This fine binding is of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, and is one of my favourite books. Making this was a rare chance for me to work on a project that was entirely my own without the restraints of client requirements. I aim to make a fine binding for myself once a year, but with 2020 being slightly challenging for everyone, this one from 2019 was my last. I was fortunate to have it exhibited in a few locations including at the Worthing Museum and East Beach Gallery.
The fire at Rochester was always one of the most exciting parts of the book, evoking a massive change in the lives of the characters and a gripping aspect of the storyline. I was keen to create a design that embraced this in a wild and unkempt manner, hence the use of paint splatter – a method that I have little control over, much like a raging inferno of paint! I particularly like the escaped paint at the windows, giving the impression of fire escaping from the building.
My fine bindings are often for sale, this one is no exception and can be purchased through my shop – though there is, and will be, only one!
Initially the cover was removed from the binding and kept for reference.
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 spine was then reshaped to re-create the round.
Made endpapers were created and sewn onto the textblock.
Endbands were sewn in yellow and black to match the cover design.
The spine was lined with fray not and manilla.
The boards were laced in and covered in a smooth cartridge paper and sanded.
The binding was then covered in a black goatskin.
The cover decoration was blind tooled and then sprayed with acrylic paint.
This online workshop in longstitch binding teaches a traditional method of bookbinding that originates from Germany and dates back to the late 14th century. In this method, sections of paper are sewn directly through holes in the covering material, giving support to the spine, and flexibility to the book. It is a simple and extremely rewarding process and one that can be easily adapted once practiced, to include more complex designs and decorations.
We will provide materials in advance, as listed below, so that we all have the same items at the start of the workshop. We cannot provide tools, as we do at in-person workshops. The list of tools required is also below, some of these can be replaced with tools that you have at home, others may need to be purchased. When booking the course, you will also receive a 15% discount to the shop so that you can buy the tools direct from us if you choose.
We will cover:
the importance of grain direction
preparing a textblock
folding and trimming paper
preparing sections for sewing
preparing covering material
sewing the textblock
finishing the cover
You will come away with:
one beautiful A6 hand-made longstitch binding in leather
a template to continue to make your own bindings at home
an introduction into bookbinding
a basic understanding of the structure of bindings
Once you book you will receive an email containing a link to a zoom meeting and instructions on how to join that meeting. You will also receive a code for a discount in the the shop, if you would like to buy tools from us.
David Barber’s Sketchbook
Flexible binding in full tan goatskin. Sewn landscape onto five cords and trimmed, with endbands in beige and green silk.
Paper was alternated between Surrey Cartridge and Windsor & Newton Sketching & Drawing Paper.
276×207 (WH), 15 sections, 3 bifolios per sections
David Barber’s Sketchbook was designed with specific requirements from the artist. The layout was landscape to allow the artist to draw across the double page spread, it was also imperative that the binding opened well when completed giving access to the gutter of the book. The texblock was created from two different types of paper alternating between each section, one more appropriate for watercolour, the other for drawing in ink.
The text block was sewn onto five cords, which were then laced into the boards. The boards are lined to allow for the pull of the leather on the front and the leather left plain for the artist to decorate. The endpapers were made from the Surrey Cartridge paper, again, designed for use from the artist.
For more examples of fine bindings and newly bound volumes, have a look at bookbinding. For more information on the Artist, have a look at his interview on Worthing Art.
The conservation of this book is going well and picking up speed now, especially as all the paper repairs are done and dusted! The boards are now on, which worked well. I attached them with Japanese tissue that covered the spine and was stuck onto the inside of the boards. Normally I would try and split the boards, but they are so thin that to split them would almost definitely damage them further.
I have also managed to pair my leather and tone it to a good match of the boards, which I did with selaset dyes. This leather will then cover the spine and go under the leather on the boards to bring the book back into a book format – very exciting! The new leather is very thin in order to match the leather on the boards, so to give it a bit more strength, I’ve lined it with a fraynot fabric.
I have also lined the spine with some western paper, and will be sanding it down a bit to reduce the swell of the sewing supports, it wasn’t dry enough on Friday to do this.
Prior to rebacking a book, the edges of the boards always need to be compensated for the leather coming over from the spine. This is always a fiddly bit as the compensation pieces are invariably thin and spindly. I have done mine on this book with some of the freshly paired leather, as it is a good match.
The next step will to actually put the leather onto the spine, redo the corners a bit, and sort out the end papers and the book will be pretty much done – then for the enclosure for the newsprint! I have done a sample for this which I will post as instructions themselves, as it’s a great little enclosure!
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!
You may recall from my last post that I have been making a book for my lovely sister, this has become as much a practice of the craft for me as it has been making a book for her.
It had some unfortunate slip-ups along the way. All starting well with pairing the corners, which are tricky, considering their size. Maybe I got over enthusiastic or it was late in the day, but the corners were swiftly followed by me ripping the leather spine in half. Not to be dismayed by my lack of skill nor the fact I had no more green, I stuck it back together with selotape and continued to pair. Unfortunately the spine was to see yet more trauma when I tried out my very first blind tooling, and spelt the blasted word wrong – TWICE. It’s a stupidly long complicated word anyway.
So despite its obvious pitfall, I plodded on, and now have some pictures of covering the boards and the completed thing. Phew!!
First came lining the boards on the cover to bring them up to the same level as the boards plus the leather. Then I covered them using a very nice map wrapping paper from Stanfords.
Next came neatning up the insides of the book, which you can see above. Any excess leather and paper would look messy under the endpaper. Following this step I did line the boards as I did on the cover, but forgot to photograph that bit… And the final thing:
Hope she likes it! (better pictures will be added to the gallery this week!!)