Friday, December 30, 2011

Ching Li and the Dragons by Alice Woodbury Howard

About 70% of my work here is to restore older leather bound books, as my master tends to work on less labor intensive ones. (!! Is he using me!?! Yo, Master! You aren't retired yet, dude!) So, this is the first cloth bound book I’ve featured here since starting this blog. I'm not saying all the cloth bound books aren't complicated, in fact, they are often more complicated to restore than others if all the original pieces need to be preserved and invisibly repaired. But this particular book isn't one of them. It's Ching Li and the Dragons by Alice Woodbury Howard, published by Macmillan Co., (1931). My job is to create a brand new case with the original front graphic inlaid onto the front cover and repair torn pages. The client wants the insignia on the front endsheet to be preserved, so I have to lift it up and put it back to the original position on the new endsheet. Looks like it was a gift from her grandma when she was a child. Children's books are like cookbooks and Bibles, - people want to keep them in their family tradition by bequeathing them to the next generation. But, boy, the pages of this book! Someone has torn the hell out of them! (No, it's not her dog, though we often get clients saying "My dog ate my book!". Seriously... Bad Dog!!)
 // For the completed work of this book, go to my latter post: Ching Li and the Dragons, complete

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bookbinding 101 - Sewing on Cords

So, ok, here's another video on sewing books. This time, I've put two basic methods of sewing on cords. (Medieval or Sewn-on & Sawn-in) Again, the camera was so close that I couldn't maneuver smoothly, but it doesn't matter as long as the process is showing. My next video will be headbanding, but I'm thinking I should make a real quick video of how to sew books with tapes and cords without sewing frame. You see, people don't have special bookbinding equipments like a sewing frame and presses, so I thought they might wanna know how to bind books with what they have in the house. Anyway, I'll think about it. Oh, by the way, it's so strange that there aren't any useful video tutorials for sewing headband on Youtube. I was curious, so I checked it. Strange, isn't it? There are tons of bookbinding tutorials on different subjects, but almost none on headbanding. Well, I hope my next video will help those bookbinding enthusiasts.

Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain, complete

I was running errands all day today, so I forgot to post the complete work of this book earlier..  Anyway, here are the pictures. It came out alright. I'm just so happy for the client to have the whole set restored at last !!  

// For before pictures of this book, go to my former post:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bookbinding 101 - Sewing w/ Cloth Tapes

OK, so last night, I asked one of my friends to let me use his cell number for this YouTube ordeal. He was kind enough to help me out. (Thanks, Mr.S!!) Here's the video of sewing with cloth tapes. I made this video specially for people without any knowledge of sewing books to easily understand and see the details of the basic sewing process as much as possible, so I had to place the camera very close to my hands while recording, as a result, I couldn't work smoothly.. I apologize for that. Anyhow, I'll make a few more videos of different sewing methods when I feel like it next time. Then I'll make one for sewing headbands for Ms. A. (Oh, by the way, this video, again, is unlisted on Youtube for now, so only people who visit my blog can see it.)
I just changed the status of "Unlisted" to "Public" on YouTube after being asked to do so. I might change the status of other video I've made to "Public" as well. But for now, I hope this video is useful for beginners of bookbinding.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain by Edmund Lodge

