Unofficial History 1970, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Corgi Books
This binding was not a valuable book financially, but one whose owner was extremely fond of it. Being a late twentieth century paperback, it was not made to last. The paper is brittle and the binding was in a perfect style, which, ironically, is so far from perfect that one must think the term was made in jest.
A perfect binding implies that loose sheets are stacked and adhered at the spine edge with a thick layer of PVA or similar adhesive. This is then covered with a paper cover, which is adhered over the heavy spine, and tada! You have the modern paperback. Note the lack of sewing, spine lining or any form of reinforcement to keep the book from falling apart. This makes a very clear case as to why your regular paperback will often fall apart on you when reading. If, by some miracle, you can keep the book free from dog ears and spine breakages, it won’t be long before the adhesive gives up the ghost all on its own and falls apart anyway – as mentioned, decidedly less than “perfect”.
In order to create a hardback, as requested by this client, I treated this book quite similarly to a thesis binding – stab-sewn and covered as a quarter-bound flat back. The result was very pleasing, and with a simple cover design and title on the spine, it now has a new lease of life that should last for years to come.
If you have a similar book that you would like to preserve for the future in this way, please do get in touch to discuss the particulars.
TEXTBLOCK has brittle paper, which is discolouring at the edges. BINDING is perfect bound and still in tact at present.
TEXTBLOCK – Keep original cover as first page. – Create holes adjacent to the spine and sew as thesis binding. – Adhere plain black endpapers. – Line spine with cloth and manilla lining. BINDING – Create new cover – flat back and quater-bound with black cloth spine and printed cover in the style of the original. – Case-in and finish.
Like many a crafts person, I have several tool rolls, all of which I have made myself – for tools, paintbrushes, knitting needles – you name it, I have it in a tool roll! So I thought I would impart my knowledge and practice in the art of the tool roll so that one and all can have a go. You don’t need much fabric, but if you don’t have any – I have put together some kits which are available on my Etsy page, which are hopefully wonderfully tempting!
The lovely Helen from work has kindly tested these instructions for me and they have been adjusted as suggested!
You will need…
1 x patterned fabric – dimensions below
3 x plain fabric – dimensions below
1 x ribbon – 75cm long x 5mm wide (can be longer and wider if you’d prefer)
Sewing machine OR needle and thread (the latter will obviously take longer)
Dressmakers pencil (optional)
Finished Tool Roll:
– Firstly we are going to work on the tool side, so put the patterned fabric to one side.
– Iron a 2cm hem onto the long edge of both fabric 3 and 4, then put fabric 4 to one side for the moment.
– Line up fabric 3 with the bottom of fabric 2, ensuring both are front facing and the ironed hem is at the top of fabric 3.
– Pin these two pieces together
TIPS – Pin the fabric with the pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric, this will allow you to run your machine over the pins without misplacing them, it will also prevent the fabric from moving sideways against each other.
– Sew along the red dashed edge, keeping the sewing as close to the edge as possible – 1cm if possible. Don’t worry about rough edges, these will be covered up when we sew the whole thing together.
– The next step is to divide this new pocket up for the tools. I have made the partitions 2cm each, but you can make them whatever widths work well for your tools. Keep in mind that the divisions at the edges shrink when we sew the whole thing together, so it may be worth starting 3cm in and finishing about 3cm from the other end to allow for sewing round the edge.
– Pin fabrics 2 and 3 at the hem to stop it flapping about and then mark every point where you want to make a tool division – you could do this with pins, a dressmakers pencil, chalk or you could do it by eye.
– Starting from the base of the fabric, sew up in a straight line, perpendicular to the base of the fabric, to meet your first marker. You will need to remove the pin as you get there as the machine will not sew over it.
– Repeat this for each of your pin markers until you have made all of your tool partitions.
Your tool roll should now look a bit like this:
– We are now going to attach fabric 4 and form the lower pocket. This will be on the outside of the tool divisions we have just made.
– Firstly we must sew over the hem we ironed onto fabric 4 at the beginning – this is to stop it flapping about.
– Once hemmed, sew fabric 4 into place the same way we did for fabric 3. The new hem should be facing inwards.
– Sew along the dashed edge, keeping the sewing as close to the edge as possible – 1cm if possible. The same as we did for fabric 3.
– Next we are going to divide this pocket into two, as one large pocket will probably be less useful.
– Do this simply by sewing up the middle of of the fabric in line with one of the central tool partitions. If you have a variety of tool division widths – make sure you sew in line with one of them, otherwise you will sew up one of your tool divisions and it will be unusable.
