friday shopcat blogging

July 1st, 2011

Bookie’s favorite spot when the shop gets a little too warm.

1984 pt. 3 – spine consolidation and boards

May 16th, 2011

After sewing, the endsheets were tipped to the loose guards. The spine was then glued up with hide glue, squared up to head and spine and allowed to dry.

Here’s a view of the texblock after rounding…

and here it is in the press prior to backing.

After backing, the spine was lined with two layers of machine-made Okawara pasted between the cords and just over the kettle stitches and a third layer cut to cover the spine just shy of the kettle stitches; this to make allowance for the endband sewing. The lining papers were cut wide enough so that they could be adhered to the pressing boards. By doing this the linings are pulled tightly onto the spine as they dry. The book remained in the press overnight. The next day I used a bone folder to separate the text from the pressing boards, removed  the book from the press, cut the cords to about an inch on both sides and frayed to cords out.

To equal the depth of the shoulders and to accommodate insetting the door number and telescreen elements the boards were each laminated from two pieces of two-ply museum board with a layer of handmade paper between them. While they were drying I airbrushed the textblock edges with more acrylic black and raw umber.

When the boards were dry they were squared up, cut to size, and a two-ply spacer tipped along the spine edge of each.  The frayed slips were then used to attach the boards to the textblock utilizing hot glue and paste. Endband cores were laminated from leather and vellum, cut to a triangular cross-section and adhered to the texblock with small pieces of Sekishu, as can be seen above.

The endbands were sewn with two colors of silk, then the ends of the cores were trimmed off and glued.

Finally, the boards were lined on the outside with handmade paper and sanded smooth, and a tube of machine-made Okawara prepared and adhered to the spine of the book.

Next episode: cover insets.

blogroll expansion

April 12th, 2011

A couple of new additions to the blogroll today. Bonefolder Extras is the blog associated with the online book arts journal The Bonefolder edited by Peter Verheyen; and The Pressbengel Project, which  is Peter’s blog for the study of German binding history and techniques. Lotsa good stuff.

1984 pt.2 – endpapers & sewing

April 11th, 2011

The endpapers were made up from a sheet of Twinrocker handmade paper that I had in the shop. The front pastedown and flyleaf imagery is lettering written with a pointed pen in an intentionally unformed style; that on the pastedown is the first passage the Smith writes in his journal, and that on the flyleaf is the phrase “Down with Big Brother” repeated halfway down the leaf. Across the rear pastedown and flyleaf was written” 2+2=5″ in a shaky hand, and some spatters and rings of acrylic were added. Then all four papers were worked with a mixture of raw umber and black acrylic in paste. Leather joints were cut out and overall pared to the thickness of a piece of one-ply museum board using a Scharffix and edge-pared by hand along one long side. To tone the color of the leather down a bit I lightly airbrushed the joints with raw umber and black.

The endpapers were assembled as in the above diagram. The sheets with the imagery were tipped to the folios, with the images facing out. The joints were tipped next, then the waste sheets. The waste sheets were Hannemuhle Ingres. For clarity, the diagram does not show the additional protection sheet of oaktag inserted between the joint and outer fly, or the compensating piece of one ply next to the joint.

After assembly the endsheets were pressed and cut to size. They were then pressed with the textblock. Because of the value of the book, the edges were not trimmed.

Before marking up, loose guards were folded and added to the outermost signatures. The textblock was marked up for four flat cords and new kettle stations, and all the stations cut into the textblock spine with a very sharp knife. The endpapers were pierced with an awl at the stations.

Including the endpapers, the book was comprised of 12 signatures. I chose to use #25 thread, which turned out to give just a little less swell than I had planned, but it worked out pretty well anyway.

Here’s the sewing in progress…

and here’s the textblock sewn, before taking it off the sewing frame.

Next: spine consolidation and boards.

1984 pt.1 – design

March 27th, 2011

In January and February of this year I executed a commissioned design binding on a first edition of George Orwell’s 1984. In a rare spasm of  good sense I took photos of the process, and, with the approval of the client, will be posting them along with comments.

I have to admit that I hadn’t read the book previously. When I did, I was struck by both its truly frightening timeliness and the rich imagery that Orwell uses to describe his sad, impoverished world. From this, four images stood out for me and became the basis for the design. Early in the book Smith begins keeping a diary in an illicit blank book. Orwell describes the book’s physicality in detail worthy of any bibliophile, whereupon Smith begins writing in graphic detail about a film showing the sinking of a ship carrying enemy noncombatants. As his mind wanders he finds himself writing “Down with Big Brother” over and over. Shortly thereafter we are introduced to the telescreen, which both receives and transmits images and allows the government to observer everyone in their apartments.. Toward the end of the book Smith’s will is broken in Room 101; we see him finally sitting in a bar, drunk, writing “two plus two equals five” on the table and realizing his love for Big Brother. Finally there is the iconic title itself. After a number of thumbnail sketches it was time to produce a definitive design.

As usual at this point I generated a full sized armature as a scaffold for the design. For more info on this technique, check out Jay Hambidge’s Elements of Dynamic Symmetry and The Painter’s Secret Geometry by Charles Bouleau (which seems to be very difficult to find at a reasonable price these days; hence, no link). And if you really want to see how great artworks can be produced based on the geometry of the rectangle, go here.