Last night, Christmas Eve, I put a next job on my work bench, examining it while sipping a beer. No party, no family gathering, just me and a book and my Master in the bindery, who never bothers me. You might think I've got a lonely life! No, no, that's not true. I like my somewhat unsocial life as it is. As I get older, I often find myself avoiding to join in a circle of people, and prefer being alone, doing what I like when I like it. It's just become too complicating and rather tedious to be around people as time goes by. To remind you, my friends are all remarkable & great people. It just me who's eccentric. I like doing different personality tests et al, and always get a "rare" type of result that very few people have. (type called INFJ for example. It's so rare that people with this personality even created "clubs" of some sort to share their thoughts about things in general because no one can understand them!! hahaha) and no, I'm not part of them. Remember? I'm INFJ. ) Anyway, if you wanna know about me, check out INFJ on the internet. The description is too accurate to believe. I'm the most skeptical of all people I know, so, of course, I did check those personality tests to find out if they are genuine. Well, if you know me, and if I decline to be at your party, please understand! So, the book, yes, the book on my work bench. It's Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain by Edmund Lodge, (1835). This particular volume is vol. 3&4 of a several-volume set. This client wanted to do the restoration of the whole set one by one as it's rather costly to do at once. I've been restoring this set for a couple of years now, and looks like this is the last one!!! Congrats! Mr.G! Your book shelf is gonna be complete! (soon...) The restoration for this book is to re-hinge externally and internally, and repair the corners as well as some surface treatment. The client needs this book to be completed by the end of next week, so I'd better get going. ~~  P.S. I DID make a video recording on sewing books, but it's become 15 min. long, and I couldn't post it on YouTube.. (I don't have a cell phone, (you what!?!?) so I can't post a video longer than 10 min. Let me use your cell number, Ms. A, and I'll be able to post bookbinding instruction videos! )

 // For the completed work of this book, go to my latter post: Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain, Complete

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Last of the Mohicans complete

So the book is done, and I've made the dead line! Whew. (See this? Master! I always finish tasks on time!) Looks like I don't have any more rush jobs for this week, so I'm gonna be taking things easy. Oh, by the way, I asked one of master's interns (Ms. A) if she had something she wanted me to post here on my blog in terms of bookbinding instructions. She said she wanted to know how to sew headbands. She said she had read books about sewing headbands, but the written instruction was a bit confusing to her. So, maybe, I'll make a video demonstration of sewing headbands instead of explaining it in words. But first, I have to have a book to sew headbands on! So, probably I'll write or shoot a video about different methods of sewing books first. Well, I'm pretty spontaneous, so I can't promise you, Ms. A, whether I'll do it or not...         But, stay tuned!!

// For before pictures of this book, go to my former post: The Last of the Mohicans printed by James B. Lyon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Last of the Mohicans printed by James B. Lyon

This is The Last of the Mohicans printed by James B. Lyon. It doesn't have a date on it, so I don't know exactly when it was published. But based on what kind of paper used and the era when James B. Lyon was active, I'd suspect it was sometimes around 1850's~70's. But, boy, this book's been giving me a bit of a headache. It's one of those books that has severely acidified pages. Paper crumbles with the slightest touch. ( Have you seen and touched a newspaper paper from 1920's or something? The paper of this book is just like that, or worse.. the acid used to refine the wood pulp eats up the structure of the grain of paper over time, and turns it into dust.) So, cleaning the spine was a nightmare. It took longer than I expect because I had to be really careful not to take the pieces of paper with the glue residue I was trying to take off. Of course I couldn't use any moisture to soften the glue because of the condition of the paper. When I saw the spine, I thought it was going to be super easy to take the old glue off, but it turned out to be NOT!! ( I thought it would even come off with a light brush with my fingers without problem. It did come off, but it came off with a chunk of paper with it. Ah!) Anyway, The troublesome parts of the restoration is done, and I fixed the corners and created a facsimile skiver (the original skiver was missing pieces as shown on the picture.) I'll be re-hinging it tonight. Whew, I need a massage!

// For the completed work of this book, go to my latter post: The Last of the Mohicans complete

Junius : Stat nominis umbra, Complete

Here are the pictures of the volumes that I finished last night. They came out alright. When the original leather is light colored like these, the frayed edges unavoidably get really dark with any moisture applied. So I had to be super careful about the amount of glue used. Still, it got a tad dark. Anyway, we often get books that have been restored before, and they are sometimes tricky to re-restore. - it depends on how well the previous bookbinder did his job. For these volumes, the former restoration was relatively well done, which resulted in the damaged parts to be "clean". So, it didn't give me too much headache. I got lazy after I completed these books last night, and started watching crime documentaries with a beer on hand, (I love crime documentaries!) so I didn't start working on The Last of the Mohicans, which is due in a few days.. but, the thing is, when I don't feel like working, I really shouldn't, for I won't do a good job. Good thing is, my master doesn't nag me about me taking a loooooooong break (or unexpectedly take a day off or something..) cuz he trusts me and knows I know what I'm doing, and I finish works on time. Ah, what a nice job I have. Lucky me! (you, yes you who are reading this right now must be envious! hohoho~)

