Treasure Island | Starting a Fine Binding

Treasure Island Starting a Fine Binding

June 2016 will see the return of the Worthing Artists Open Houses to our seaside town. As a craftsperson, I have previously enjoyed the increased members of the public coming to say hello at The Book Hut, but never directly taken part. This year, however,  I will be much more involved, with two projects on display and a workshop at the Worthing Library, it’s all go at this end. The first, and key project, is that which is introduced here – Treasure Island – a fine binding of my own creating, that will be on display at StudioFreer in June. It is the first fine binding I have made for approximately four years, and the very first which will be available to buy.

Treasure Island | Starting a Fine Binding

The following initial stages were madeto the binding to prepare the text block for sewing:

  • Initially the cover was removed from the binding and kept for future use in the design process.
  • The textblock was then placed in the press and the spine lining and adhesive (animal glue) was removed manually with a spatular, having been previously softened with a wheat starch paste poultice.
  • The sections were then cleaned individually and put in the press for flattening.
  • The outer folio of each section was then guarded at the spine with a 12gsm tengujo tissue to reinforce them, and placed back in the press.
  • It is now ready to go onto the sewing frame.

In addition to the preparation of the sections, the leather has now been delivered for the later stages of the binding – a nice lime green goatskin.

Treasure Island the leather
Green goatskin ready for later stages of the binding


This book will be on display at StudioFreer 18th/19th June, 25th/26th June, 2nd/3rd July. It will be on sale at this time. If it is something you would be interested in purchasing, please do get in touch.

A Book of Puddings

A Book of Puddings | an unpublished scrapbook
by Kathleen A Christmas
c.1892
Hollow back, fully bound in green sheep skiver, embossed with a straight grain.
185x228x30 (WHD)

CONDITION

BINDING The volume in was in several pieces, with both boards detached and deteriorated at the edges. The corners were worn and fragile, particularly at the front board bottom foredge. The spine cover was not present and the spine lining was loose, as was the back board cover.

TEXTBLOCK Many of the folios were damaged and split at the spine. There was substantial staining throughout the book from food debris and ink, but no ink corrosion was apparent. The paper had survived well apart from the spine, with minor repairs along the edges.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Many additional newspaper cuttings were stored throughout binding, which may have been the cause of the spine splitting. Page 55 also had evidence of previous repairs, possibly contemporary with the binding, which were to be kept in place.

TREATMENT

TEXTBLOCK

  • Cleaned using a chemical sponge.
  • Additional material was paginated.
  • Previous repairs were removed for sewing and re-adhered in the same location.
  • Folios were guarded using Tengujo 11gsm to reduce bulk, and Kozo Shi 23gsm, where stronger repairs were necessary.
  • Where folios were completely split, kozo shi 23gsm was used on the outside to produce structure and Tengujo 11gsm used on the inside to add support.
  • Pages that were deliberately cut by the owner and were too short for resewing, were extended using kozo shi 23gsm.
  • Fragile edges were consolidated with MC 5%.
  • Text block was resewn with linen thread onto three linen sewing stations.
  • Three pages were too wide for the book, these were pulled back and adhered to the spine with japanese tissue to prevent protrusion.
  • Deacidification of newsprint articles with Bookkeeper.
  • Digital records of all inserted material stored on compact disc.

SPINE

  • Sewing was removed.
  • Adhesive removed from adhered sections – animal glue, removed with hot water and cellulose powder.
  • Spine lined with two layers of Kozo Shi, leaving wide overhangs to attach boards.
  • Spine then lined with Griffen Mill 80gsm Falcon Laid and sanded to remove sewing station swell.

BINDING

  • Leather was lifted around the board edges in preparation of the board reattachment and edge repair.
  • Leather was consolidated using Cellugel.
  • Corners were built up using Manila pulp and wheat starch paste, and then covered in a toned Japanese tissue
  • Boards were attached using linen sewing stations, which were frayed for better adhesion, along with the extended spine lining.
  • Goatskin, was paired and toned with selaset dyes, then lined with fraynot for added strength.
  • Compensation strips in leather, were adhered to the board edges adjacent to the spine.
  • The volume was then rebacked with the new goatskin spine and the loose leather was re-adhered around new spine piece and corners.
  • Creation of four flap folder, with inbuilt manilla textblock to hold inserted material.
  • Creation of a clamshell box for final enclosure.

