Binding: Full Goat Leather Sewn on Double Cords

I have been fairly slow in providing updates on the various projects that I have completed over the last year. This is try of all of the books that I completed in Binding III and IV during Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. I have finally found time to take pictures and descriptions of these various projects. It must be the waiting around for this baby.

One of the most intensive projects of the semester is a full goat leather binding sewn on double flexible cords. For the textblock of the book, I used a 1902 first edition copy of Bookbinding, and the Care of Books by Douglas Cockerell, which is one of the standard handbooks on bookbinding. The textblock and paper were in good condition, as was the binding. However, I found the binding rather boring and ugly, so I decided to give it a facelift.






The textblock was sewn on a sewing frame using two small linen cords to make a double-flexible sewing. These cords were then used to lace on the boards, creating a solid structure which would all be covered at once by leather. This differs from other books that I previously made in which the cover and textblocks are constructed separately and then brought together at the very end.

Another new process was sewing a three-color endband. I love sewing endbands, but these took some time getting the tension just right. It is something that takes lots of practice. After the endbands were sewn and the boards were attached and lined, it was time for leather paring. In order to reduce bulkiness and make the book more refined, leather thickness is shaved away along the edge and joint area using a knife and spoke shave. Thus, there is less thickness in the turn-ins and along the board edges.

Then comes covering. This book was especially stressful because it was the first time covering in full leather. It is important to get good adhesion, especially along the spine. The corners can also be tricky because they are cut at a 45 degree angle, folded around to meet, and carefully worked over the boards to make the joint seamless. At the head and tail, the leather is worked over to create a flattened cap area. The cords are emphasized using band nippers, and the book is tied up and left to dry. The final steps are trimming the turn-ins and adhering the pastedowns. It is a long process, but well worth the effort for the beautiful book at the end.


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