Modifying a piercing cradle for pamphlet stitching

For the artist book I now envision (book pre-visualization!), I want to bind it with a very simple, but elegant pamphlet stitch. Assembled and bound it should look like what I posted in my last article. And there are a numerous ways to complete a pamphlet stitch and a relatively simple production fixture, called a piercing cradle, helps make this binding process manageable. Especially when binding a series and there are multiple signatures to bring together. I envision about 10 signatures, which starts to get awkward to handle.

Funny story, I was aware of these binding fixtures for pamphlet stitching a couple of years ago when I was on my scavenger hunt for parts for my very first artist book, Pine Lake. Since I had another method of binding that artist book, I moved on. Then in the last couple of months when I thought I should obtain a cradle to help me with the pamphlet stitching, I could not find these again in my searches. I was keying in ‘pamphlet stitch fixtures’ for my net searches. Okay, apparently that was a bit too literal with my industrial engineering hat on way too tight. While looking for something else related to pamphlet stitching, I stumbled on what I was looking for and found the name that everyone else uses: Piercing Cradle. When I used that term for my net searches, a ton of these appear!

I purchased a very simple one from John Neal Books. In retrospect, perhaps a bit too simple. The idea of this cradle is to position your loose signatures in place while you make as many hole pokes with your sharp tool to enable the stitching pattern. The cradle I acquired also includes a strip of thick cloth, mine came in red, that allows the piecing tool to go through the paper signatures. The issue for me is that the v-grove where the cloth strip is too shallow to support a large amount of signatures during the hole piecing process for my liking.

Btw, my hole piercing tool is my grandfather’s ice pick, seen above. Sentimental; in essence he is part of every artist book that I want to make that is pamphlet stitched.

components to modify a piercing cradle

The three components that compose this particular cradle (no instructions are included) are held together with Velcro buttons, one at each end to hold the cradle together, as well as making disassembly easy to store this little device. What those Velcro buttons also did was create enough clearance between the three parts of this cradle to allow me to insert some hardboard inserts to essential extend the V-grove outward. See below when assembled. The hardboard panels have enough rigidity to support my artist book-dummy, top photo. I did not make these hardboard panels permanently in place, thus I can change these out to even larger later if I need this for another project with even larger signatures. Also, not permanent makes this easy to disassemble and store. Cool!

modified piercing cradle assembled

I know that my book-dummy is a heavy beast right now compared to what I will have in the final printed version to assemble. Thus if this modified cradle can support my current book-dummy, then when I am in production mode, this cradle should function just fine.

This artist book appears to be coming together. So expect some more news about this book soon.




You can also follow progress of this artist book on a new IG page for my book publisher: Singular Images Press @singularimagespress



Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC): Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading on: May 14 & 15 – 21 & 22nd, 2022, from 1PM-4PM (Mountain Time). More details and sign-up available now at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.


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