Introducing The Book Hut

 

As a book and paper conservator, I have worked at The National Archives and the National Conservation Service in London for many years, as well as taking on private commissions. Then, when an opportunity arose last Summer to open a permanent studio as part of Worthing’s East Beach Studios, I grabbed it with both hands and The Book Hut came to life. Situated on Worthing’s seafront next to artists’ studios, The Book Hut is just a short stroll along from the pier.

At The Book Hut I am able to offer a range of services in the conservation and restoration of books, as well as bespoke bookbinding, for individuals, private collections and businesses. I also hold a range of workshops and tutorials for both adults and children, including the basics in bookbinding and paper marbling for children.

Having taken on the hut in August last year, it has been a busy few months in the run up to Christmas, with conservation and binding projects coming in, two new workshops in place and several open days along the Worthing Seafront.

If you have any projects you would like to discuss, please just stop by the hut, or send me an email. If you are interested in attending any workshops, please just sign up to the blog in the right-hand panel, and I will send out any details as they come up, or check the website for more information at www.thebookhut.co.uk. The Book Hut is open from Saturday to Tuesday 10:00-17:00, so please do drop and say hello!

book-71

Thank you very much to Lorraine Heaysman Photography and Luke Casserly Photography for the fantastic images.

Islamic bindings – making gold paint

Gold Leaf Paint feature

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.

Gold Leaf Paint
Rubbing in the Gold Leaf

Islamic bindings – instructions part 1

Islamic Headband Feature

These instructions are to coincide with the Islamic binding lessons that we have been having with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Sewing and spine preparation

The two sewing stations must be prepared in advance of sewing as the paper is not good enough quality to work blind on the book, this can be done by piercing the paper or by scoring the stations with a knife. Commonly sewing was in yellow silk.

Islamic Binding Sewing two stations
Sewing two stations

Sew the first two sections twice as it is not initially sewn off, then continue to sew using link stitches. For sewing off, make the final stitch a kettle stitch, so that it is secured.

Knock sections up between boards and put into a laying press.

Stipple a small amount of paste into the sections to stick initially, then repaste with stippling and put spine lining on and bone folder down. The spine lining should be an evenweave linen, commonly mauve was used.

Islamic Binding Pasting up the spine
Pasting up the spine

Excess linen is to be trimmed and pasted to the book block. This will be hidden by the board attachments. The linen should only be a couple of millimetres either side of the spine.

Islamic Binding lining the spine
Lining the spine

Endbands:

End band cores should be the same material as covering, cut 3mm and just wider than the text block, these are to be glued up on the flesh side of the leather and moulded so that no fibres stick out. The cores should then be stuck onto the spine, adjacent to the spine and just hanging over either side.

Each section centre should then be marked.

Islamic Binding The end band core
The end band core

Sewing of the endbands is done using three threads:

Primary thread – this should be a bright colour, often a gold, so that it can be seen in contrast to the other two. This is sewn through every section and over the cores, which creates the basis for the second two threads.

Islamic Binding Working the primary
Working the primary
Islamic Binding working the first two rows
working the first two rows

Secondary thread – this is woven over and under the primary thread at the middle of the core and left at the other end

Islamic Binding Locking the secondary with the tertiary
Locking the secondary with the tertiary

Tertiary thread – this follows the secondary thread on each row, going ‘under the overs’ and ‘over the unders’ meaning that every time a secondary thread goes over the primary, the tertiary will go under both, and when a secondary thread goes under a primary, the tertiary goes over both.

Islamic Binding Starting the tertiary
Starting the tertiary

The tertiary then anchors the secondary at the other end, allowing the secondary to weave back through the primaries to the starting point. Once the tertiary has come back and two rows are complete, there should be a chevron pattern starting. These two rows are then shuffled along the primaries to sit on the text block, before the next row is started.

Islamic Binding Chevron
Shuffling the chevron down the primary
Islamic Headband The finished end bands
The finished end bands

To finish text block:

Tie down end band knots within the text block.

Trim decorative end papers just smaller than first sheet and wet before pasting. Paste just over the fabric on the spine and press. Once pressed, trim any excess decorative papers.

Pair endband cores very slightly and paste down onto book cover.

Paste and fan out text block threads onto spine.

