Very good demonstration of how to case in a book. When she does the first side and then opens it, I almost fell off my chair! But it seems to work for her. It has been drummed into me that you never open a book that has just been cased in and is still wet. We’ve all done it though, if only once!
A Tantalising Taste of Foil Blocking
As I may have said before, one of the great things about having a different teacher is that they have different ways of doing things, and it’s great to have one’s eyes and mind opened by them. One of the things we’ve been working on was an adhesive binding of the free ebook Bookbinding and the Care of Books. It’s taken three lessons to bind it, make the case, block the title, and finally case the book in.
Foil Blocking is where the title of the book is impressed into the cover and spine. It is a similar process to letterpress printing but instead of ink, we use foil of various colours and types. In times past actual gold foil was used, but today a plasticky type of foil is the medium of choice.
For this project, the instructor set the type into the chase, using furniture to space the lines, and a quoin to tighten it all together. Don’t you just love the language? A chase is a kind of tray that fits into a blocking press and is used as the carrier for the type. Furniture are spacers of certain thicknesses that are used to evenly set spaces between lines. Finally, a quoin is an ingenious little device that expands and contracts as an inset screw is turned one way or t’other.
I was naïvely hoping to be able to set my own title, but this of course is not practical in a class of 8 novices. After the type was properly set, the instructor set up the blocking press, which had been left to heat up, so that it was all very easy for us novices to put our cases and foil in and pull the lever to leave behind a lovely title in gold or silver foil. The next thing we did was a little surprising: we got some oil from our skin—around the nose or forehead—and rubbed it over the title to get rid of any little bits that were out of place. Who said bookbinders weren’t a weird bunch?
So during the demonstrations and construction, I learnt a few new ways of doing things, and some better practices. One was that when the you’ve made the case, put the text block into it in its proper position, close the case then rub along the hinges with your bone-folder to help set the joint. Once the case dries, it will be easier to case in the text. Another was that it’s OK to use PVA to case the book in. I had always stuck to paste (no pun intended!), just because that’s how I was first taught. One of the main advantages of PVA is that it dries much faster than paste, so once the book has been nipped in the press, it can be opened and inspected. No more waiting overnight for a book to dry, no more getting up in the morning and hurrying into my bindery first thing to see if the book turned out OK. I like that paste is reversible, but I think that it is a bit over-the-top for what I do, at least for the moment.
A Colourful Stab Binding
My first experience of this type of binding was a few years ago now when I made a 10-page A5 journal with A5 card covers and decorative endpapers. A couple of things were different this time around: the cover is a wraparound instead of single sheets of card, the pages are A4 folded in half with the folded edge at the foredge instead of single A5 sheets, and because of its thickness, the holes were drilled on the paper drill, not punched with an awl.
Folding, Bundling, Sewing, Smashing
We were given 10 pages each of 5 different colours, and commenced folding. Once we had folded everything, with all the colours together in separate bundles, we stacked them with pressing boards between each colour, then gave them a half-hour-long squeeze in the nipping press.
Our instructor told us that the process above was referred to as folding and bundling. If the book were to be sewn in sections, it would include the steps of sewing and smashing—smashing referring to knocking out the swell caused by sewing with a hammer. Once again, bookbinding terminology is simply wonderful.
Once we had folded and bundled our pages, we gathered them together into the right order—in this case the order is arbitrary as the pages are blank. After folding the cover, we drilled the holes, and sewed the book together. I enjoyed making this book because it was a bit different to what I had done before.
Last time I posted about my TAFE course, I promised that I would wax lyrical about my experience using TAFE’s electric guillotines. Let me just say that it is amazingly fun, and that my fascination with sharp stuff has reached another high. The mechanical noise that emanates from the machine when you operate the foot pedal to lower the clamp and then when you strike the knife…ah! such unstoppable power. It is also about the accuracy of the machines—down to 1⁄100th of a millimeter. Accuracy is my other vice, although its pursuit does not always result in it! When working with wood—especially when I made my chicken coop—I have learnt to try to not be too accurate, but to lower the standard from 100% to 95%, which still provides an excellent result, but not at the expense of the whole project itself. Often I would try to be so accurate that my inevitable failure would result in me being completely downhearted and not even finishing the project.