Variants were worked on tracing paper over the armature until the final design (above) came together. You can see the two rectangular elements of the door sign for room 101 and the telescreen over the title. I originally thought that the 19 and 84 elements might range above and below the surface of the binding, but that didn’t work out.I wanted a skin with flaws, and ordered a third quality gray skin from Talas.

Next: endpapers and preparation for sewing.

meet the new boss…

March 1st, 2011

Here’s Cassie, who’s now been with us for two and a half months. She’s doing well, although she still has to be segregated from the cats. We’ve been taking her to obedience classes and can really see the difference in behavior, so we’ll continue that for at least one more session. She’s a sweet dog, and we’re glad we found her.

Unrelated to anything canine and apropos of nothing, I’ve been listening to the Brandenburg Concertos and Francois Poulenc this morning. Good music for a sunny, late winter/early spring day.

looking backward

January 3rd, 2011

2010 was a pretty busy and eventful year, especially the last few months. After we lost Max we decided to wait until spring to look for another Shiba. That resolution lasted a couple of days. Thanks to the Mid Atlantic Shiba Rescue organization we found Cassie, a seven year old female, at the Harrisburg Humane Society. She came home with us on Dec. 18 on the return leg of a delivery trip to Pittsburg. We took the Great Circle route…

Cassie’s a lot like Max in looks, not so much in disposition. Where Max was quiet, Cassie produces an astonishing number of sounds: barks, yodels, squeaks, chirps. Cassie has a lot of energy and certainly doesn’t act like a middle aged dog. We’re going to get a lot of exercise in the future. And it’s going to take quite a while before Cassie and the house cats come to a point of peaceful coexistence. But we’re glad to have her here. I’ll post photos at some point in the near future.

The School was a pretty happening place in 2010, thanks to the great people that came. Regina attended the first Foundations and Case Binding classes in April and May. Nancy was here for the Edge Gilding class in May. Marie came for June’s Full Leather class. July was busy, with Stephanie coming back to the School for the Intro to Titling and Tooling, then a packed Foundations class: Chrys, Karen, Judy, Jennie and Alison. Judy and Karen stayed for the following week’s Case Binding class. In August Lesha came back for a week-long private leather conservation intensive, then stayed for the weekend’s Intro to Inlay and Onlay class, which was also attended by Liz and Luis. On Saturday after class they coopted our grill  and made a wonderful supper featuring grilled pork chops and Luis’ superb gazpacho, lots of wine and good conversation.  The following week Peter and Donna Thomas were here printing and teaching; see the previous post for that story.For October’s cloth and leather conservation classes, Jenny, who’s since returned to England, drove in from Minneapolis and Asmah flew in from Singapore, doubling the size of the School’s international contingent (Luis from Spain, via Washington DC; and Linda from Canada). And learning a lot, too. I want to thank everyone for making this year such a productive and enjoyable one for the School, and I hope you all can come back sometime.

And I even made time to get a design binding done: Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall by Sir Thomas Browne, designed by Bruce Rogers for the Riverside Press. It’s now residing with Joshua Heller, who’s looking for a good home for it. (Hint, hint.)

Best wishes for the New Year to all our friends.


November 29th, 2010

Trying to get back to some regularity in the blog. Added a couple of new links to the blogroll here and a couple of new posts over at the other blog.


plenty too much busy month…

August 19th, 2010

The shop is relatively quiet, in contrast to the activity of the past four weeks. This had been the busiest period scheduled for the school this year, with three weeklong classes and one weekend. The Foundations class was filled the week of July 19th, with Karen, Judy, Allison, Chrys and Jennie working their fingers to the bone and learning basic techniques and structures.

Judy and Karen returned the next week for the Case Binding class and again turned out really good work.

Then the first week of August Lesha was here for a private week of leather conservation, during which she was able to treat half a dozen volumes with as many different problems. That Friday Luis and Liz arrived, and all three proceeded to turn out moquettes with impressive inlays and inlays,

as well as hosting an excellent supper on Saturday night. On the following Tuesday afternoon Peter and Donna Thomas arrived in their gypsy wagon bookmobile for a working visit en route from Cleveland to Treadwell New York.

On Wednesday we printed a four color poster on the handpress. It was a long, hot day, but the final result was worth it.

I learned a lot about lockup and inking, and enjoyed collaborating with two such amazing artists.

On Thursday Peter taught his alternative structures class to students Stephanie, Lisa, Theresa and Peter,  with me hanging over shoulders and, again, learning new stuff. On Friday, after breakfast with the University of Scranton Special Collections librarian and his wife, Peter and Donna got on the road for upper New York State. And on Saturday Elaine and I painted faces at the crafts fair in Eagles Mere PA…

I’m getting tired just writing all this down, but it was a very rewarding month for me, and, I hope, for the folks that were here.

big news

July 17th, 2010

Book artists extraordinaire Peter and Donna Thomas have been traveling around the US this summer, visiting other book folk, libraries, &tc, and residing in a gypsy caravan that they built themelves. They’ve been blogging their experiences here. They will be stopping here at the shop from August 11-13, and will be presenting a miniature book workshop on Thursday Aug. 12. If any of the 3 1/2 readers of this blog are within driving distance of northeast Pennsylvania (sorry, Linda…), you should plan on attending.If anyone is interested, please contact me at don@donrashfinebookbinder for details.