// For before picture of these volumes, go to my former post:  Junius : Stat nominis umbra (1799)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Junius : Stat nominis umbra (1799)

This is 1799 edition of Junius : Stat nominis umbra printed by T. Bensley in two volumes. Though I forgot to blog about these volumes last night, I'm actually almost done restoring them already. I will post pictures of completed works later. I was taking "before" pictures of books I am to work on, and somehow, I didn't take many pictures of these particular books ... so, the only usable picture I could find was this one photo here - other few pictures I took were really blurred ... I'm not good at taking photos!!! Anyway, it was obvious that they’d been re-hinged previously . The spines you see here aren’t the originals. Though they both have broken on the hinges again, the gilding was done beautifully. I re-hinged them (OR should I say, Re-Re-hinged them!?), fixed the corners and treated the surfaces. I'm gonna put the finishing touches on them today and they’re done! I'll be working on The Last of the Mohicans later today. I've never handled The last of the Mohicans before, so I'm excited! // For the completed work of this book, go to my latter post: Junius : Stat nominis umbra, Complete 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bookbinding 101 - Paring Leather

I had a few beers and a camera in front of me, so I decided to make a video of paring leather. My blade is so dull, that you can see I had to use a bit more force than necessary. It usually pares like a butter. Anyway, as you see, I'm not using a traditional European paring knife. I use Japanese craft steel because of its remarkable flexibility in control that I can have. It's a Kiridashi knife called Musashi-no-koku Kisaku (武蔵国住喜作) It sort of looks like one of those "Bonsai" knives, but it's thinner, and the angle of the blade is not steep - thus it's ideal for paring leather. Unfortunately, you can only get this directly from Japan. Over the years, apprentices at my bindery have longed for this steel, but only one of them was lucky enough to get it. There are different sizes of this particular steel, and if needed, you can special order left handed ones as well. // Oh, by the way, this Youtube video is unlisted, so only people who come to my blog can watch it. hahaha~
So, here's a picture of one of my lithograph stones (litho stone) for paring leather. I use the back side of what's shown on this picture in order to protect the engravings. Check my response comment below to one of my dearest followers, Teo, regarding stones for parting leather.

NOTE: I misspelled "Scharf-fix" on the response.. It's not Sharfix

By the way, about Adams Chewing Gum company. The story goes that the Adams family company was so successful that they were one of the first people to install an elevator in their house. And while the family was on vacation, the servants were so intrigued about the new device that they all kept riding on it for fun. But one day, while they were on it, the elevator got broken, and they were trapped inside. The Adams came back to see all the servants dead in the elevator. I was told that the story, The Addams Family was made, inspired by this actual horror story

Aristotle's Ethics & Politics complete

I finished the two volumes last night. I did dig through the pile of types to look for the particular ornament a night before, but I couldn't find it !!! It's one of those border ornaments that looks like a repetition of an oriental character. So I used something else. There wasn't any indication of what fonts were used for the spine letter embossing on the original, so I used fonts that were almost exactly the same as what was used on the title page. The leather has been dyed to look aged. I dye leather based on the original cover's texture and color, so you'll probably see other variations of my custom-dyed leather bindings in the future.

