Custom: Coptic Bound "Do-si-Do" Book (Photo Heavy)

Coptic bound do si do
dos a dos coptic binding
Coptic bound do si do

The Dos-á-dos binding, more often called the "Do-si-do" book here in America (yes— like the square dance!), is basically a way to create one book from two. The "two books" share a back cover so when you look at it from the top, the covers form the letter "N" (as pictured above). The translation is from French which literally means "back-to-back." You would open the front cover and begin writing in it as usual. Then, when you get to the end, you close the book and voilá — it's another blank book waiting for you to fill it up again. Pretty cool, huh?

hard cover do si do

Sidenote: There is a similar book form called the "Tête-bêche" where two texts are bound head-to-tail. This means that one of the books would actually be upside-down in relation to the other. BUT Tête-bêche bound books only have two covers so they look like a normal book except when you finish the text of the first book, the next page would be the upside-down last page of the second book.

hard cover dos a dos

If you think of Do-si-do books as "conjoined" and Tête-bêche as "two in one" then it helps to keep them straight and understandable. These two book forms were often created for complementary works such as the Bible's New and Old Testament.

handmade coptic stitch book

So, now that the history lesson is over, the photos I'm sharing today are of a custom book that I was commissioned to make. I'm a problem solver by nature, and so making custom books that fit someone's specific needs is literally my favorite thing. My client* wanted me to create a blank book that she could give to a friend for her birthday. Her friend's husband had passed away and my client wanted the family to have a place to capture and record not only wonderful memories of previous birthdays and holidays, but also their future celebrations together. I suggested a do-si-do book and she loved the idea.

handmade dos a dos book
Coptic bound do si do

The other problem I had to solve was that my client already had a very specific idea for the covers. This is only a problem because if someone already has an idea of what they want in their head before you start the project then they have already created their own set of expectations for you. So the risk is that if you don't deliver exactly what they want then they will be disappointed with the end product no matter what it is.

Luckily, I realized this beforehand and was able to work it into the design of the book. So I used papers that she chose for the end pages (end pages are the papers that are glued onto the inside of the covers) and I created neutral covers that she could later adhere her own design onto.

do si do coptic binding

The last design decision I made was the coptic style binding. This binding style is perfect not only because it's a very pretty exposed stitching, but it allows the book to lie flat when open so it's really convenient and pleasant to write in.

Dos a Dos book

So after I addressed all those problems, this is the book I came up with. I'm so happy with the way this book turned out! I only broke two needles while sewing it together but at least I got lots of practice ;-) This book is unlike any other I've made before since it addresses some things I've never had to think about before. I learned so much from it and I love the fact that no one else in the world has this book besides one family. It's completely unique to my client's friend, just like her husband.

Dos a Dos book

*I use the term client throughout this post but for the purpose of full disclosure I don't mind that anyone knows that this book was commissioned by my boss! I just didn't feel like saying "boss" or "friend" was quite right for this situation (though she is both to me!), so in the name of professionalism, I chose "client." She knows I'm preparing myself to open a bookmaking business so I'm so excited to have this opportunity to work through a real-life client situation and figure out some of the hiccups along the way now instead of when dealing with strangers. Also, I normally wouldn't create a book so minimal on the covers, but since I got to talk with her at great length about what she wanted, I was super comfortable and happy to accommodate her wish to create her own covers. I actually really like that it will end up being a collaboration between the two of us!

etsy packaging inspiration

So there you have it— a little peek at my process and what goes into creating a custom handbound book for somebody. I also got to play around with potential packaging and product photography, though I'm not 100% satisfied with either of those yet.

Do y'all think these pictures are acceptable for product shots on a website/Etsy store?

I can't decide what I want to do. My heart wants something "real" like these indoor photos that I just snapped at my desk. But sometimes my brain wants "classic" photos taken on a plain white background. . .  Ugh, I don't know y'all! Do you find yourself drawn to one or the other when shopping online? Give me all your feedback because I am really indecisive and when I start to over-think things I get really anxious.

Thanks for taking the time to read all this and letting me share my passion with you! There's nothing quite like watching someone's eyes light up when you give them a handmade item. Honestly, it makes my spinster heart grow a size and lets me know I'm definitely on the right path to doing what I love for a living. Until next time, j.