Growlygracepress's Blog


I am the captain of my bench.
October 9, 2019, 7:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

P1020042

I have established my bookbinding practice and I am at my bench making books and progress. I have identified the areas of concern and it’s principally around technique and poor execution and that’s about ‘good enough’ and I don’t want to be ‘good enough’ I want to make first rate work. I want to make books that are fully leather bound and are decorated with leather onlays and the onlay has to be so fine on the cover that if you run your fingers over them you cant feel them.

To get this right it means several techniques need to be perfect.

The leather has to be pared very, very thin. It needs to be so thin that if you hold it up to the light it’s nearly transparent. So thin that the onlay appears like it has been painted on.

Another way is to back pare the leather on the flesh side so that the onlay is ‘received’ and fits snugly in it’s place. Thing about this is I need to make a ‘die’ where I want the onlay elements to go, then I need to place a paper onlay glued on to the flesh side wher indicated by the die ( the die is made with thin board, leather is dampened, a layer of cling film is used to protect every thing, the die placed on the leather it’s given a quick nip in the press, the positions of the onlays are revealed, paper onlays are pasted on, the leather is pressed again, allowed to dry and then you can pare the leather down. Cover the book and place the colour leather onlays on the boards and if the bookbinding Gods are smiling on you and the pasted papers have not fallen off you lift them and put down the leather onlay. Stick it in the press and nip.

This is all well and good for one book but I like to make a series of ten and because I am binding in account book style it means that I am essentially going to fight on the leather to the book and I am going to use a hammer to cap the head and tail and I am going to mould the leather and create a really tight grove. And I have a spring on the spine.

So does the client need ‘account book’ style or can I ‘get away’ with a flat back and just case the book?

Flat backs, case edition meh!

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