Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

This is a two-volume set of The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, translated from the Greek by William Smith, printed by William Nicholson. (1805) The original case was a half binding with both the spine and the boards covered with paper, and they were in horrible conditions as you see from the pictures below. The client wanted brand new leather spines with false raised cords and title embossed, keeping the original boards. It seemed to be a straightforward job. HOWEVER, the original boards were constructed with series of laminated paper and boards, each layer had bubbles and somehow, there were "cuts" and "incisions" underneath those layers in different places. ( I mean, REAL cuts that were put together like a jigsaw puzzle.) I've seen quite a few peculiarly bound books over the years, but this one made one of my eyebrows raise... Anyway, I could restore these original boards, but it turned out to be more costly. My master contacted the client about this "price change" along with the alternative solution: create a brand new case. He chose the latter. He wanted a half binding with leather spine and blue cloth boards, false raised cords and a dark blue skiver on the spine. I dyed the leather to make it look aged. (the close-up picture is the one on the top right.) Well, I finished these volumes last week, and they have been picked up by the client already, but since I took some pictures of before and after for these books, I thought I should post them on my blog. I won't be able to post anything for a while as I'll be working on a job that occupies me full time for a few weeks. I'll write about it when I get to a point when I can take a breath. Till then ~~

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bookbinding 101 Sewing Headbands Session 2

This is another tutorial demonstration on sewn headbands, which is "Two cores with beads in three colors". Some call double core headbands the "French Double". There are different methods and styles of double core headbands, and this is one of them. As I recorded this video at home, the lighting wasn't ideal, resulting the footage to be too dark occasionally, and my hands created shadows.... I apologize for that. Anyway, enjoy designing your own headbands! It's really tricky to film headbanding, so I don't know if I wanna do another one, really... But, I think I should do a quick demo on the simplest sewn headband, which is often used for medieval bindings & how to MAKE headbands in case people don't have time to sew headbands. Well, time will tell whether I'll do it or not.. I'll be pretty preoccupied with this particular work I'll be working on within a week, (I'm just waiting for the material to arrive.) so I won't have time to make another video for a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conduct of Life by Otto Schulze & Co.

 This is Ralph Waldo Emerson's Conduct of Life, published by Otto Schulze & Co. (This is a volume in The Lighthouse Library of Great Thinkers) It doesn't say what year it was published, but looks like exactly the same book, bound by a different bookbinder (Root & Son) was published in 1904. (See this bookseller's site.)  This edition was bound by the Bayntun Bindery in Bath, England. Both Root & Son and Bayntun editions have the same marble paper, and although the kinds of leather and the style of bindings are different, they are in red leather. So, I think both were published in a couple of years apart max, if not the same year. Anyway, the restoration of this book was to re-hinge externally as well as internally. The book was bound so well that it took longer to lift up the original leather for re-hinging. The restoration is done, and the "before pictures" is the one on the bottom right.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Books from Chet Ross Rare Books, complete

Just got the time to post the pictures of the finished work of Mr. Ross' books. He came in to pick up his books yesterday, and my master told me that he was happy. I'm glad. Master gave me a couple of additional books of Mr. Ross' to fix after these three were completed. I didn't take pictures of them, but one of them was a mess.. I mean, it wasn't a mess in terms of the condition of the book, but what I was asked to do WAS a nightmare! Someone had smeared a vanish or a lacquer sort of thing (?) on the cloth cover, and obviously he didn't do a good job. It was applied inconsistently and the brush strokes (?) were too visible with a bunch of missing spots. Mr. Ross wanted to make it look consistent and fill-in those spots.. Ahhh.. At first, I thought of taking the vanish off the surface instead of filling-in the missing spots or making the "brush strokes" disappear. But, whatever the substance was, it didn't come off at all. So, I had no choice but to do what I was asked to do originally. Anyway, I needn't to go into details about how I did it, but I managed to soften the brush strokes and filled-in the spots. After finishing it, the only issue I had was that I couldn't completely get rid of the odor of the chemical I had to use. Mr. Ross, if you are reading this, please make sure to keep the book away from other books, and keep it in a place which has a steady air flow, until the smell evaporates.
// For before pictures of these books, go to my former post: Books from Chet Ross Rare Books

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Books from Chet Ross Rare Books

