Friday, June 17, 2011

Threads That Bind

I purchased this book
, Threads That Bind, unbound, in sheets, from Oak Knoll Books. It is a series of interviews with hand bookbinders by Pamela Leutz. Initially, I thought of a design showing a book being sewn on cords but when searching through the various pieces of book leather in my studio, I uncovered three large buffalo skins and decided it was time to use some of them for this book. This book was intended to be my own personal copy so I felt I could take some chances with a new leather.

I had a light green, a light gray and a pale blue skins, but I was not pleased with their look. I had tried to die them before and was unsuccessful. This time I just wiped the surface lightly with a dark brown spirit dye to catch the high points of the texture. I wanted a quick drying dye that would not bleed down into the the open areas. I tried it on all three colors and
chose the gray skin for the binding.

Here you can see where I took a piece of Mylar to daub some of the excess dye off before wiping with a lightly dampened paper towel. The skin is sitting on a piece of plexiglass I use when dying leather and paper.

When I finished dyeing the second skin, I knocked over the bottle of dye. Luckily almost all the dye stayed on the Mylar so it was an easy clean up.

I spent a week working with Karen Hanmer in her studio and we decided to follow the binding techniques in Jen Lindsay"s book Fine Bookbinding: A Technical Guide, also from Oak Knoll. There were steps I have used before plus new variations on others, so it was a good exercise to go through.

The book was sewn on pliester linen tapes with a leather hinged endpaper construction. The book was rounded but not backed with the book bo
ards sanded to fit the shape of the pages at the spine.

The book sat under Karen's gold brick weight while the glue on the spine dries out.

The buffalo skin was a little more spongy in texture than the goat skins I was used to. I had the skin split down to .07 mm but it still seemed too thick so I sanded down the board edges to give the book edges a thinner appearance.

Before covering, I looked for onlay colors but still did not have a final design in mind.

I am very fond of Art Deco bindings so I worked on using a design made of lines. The dark bands are dark brown and dark blue onlays.

For the rest of the lines I used copper foil. The warmer look of the copper worked better than gold on this unusual colored skin.

I use a simple jig to aid me when I tool straight lines. I learned this technique from a poster session at the Guild of Book Workers Standards Meeting. It consists of two pieces of book board taped together with packing tape so the smaller piece can fold up. Then you can see where the edge of the board lines up and you can slip the foil under it. In this photo you can see where I have taped off where to start and stop the line when I tool it.

I use a 1 1/4 inch line pallet for most of the lines with smaller lines done with other shorter pallets. Since you place the jig first you can use a ruler to make sure that it is in place. Then I use a box weight to hold it down.

After tooling if you keep the jig in place, you can check the line and repeat the tooling if there are any gaps and breaks or if the line is too short.

The titling was also done in copper using type and a hand pallet.

The finished book was displayed in the Lone Star Chapter of the Build of Book Workers 2011 shows in Dallas and Houston, Texas. It is also included in the 2011 Bind-O-Rama at

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