In this tutorial, we will make a book that is sturdy and incredibly flexible. Coptic binding creates a book that not only lies completely flat when opened but can fold back on itself like a spiral-bound sketchbook without weakening the pages. First created in 50–100 CE by the Copts in Egypt, Coptic books evolved from the accordion-folded scrolls that were common in Egypt at the time.
Copts were early Christians who were often the subject of marginalization; it’s not hard to imagine that their books might have held sacred texts, squirreled away and shared only in secret. Today, these books are used for writing, drawing, or painting. What will your Coptic book hold for you?
14 × 17.5 × 2 cm/5.5 × 7 × 0.75 inches
Tools and Materials
- Pages: 36 sheets of plain/blank paper (e.g., watercolour paper, sketch/drawing paper, printer paper, large grocery bags), each sheet large enough to cut into 27.5 × 17.5 cm/11 × 7 inch pieces
- Covers: 2 sheets of stiffer paper (e.g., cardstock, file folders), each sheet large enough to cut into 36.5 × 18 cm/14.5 inch × 7.25 inch pieces
- Scrap paper or cardstock: One piece, approximately 7.5 × 17.5 cm/3 inches × 7 inches
- Thread: 150 cm/60 inches. You can use linen 3-ply 28-gauge thread, embroidery floss, or dental floss. If you wish to use standard sewing thread, you will need three times the recommended length so you can triple up
- Curved needle (e.g., quilting or carpet needle): If you don’t have one, you can create your own using a straight needle, two sets of pliers, a candle, and a matchstick/lighter (directions included below)
- Binder clip
- Awl (or a thick sewing needle)
- Bone paper folder (or a dull knife)
- Cutting tools and guide: utility knife, metal/metal edge ruler, and cutting mat (or scissors); pencil; ruler
All images by Suzan Lee.