Just a little peek at something that will soon be completed…
I had a little time. I was in a cafe. They had coffee stirrers. I had linen thread. And a pen.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
– T.S Elliot
This is a new book that I have playing around with over the last few weeks. Nothing serious, but an unwanted ring box was rescued during one of Mrs. Lestaret’s occasional clearouts and had been sat on my desk saying “go on then – do something with me.”
I made a few accordion folded strips to see how long I would need to create naturally falling pages and began thinking about a theme. Being the old romantic (?) that I am, I thought about a pledge of love, poetry to woo the hand of a fair maiden and the like. I was listening to the new album by Steve Earle and believe that his lyrics are amongst the finest, especially in his songs of love, loss and longing.
I had a trawl through his extensive back catalogue and narrowed the choices down to three songs – Valentines Day (a great song for those of us who have failed miserably on this wretched occasion), Goodbye (melancholy, and just a little wistful) and Yours Forever Blue (an apology – enough said.)
I eventually went with the latter, and because the box was green, I went with an overall green tone. Blue would have been a bit too obvious, eh?
Although I still have three other books to finish off, I sat and sewed a little fat book the other day. Not sure why, as I have been sketching out ideas for the others recently, but the mood took me to do something a little different from my regular format.
This is a thirteen section book measuring just 70 x 80mm and is 21mm thick! My usual format is either seven or nine sections and 140 x 85mm and about 10mm thick so this is quite a difference for me.
Because of the width of the spine I will need to’ round’ it and create a hollow so that the book will open when it is attached to it’s cover boards.
The extra width also shows off the sewing, especially the kettle stitch, which I’ve always thought of as being rather ugly.
I use a rotatrim guillotine to cut my sections to size and always test the quanitity of sheets I can cut to the point that it begins to tear. I like this effect; it allows me to cut the pages quite accurately whilst retaining a handmade feel. It also masks any minor inaccuracies too – with perfectly cut edges every tiny deviation can be seen. I have adopted this ‘tear cutting’ as my ‘house style.’
As I said at the start, this is a little book, and although I have stated the measurements, it’s always good to see the scale…
I have a few ideas where this may go, and of course, they will all end up here.
I bought a dozen small scraps of bookbinding leather last year and never really got around to using it. They are really small – about 20cm square, so are only good for small books, infils and the like.
I drew the symbol from an asemic character I had been playing around with, cut it out of thin card and glued it to the front board before gluing on the leather.
The the edges were carefully ‘worked’ with a bonefolder to get a good bond and create the clean line around the character.
The banding on the spine is fake – those are strips of card and not raised sewing.
The endpapers are a very wrinkled handmade paper. I didn’t make this paper but it has been sat in my scraps box for ages.
So how small is it? 86 x 67 mm actually, just enough to sit in my palm…
I’ve had a few boxes of those old plastic pegboard letters sitting around for a while awaiting gainful employment (and while I found a suitable board to peg them onto!) and decided to make use of some of them in other ways.
I have three boxes – big letters, small letters and numbers – these are all pre-decimal too and complete with pounds, shillings and pence (D) symbols! They are all in their original boxes too and will feature on my other blog soon…
I first made two casebound landscape format books 170 x 100 mm with dark blue buckram cloth over the boards and then set to work with the letters:
First I needed to remove the pegs that secure them to the pegboard. I simply sliced them off with a sharp blade. It pained me a little to permanently disfigure them, but I have got quite a a lot of these and do intend to use the rest on pegboard at some point!
A little measuring and planning first and then, after indenting the covers with a punch to mimic the pegboard holes the letters were stuck on.
The endpapers are a bright yellow fluted stock and add further texture…
I had a very stylish paper bag handy from a recent trip to a King’s Lynn nostalgia emporium and thought that it suited the look and feel of these two.
It was far too cold to be out in the
garage printshop over the Christmas break and so I decided to make some new books. This one is a fairly standard binding but has quite a ‘sweet’ cover, so I’ll focus on that.
Whilst sorting out my odds and ends file, I found a couple of card lettering stencils and decided to make use of them. I considered going for an embossed effect with the stencils beneath a thin cover cloth, but eventually opted for a slightly more experimental approach. Inspired by the effects of sugar on this book cover, I used the stencils to apply a layer of glue to the bare boards and coated them with sugar:
Once dry, I applied a coat of acrylic paint, mixed with a little PVA and water. I used a base of white and kept adding bits of black to create a very uneven grey – I wanted the colours to remain a little unmixed and reveal the brush strokes for a more painterly effect. The paint was very liberally applied!
The result of the volume and consistency of the paint began to dissolve the sugar in places. I had a horrible feeling that by morning it would all be totally dissolved and just be a splodgy mess!
I ought to show you another detail too. I had decided to use a ‘half binding’ style for this cover, and needed to clear away a strip of the sugar letters along the edge near the pine and on the corners to allow the cloth to lay smooth on the board:
The half binding style features a strip of leather or book cloth across the spine to attach the cover boards, along with protective corner pieces. The photo above is slightly out of sequence here, but shows corner style with some of the tools used.
After some careful measuring and lightly marking alignments on the cover, I cut a strip of black buckram that was a bit wider than the triangle it was to cover (three times the thickness of the board if anyone’s interested) and trimmed off the outer parts at a 90° angle:
The edges were then trimmed to run parallel with the boards. This was an arbitrary measurement, but I was consistent all round.
The corner pieces were glued:
Top tightly folded and rubbed down with a bonefolder…
…and nipping in the overlap. I then dab a little more glue over this part.
