A Method in Knife Sharpening

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a team of expert craftsmen from the British Library come in and teach us knife sharpening and leather pairing – it has been FANTASTIC!! I’ve never done either and have been thoroughly enjoying myself! Leather, as many of you will know, is an amazing medium to work in and gives and extremely satisfying result! It also seems to work sooo much better with a nice sharp knife, so the two have been going very well together.

Sharpening my knife
Sharp and covered

As you’ll know from my tools post, I’m very fond of my kit, and there is nothing quite like having a tool that you can mould exactly to the form you want to, so I have been slowly sharpening and  honing my pairing knife, which is used to take off the edge of the leather before you pair/thin the rest of the leather (edge pairing!). I have also been given a spokeshave by my wonderful father – a tool which is used to thin down the rest pf the leather. This particular tool was designed for woodworking and needs a bit of manipulation before it can be used for leather pairing – which is going to take me a few weeks… Anyway, here is a video of Mary sharpening her pairing knife:

Having tried out pairing and knife sharpening, I decided to give a case binding a go in leather, as my sister is after a book for her PhD for her acknowledgments. Unfotunately I ripped the spine piece after two hours of pairing, but I suppose that is what practice is for. I decidied to still use the leather due to a lack of dark green and plans for the cover, but its a bit sad!

Ripped spine piece

Though all in all not as sad as missing out the N in ‘acknowledgments’ on the spine itself, after my VERY first attempt at blind tooling. Neither of which are remotely as disappointing as it was to find out I after speaking to my sister that I also had too many E’s – HOPELESS!

My first attempt at blind tooling
acknowledgemets.

Anywho – bit of a long post today as its been a while and lots has been happeneing – will update quicker next time and will put the finished acknoweledgemets up soon!

PS – I now have a ‘page’ on facebook so I can put up events and spread the love so come and have a look if you’re keen.

Tools of a bookbinder (a student at least!)

Well it seems that this year is already one for finishing off projects that have been sitting around for several years, the first being the finishing of my quilt squares, which I am very relieved about! And now I have managed to finished my tool kit, which has been sitting around unfinished for two years. I made it too long initially and have been meaning to reduce it in size for a long time. So here it is finished – finally!

As you can see the top folds over and it rolls into a portable tool kit, which has been very useful. My tool kit contains a few scalpels, a cobblers knife, two bonefolders, dentist tools, a japanese brush, a japanese awl, a water pen, nail clippers, scissors, tweezers, a ruler, an eraser and a couple of very nice wooden muji pencils.

This is my Singer sewing machine, which along with my tool kit is a favourite possession of mine. My father bought it for me from a charity shop, and amazingly it had all the original instructions, extra feet, extension plate and all sorts still with it. With some good instructions from my father and his help in installing my new motor for it, I have been making good use of it recently.

A book to conserve… Cookbook in Colour

Well, many apologies for not updating this earlier  – I actually have lots of updates, but have just not gotten round to sitting down and writing something!

So I will start with what we are working on at the moment in our studio time (Fridays). We have all been asked to bring in dilapidated books, preferably ones that require re-sewing. Togther we’ve brought in a range of interesting books, mine is actually something I had on my bookshelf at home already. It is a cloth case bound book that belonged to my grandfather – a very colourful cookery book from the 60’s/70’s, which I rescued from a clear out some years back with the thought of conserving it, so am quite chuffed I’m actually getting round to doing it! Some pictures below show the book as it looks like in its current state, it also has a lot of little inserts in it with my grandparent’s and mother’s writing, which is quite entertaining!

Apparently the tape is going to be tough to get off
(thanks Grandma!!)
The endpapers are an integral part of the book,
and can’t be discarded and replaced as they
may be in another binding, so I will have
to try and get them off…
Our tutor will be coming round to each of us and explaining how we must go about conserving our books, which will take time. So in the meantime, we have started three flat back books, to practice our binding techniques. Here are mine so far:
Nice and neat if I do say so myself!
As you can see I have been practicing using the sewing frame, which I’m starting to love a little bit – I’m not quite used to sitting sideways as they did in days past, as I can’t get my arm round the frame properly, however I’ve seen an etching of women sewing with their arms through the frame, which seems a lot more logical – so I might try that next! One of my classmates, Salvador, also told me that book sections were sewing in large batches on long stretches of tape, and then split up after sewing into separate books – so that’s some thing else to try!
I’ve also been practicing my marbling (again!!!), with a little more success this time – thanks to another classmate, Naomi, who has given me some Carragean moss for the ink to sit on, and some good instructions (previous attempts were so shameful, there were demoted to making cards!). So I am going to try and cover these books with my new papers – watch this space to see what they’re like – exciting!!!

A Book for a Bride

As many of you will know, my oldest and best friend is getting married next year! – Very exciting, and as I am to be a bridesmaid! I believe it is tradition for a bride to have a book to keep all thoughts and pictures in prior to the wedding – a bit like a scrap book for potential dresses and locations etc. My friend is extremely organized, and already has most of it planned – including the former two items – so her book may be a little empty! However, that does not mean she didn’t need a book, so diligently I went about making one, and am showing you the results!

As you can see, I have taken the design from my previous coptic binding, only this one is smaller with more pages.
I still need more practice, but considering my last coptic binding, this is a great deal better – hopefully my next one will be even more so. I haven’t quite got the knack of the link stitches, but I think one more try and I’ll have them right!

Bookbinding Update | Week 35

I’ve finished my book!! And its not too bad – currently it’s between some boards with blotting paper to soak up the damp from the glue, so I’ll take some better pictures next week.

Mid casing in
In the press above Kate’s book!

I managed YET AGAIN to forget to trim my endpapers prior to casing in, though I was able to trim them after it had been in the press, not a good habit to get into though. I have plans to make a dust jacket for the book out of tracing paper, and my very helpful friend Angela has just given me some super tips for printing the title on it, so we’ll see how that goes over the week.

The final thing!!

Well next week is the final week for out little group at the City Lit, which is rather sad, so I will no longer be doing my updates. However – don’t fret – I will still be adding to my blog and keeping you informed of other projects I have on the go, and things that I have been up to that might be of interest!! (Phew, I hear you say – WHAT a relief!!)

Bookbinding Update | Week 34

Well this week was set at a fast moving pace, and I was on the verge of not keeping up with the team! Sadly I didn’t manage to make the headbands for my rounded back (Journey to the Centre of the Earth) in the traditional manner using thread and a leather/vellum core, however I did manage to make them using cord and leather, which you can see stuck on the spine in the picture below – I had rather a lot of difficulty in paring (thinning) the leather, but hopefully I’ll get better with practice … fingers crossed!

 
My leather pairing

 
The headband stuck on
Following that I had to trim the boards (and then trim them again due to miscalculating), then it was speeding on to lining the spine – so on went the frayknot (this replaced the mull covering the spine that we have previously used), and then the grey kraft paper that you can see in the picture.
The book with headbands, trimmed boards, frayknot and kraft paper
Not content with stopping there, some of us even managed to cover our boards. I had a lucky find in the perfect size and colour of book cloth in the cupboard, but didn’t quite manage to cover it. Though I did manage to make the spine piece – this is made from heritage paper rather than board, which is a thick paper, giving support and flexibility to the roundedness of the spine.
Perfect sized, perfect coloured book cloth!!