Sunday, July 14, 2019

Geneva Bible 1589

The client of this Geneva Bible asked me to take series of pictures of the restoration process, which included the brief steps of Cambridge on the front and back covers. Just for the sake of it, I thought I should put them on my blog in case someone wants to know how it's done. As you see, it's a no brainer; it's basically the same concept as stencil, and hand-tooling the framing with or without gold at the end.
By the way, this common design is called Cambridge because it became popular among binders in Cambridge in the 18th century.
Well, if you are interested in acquiring this particular Geneva Bible that I restored, contact Arundel Books.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Gold Tooling

Just to maintain the momentum of keeping up with my blog before my attention completely goes back to what's on my workbench, I took some pictures of my recent works to share with you guys.

A few years ago, I had developed a strange physical condition that made my hands shake out of the blue, which prevented me from doing intricate works like gold gilt/tooling. But it has gotten better and I haven't had the symptom little over a year.

So now I've been able to tool without a fear of unpredictable sudden shakes that would ruin hours worth of the entire job; the tooling is done at the end of binding process. Here are a couple of books I finished recently. Both are facsimile bindings based on the original.

This is a two volume set of Breton's China, four volumes bound into two. I forgot to note the publishing date, but it's probably 1813.

This is Travels in the Air by James Glaisher, published in 1871. I neglected to take more "before pictures" of this binding, but the original was exactly the same as my facsimile; A quarter binding with Antique Straight marble.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Family Bible Restoration

It's been over a year since my last post, but I haven't forgotten about my blog; I've just been too busy to pay attention to anything other than what's on my work bench. (I'm horrible at multi-tasking ..)

The reason I decided to write this time is to remind folks, who are planing to get their Family Bible restored, of the importance of choosing the competent/experienced real restorer. There seem to be too many people who call themselves "bookbinders", with only a brief knowledge of binding books that they obtained from watching Youtube videos, attempting to "restore" books for profit, or binders whose binderies have been in business for decades, actually don't know what they are doing. Quite a few of such previously "restored" (or should I say professionally damaged..) books have come to us for re-restoration. 

Every book comes to us is priceless and irreplaceable, but when it comes to restoring Family Bibles, I always find myself feeling especially honored to be a part of their families' history of the past and future; I know Family Bibles are one thing that will be actually loved and cherished by many, for years to come. That is why restoration of  Family Bibles has to be done right, the first time.

A few months ago, this Bible came to me. According to the client, it was restored not too long ago, but as it was exposed to humidity, it became a bit moldy. She wanted us to do something about it.

Well, as you see on the before pictures, the problem is NOT really the mold. It certainly needs more than replacing the moldy endpapers and gluing back the spine. EVERYTHING the previous "binder" did was wrong, or should I say criminal. I was absolutely horrified when I saw the Bible. As an unspoken rule of being in a field of age-old craft like bookbinding, we don't really want to criticize fellow craftsmans' jobs; we just look away, keep our mouths shut, and  mind our own business. Though I have warned people of incompetent binders' existence before, I normally don't actually show an example of bad restoration and say "This is bad". But I couldn't help it this time.

I don't think I need to point out what's wrong with the Bible because pictures show it. Again, all I can say is EVERYTHING this "binder" did was outrageously wrong. There's no indication of his/her having any knowledge what so ever of how to bind a book, let alone restore one. One thing you might not be able to see on the pictures is that the leather this binder used is not pared. Leather paring is the most basic skill any binders must have, by the way.

Anyway, when you are thinking of restoring your Family Bible (or whatever books), do check the binder's works on the website first. And if you like what you see,  preferably visit him/her to actually see/touch the works in person, because digital pictures can be deceiving nowadays.

