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Help with a multiple signature binding?

Hi friends,

I need to ask a question regarding the spine area on a multiple signature
binding...please forgive any errors in terminology as I am still a student
of the binding arts...and fine binders...please forgive any sacrilegious
processes I may describe :)

First let me say that the process I am following for making a multiple
signature binding are from instructions found in "Cover to Cover". They fall
under the category of "Codex".

I am assembling a 5 signature small book approximate size is 4 3/8 x 5 3/4"
when cased into the cover boards.  Per the instructions that I follow I am
cutting two boards  from davey and also a spine piece that measures 1/4"
wide to lay between the front board and back board with a 1/8" gap between
the three pieces.  I have made a spacing jig that assists me with having
this gap even on either side.  (is this what you call a flat back
binding?....as opposed to a traditional rounded back binding?)


For board cover material I am using handmade paper.  Perhaps this is my
mistake...if so please advise....but...one of the things that I love about
the process of book binding is the fact that I can pull and use my own
handmade papers :)...my customers like them too...

For glue, I am using PVA.....and sometimes YES! Paste (I know I know....not

Anyway, Once I adhere the handmade paper to the boards and spine...do my
turn ins and paste in my block....I press overnight in my book press.   What
I am noticing and is worrying me....is the spine area ... the 1/8" gap
between the covers and the spine... weakens with the repeated opening of the
covers of the book.  I realize this problem is probably inherent to the fact
that the handmade papers are soft...and the fibers are weakening under the
stress of the book being opened and closed.  I am looking for a solution to
this problem....that hopefully will not entail halting the use of the
handmade papers. :)  It is my most popular book structure from a selling
standpoint...and anything that I seem to make that is in this format covered
with my handmade papers sells easily.  I have a feeling that the reason
behind that,   is it's  what most people "consider a book"....with the only
difference being the materials used in its construction.

Selling these small books is important to me...as it allows me to earn
enough money to continue to explore book binding...but I can't continue to
offer these covered in my handmade papers if they will eventually breakdown
in that crucial area....I want to produce not only a physically attractive
product...but something that can withstand use.

I am wondering if any of you fine people have some ideas for me on how I may
go about reinforcing the spine are of these structures.  Quarter bounds are
not an option...as using a fabric in the spine area detracts from the
collages that I adhere to the covers.  I have tried this solution...and the
results..while strengthening the spine area...seem to be less than pleasing
to the purchasers...in other words...they do not sell.

The only thing I can think of...is perhaps applying a couple coats of PVA to
the spine area of the paper...letting it sink into the fibers of the paper
and drying before pasting in my boards and spine.  Have not tried
that....just sitting here wondering....

I am really puzzled and desperate for help.
Only good things,
Missy Hatalsky
Central NY

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