That’s it for another post. This one took me 10 or 11 days to complete. Hopefully my next one will be a bit sooner, but two weeks is fairly OK I think between posts. At TAFE, I continue binding a really thick (23mm) slab of paper in the Japanese style, but this time with a hinged hard cover. Photos to come.
Have You Met My Sister, Jess?
Well, she recently turned 30. You can read about it on her blog here. I was there: it was a fun party. It was yet another occasion when I made something for someone’s birthday—in this case, it was a very nice sketchbook/notebook/journal (if I do say it myself). She’s blogged about it here. How kind. She said some really nice things about me. I love my sister.
When I created this book, I wanted to try to express something of Jess’ personality and her style. We are similar on both counts, so I was pretty sure she would like it. You can see that the book is fairly plain and simple, with blocks of bold colours on the outside, and a little bit more funky on the inside. I guess that is what my sister is like—simple on the outside, but a little bit funky-funk on the inside.
Bookbinding Nerd Details
The book is a fairly simple flat-back case binding, with 6 sections of 12 leaves each (made up of 6 sheets folded in half and gathered together) sewn onto two 10mm tapes. I used some nice 110gsm cartridge paper for the text block and some simple Kraft and Chelsea bookcloth for the covers. This is the first book I’ve put a bookmark into, and I really like the result. The endpapers were called Mumbai paper in the shop I bought them from. It’s a heavyish kind of paper that looks a little bit hand-made, though I don’t think it was quite expensive enough to actually be made by hand, and it’s screen-printed. The beautiful yellow headbands were labelled ‘Pre ’50s Headbands’ in the shop I bought them. The are your standard machine-made headbands, but sewn onto a calico strip. I trimmed the boo to size using my trusty finishing-press-and-wood-chisel setup. Nice.
Notes to Self
When casing the book in, don’t use too much paste otherwise it will seep through the paper and possible stain the other side, especially if it is screen-printed Mumbai paper.
I am really pleased with how this book turned out. It was nicely done, and looks awesome.
My wife, Sharon, is a wonderful artist. She makes pottery, she paints, and she draws. Her drawings are mainly done with technical-style-pens: 0.005mm diameter and up. She loves her pens. She also loves nice bleed-proof paper. She had a little store-bought sketchbook that she filled up a little before Christmas. I, being the nice guy I am, thought I would surprise her by making her a new sketchbook. I tried to get it done before Christmas, but because I was trying to make some orange book cloth for the spine, and because I kept stuffing it up, I only managed to get it done just recently.
The first drawing she did is shown above. If you can’t guess, we are expecting a baby—that is the meaning behind the beautiful drawing above.
Bookbinding Nerd Details
The book is a simple case binding, 10 sections of 4 sheets were sewn onto tapes, then the spine was glued, endpapers attached (I made the endpapers from two sheets of Yuzen paper each: I tipped them together), and the block trimmed with my finishing press and plough. The last step in preparing the book block was to line the spine, and glue on headbands.
I then went through many experiments with making some book cloth. I bought some nice orange cotton, and some mulberry paper. After many failures in which the fabric was seemingly glued successfully only to have it come away from the mulberry paper when I tried to glue it to the boards, I gave up and bought some nice orange buckram and used that instead.
After cutting the boards and spine-piece to size and sanding them, I glued on the buckram. I then cut out the design for the cover and glued that to the front board. Some blue momigami was then pasted to both the front and back boards.
After leaving this to dry over night, the next morning, I cased the book in, pressed it with my pressing boards, weighted it, and left it to dry for the rest of the day.
The result is an awesome, personalised sketchbook that should give my wife many hours of enjoyment.