Since the new year began, I've been feeling like a hibernating squirrel, and have been taking things real easy. As you might have noticed, I haven't doing much of labor intensive works, but something came up yesterday out of blue, and things will get little more intense soon despite my laziness! I'll talk about it later. Anyway, for last few days, I've been working on minor repair works that my master asked (begged!!) me to do. They are all from Chet Ross Rare Books in Seattle. Although I've never met Mr. Ross in person, (he usually shows up in the morning and I don't get to work till mid-afternoon.) he's a regular client and normally brings in books on polar expeditions, and many of them are books in Japanese. This time, though, the books I'm repairing are a tiny illustrated prayer book, Preghere Miniture di Vittorio Vulten, lithographs by G. Franschini & C. Milano, Olney Hyms published by Thomas Tegg, and a set of books about the Ainu tribe of the northern island of Japan, Ainu Story,1913 &1914 (あいぬ物語, 博文館出版、大正二、三年). He wants the tiny tear on the front hinge mended for the prayer book, re-gluing of the endsheets for the hymnal, and invisible repairs on the spine for the Ainu books. It might seem easy to repair the Ainu books, but it's really tedious! Matching the color and texture of the old paper is tricky. Anyway, I finished them yesterday, (I'll post the pictures of completed works later.) but my master told me last night that there were a couple of more Chet's books he wanted me to work on (You What!?), so I'll take a look at them once I get to the bindery later. It's started snowing again this morning. It's very strange to me that everything shuts down when it snows here. From schools to public offices to metro bus systems to retail shops. Right now, it's only a few inches (max.) and everyone's freaked out. Well, I guess people here aren't so used to snow which might be the reason.. but in my country, unless there's a couple of meters of snow accumulated or something, people get to work and school no matter how hard it is to get there.. (A matter of duty, I guess?)
// For the pictures of completed works of these books, go to my latter post: Books from Chet Ross Rare Books, complete

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three children's books, complete

I've forgotten to post the completed works of these three books here. Like I said, they were simple new case jobs. I've included a picture of Five Little Peppers with the repaired rat damage section above. It really was kinda nasty though it doesn't look nasty now! According to the order instruction, I didn't need to inlay the original graphic of Honk-A-Tonk Takes a Trip on the front cover, but I did it anyway. (No extra charge, of course.) It just takes half an hour to do it, and I wanted it to look just like the original. Anyhow, we finally got snow here by the way, and it's freaking cold!! We don't get much snow here, so when it snows, people get really excited and start playing on the street and all. I don't get it. I mean, I'm from a country where it snows often. And if you really wanna know how I feel about snow, "Only kids and dogs dig it." is it... You see, when it snows heavily, traffic gets jammed, accidents happen, public transportation stops, and my butt gets frozen! What's so fun about that!?
// For before pictures of these books, go to my former post: Three Children's Books

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bookbinding 101 Sewing Headbands Session 1

This is a demonstration of sewn headbands which features "one core with beads in two colors". It's one of the most basic & the easiest, yet pretty style of headbanding. As I had to work very slowly and tried not to cover the work with my hands or fingers for the camera, shooting this video was a bit more tedious than I thought it would be. No wonder there aren't many tutorial videos on sewing headbands on YouTube. Anyway, the speed can be a crucial aspect of how well the end product turns out (consistent speedy motions are important). The core can be unstable especially at the beginning, so don't get frustrated if you don't get a satisfying result the first time. Once you get to the first tagging, you don't even have to hold the core with your hands. In case I get inclined to do more tutorial videos of headbanding, I put the phrase "Session 1" on the video. If I were to do a next one, it'd be French double headband, but I won't promise you anything, Ms. A!
P.S. ...Damn it! I did it again.. I misspelled "stabilize" on this video, didn't I !?! I'll make sure to check my English more carefully in the future.. (English is my second language.. in case you didn't know...) Sorry!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Three children's books

I've been working on three children's books since Saturday. They're all for a same client. They are Five Little Peppers published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co. (1909), Honk A Tonk Takes A Trip published by McLoughlin Brothers Inc. (1937) and The Little Colonel Stories published by L.C. Page & Co. (1913). I think I mentioned about the "my dog ate my book !!" sorta thing before, but this time, one of these book was eaten by a rat! It's Five Little Peppers. I didn't take pictures of the rat damage, but the board and the back of the spine has been horribly chewed up, so I had to tissue mend papers. But, why the heck do rats eat books!? I mean, paper doesn't sound so nutritious to me! But I guess it was the animal glue on the spine that was irresistible! Anyway, the client wants new cases for these books with the original front cover graphic inlaid only for The Little Colonel Stories. Insignias must be preserved as well. They are simple jobs and I'll probably finish them in a day or two. Will update.
 // For the completed work of these books, go to my latter post: Three children's books, complete

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bookbinding 101 - Rounding & Backing

After making a couple of instructive videos on sewing books, I was going to make a tutorial video of sewing headbands, but I realized that I could make a tutorial of rounding and backing as I had to do it, before the headbanding anyhow. So, here it is. I hope this video is useful for beginners in bookbinding. Rounding and backing are sort of "minor" tasks in bookbinding that beginners might omit. However, they are very important. For those of you who want to create a real book,  round your book, eh? All you need is a freaking hammer and a minute of your time! Oh, yeah, by the way...... I misspelled "endsheet" once on the video... I CAN correct it and re-upload the video, but, nah, I ain't gonna do it... my internet connection isn't as "super fast" as  most people's, so for this 10 minute video, it took about 50 min. to upload! Duh! So, let's call the misspelling a charm** :-)

