Sunday, September 23, 2012

Project: Douay Rheims Bible

This is another book repair project. As you can see, this is a cloth-board book that has its spine falling apart.

That's almost always the case with old books: the boards are fine except for the corners but the spine literally falls to pieces.
The spine for this book is nearly fallen off and is only held together by a wish and a 'prayer'.

The end pages that would hold the book block to the cover have been torn and will have to be replaced to return the book to a serviceable state.

The spine of the book has also cracked, not just the covering for the spine but the actual stitching itself.

The large section at the back of the book is in two parts now - and will have to be re-sewn back into the block.

The rear cover and end page have completely detached from the book and will have to be repaired.
What I would recommend:

  • Recover the boards and repair the cover to make it able to protect the pages.
  • Re-sew the loose section to reattach it to the book block.
  • Reattach any loose pages. 
  • Replace the end pages
  • Saturday, September 22, 2012

    Project: Red Man

    Name: Red Man Book
    Size: Size 5, Double Fold
    Cover: Leather Cover
    Cover Material: Red Leather
    Pages: 500 (approximately)
    Paper: 75 lb
    Elements: None (currently)
    Estimated Value: $60.00 

    From the 'What Kind of Book do you Want' survey.
    What style of book do you want? Double-Fold (two-in-one style book)  
    What size of book do you want? Size 5: A book that is 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size. AKA: "Tome" What kind of cover do you want for the book? All-Leather  
    What kind of paper do you want for the book Thick-weight paper  
    What COLOR of paper do you want for the book? Stained / aged.  
    What kind of closure do you want for the book? Two Buckles (Silver) 
    Embellishments Pressed cover symbol, Silver book corners (to protect them) 
    Briefly describe the book. I would like red leather with the Vitruvian Man as the symbol pressed into the cover. 

    I'll be contacting the client tonight with an approximate price for the book and see where he'd like to go with the project. 

    Update 9.13.12 

    After conferring with the client, he's opted to remove the pressed symbol of the Vitruvian Man and remove the silver book corners.
    This leaves the book as:

    Size 5 Double-Fold book with stained-pages and a red-leather cover.

    Totally doable. :)

    Estimated price on the book: 50.00 (DF) + 5-10.00 (Red Leather)=60.00

    Project: Green Knot

    Name: Green Knot
    Size: Size 5, Double Fold
    Cover: Leather Cover
    Cover Material: Black Leather
    Pages: 600 (approximately)
    Paper: 75 lb
    Elements: Four book ribbons, raised symbol
    Estimated Value: $50.00

    Description: A size 5, double-fold journal with a depressed design of a witches knot on the outer cover.

    Update (5.29.12) Additional greyboard has been found for the project and is being shipped to me. Should have it in hand in a few days and then I can start the carving for the symbol.

    Finding a good copy of a witches knot wasn't that hard (thank you Google images).

    So here's what the book would look like as a mock-up of the raised design and the cover. (I omitted the 4 ribbons)

    The raised image of the knot was left white for the image above but in the final project it will be under the leather. I just have no idea how to make it look that way with Gimp.


    Now that I have the boards taped up and ready for the leather the question was raised as to what version of green to dye the leather. I'm going to experiment tomorrow with some various shades to come up with a few versions of a good 'green' for the client and let the client pick.
    The cover boards with spines all taped out and ready for the leather.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Project: Spine Repair

    Every once in a while I get a project that's rather interesting. Take this project: I will be repairing the spine of an old bible that was originally bound in the late 1800's. The client wants me to raise the tapes to make them more pronounced and then cover the spine and boards as a half-bound book.

    This book is a Fanshaw Bible for the 'American Bible Society' printed in 1834 (ok, so I guessed on the 'late 1800's part). It measures 12 inches by 9.5 inches with a three inch spine (boards included).

    What I've been asked to do is to raise the tapes a bit higher to resemble thick cords, recover the spine with new leather to ensure that it can be used as a bible once more. Additionally the client wants the cover boards covered with kraft paper (as the original boards have been torn and faded over time - I understand that the bible was recovered from a Barn) and the corners reinforced with new leather.

