Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In a (book) Bind

          I've been enjoying some fun family time and now I have to get down to serious work, if I am ever to finish this book before the Miniature Book Society Conclave in Lexington Kentucky. It takes place over the first weekend in September (Labour Day weekend) and I must have some books ready by then, less that four weeks to go! On the Sunday afternoon the Book Fair will be open to the public, at the Hyatt, Lexington. See the website for details. Hope to see you there!
          I finished off the last image, of the figure rising through the air towards the skies, using brass handle tools in the shape of a star and a dot. (They are really for gilding leather but also work well on paper.) The tools are heated to the right temperature to activate the adhesive on the foil carrier. This is a layer of real gold on a backing. The foil is placed on the surface to be gilded and the heated tool is impressed on to the foil, transferring the layer of gold to the substrate, in this case the paper. The shape of the tool appears in gold.
Here is the starry result. The next operation was to tip the five images into each book. This means that the image is adhered by a thin thread of glue or paste along one edge onto the page. I did this before trimming the pages, using the guillotine. In other types of binding (anything with a rounded and backed spine ) I would use a plough to trim the edges, but this is a thin book with a flat spine.
          After some consideration I have decided to bind this book by sewing on vellum slips. A vellum slip is a strip of vellum, and vellum is of course a piece of (usually) goat or calf skin that has gone through a special curing process to give it the particular qualities needed for writing or binding. It is very durable, and I adapted a traditional form of binding using the vellum slips when binding Old London Bridge. It enables the book to open well (which can be a problem with some forms of binding) and I like the appearance and the medieval reference to vellum bindings, which is probably what would have been on Leonardo Da Vinci's original notebooks if they were bound during his lifetime.
          I looked into my 'supplies store', well O.K., a drawer and found some vellum of a suitable thickness, that was dyed a tan brown colour, quite a good base to adapt to red, to tone with the leather of the cover. I used Fiebings Oil-based red dye, rubbing it into the surface with a pad of paper towel. It does not penetrate into the vellum, but rather sits on top, and takes a good few days for the dyestuff to oxidize and dry.Here's the before and after:

The vellum doesn't need to be an exact match for the leather as it will hardly show, it just needs to blend in. I have no idea why I originally bought this vellum, (twenty-five years ago at least) as it is much too thick for writing or binding a small book, but I was very pleased to find it, it's exactly what I needed for this job. The next process will be to sew the book, when the vellum is dry.
          I'm going to go 'underground' for the next few weeks as I'm really pushed for time to get some books finished, and also am preparing a presentation for the MBS Conclave, but I will be taking photos and will show all the stages in this binding when I return from Lexington.

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