This is Holy Bible, Dr. William Smith's Standard Bible Dictionary, published by Henry L. Warren & Co., 1881-1884

Friday, February 16, 2018

Snake & Papyrus

I've started recording books that I've worked on in a logbook since 2008~2009, and the logbook is becoming full; I needed a new one made. Well, I've been really preoccupied with work and haven't gotten any time to do my personal stuff in the bindery, but boy, it's become serious! It has only a couple of pages left now. So, I finally decided to free up some time yesterday for a quick & easy yet cute binding with scrap materials that were scattered around the bindery.

This is just a simple, nothing special, personal binding that might not be worth showing-off, but I thought it might give you some creative ideas for your project by using unconventional materials.

This is a quarter binding with a butt-jointed white snake and papyrus. They are super easy to work with, (idiot-proof!) yet the final product is cute and exotic. Just for the sake of the papyrus, I printed out some Egyptian hieroglyph graphics off internet and have used it as endsheets.

Snake is fun to work with because of their natural exotic markings; they come in different colors and textures as well. The things that you have to be careful of are the scales and the thickness and the width of the skin. Some snake skins have pretty good finish on the surface so that the scales don't easily fray, but they often don't. In that case, you have to make sure to tame the scales down by applying some adhesives after the book is bound, then wipe it off. Also, the thickness of the skins aren't uniform. The head/neck area is a lot thinner than the ones around the tail. It becomes obvious as the size of the snake gets bigger. For example, the neck area of Python is almost a paper thin, while the tail area is as thick as a card stock. So you have to determine which part of the snake is suitable for binding. Finally, as you know, most snakes are long and thin, thus there's a limit on the width. As the snake get's bigger, the skin gets also wider, but it gets thicker as well. Even if you find a beautifully marked skin, it might be too narrow for the size of your binding. Basically, you have to sort of give & take when working with snakes, or, for that matter, other exotic animal skins.

My master once bound a 9"x 13" full Python binding by butt-jointing the skins, but it's an another matter. haha.. The binding was a bit too much, if you wanna know the truth!

Other unconventional materials are fish skin, stingray, turtles and toad! Fish, toad and turtle skins can be used on the spine just like snake, but the stingray is too thick and stiff that it can't be used on the spine, though the unusual pearl marking is tempting to be used on the spine.  I took some pictures of some of those materials, so check them out. - by the way, the small, palm size brown skins on the picture are of Cane Toad from Australia. They are so small that it had to be butt-jointed to be used on a binding. But hey Aussies! I heard you guys have an epidemic of those toads that are making your dogs high on its poisons in your yard. (hahaha. Check this out.) Don't just kill and dump them. Send me the skins! I'll make the ugly little buggers beautiful!

Fish Skins:

Stingray & other exotic skins:
Garlin Neumann Leathers Co, Inc.  

Toad skins:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dresden Codex

Hellloooo everyone! Am baaaacckk!
And yes. I've been such a lazy slob in not paying attention to my blog all these months, and I suddenly realized it was already late October! - the realization came when I saw a bunch of kid-adults dressing as witches and Pres. Trump holding carved pumpkins. I wonder if Mr. Pres. is able to collect royalty paycheck every time someone buys his rubber masks or toilet paper rolls with his face printed on it, though I don't think he'd be interested in getting paid such a petty amount of money.

Anyway, before getting started on my next work, I decided to post one that I've finished last night. The client asked me to put a case on a manuscript that he printed and laminated by himself. It's Dresden Codex (C√≥dice de Dresde), the oldest surviving Mayan manuscript that dates back to 13~14th century. Such a cool project. As his printed manuscript was already folded in an accordion style, we decided to do an accordion binding and a limp leather case with a bone clasp. I don't think I've shown a work with bone clasps here before, so here it is. Bone clasps are normally used for boxes, but it can be used for a normal binding as well. Because this is supposed to be an old ancient manuscript, I suggested to use bark paper to give a feel of an antiquity, along with an earthy green leather that he chose. It's 21cm x 11cm approx., true to the original size. 

