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Bookbinding and Mental Health

Mindy Lawrence

When everything closes in and you need an escape, art is often a good means of running away. One of the art forms used to rest from the world is bookbinding. It’s sometimes meticulous but easily learned. The fact that it’s repetitive makes it a good way to see it as a meditation. You learn and keep getting better with practice. You find new ways of binding and better ways to cover the books. Before long you look at your work and can’t believe you’ve gotten that good. Even if you continue at the same level, you are making something you can use, gift, or in some cases sell. Bookbinding allows you to leave the rest of the world behind as you weave the thread through the holes (sewing stations) of a book.

Chanel Ly of Bitter Melon Binder uses her bookbinding as a mental health exercise. It helps her relax and put away her anxiety for a while. Her work is extremely good and well done. She sells journals, pocket notebooks, and sketchbooks to her followers. Her YouTube channel produces elegant videos, often with no voiceover and sometimes with no music. Silently watching her work is therapy in itself.

Another YouTube site that gives easy and understandable instructions on binding is SeaLemon. She doesn’t just have bookbinding on her channel but several other projects that would work for art therapy. She is by far the easiest person to follow when learning for the first time.

If you intend to learn more deeply about bookbinding, then watch DAS Bookbinding on YouTube. It states that it’s a full (free) online class that teaches binding. Darryn Schneider, the binder on the channel, says clearly that he is not a professional binder. His work, however, is of professional quality. What he is NOT is someone who makes his living as a binder. He has a Ph.D. in Physics. His very precise but understandable instructions and detailed videos make it easy for a new binder to learn the craft.

Consider trying this. Japanese “stab” binding is probably the easiest to master. The videos listed below can help you learn how to do it.


Bookbinding Relieves my Stress and Anxiety, Bitter Melon Bindery, Chanel Ly

Japanese (stab) binding, Sea Lemon

Coptic Binding, Sea Lemon

DAS Bookbinding, Darryn Schneider

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