– Nearly there! Next we are going to sew on our backing fabric – fabric 1 – and our ribbon tie all in one go.
– Fold your ribbon in half and pin it onto fabric 2 as shown in the picture – the long ends should be on top of your fabric and the little folded bit should be sticking out the edge.
– Once your ribbon is in place, match up fabric 1 with fabric 2 (and 3 & 4) and pin them together – ensuring that the good sides are facing each other.
– Sew along the edges of your fabric bundle, ensuring you leave an open space at the top to turn it inside out, about 12cm. The sewing edge can be up to 2.5cm due to the initial fabric pieces we cut, but try and keep the edges relatively small or your outer tool divisions won’t be much use.
– Turn it inside out and iron it nice and flat – at this point your ribbon should be nicely hanging on the right edge.
TIPS – Once you are definitely happy with the result, you can cut off the excess edges and corners on the inside of your tool roll, which should make it nice and neat on the outside – this is not essential to the finishing of the roll.
– FINALLY – sew up the open edge and fill with tools – TA DA!!
Don’t forget you can get ready prepared kits on my Etsy page to make these tool rolls, all made up from lovely fabrics from my stash and my local fabric shop – they are all very nice!
Once your all done – photograph your lovely tool roll and upload you picture to our maudie.made Facebook page and let me see all your hard work! Here’s Helen’s fabulous tool roll!
TIPS – If you found any of the tips useful, there is a tips jar in the sidebar!
This has taken me all of half an hour to make, and I really should have done it about a year ago – why is it the simplest things take the longest to get around to doing?!
A book support is an extremely useful part of a book conservators kit, without one there is a permanent struggle to support the book cover and text block using anything to hand (other books, boards, rolls of felt, the cat… ). They can be bought from PEL, but come at £46.50 plus postage – though they are extremely nice! However, the beans I bought were from Wilko’s for £6.50, and the pillow case was an old one, so all in all a cheaper version.
Prior to filling up the pillow case, I sewed up the open edge most of the way along, leaving a small gap to fill the beans with. Once I had filled it, I tested it with a few books and found that I needed to take out some of the beans to get the support just right. Once happy, I then sewed up the open edge and TA DA!
Considering one of the books I am conserving for my major project is a recipe book, I have been dying to try some of them out! Unfortunately due to all the project work, I haven’t had time until now! So this weekend (along with a fun day out) I set about making some ginger beer from The Book of Puddings. The plan is also to have some of this at our end of year show – so it was important to try it out first!
The book has two recipes for ginger beer on the same page, one written by the author and one from a newspaper she had cut out and stuck in. Considering I was only trying out a small batch, I have gone for the newspaper recipe that makes one gallon, rather than two.
Having bought myself some bottles (Lakeland, £4.99 each – fabulous!), and some yeast and cream of tartar, I set to work (thankfully a fellow student pointed out that this was a baking powder and not the cream tartare that goes on scampi, otherwise this ginger beer could have had a very different flavour!).
I’ve written out both recipes here, as the writing is not that legible so small.
2 lb sugar 2 oz cream of tartar 1/2 oz tartaric acid 2 or 3oz bruised ginger 2 pennyworth essence of lemon dropped in the suer 2 gallons of boiling water poured on the ginger alone
Add the other ingredients when mainly cold, add 2 tbs of yeast on toast and let it stand for 12 hours
Bottle and in a few days it will be ready to drink
For one gallon: 1oz of bruised ginger 1lb loaf sugar one lemon two tsp of cream of tartar
Pour on 1 gallon of boiling water and when nearly cold add large tbs yeast speed on toast Strain and bottle next morning
First was to add a bruised ginger to lemon, tartar and sugar. Not being familiar with ‘bruised’ ginger, I bashed it with a hammer a few times, though I may have been a bit over zealous. Also the loaf sugar was replaced with caster sugar, as I forgot to get this at the supermarket.
I realised from the instructions in both recipes that the yeast had to be spread onto toast, and that the fast action yeast I had was not quite the right stuff. I tried reactivating it with a recipe from Mikes Brewery, but I’m not that sure how well it worked, it was more of a liquid than a cream. However, not to be deterred, it went onto the toast, and into the mix!
24 hours and much anticipation later, I sieved and bottled it. Then for the sampling! I think it is supposed to sit bottled for a few days, so I will be sampling some more soon to see if that’s even better!
Well its a bit sweet, so I do think it needs time to sit.
Some days have passed, and it is still a bit sweet, and considerably reduced in quantity, as I omitted to tell The Man that it needs time to brew, and he has been merrily drinking it away!
