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.
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!