The side flap is then tightly folded over and rubbed flat. Neat and tidy.
Any uneven parts were trimmed off to make sure that the insides are as neat as the outsides – I’m a bit funny about things like that sometimes.
I put these under light pressure for an hour or so whilst I prepared for the next part.
Always a good idea to check the measurements again – I had already made the book block so there is no excuse for getting this wrong. Everything was assembled and clamped together and all my measurements were checked again. The spine I had originally cut was a bit too wide – the book had been tightly bound – so I made the necessary adjustments, cut the buckram for the spine and drew out some guidelines.
Even though I had checked my measurements, I still offered up the cloth to the boards to visually check before I committed myself. The old carpenters axiom of “measure twice, cut once” should never be forgotten…
The spine strip is then laid glue side up and the boards are positioned to the guidelines I drew earlier. There whole thing is carefully turned over and rubbed flat. The most effective tool I have found for this is clean hands!
Then turned back over to fold in the top and bottom, both of which are cut from the outside edge. This prevents the material inside the spaces from bunching up too much. This is then rubbed down hard with the bonefolder.
I always use the bonefolder to create the creases on either side of the spine at this point – as the glue dries it will retain some of this shape. The cover was left overnight under a pile of big books to dry.
I had already made the book block a few days earlier so was ready the next day to put the cover on. The excess scrim and tapes are neatly trimmed off:
And a piece of newspaper is placed between under the endpaper to catch any overspill from the gluing.
The whole outside endpaper is then given a light but even coat of PVA, over the scrim and tapes:
The newspaper is carefully removed and discarded and I usually leave the endpaper for a few minutes to ‘relax’ as it tends to curl with the absorption of water on one side of the paper:
The book is then placed against the spine making sure that there is equal space top and bottom. The cover is then carefully folded around onto the glued endpaper. This sounds easy, but you also have to hold the book in position and push it tightly towards the spine.
The other side is done in exactly the same way, and two pieces of greaseproof paper are inserted inside each cover. This will prevent any excess glue spreading onto the pages when the book is pressed.
Overnight in the nipping press between several layers of felt and Hey Presto!
I’m really pleased with this. I made this one specifically to explore more book designs in and am looking forward to putting it to good use.
I didn’t mention before, but the pages of the book are made from brown parcel paper…
I made this little sketchbook recently. It is a seven section casebound book, with tea stained canvas coverered boards. On the front is a metal frame (like on a filing cabinet) with a degraded filing card in the slot.
The endpapers are from an old map of the moon, simply for the fact that I liked it and thought it would provide an odd, retro feel to the book:
The frame isn’t actually screwed on – I sawed off the heads of the screws and glued the lot into place…
The final stretch (for one set of covers at least) as the covers and book block come together. The hairy twine needed a long twist of sticky tape on the ends in order to thread through the holes, where it was removed and the two loose ends threaded back on each side between the boards and book:
Using a hand clamp to keep the book squared up, I tied the twine in a simple double knot.
I did a little retouching on the inside of the boards where they had got scuffed.
And covered them with a square of oxblood vinyl (another gem from my oddments box) using PVA and a light pressure.
Which finished off the innards.
I frayed the hairy twine to add the finishing touch:
I have just figured out what I’m going to do with the second book, but I’ll leave that for another time…
After the relative success binding the two small samplers, I decided to make some more adventurous (for me) coverboards. I got stuck right in and forgot to take some photos of the construction. These first ones are simple pieces of 3mm greyboard, with cutouts of handmade textured paper and strips of leather, liberally painted over with red/black acrylic paint, globs of PVA and sprinkles of sugar and cracked pepper (for added textures)
The sugar dissolves into the PVA but remains crystalline around the edges. The pepper is just to add some looser bits onto the surface. The ideas is to layer more paint over and then distress the surfaces. The intention is to take off the looser material and reveal the layers below without causing too much damage to the surrounding material. I am hoping that this little experiment works – never tried this before, but thought that it would make this process a little more interesting.
The second boards are covered in a textured ‘dot’ paper in a swirly pattern, ripped off on one edge and given a splodging of straight yellow acrylic around the edges. Again with the sugar and pepper…
When this was dry I gave everything a good coat of black.
In some areas I over painted and allowed the paint to ‘sit’ on the surface. Elsewhere, I deliberately under painted to leave traces of the colours beneath.
So when the covers are dry (the next day – I make, write and post very much out of sequence) I set to work distressing them. The first stage is to rough them up a bit and take off some of the surface shine with a bit of sandpaper.
This also begins to reveal the colour layers beneath.All of the covers got a vigorous rub down with a damp cloth too which fetched off a little moe of the black and removed the dust from sanding.
I had the idea of attaching something a bit random to the centre part of cover. After a bit of a headscratch and a root through my odds and ends box, I came across these tiny ceramic tiles that were left over from a student experiment a year or so ago. There were about half a dozen left over that were going to be thrown away so I asked her if I could recycle them into something (She said yes – thanks Christina!) They are very slim, stamp-sized squares made from poured slip with a screen print of part of a dollar bill.
After choosing one I marked the holes and drilled through the coverboards with an Archimedes drill and cut a recess between the two holes on the back to hide the thread.
A few trial threadings led to this arrangement.
The loose ends were passed through each of the holes drilled into the cover where they were tightly knotted.
The little tile now sits firmly in the centre panel and adds an interesting contrast to the black and red, along with the difference in surface textures:
I need to work out how I’m going to fasten these boards to the books using the cords now. I haven’t thought that far ahead – this is very much an idea developing rather than a well planned process.