Boards:

Three boards are used per cover, which should be lightly wetted prior to pasting.

Boards are exactly the same size of text block in height, though not in width – Square up one corner of board and measure against cover of book, leaving a joint space at the spine, about the same size as the endbands, trim the boards to this size once pasted.

Islamic Binding trimming boards
Measuring up the board for trimming

Leave boards sharp without back cornering them.

The foredge flap will only be the thickness of one board not three, and will be done when covering the book.

The foredge envelope will be as the covers and three board thicknesses. It should be the same height for the boards and measured to exactly half the width of the boards. The point is central and the depth of the angle is half the width of the envelope.

Islamic bindings – a background

Last week, we were lucky enough to be visited by Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Library in Cambridge, who is spending time teaching us Islamic bindings, their history, their structure and their necessary conservation. So here I will record what I have been learning as I go – it may be staggered.

Kristine Rose Islamic Binding
A binding made by Kristine Rose

History

Kufic bindings are the earliest script known, dating back to the 7th-10th century. They were commonly in landscape format, made with wooden boards and parchment text blocks. They were sewn using a link stitch.

The Mamluk manuscripts followed dating back to 1250-1517 in Sultanate-Egypt and Syria. These had paper text blocks with pasteboards and were elaborately tooled with individual hand tools. The Battle of Talas in 741is meant to be the start of paper in Islamic territories, as Chinese soldiers were kidnapped and forced to give up the secret of paper making to save their lives. It was a more refined structure due to paper and pasteboards though it remained a link stitch with a finer thread, and almost always using two sewing stations with single stitch – there were very few exceptions to this.

The Maghrebi style was dated from 922-1492 is small and square in format, looking like a standard Islamic style with heavy gold tooling and an envelope flap, however the board attachments at very different.

The Persian style of islamic binding dates back to the Safavid dynasties and Mongol ancestry (1501-1732). The bindings had decorative paper and leather inlays with extremely fine filigree. All the tooling was done by cold tooling as the leather was so thin and the paste boards, very receptive to the tooling.

The style of bindings made during the Ottoman period (1453-1924) were extremely refined bindings – both quality workmanship and made with the finest of materials and techniques. They were everything that the Persians were doing, but better and more refined in every way. At this time books were in abundance – everyone was expected to read or at least recite and understand the Koran.

The artists who designed the books used numerous techniques to decorate the smallest areas including burnishing, piercing. Filigree was used to decorate deblures, very intricately designed, cut and applied. There is some indication that the envelope flaps were used as page markers though not in every case. Binders in the Islamic world were very mobile, light materials and few tools, they would move about all over the place, working for different people.

Collections

The  Chester Beatty Library Dublin is the greatest collection of Islamic bindings outside of the east. There is evidence from Chester Beatty that the Islamic structures are often not case bindings as previously thought, though the inner join still remains quite sensitive. The  structure is not inherently weak as so many will suggest – if it used in the correct way – pulling it flat will damage the book, as it is not meant to be used like this and should be read with a rull for support.

Islamic Binding Rull
A Rull

Damage

Damage has often been caused by natural aging of materials.

Commonly the boards will delaminate due to the way they are made.

Often the books are rebound in a western style which will damage the book further, the paper is not as limp as western paper, they are sized and are very stiff, so the sewing has to do all the work, which is why putting the text block in a western binding, where the flexibility of the paper is relied upon.

Binding styles

Type II – claimed to be the most common, though not necessarily – most important difference to others that it is a case binding with the boards prepared separately to the book.

Turkish two piece – very similar to the above, though boards are prepared separately to the book though leather flanges extend over the spine.

Andalucian style – same silk thread and two sewing stations, spine lining is extended and non adhesives and secured with long stitches. End bands are adhered with a Chevron sewing pattern. The board attachments use the extended spin lining to attach the boards.

Boards

The majority of boards were paste boards, which were made using many different sheets of paper.

When tooling, they would have cut out the tooling shape in one of the boards prior to laminating, then when pasting up for leather, they would have added additional paste to the tooling bit. Once pasted down, a tooling shape would have gone straight into the recess and pressed cold.

In some cases there is evidence of sewing onto fabric which has already been pasted onto part of the boards so that it would have already been in the correct place, then additional paste boards were added on the back of the initial one.