Friday, August 14, 2015

Shakespeare"s Time

 This is a book of William Shakespeare's plays that I was asked to rebind in one of the styles of binding done during his life time.  Centerpieces with corner pieces were a common style for this time period.

Gilded and gauffered edges were also common for books for this time period.

I began by drawing out the design in pencil then, using an ink stamping pad, I went  over the design with my gilding tool to create the final design. This required modifying the design to fit the tools that I had.

 I covered a practice board and began to blind-tool the design.

When I finished the blind-tooling, I stained some areas darker with some acrylic paint. I was going to do the gold layer next but realized that I was unhappy with the consistency of the corners and the center piece. They did not mirror each other well. 

So what to do next? I decided to see if I could cut out pattern jigs to help me create a more consistent placement.

Using a 3 ply Bristol board, I redrew the center and then went over the image with the tools using an acid-free stamping ink

I found another small problem with the width of three of the gouges. They were too wide for part of the design. Luckily, I had a older set of gouges as a backup, so I took the same size gouge and filed down the sides so it would now fit the pattern. Here are two number 14 gouges. This way my full set of gouges didn't have to be changed.

Cutting the shapes out in sections and taping them back is a technique I had first done with a stylist tool but it also worked with the gouges and blending tools. I had to break up the design into separate jigs. The corner required four different pattern jigs and the center required two, the smaller one I could rotate around the pattern. Again, I decided to practice first on another book I had covered in leather for myself before I began working on the Shakespeare book.

I first did the blind-tooling of the line border around the edges of the book to help me in the placement of the pattern jig. To place it on the book, I wrapped a piece of paper from top to bottom and another from side to side so I could tape it in place with taping them directly to the book leather.

Then I wrapped the top and bottom of the book with a strip of paper to have a place to tape down the center pattern jig

It took 22 different tools to do this design.

After the blind-tooling was done, I stained the areas I wanted to make darker with acrylic paint.  After it dried, I began painting in the glaire and tooling the gold leaf.

For the spine, I had to go back to using a piece of Japanese paper with the image tooled on it. The Bristol board with the cutouts would not bend over the curve of the spine well. It's always good to have several different methods to use for a given task.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gold tooling with jigs

This post shows tooling on a full leather binding using gold foil. I used my tooling box that I made based on a box used by Michael Wilcox when he did a gold tooling demonstration at the Bookbinding 2000 Conference. The box gives you a flat and firm surface to support the cover while you are tooling and holds the rest of the book inside.


My box is made from 1/2 inch birch plywood and is lined inside with felt to protect the book when it is placed inside. 

The top panel of the box is beveled back so that you can slide the cover over to the joint. I filed down the edge about an inch and a half along the length of the opening.

Here is the book placed in the box with the cover on top.To begin tooling I used a second jig to start the the design which I then put on three books.  Using a piece of 3-ply Bristol Board, I cut out the curve at the corner of the design base with the curve of one of my gouges. 

 I used a small weight to hold the jig in place and slipped a piece of foil under it, then began tooling. After you're done, you can remove the foil and if you leave the jig in place, you can slip another piece of foil in and retool if there are any breaks in the line.

Here are the four corners tooled.

Next I used a line jig made from two pieces of book board that I taped together. One piece is about an inch and a half wide and the second piece is about five to six inches wide and both pieces are 11 inches tall.
I used a clear plastic ruler so I can line up the jig using the edge of the the cover.
To make the jig, I laid the thinner piece on top of the other larger piece and wrapped the packing tape around the edge of the two pieces. Then I folded the thinner piece back over and put a piece of tape on the other side. This allowed the thinner piece to fold up so I could slip a piece of foil under it while the larger piece was held in place with a weight. 

I used pieces of low tack masking tape to show me where the line should start and end because once the foil is placed under the jig I cannot see when to start and end without  those markers. I used a line pallet to make the line because it glides across the foil. I have also used fillet and patterned wheels with this jig. When I am doing tooling with gold leaf, this jig helps with the blind tooling.

 In this photo, I am lining up for the second tooled line.

I do occasionally have to remove the jig and touch up the corners where the lines meet but by using the jigs I can have the lines and curves or other small decorative tools in the same place on both covers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thomas Jefferson's Paris Walks

This book was bound for the Designer Bookbinders traveling exhibition "InsideOUT  Exhibition of contemporary bindings of private press books."  Details of the exhibit and its touring schedule can be found at

The pages were printed by Arion Press and describe the time that Thomas Jefferson spent in Paris. They also feature the work of photographer Michael Kenna, who created forty-six images to accompany the story of Jefferson’s five years in Paris.

The book focuses on the architecture of Paris and its influence on Jefferson. I found this drawing that Jefferson made and decided to use it for the design of the book.

For the back of the book, I chose a building that was featured in the book.  I drew both the L'Insiitut de France building and Jefferson's drawing on 3 ply Bristol board.

Since the photography was printed in black and white, I chose a gray goatskin and decided  to tool the drawings in gold. To help the image stand out on the dark grey I decided to airbrushed the background with a white acrylic paint. Using the drawing, I cut out the shape of the buildings as my stencil.

Afterward spray both sides I put a strip of paper around the top to hold the stencil in place for tooling

I continued cutting the stencils for the tooling and used a 23 kt. gold foil. As with some of  my previous bindings, I first blind tooled the line and then dampened the impression with water using a fine tip brush. I then retooled to line. A third tooling was done with the gold foil. Then, some sections of the lines needed additional gold tooling to fill in breaks in the gold.

For the straight line, I used my jig with the hinged edge. I described this tool in a previous blog post, Threads That Bind. I lined up the edge  of the board where I wanted the line and blind tooled it and then I lifted up the hinged section to put the foil in place. After that, I tooled the gold. If it needs it, the line can then be retooled before the jig is moved to the next line.

After I finished with the tooling, I felt that the buildings did not feel grounded so I decided to darken the lower area.

I covered the rest of the image and airbrushed the bottom area with a dark gray.

After that, it still need a bit more so I repeated the process, this time with black.