    Progress on the book continues. I've mounted leather spacers on the tapes to raise them higher on the spine as a design feature. The book has been covered with brown, kraft paper to help reinforce the structural strength of the cover boards and give the spine more flexibility without additional damage. 

    Four, three-quarter inch tapes are used to hold this book together. Surprisingly, even after more than a hundred and fifty years the tapes are still secure the stitching hasn't frayed.

    I had to take a picture of the mega-tapes that the binders used to produce this book. Three-quarter inch tapes are used for massive books and with two and a half inches of text - it needs the support.

    The quality of the cover boards, even now after nearly a hundred and seventy years, is amazing. You can still see the design that was printed on the cover boards all those years ago and even with all of the damage that the book has seen it's still maintained a sense of its own character.

    As you can see - the spine virtually disintegrated of the original cover and the boards are faded and in need of repair or replacement.

    The cover page of the bible.
    The new tapes drying.

    The bible has been covered in a single layer of Kraft paper with the tapes bolded (pressed and the sides cut to keep the shapes more pronounced)

    I set the book in the pressing frame so that I could tie up the tapes.By using the pressing frame, the book doesn't have to support itself on its covers (which still aren't as sturdy as they should be) and I can use the sides of the boards to mount some pseudo-lacing frame pegs.
    To tie up the tapes I needed to install some pegs so that the cords would have something to hold onto. Rather than using permanent pegs I just used some thumb tacks since they're cheap, disposable and removable once I'm done.

    So here's what the spine looks like when the tapes are tied up. The ties are used to press the leather down against the spine on either side of the tape and therefore accentuate them.

    I have to wait for the glue to dry and then I can start tacking down the spine leather onto the cover boards.

    Research: Leather Dye

    One of the more interesting aspects of bookbinding is constantly experimenting with various techniques to decorate or customize the covers. One of the techniques that I like to use is wood burning. I'm still experimenting with the new tips that I picked up but have been working with pressure and how slowly to move it across the leather to get a darker (or lighter) mark.

    Additionally I wanted to see how the technique would look once I dyed the leather (as opposed to dying the leather and then burning it). So I grabbed a bit of 4 oz leather and started to experiment.

    Dying leather is a tricky process. Leather dye is always futzy when you're trying to get an even coat or wash across the surface. Normally I end up with brush marks or sponge marks left from the areas where the dye was stronger in some places and weaker in others.  The above test strip was an experiment with various acrylic washes to see how well they would color the leather.

    Copper (left) and brown (right)
    The copper looks interesting. It does keep its metallic sheen to it once it dries so that's something to keep an eye on. I could always use it to accent something like a central design. I wouldn't use too much of it because it would become overpowering in the overall theme of the book.

    Blue (left) and Orange (right)

    The blue is a nice, rich color. I could easily see it being used to color an entire book. I know a few people who would love a "River Song" journal from Dr. Who. The orange (see below) came out very nice and would look awesome for some kind of autumn-themed book.

    Book: Chinese Copper

    When I experiment with a technique it doesn't always work out for the best. Sometimes the process, the materials or even the idea is just so wonky that it doesn't want to work out. So when I get an idea to experiment with some new aspect of binding I usually fall back to the trusty composition notebook. Yes, those cardboard-covered notebooks that you can get from the dollar store make excellent test subjects.

    Take this recent experiment with the concept of a 'Triple Fold'.  I have made Double Fold books several times and I have been asked if I could ever make a book with three sections. Since I wasn't sure how it would work - or if people would actually want a book with three different sections to it, I decided to give it a go.

    The three books are bound one to each other in a long, continuous section so that the inner-most book is hidden within the second book which is then turned inward against the first. Structurally this allows the author to divide their subjects into three separate areas of focus. It could be daily notations, experimental notes and then formulas, for example.

    The cover was created by covering the whole book in a layer of brown, kraft paper to give it a single, uniform 'skin'. The skin was then given a coat of green paint to kill the dullness of the natural kraft paper. Once dried I added yellows and browns with sponge painting and then added some copper highlights. I then added some raised elements on the front cover and sunk-in some Chinese-looking scrap booking embellishments to complete the look. The disk item in the center swivels to reveal an open space below where one might put a photo or some other type of decoration unique to the author. The book has no closure because I couldn't think of one that would go with the design. Estimated value: 10-20 dollars.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    New Technique: Cord Binding

    A cheap way of binding up small pamphlets or booklets is to string a thick cord through the pages to keep them together. The technique, called 'Cord Binding' is not designed for large books but could easily be used for booklets up to fifty pages or so.

