patterns. These patterns can be found everywhere; as decoration in temples, at fabrics, pottery and porcelain, paper and a thousand other things. But where do these patterns come from? What do they mean? 

Prien Japanese Patterns Seigaiha

Seigaiha or Seikaiha

A wave design made of the arches of concentric circles placed upon one another so that only the upper portion of each set of circles is visible.
The four arcs are meant to be the four oceans (north, south, east and west) surrounding Japans islands. The calm waves symbolize our days repeating calmly and peacefully forever.
It was used in China to depict the sea on ancient maps. In Japan this pattern was used to decorate temples, halls and gates from the 16th century.

Prien Japanese Patterns Shippo Tsunagi

Shippo Tsunagi

This pattern is an abastract shippo tsunagi. Shippo means 'seven kinds of treasuries' and tsunagi means 'with interrelated objects'. The diamond shape can be associated with a sparkle, that is connected to a jewel or treasure.
The pattern comes originally from China.

Prien Japanese Patterns Same Komon

Same Kommon

Same Kommon means Shark Skin Pattern. Sharkskin-like semicircles are placed one of the top of another. Fabric with this pattern is believed as protecting from evil or illness. Traditionally, the bride will bring a new Same-komon Kimono with her.
In the Edo period, each feudal lord had his specific pattern of kamishimo (samurai cloth) and the Kishu family owned the Same Kommon pattern.

Prien Japanese Patterns Gyougi


Giyougi is a derivative of the Same Kommon pattern. It is also derived from the Edo period. Characteristic of this pattern is the diagonal allignment of the dots.
The komon patterns were made by forcing rice paste throught a stencil of tiny dots, then dying the surrounding fabric, so the dots stay white. In the early Edo period komon were commonly white on indigo. 

Prien Japanese Patterns Matsuba


Matsuba means pine needles from the matsu, the evergreen pine. This tree is considered to be a symbol of longevity and principles.

Of course this is just a small selection of Japanese patterns, there are many more I'd like to show you! Coming weeks I will be working on some new booklets, using these fabulous papers I bought in Japan. Check out my blog every now and then for an update an sneak peek ...

If you have any additions or corrections, please don't hesitate to react!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Studio and Swan Market Antwerpen

Sorry sorry sorry for my long absence! It's been crazy over here!

Especially the period around Whitsun was very very busy. On Whit Sunday I was at the Utrechtse Fabriek in Utrecht. Going to a market always means working extremely hard the week before. You have to supplement your stock, decide what you will show at the market, iron your tablecloths and a million other things that always come in mind last minute.
The Utrechtse Fabriek was a nice cozy market, with friendly visitors and fellow exhibitors. Unfortunately it was such a beautiful day, that is was a bit too warm to stroll around in the sun. I guess a lot of people chose the beach that day ...

The next day, Whit Monday, was even warmer ... and that was the day I choose to move my gear to my new studio. It was also the day we discovered that I had collected a lot of stuff and machinery. So it was quite a heavy day ... that almost started with a ticket for parking on the sidewalk. After a long long intense conversation with a city guard I wriggled out of it ... but it was close ...  Since I had so many things, large things, we had to drive four times and in the afternoon there was this major event in the city called Roparun ... which meant a huge traffic jam ... but at the end of this long, warm day everything was in my new office!

The weeks after that were filled with tidying and finding my way in this lovely new workspace. In between I had a lot of nice assignments ... photos will follow on the blog later on. First more about my new office: It's super centrally, literally in the middle of the city, which gives an enormous vibe! I share my workspace with Kim from Papiermonsters. She makes amazing stuff as you can see at her website:
Together with Karin from Lecarpentier, Quirine from QS Grafisch Ontwerp, Monice from Monice Janson and Olga from Ontwerpkeuken we share an office. I am so glad to be here and to work here!!

This week is partly devoted to the preparations for the Swan Market in Antwerpen. Prien was already there in May and that was such a wonderful day! The weather was perfect, the people were very friendly and the entire atmosphere was truly that of a festival! I am looking forward to Sunday! Hopefully the weather will cooperate! At the moment the weather reports contradict each other ... and when it will rain that day, I won't go .. because my booklets can't handle the moist ... so my fingers are crossed and I hope to see you in sunny Antwerp this Sunday!!

Prien at the Swan Market in Antwerpen