Tuesday, January 28, 2014


This copy of the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam was illustrated by Willy Pogany. The illustrations were all printed in black on a white paper so I decided to do the binding in black goatskin with silver tooling. This binding was also my first attempt  to add jewels to a binding.

This is one of the illustrations by Pogany. After reading the poem I realized that a peacock, which is often used in the designs for this book,  is not part of the poem; instead it mentions a nightingale and a rose.

I started with a rough sketch  and then redrew it many times, with the last drawing done in silver on black paper. To add something new, I used hematite cabochons in silver bezel cups. In this photo I was trying to decide where they would go in relation to the drawing

I did some test runs to decide how I would mount the hematites. I started cutting out recesses in the book boards and pasting on the leather, working it down into the recesses with a bone tool.
Here you can see how the tool helped to push the leather tight into the recesses. It took several attempts to figure out how large the three different sizes of recesses had to be for the bezel cups to fit with the added thickness of the leather.

I sewed the book on tapes and added a hollow spine. Both sides of the board were lined, then I cut out the recesses.

I decided to use a stylus for the tooling and cut out Bristol board templates. Because the lines overlapped a lot where the bird and the rose were, I cut a separate template for them and split the other one at the spine. I cut and taped the lines like I did in the Venus and Adonis binding. After the lines had been blind tooled, I slid a piece of the foil under the template and tooled on the silver.

I tooled over the shapes several times to get a even foiled lines.

This shows the cover after the first template was completed and the next one is ready to use.

For the spine area, I cut strip of the Bristol board to match up the lines from both covers.
I  placed the book in a lying press between some book boards and taped pieces of the Bristol board across the spine to tool.

To mount the hematites, I drilled two holes into the bezel cups and used a wire to tie down the cups. The tool in this photo is used to push over the edge of the cup to hold the stone in the cup. I also used glue in the cup to hold the stone in place.

 For some of the larger mounts, I needed to remove the leather so that the stone would set down into the cover. I then made corresponding holes in the board and laced the wires in place.

On the back cover, I made a small recess so after the wire was twisted together and the extra wire cut off, the ends would lie down below the surface.  I then filled the area with putty and sanded it smooth, then did the infills and pasted the endpapers down over them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Venus and Adonis

This binding is done on a 1931 printing of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis by The Printing House of Leo Hart, with illustrations by Rockwell Kent.  I used one of these illustrations for the cover design.  I felt the image of Venus would look better for the front cover of the book so I reversed the image. To have the drawing fit the cover, I drew more leaves above the figures and completed Adonis's head.

I  chose a terracotta goatskin for the cover to accent the orange in the illustration. The top edge had been painted originally with a bright yellow gold, but I did not like the look with the leather so I airbrushed a darker orange gold over it. The other edges were left uncolored.

I began with the larger shapes and cut the onlays out of black and two shades of green. I decided to do the lines of the drawing with black line onlays.

I drew out the image on a 3 ply Bristol board and began cutting out the drawing. As I cut along a line, I then taped the pieces back together with a low tack blue masking tape. I first focused around the large onlay pieces.  

The drawing was placed over the trimmed and pared cover leather. Only then I could remove the piece of the bristol board where an onlay would go.  When the onlay was trimmed and edge pared to fit, I scraped the cover leather and used a paste and PVA mixture to adhere the piece in place.

When the onlays were all adhered to the leather, I back pared the piece and pasted it on the book. 

I continued cutting and taping the the drawing but left some lines uncut so the Bristol Board was not completely cut apart. I need to lift out sections so sometimes a line extended past the drawn line to join another so a piece could be lifted. To guide the tooling later, I used a red pencil to tell me were I stopped and started the line again.

I wrapped a strip of paper around the top and another strip at the bottom of the book so I could tape down the cut drawing at the top. That way the drawing could be lifted up to see the  tooling.  At the bottom, I used two pieces of tape to keep the drawing in place during the tooling.

All of the tooling was done with a single stylus.  I lifted out a section and with a warm tool, outlined the open shape. I lifted the drawing, and used a small brush to put water over the line. Then I tooled it again with the warm tool, creating a blind tooled line. This stylus is available from Talas; it is called the Ascona tool http://apps.webcreate.com/ecom/catalog/product_specific.cfm?ClientID=15&ProductID=23963

After more cutting and more tooling, this is what the two cover drawings looked like once the blind tooling was finished.
For the line onlays, I took very thin paired leather, pasted it out and stuck it to a piece of mylar. After it dried, the paste gave the leather some stiffness so I could cut strips thin enough to fit into the tooled lines.

 I began to glue the strip of leather by dragging it through PVA and then dragging it across the waste paper, leaving a small amount of glue on the leather strip. It was then placed in the tooled line and rubbed down with a piece of Japanese tissue to absorb any extra glue that might ooze out. 

Then to continue gluing the strip in place, I folded the strip back and brushed on more glue over an inch or two wide area. I rubbed it down in place and repeated that until the line was finished. With this image, you can see that I have the lines end away from the edge of the boards so they will not be easy rubbed out of place when the book is held.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bradel Binding -part 3 a Three-Piece Cover Binding

In this version of a Bradel binding, the spine is covered with a separate piece of leather directly on the text block. Then the boards are covered separately with marble paper and leather and are attached to the text block. I have heard this binding called a "three piece binding."

The book was sewn using a link stitch. I added on a blank 2 sheet signature on the front and back of the book. Then I tipped in plain colored endpapers inside the first and last pages, leaving a plain white waste paper on the front and back of the book. This sheet will be used to attach the boards to the book.

I pasted up and rounded the spine, then backed it to a 45 degree angle, two board widths wide. It was lined with a layer of mull and paper similar to how I lined the book in the first Bradel post

For the spine, I prepared a piece of red goatskin by paring the edges and pasting on a piece of Stonehenge paper the width of the spine by the height of the boards. Then I pasted down the head and tail and formed the headcaps. When it was dry, I glued it  down to the sides of the text block, forming a hollow spine

In these drawings, I am trying to show how the  spine piece was the glued at the joint and onto the waste sheet.

In the drawing below you can also see how the cover boards are notched to allow for the thickness of the leather.

I lightly scored the board along the edge then peeled away some of the board. Since the cover boards are attached over the spine leather, the spine edge of the boards needed to be wrapped in the covering material.  

I wanted the foredge and a section of the spine edge of both the boards covered in leather so they were added first.


The marbled paper was then added and turned over at the edge along the spine but the top and bottom edges were left to be glued down later.
I glued an area along the spine edge of the boards slightly wider than the area covered in the spine leather.

I placed the boards on the book block and then using a square to make sure they lined up with each other. Then I put the book under a weight to dry.

By gluing on the boards along the edge, I can then peel off the unglued area and sand down the edge of the paper leaving a smooth surface for the endpapers to be pasted on.  The ends of the marbled paper at the head and tail are then glued in place, finishing the edge where the leather and board overlap. I added an infill and glued down the endpapers.

The titled was stamped in gold foil on the front board and a small outline of a bone folder was done using foil and a cut out pattern and a stylus.