    New Technique: Laminate Paper Cover

    Since most of my experiments use cheap, composition notebooks I don't worry about completely wasting the materials involved. I try and use the cheapest materials to see if the idea will work first and then, once the theory has been proven, try it with better quality materials.

    A new technique in creating covers occurred to me and I wanted to try it out. The technique involves covering the boards of the book with multiple layers of thin paper, building it up with washes of glue to fill in the nooks and crannies. The idea, shown right, creates folds and imperfections in the cover which I think add to the overall look. The more of those folds and things the better.

    I didn't go crazy with the folds but I could have spent an hour crimping and roughing the paper to make the new texture more pronounced.

     Once I had two layers down and let it dry for a while, I came back and started adding paint to cover over the original material and so that the composition cover couldn't be seen through it.

    I will be going over the black layer with lighter and lighter shades of paint to highlight the folds and new texture of the cover.

    Pics to follow.
    The first layer of black paint to give it a good base.
    Sponge-painted, the cover starts to look less like composition notebooks and more like a real book.

     Once I had the book painted and sealed with a layer of pva (polyvinyl acetate) I wanted to add a closure to it. Unfortunately the only ribbon I had was blue but I don't think it looks too bad.

    The cover is set with a raised 'picture window' where the author could place a title or subject card to tell what the contents of the book were.

    As this was an experimental book I didn't get too fancy with the shape of the title box but it doesn't look too bad; almost like an old lab manual. 

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    PROJECT: Tree of Life

    Update: 9.17.12

    The Tree of Life basic shape is still an idea for a simple book. I may try and cut out the shape of the tree and try it as a raised image to see how it would look covered in paper rather than in leather.

    Original Post: 7.15.11

    For one of the next books that I'm making, I wanted to try a new design for the front cover. The book is going to be a Double-Fold, size 5, book with a section of white pages for the main book and black pages for the interior, or secondary book.

    The front cover will have a raised element of a tree-of-life with the hollow sections revealing either glass or some kind of 'glossy' material. I'm not sure if the sub-surface color will be black, white or green but I sketched up some ideas (right) to see what it would look like.

    I really liked how numbers 1 and 4 turned out because it left a lot of empty space that I can use to show off the tree design that's raised. Number 1 is very stylistic and you have know that you're looking at a tree to realize what the design is (in my opinion). Number four has a lot of the 'tree' qualities that I'm looking for in the design and there's no mistaking it for some other shape when it's raised off the front of the book's cover.

    The problem is that it's asymmetrical and I generally like my books to look 'balanced'. Additionally, the thin 'branches' on the side would probably not stand up to the wear and tear that most of my books are put through so I would need to fatten them up for a finished design.

    Since I wanted to keep the design from #4 but add some thickness to the branches, I took concept and re-drew it and then mirrored it so that it would be symmetrical. The shaded areas would easily show the green or black backing material that I had in mind although I might thin down the top of the trunk a little.

    Additionally, the surrounding 'ring' of the tree design will be given an added later to bring it out as a design element on the cover and I need to stretch the design of the tree to make it more ovoid than a flat-circle. So I needed to scan in the image and play with it in Gimp a bit to figure out what kind of variations I could try with the colors and design.

    Once I had plenty of variations with the color of the tree, background and possible cover I couldn't decide on what version I liked better so I put them together in a concept-design video. I had been meaning to implement this on some of the bigger projects, documenting the whole process by which a book was created so that future clients could see the design process as well as what types of elements were possible.

    Design: Stag-Tree

    This is a combination design using the "Black Stag" head as well as a modified "Tree of Life" design.

    Design: Black Stag Head

    A new cover design idea for either a hard-cover or leather-covered book. I'm thinking that the design, burned or pressed into leather with a green background would look awesome.

    Update 9.17.12

    I think that the design would be perfect as an image burned into the surface of a leather book. I'll probably paint or stain the design to make the negative image pop off the cover.