NOTE: The hammer used on this video is not a backing hammer, which indeed is THE tool to back and round books. But as my purpose of creating these tutorial videos is to encourage general population to start getting involved in the bookbinding trade, I always try to demonstrate things with ordinary items as much as possible, so that it doesn't discourage viewers from trying it just because they don't have the particular equipment to do the job. The methods featured on my tutorial videos are very basic and often I have to change a little in order to make it more feasible to the beginners. So it should not reflect the real trade of bookbinding. Yet my instructions are thought through so that the end result will be perfectly decent if you follow them. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Alice's adventures in Wonderland, complete

Here are the pictures of the finished work of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Everything's been put back together nicely, unlike Humpty Dumpty!? (yeah, you know, I'm talking about that freaking "egg looking creature"  wearing a tux and tie.) You see, all the bubbles are gone except for a couple of tiny ones (if you can see them on the picture. They are super tiny.) - I decided to leave them alone cuz fixing bubbles is very risky and taking the risks for the tiny ones wouldn't be worth it, really. I didn't revive the color on the cover because a book like this must be kept as close to the original state as possible. The last picture is a close up of the re-hinge with a new material that I meticulously (ah,, sigh..) matched to the original texture and color co-ordination. Anyway, I hope the client is gonna be happy. (after waiting for 3 months!? Damn! Sorry, but we can't rush things here!)
// For before pictures of this book, go to my former post: Alice's adventures in Wonderland by Macmillan & Co

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Alice's adventures in Wonderland by Macmillan & Co.

I've been working on the 1871 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published by Macmillan & Co. The client wants to preserve everything, (well, this isn't a cheap book..) so I thought it would be a good cloth book to feature here on my blog. As you see on the picture, the cloth cover has a serious "bubble" problem that needs to be fixed. We've had Alice several times before - both cloth and leather editions, and somehow, the cloth copies often have this bubble issue. **sigh**.. Working with old cloth can be tedious as it's very sensitive to the moisture of the glue. Re-gluing those bubbled sections without damaging the surface was a bit nerve racking. This book needed to be externally and internally re-hinged, spine reconstructed and partially re-sewn. One thing about restoring cloth books that's more tedious than leather books is matching the color of the new material. It's often more difficult to make the repair invisibe when it comes to cloth. This particular book was hell. If it was a solid color without any fades, I could have started drinking beer an hour earlier. (haha..) You see, it took a bit of a brain power and focus to create the exact texture, color and gradation of the original with brand new material. Another thing about this restoration is the sewing. As you see on the picture, the first half of the sewing was broken, yet the other half was intact. I could have completely re-sewn this, but there's always a chance for the thickness of the book to be swollen as the thickness of the thread is always slightly different from the original thread. For this book, it had to be exactly the same thickness or the original spine would be too narrow to cover the new, re-hinged spine. So, only the broken half was re-sewn.  I just finished this book, and it's in the press to rest overnight. I'll post the completed work tomorrow.
// For the completed work of this book, go to my latter post: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, complete 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ching Li and the Dragons, complete

I actually cased-in this book (basically finished) on the 30th, but I took a couple of days off after that, so I didn't see it till today. Well, it came out alright. As you see on the pictures, I inlaid the original graphic on the new front cover on the exactly the same position as original, repaired paper and put the insignia back onto the endpaper. For your information regarding the "inlay", I create an indented "window" on the board for the graphic to rest flat or slightly lower on the surface, so that the fingers won't touch and peel the edges off when being handled - we don't just stick it on the surface. We use the same approach on the spine inlay, as well. Anyway, I hope the client's gonna be happy when she sees it. Oh, yeah, a day (or two? depends on where YOU live) late, but,,, A happy new year to you all!! (あけましておめでとう!! Bonne Année! Buon anno! Feliz Año Nuevo! Καλή χρονιά! Gutes Neues Jahr! С Новым Годом ! สวัสดีปีใหม่! ) It's been only about a month since I started this blog, but it seems that there are people ( you, maybe!?) who come here regularly. (though I don't advertise it much.. How did you find my blog?) I'm basically just writing about books which I restore, so I really didn't think anyone would be interested in reading such a boring stuff. But, I guess I was wrong. Thanks for your interest. Bookbinding is considered a dead art. It has been getting very popular amongst hobbyists and book-artists in recent years, but still, sadly, the real bookbinding trade seems to be an obscure craft. Since I've figured there are people who are truly interested in this "dead art", I think I'll try to write more tips and techniques of bookbinding, and create tutorial videos more often. I have no way of knowing who visits my blog except for the two "followers", (it's nice to know, for real, someone's reading my blog..) so I really don't know what I write has any benefit to anyone. It feels like dealing with ghosts, really. But I just gonna keep hoping this blog will help keeping my traditional profession alive for the future. Whoever comes here and has questions regarding bookbinding, (however basic or deep it is) let me know via comment or if you don't wanna be in the "public eye", e-mail - bookbinderschronicle@gmail.com. I'd be happy to answer (anonymously).  The thing is, I don't know what people wanna know about bookbinding.. You gotta have to tell me what.. seriously...
// For before pictures of this book, go to my former post: Ching Li and the Dragons by Alice Woodbury Howard