I've had a personal project like this that I started several years back. It's the Voynich Manuscript. I downloaded it off the internet, and started putting it together digitally, intending to print it out so as to do a facsimile binding. Well, it's been put aside all these years. Like I said, I'm just being a lazy slob yet again on this as well. Hit me!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Boucher on Forest Trees, 1775

It's a bit late, but a happy new year to ye' all ! I hope you are still sticking with the resolution that you made a month ago! (I gave up mine on the 3rd day. Ohh, typical me.)

I haven't updated my blog for a while, but that doesn't mean I wasn't working, yo! I just got too preoccupied with work physically and mentally, so I neglected to do anything else other than what was in front of me. And what was in front of me last week was my seedy digital camera that was buried in my so called junk box. You know, one of those boxes or drawers in which you dump little stuff that you never use but can't somehow throw away, thinking that you might need them someday. Unmatched batteries, little toys that came with breakfast cereals, almost empty eye shadows and a What-the-F**k-was-I-thinking-when-I-bought-it!?! goth-black lipstick... For some reasons, I put my digital camera in there. humm,,, That's not good. I don't know how it got there, because once something goes to my junk box, it usually never sees daylight again. Kinda like a little black hole in my room.

Anyway, that reminded me of how badly I've been neglecting my blog. I hastily took a picture of a book that I was about to work on, with a bit of guilt. There were actually two books on my workbench at that time, - one is a first edition of Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries by James Fergusson, and the other is Boucher on Forest Trees, which I chose to post on my blog because of its leather marbling. I thought you guys might find an interest in some "forgotten art" aspect of this craft. This is a common traditional method of leather dyeing technique using acid - a mixture of potassium sulfate and ferrous sulfate which is applied onto running water on the surface of leather. This particular texture is called "tree marbling" because of its resemblance to tree branches. It's very common in antiquarian books, but I personally don't know many binders who do this marbling technique nowadays. I, for one, can't do it, so don't ask me how to do it properly! Well.. This is how old arts and crafts die, you know? There's no one who can teach us to inherit the knowledge to the next generation.

This work required a rebacking of the spine, which needed to match the marbling texture of the original front and back boards. Matching the acid-based leather marbling is always tricky, and this one was no exception. I hope the client approves the result.. Oh, and, in case you are wondering about the spelling of forest on the skiver label, I did a double R because the original was spelled like that. I don't know if it's an original binder's mistake, but hey, I must follow the client's instruction.
This is A Treatise on Forest Trees by William Boucher. (1775) By the way, there were whole bunch of plants and flowers pressed in the book. Someone was indeed studying the book seriously. ;-)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Christmas Carol,1844

People dressing up as bigfoot and cat woman have disappeared from the street, and a long, hard fought battle of the U.S. presidential election has finally come to an end. Whether or not the result was in your favor, now it's time to shift your focus into a positivity. What's done is done, and anger and frustration only create more anger, eh? Suppose, you drop $100 bill, and keep whining and frustrated about it for a long time. What does it create? You are making yourself miserable by thinking about it on top of the fact that you lost $100. It's a double whammy, yo! So, now, get serious about how big of a turkey you should roast for Thanksgiving (haha...) and what to get for Christmas for your loved ones. I always say this around this time of the year, but please don't bring Christmas rush jobs at the last minute! We might close Christmas orders as early as two weeks prior to Christmas depending on how backed-up we are. So gather up your ideas and get here quickly!

This is one of our very organized client's Christmas restoration jobs that was sent in a few weeks ago. This is a fourth edition of A Christmas Carol, 1844. Although it's a fourth edition, it's still a pricey book. So needless to say, all original material had to be preserved and the restoration must be done as invisible as possible. Restoring old cloth binding can be tricky as matching a new material to the original  takes some skills. Master thinks I'm better at it, so it came to my workbench.

Well, if you know anyone who resembles $$ Old Scrooge $$, remind him of this classic again. It's never too late!

Like Tiny Tim says, "God Bless Us, Every One!" ~ Hope for peace from M.H.R.