Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Beneath The Skin - One Technique Of Binding

I have just realised that I have offered lots of images of how I cover books, decorative techniques and the like. However that is only half the story. What happens beneath the skin is as important, one could argue more so as the structure of the book must be sound. By that I mean that if the structure is defective, it does not matter what the finished look of the book is like as it will either not function correctly and in some cases fall apart.

I would like to offer an introduction in one of the methods of making a book employed in studio 5. I apologise if some of the terminology is unfamiliar and that I take for granted that you will have some existing knowledge. You could always go to my web site to find out about the work shops I run.

The binding we shall be looking at is in 1/4 leather with leather jointed made end papers. Other areas we shall be looking at will be end banding, Manhattaning, 3/4 hollow and secondary sewing.
Here we go..........

We will take it that we have made our hooked on end papers, trimmed to size with waste sheet. Good sewing is the key to book binding, as this book is to be rounded and backed the correct thread must be chosen to achieve the correct swell. I use a micrometer to measure the section and thread thickness (to explain this aspect would take some time and space, perhaps I will do a separate blog on it later) The marking of the sewing positions is done with a Gabarit de Grecquage. I always mark up the text block with a point line...never a pencil as the graphite will make the thread, hands and the text block dirty.
I tend to use an unsupported link stitch as apposed to tapes or cords as this reduces the amount of lumps and bumps on the spine area.

Once sewn, the text block is knocked up to head and spine and placed in a finishing press with working boards. The working boards are beveled to wards the spine edge to accommodate the swell. The spine is glued up with a mixture of PVA and paste.

Once the adhesive is dry, we move on to rounding and backing.

The text block is released from the press and the working boards and the spine dampended. This is to make the adhesive pliable whilst still bonding the sections together. The spine is gentle moulded with a hammer to produce a round. This has to be done with care as the sections can be damaged with careless blow with the hammer. I must add that I only use this technique with a text block that has a deckle edge, otherwise I would use a roller.
The depth of joint is marked on the shoulder, the text block is then ready for backing.

The text block is placed in the laying press between backing boards. I use a French press with French backing boards as I find it easier than the two screw press and trad backing boards. The depth of joint marks made earlier should only serve as a guide as the text block has a natural swell. The sections are gently manipulated with a hammer, again great care must be taken to achieve the correct shape.

When the spine is correct it is allowed to dry in the backing press.

On removal from the backing press the text block is placed between the working boards and the shoulders worked over with a bone folder. This important as it crisps up the shoulder shape. Next comes the first of the spine linings.

The first of the linings is Fray Not, glued to the spine With PVA. This is a light weight but very strong fabric. It is important to remember that the choice of the fabric is crucial to the size, the end use of the book and weight of the text block. For larger books I would use Aero Linen, I have even used old linen hospital sheets ! Experience is the only answer.

Next is secondary sewing, we use this technique a lot in Studio 5, it is a top thing. I am sorry, this aspect of the structure is difficult to explain. The fabric is sewn on to the text block, in this case, the first two and last two sections. If the book is larger then the first and last three sections along with some in the middle. The thread used for the secondary sewing should be either the same as the initial sewing or thinner. Coloured thread can be used to match the end banding.

The Fray Not is pinked in to a semi circle.

End banding, enough said. There are so many ways, so many cores just so much. This particular example is a single round core, sewn with a Japanese silk in a single colour. Once the end band has been set with PVA, I tape it in place with a low tack craft tape (masking tape) to let it dry following the shape of the spine. The ends of the core are then trimmed and set with PVA.

Board attachment. In the trad context this involves lots of holes or slits, lots of lacing on, delaminating. The lecture will continue tomorrow.

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