I might try with some better yeast for the show and proper loaf sugar to see if it makes any difference.
Some months back, we started a fantastic workshop with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and last week, we were lucky enough to have Kristine back again to finish the workshop with us, so these are the follow-up instructions. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take any photos during the workshop, so I only have completed ones.
In class, we covered the boards separately, doing the front board with one piece of leather and the back and foredges with the second piece of leather. It is possible to do it as a case binding, with the appropriate measurements for the spine as well. I hadn’t done this method before, so was trying something new.
Covering the front board
Mark out where the board will go on the leather with a biro – on the flesh side.
Wet the leather on the hair side
Paste out on the flesh side, scrape away the excess and paste again to ensure it really gets into the leather.
Place the board onto the pasted leather and turn in the edges leaving the spine open.
If decorating the front board, wet the leather again on the hair-side, place the decorative plate in place and nip for about five minutes
Finally allow to dry fully under boards.
Covering the back board, foredge envelope and foredge flap
Trim a flap piece – this should be the same height as the boards and the width should be of the text block minus about 5mm, so it will come out very thin.
Mark the leather as above – the back board, envelope and flap should be aligned in a straight line and the gap between back board and envelope should be about 6mm either side of the flap
Paste out leather as above
Place boards onto leather and turn in the edges, leaving the spine edge free, ensuring the three pieces of board are kept in line.
Finally allow to fully dry under boards.
Once dry, paste a strip of leather on the inside of the back board, where the turn-in meets the foredge piece and back board.
Once this is dry, it is worth checking whether the cover fits the textblock – if it does not, place spacers either side of the flap and press it for a while, therefore stretching the gaps.
Leaving a few millimeters for squares around the boards, measure the deBleurs for the front and back board as well as the turn-in piece.
Cutting out the deBleurs – add about and inch to the spine edge of the front and back board pieces, this is to stick down onto the text block to hide the spine joint.
Past the three pieces onto the boards and allow to dry.
Once dry, fold back the extra bits on the front and back board to keep them out of the way whilst attaching the boards to the spine.
Attaching the boards to the spine These books would not have been opened more than about 90 degrees, and would have been read using a rull, so at no point would the have been laid flat.
Pair the edges of each of the spine pieces so they are very thin, there should not be any swell on either of them when laid on top of each other.
Lay the board against the book and trim the spine leather of each board so that each covers the spine of the textblock
Paste the spine of the textblock.
Line the front board up against the textblock and push the leather spine piece onto the spine, ensuring the leather is also pushed into the joints. Then do the same with the back board.
Allow them both to dry.
The spine edges were always decorated to hide the joining of the leather, this was done with both tooling and gold paint.
Working in the pastedowns
Paste out the extra paper from the deBleurs, and work each into the spine joint and onto the textblock.
Ensure the book is held at a 90 degree angle when pasting onto the textblock and thoroughly work the paper into the joint.
End caps These books did not have worked end caps like the european bindings, the excess leather was just trimmed at the end of each of the spines.
Painting the cover Islamic books were often painted with gold, where any patterns had been impressed onto the cover. For instructions on how to make gold paint, please see my previous post.
Prior to painting in gold, the cover must first be painted with gum arabic and then allowed to dry and burnished.
The next time I make one, I will take more constructive pictures!
This is in preparation for the second set of instructions for Islamic bindings, which is coming in a couple of days. The gold paint is to decorate the cover, but needs some time to prepare so should be prepared prior to the completion of the book.
Gold paint is made using a curved edge dish or a plate without a rim, as the gold is worked right out to the edges.
First drip two drops of gum arabic into the centre of the plate and add one gold leaf, then mix it together with a finger, in circular motions around the centre of the dish.
When it gets impossible to keep rubbing with fingers, add another drop of gum arabic and mix again until the leaf is completely broken down.
When it is hardest to mix gold, this is when it is being ground.
Keep adding gold leaf and gum arabic in this way until up to 5/6 leaves have been added, it will gradually work its way out to the edges of the dish
Every so often the mix should be tested with a drop of water – if when dropped, the gold is lifted up to the top of the water, it is going well.
To finish off, add water and draw all the gold into the water, this may be around a cupful to cover the dish, less if it is a plate.
Transfer this into another smaller vessel that the gold can be permanently kept in.
Leave this vessel on a window sill and allow the water to evaporate.
When it comes to painting with the gold, the surface of the book should first be brushed with a layer of gum arabic, and then burnished. A couple of drops of water will loosen up a little of the dried gold, which can then be painted directly onto the prepared surface.