// For before pictures of these volumes, go to :

Friday, December 16, 2011

Aristotle's Ethics & Politics (2nd edt. 1804)

This is a two-volume set of Aristotle's Ethics & Politics printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies (Second edition, 1804). They have beautifully aged leather covers with intricate gold embossing on the spines. Unfortunately, the spines cannot be saved as they are basically "dust" just barely hanging on the surface of the sewing and just the slightest touch causes them to fall off. As the edges of the covers are also like that, the client wants brand new leather cases for them. Although the client basically wants a set of simple leather cases with title embossed on the spine, these volumes deserve a bit more "bling*!*" that resembles the original bindings. So, I'm doing facsimile covers. First, I dye the leather to simulate a natural aging of a leather, and am going to do embossing on the spine as close to the original as possible. I'll be finishing them tonight. - OH!! By the way, a terrible thing happened last week..... I, the stupid, dropped a whole type cabinet drawer on the floor !!!!  You have no idea what a shock it was. The time around me completely stopped when it happened  and I could feel the blood draining from my brain !! If you are a bookbinder, the thought of this kind of thing happen is always in the back of our head, but it never happens. BUT IT DOES HAPPEN!!! I just proved it... The particular drawer contained a few sets of font types and sets of tiny ornaments in it.... I haven't dealt with the pile of types yet, (unable to face the reality....) but tonight, I have to dig through them to find small ornaments suited for these volumes... Ahhh!! What a nightmare !!

<---------- The mess I've been trying to ignore.... I put them in the backroom so that I don't have to think about them!!

// For the completed work of these volumes, go to my latter post : Aristotle's Ethics & Politics complete

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Works of William Shakespeare by Phillips, Sampson & Co.

I've been working on The Works of William Shakespeare by Phillips, Sampson and Company. (1855) We've had this particular Phillips, Sampson version of Shakespeare a few times before, and it's always in a good condition. Really a beautiful book with a gorgeous tan leather cover and nice English marble endpapers. The top and bottom of the spine are missing and the hinges of the endpapers are damaged. The corners are worn and some parts of the surface needs to be treated. Other than that, it's in a good standing condition. Oh, yeah, the top headband was missing, so I had to recreate it. Just happened that I had a camera within reach, so I decided to take pictures of the restoration process of this volume. Though I don't know if anyone's interested in something like that, I uploaded them here. First set of pictures is the process of internal re-hinging. The second one's the restoration of the corner. And the third one's the reconstruction and restoration of the top of the spine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Columbus & Columbia complete

The work's done, and its turned out fine. I hope the client's gonna be pleased. I usually get very attached to the books I restore, as if they were my babies! So, I keep a careful eye on my finished works that are waiting for their owners on the shelf. I don't want ANYONE to touch them till the clients come. Nobody's allowed to even move them a slightest bit, as there are reasons why I place them the way I do. IF the "rule" is broken, I'm gonna be mad !! So Watch out! The thing is, the bindery's tiny, and the space where we store completed books is limited. So of course, my master needs to squeeze his works in on the small shelf , and to do that, he often has to shift my works around a bit. Be careful if you need to touch my works, Master! I'll be really pissed if you don't place my works MY WAY!
// For before pictures of this book, go to my former post:
Columbus & Columbia by Historical Publishing Co. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Columbus & Columbia by Historical Publishing Co.

Just for a change from Bible restorations, I've started working on a first edition of  Columbus and Columbia by Historical Publishing Company. (1892) It's a burgundy quarter binding with corners which needs re-hinging. It's got a set of pretty endpapers that the client wants to keep, so I've gotta put in internal hinges to connect the torn papers. I started this job yesterday, so it's almost done. - it's now waiting to be cased in. The original spine's torn in half in the middle, but it's not missing any pieces. So I expect that the end product to be nice looking. Well, just for the sake of mentioning the quarter binding here, you may want to know what it is and what ratios of quarter binding styles there are. Quarter bindings are the books with different materials used to make the case, meaning simply, books bound in other than full cloth or leather. Humm.. let see, the first of all, as you might have guessed, there's a one-quarter binding. The proportion of the spine material to the board material is about 1 to 3. There's also a half binding. The proportion of the spine material and the board material is 1 to 1, OR, the spine + corner material to the board material is about 1 to 1. And finally, the three-quarter binding. The proportion of the spine and corner material to the board material is about 3 to 1. It's just a traditional design of bookbinding, so you can do whatever you please if you are binding books, but if you wanna stick to the tradition, measure the ratio, eh? Oh, by the way, there's one particular style I personally like. It's not as common as those just mentioned, but there are books that's got a set of super tiny corners. (The material used for those tiny corner are not only leather but often vellum. Ummm pretty.) I suppose it's more common in older European books, as books in German, ... I love them. In bookbinding trade, everything seems to be there for just design, but they are actually there for specific and practical reasons. The reason why a stronger material (leather) is used on the spine and corners, is because the hinge and corners are the first parts to get damaged. Besides, it's more economical than binding in full leather. For another example, the headbands, either they are sewn or not, they are there to prevent dust from getting into the folded pages. As for the raised bands on the spine, they were basically the actual cords used in sewing of the book, though, it's become so accustomed to be just for a purpose of design after different sewing methods were invented. Bookbinding is sort of like "form follows function". (Oh, by the way, I majored in Industrial Design in college, yearrrrrrrrs ago. )
// For the completed work of this volume, go to my latter post: Columbus & Columbia complete

