I spent most of today finishing up a small set of these four flap portfolios for the Vista Sans Wood Type project. My classmate and I have been slowly making about 8 of these, for their kickstarter campaign, over the course of the last year. They are actually really fun to work on because they are so much bigger than our usual scale. It’s fun to have to work out new problems and be innovative. The cloth is Canapetta and the label is made from cherry wood paper and carbon stamped.
Check out my first complete fine binding.
Full black goat skin, with hand-dyed goat skin craquele onlays made by the binder (ME!). With palladium tooling.
I had the opportunity over the last few months to work with a really great photographer to produce this book of his work. I am really excited about the product.
Photos and layout by John Chervinsky
Man, it feels so good to keep updating this bad boy.
Here is a model we made of a very common 18th-century binding with a Cambridge Panel design. I don’t have any images of the process but this was a very interesting binding to make. These binding were made en masse during the 1700s. Our instructor says this was the last gasp of hand binding in any quantity.
We tried to stay true to contemporary techniques and speed. This meant that we didn’t do much layout for the tooling or titling; instead we worked quickly and by eye. All the historical examples we looked at were done very quickly and the tooling was obviously not perfect but was still nice. I found the process so fascinating because my approach is usually so calculated and measured, but it was fun to put my ruler away and trust my eyes.
This is my very first ever full leather binding! The leather is calf that we dyed and sprinkled. We used a spoke shave to pare the leather, which turned out to be a disaster because a little monster lives inside my spokeshave and he likes to eat leather for lunch. Asshole. For more info on the spokeshave, cruise around this blog. I have since made peace with the little monster and now the spokeshave works fine.
This is a Millimeter binding of The Bone Folder. The Millimeter structure was invented during WWII, when leather was scarce, as a way to provide a clean elegant leather binding using a minimal amount of leather. There are several variations but this is the classic style of the binding. They almost always are covered in paste paper with only a millimeter of leather showing on the boards. I made this paste paper specifically for the project. The leather is from the Harmatan tannery. The top edge is decorated with graphite. I really like the refined simplicity of this structure; it’s probably my favorite so far this year.
Ohh man this year has been crazy busy but it doesnt seem like I have a lot to show for it. We spent the first several weeks of school gold tooling, all day every day until our eyes hurt and we all wanted to give up, go home, and pretend that books are made by machines. Then we got into hand titling and it got worse. We digressed to a bunch of red eyed shells of people wandering around the bindery mumbling to ourselves about how the letter “L” is never straight. I think you learn a lot about yourself when doing things that are really hard. As an aside, For encouragement we are constantly told that it takes at least 7 years of doing this all day to be any good at it, and even then you might still suck.
So this project is a sampler of some the leather work we have been doing. From the top down a quick explanation of what you are looking at. The diamond pattern or diaper pattern is a very old design dating back to the incunabula period and is very common. Worked with a line palette (a one inch long line of brass). Next are two decorative tools one in carbon and one in gold. Then three circles made by taking a small section of a brass curve and working around until the two sides hopefully (say a prayer) meet. From right to left is a gold tooled onlay, a blind tooled onlay, and a tooled surface gilt circle. An tooled onlay is a very thin piece of leather that is cut precisely to fit a tooled shape. Our instructor says when cutting them out, and pasting them on, “persevere, that is the only way to make it beautiful.” Under that is a very thin inlay made using a stylus tool. Finally a basic square pattern. Expect more work soon
Its a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.
I’ve been playing around with some techniques that may come into play later this year. Here is a lino cut pressed into suede. I’m really liking the texture and depth. Not sure how many impressions the linoleum can take.
Summer drags on & the bindery is closed. Here are a few bindings by Paul Bonet.