Bookbinding with… Robert Frost


Words on page

I had wanted to make a book with a little poem for a long time.

At the beginning of 2017, I finally thought it through and made an arrangement with Typesettingsg, Singapore’s only metal-typesetting studio.

I had in mind a short, popular poem: Robert Frost’s 1924 Pulitzer Prize-winning Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Eight beautiful, melancholy lines.

Simple enough for me to typeset.

And I only wanted to make a small book – A7 size.

Typeset it yourself

I made the trip to Typesettingsg  in Chinatown, Singapore on February 11, 2017 to meet Yao Yu, who has been running the typesetting studio for three years.

He helped me choose two period-appropriate typefaces — Cheltenham and Garamond — and guided me through the entire process.

My little book was only eight text pages, front-and-back printed on some.

But I was going to make seven books. So it’s a production just the same.

With Yao Yu’s help, everything was completed in about four hours.


A patient instructor, Yao Yu shows the way.


Testing, testing.


You need an old hand to get the spacing right.


It took me a while to get all the text typeset on a composing stick.


Type, set, go!

Always test first

Caution: Look out for unexpected characters.

I got my “i” and “j” mixed up.

And “I” and number “1”.

My careless eyes!


Is it inking properly?


Note orientation, and order.


Title page printed!


Drying, drying, dry.


Metal type and mini book – what’s not to love!

What I learned

Now I know that:

• You need to test print every page – you WILL make mistakes when typesetting.

• Don’t be too ambitious. Choose a manageable amount of text so you don’t get overwhelmed by the typesetting task – because you still need time to print.

• Uncoated paper prints nicer.

Typesetting my little book was geat fun. Every bookbinder should try it sometime.

I am thinking about my next production. I am thinking little paintings.

Stay tuned!


Single pamphlet stitch with glued-on endpaper and marbled paper over grey board for cover.


Limited editions!



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