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holy Bible by Thomas Nelson & Sons.

"Bibles R us!" is what we say. We always have Bibles - big & small, old & new,  rare & standard, all kinds of Bibles. And, we get more Bible works around this time of the year - the Christmas season! So, here it is, another one. I just finished a 1953 edition of Thomas Nelson & Sons' standard Bible last night. It was a simple hardcover binding with burgundy cloth and imitation leather spine, which was obviously well used by the owner. The client wants a brand new full leather case with the owner's name stamped on the front cover. It's going to be a Christmas gift to the owner of the Bible. Restoring a Bible for your loved-ones for Christmas is the best gift anyone can give. I like working on Bibles because they always have a very deep history comes with them. Very personal and touching, no matter what kind of Bible it is. They always remind me of how fortunate I am to have a profession that lets me participate in and contribute myself to someone's life in a humble way. This feeling is priceless, really. Anyhow, regarding the restoration of this particular Bible, there's nothing technical to say about it except for a couple of small things. As you all know, the paper used in personal Bibles are extremely thin, and it tends to get crumbled and torn easily. Repairing the thin Bible paper requires a bit of a focus because the water based glue for mending paper might "melt away" the sensitive original paper when applied. I uploaded a before-and-after picture of a page I mended. You must be careful if you need to use an iron to straighten the surface after it gets dry. I don't really recommend the use of iron especially for large paper because each swath of heat applied will create inconsistent shrinkage to the grain of the paper, but it's alright for a small book like this one. Personal Bibles usually have something written on the endsheets (and any blank pages), and normally, the clients want to preserve them. For this Bible, both front and back endsheets had written notes which were heavily covered with scotch tapes. Thus, the original couldn't be saved. In cases like that, we make copies. This time, because they were basically simple hand written notes, I scanned and cleaned them up and printed them. Above are the partial pictures of the before/after. I loathe working on a computer, but hey, imagining a happy face of the recipient of my work keeps me going. My backache is worth it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A. J. Holman Holy Bible complete

// For before pictures of this bible, go to my former post:
Holy Bible by A. J. Holman & Co.
Here are some pictures of the finished work of the Bible. It was a straightforward external and internal re-hinging and exterior restoration. The deterioration of the original spine leather was horrible and was missing pieces, so it still looks a bit rough. But the work came out to be as I expected. When the original spine is missing pieces, I can create imitation embossing to fill the gap, but for this Bible, because the ornaments were very specific and the missing parts were large, I had to leave it alone. Anyway, One thing about doing a re-hinge especially on leather bindings, is to make sure the "joint on the hinge" where the new leather (or whatever material) goes underneath of the original leather (or material) is as invisible as possible. Needless to say, you pare the edges of new spine leather, but you also need to pare the edges of the original leather so that the connected parts become smooth and unnoticeable. I uploaded a couple of close-up pictures of the hinge so that you can see what I'm talking about. However, because the freaking lighting in the bindery is terrible for taking photos, it created too much sheen on them. So you might not be able to see exactly what I want to show. Ahh.. I'm gonna have to solve this lighting problem soon... Anyway, the actual work is better looking than what's shown on those amateur pictures, is what I'm sayin' ! The bottom line is : I ain't a photographer! I'm a bookbinder, for god's sake!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bible Record Reproduction

I take a small break every 20 minute or so, as my total concentration doesn't last more than 30 minutes. So, I decided to use this break to post a set of before/after pictures of the family record reproduction I talked about last time. Because this is my client's personal property, the picture above is cropped and only a partial written name is visible. For my fellow bookbinders, do consider doing this family record reproduction service for your client. And for those of you who are fortunate to have a Family Bible with records intact, you can do the same thing by yourselves. Let's keep the tradition alive for your future generation! (I sound like a cheer leader..?)

My master told me that he informed the client of this Bible about this blog because their Bible's being featured here. Well, If you are checking out this blog now, I'm pleased to tell you it's about 70% done, and what's basically  left to do is to put the original spine back on and restore the surfaces. Those fragmented surface areas have been mended and ready for the final finish. The Bible will be completed within 24 hours. I took a picture of the Bible when I was leaving the bindery tonight. It's sleeping in the press overnight. ...zzzzz....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holy Bible by A. J. Holman & Co.

This is a 1875 Family Bible published by A. J. Holman & Co. It's a relatively common Bible, that we see very often - deterioration of the cover is horrible, but always the sewing is intact. I put this work on my bench yesterday, but haven't actually started it. For, I was busy working on a computer. (I'm cracking my neck and stretching my back right now, if you wanna know how I'm doing after sitting in front of a computer for hours. ahh, I can't imagine how office workers survive this day after day.... ) The client wants the family record in the Bible scanned and burnt on a CD as well as to insert a new set of blank family record pages for the future use. We offer that sort of services here, - create an electric record of the family history, and clean and clear up the already written record pages and insert them. Hey, if you are a bookbinder, (I mean, a bookbinder who restores books.) offer this service to your clients, yeah? It's always nice to see people try to keep their traditions alive. The thing is, we DID have this design of family record pages which has been cleaned and ready to print. But, recently, my master lost his flash drive which contained a collection of blank family record designs that I've worked on over the years. Thus I had to do the clean up process all over again. (with a fee!!!! duh! always!) As a bookbinder, I generally like things that normal people consider as tedious, but something about working on the computer gets me exhausted either physically or mentally. Anyway, it's done, and I'm going to my bench and tackle this Bible now. 

// For the example of the Bible record reproduction, got to my latter post: Bible record reproduction
// For the completed work of this Holy Bible, go to my latter post: A.J.Holman Holy Bible complete

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holy Bible complete

Here's the finished work of the Bible. I took sightly better pictures of the fore-edge paintings, (book opened in the middle this time) so I added them to this post. The bindery is located in the lower level of the building, (... A.K.A. basement!! duh!) so we thoroughly rely on the yellow incandescent lights. Thus, the lighting for taking photos isn't so ideal. Anyway, I uploaded pictures of the broken endsheet's hinge and the top part of the spine last time, so I uploaded the after pictures of them here. When you need to preserve the original endpaper which hinge is broken, you "connect" it with either cloth, leather, or paper. Sometimes, you don't want the restoration to show, but don't worry about showing it off.  Make it as a part of the design. In fact, as you probably know, some styles of bindings intentionally have hinges with a different material as a part of the design (and for integrity). I personally love the look of it. It gives a tasteful definition. And by making it look as if it is a part of the design will avoid the restoration to be looking "patched" and "visibly fixed", or I'd call it a "Frankenstein" restoration?! (uahh, don't do that if you wanna fix a book, yeah?) The client of this Bible wanted to preserve everything, so I needed to do the internal re-hinging to preserve the original endpaper. I used a black leather which I treated to match the texture of the original leather. At the end, I dyed and treated worn surfaces, ironed the original ribbon, and opened a beer. Cheers!     //    For before pictures of this bible, go to my former post: Holy Bible w/ Fore-edge painting