Saturday, August 18, 2012

33rd Degree Freemason Metal Plate for Sale

First of all, I do not belong to the order, so please don't contact me regarding the organization, nor ask me about it. (I don't want conspiracy theorists asking me when the Novus Ordo Seclorum is gonna actually happen or else!) We, however have clients from the order, and often they ask for special bindings for some special occasions they have once in a while. We made this metal plate of the 33rd degree symbol for a such occasion years ago. Now, my master is thinking of selling this particular one as it hasn't been used for a long time. Let me know if any of you is interested in purchasing it. It's a 33rd Degree, a relatively large plate - W3.75" x H3.5" x D0.8125". (W9.4cm x H9.0cm x D2.0cm) It's used only once and is in mint condition. Well, this is a rather rare metal plate that you won't see very often, so if you are a part of the sovereign, and thinking of making bindings or whatever that requires this symbol to be stamped, you might want to talk to your colleagues about this, and contact me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Self-Interpreting Family Bible by James Sample Publisher

We get restoration orders from all over the country, and occasionally from neighboring countries as well. Several months ago, a client flew in from Canada to deliver us his Family Bible in person, probably fearing that the priceless family heritage might get damaged further if he shipped it in a box. It's such an honor to be chosen as his bookbinder when he could have chosen someone else who is closer to his home town. The Bible needed to be re-set on the spine and re-hinged, and cosmetic repairs and some paper mending were required. Like half the Family Bible clients we have, he asked for a digital copy of the family records. A client like him normally also asks for a digitally cleaned and "eased" copies of the family record inserted into the Bible after the already filled original, so that the future generation of the family can keep up the tradition of recording their genealogy. (See the picture on the right.) But he asked us to bind several separate "Family Record books" for each family member, containing the scanned original record and cleaned blank ones. This part of his order has been postponed at this moment, but it's such a marvelous idea, isn't it? Anyway, this is The Self-Interpreting Family Bible by Rev. John Brown, published by James Sample in Glasgow. There's no publishing date noted, but based on the family record, it's as old as 1854. I decided to post this Bible here because I briefly mentioned about "metal edging" on my previous post's comment replay to Dimitri. I thought some people might have wondered what it was like. As you see, this Bible has a beautiful brass edging, which was missing half of its rivets that I had to re-create. In order to re-hinge a book with a metal edging, we have to take it off from the cover. As a bookbinder, it's always somewhat thrilling to remove things like metal edging because I become the first and only person to touch the original "work" of the initial bookbinder underneath the protective material. Nobody else has touched it since the Bible was bound, and nobody else will for another couple of hundreds of years. I took a picture of a part that was covered by the metal for you to see it. You see the pristine leather with nicely folded corners perfectly intact. (The bottom right picture.)When I was putting the edging back to the cover, I thought about the next bookbinder, removing the brass and thinking about the bookbinder who restored the Bible centuries before him. (<---- me~!)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ancora de Salvacion, 1865

This is Ancora de Salvacion o Devocionario by Jose Mack, (Barcelona, 1865) It has a set of beautiful clasps that I wanted to share with you. I've seen tons of book clasps in my career, and I especially love those tiny clasps that come with small antique photo albums or miniature Bibles like this one. I wish there are more craftsmen and women who specialize in REAL book clasps in the world, but I know they are hard to find now days. (Please contact me if you are such a craftsman/woman!) As you know, there are all sorts of "crafts" of old days that involve in the trade of bookbinding, i.e. letterpress printing, calligraphy, carpentry, painting, paper making, marbling, leather crafting and metal crafting. So, as a bookbinder, it's always good to have the knowledge and actual skills of all of those trades that contribute to binding books. But  unfortunately, it's such a luxury to be trained in every trade, let alone to excel at them all. One thing that you might be surprised to know is that having some skills in working with metal is very useful when it comes to bookbinding and restoration. You might think metal craft would be the last thing you should know in bookbinding, but it's not so. You should know how to work with metals if you are a conservation bookbinder anyway, and it will vastly expand your visions if you're an artist. I was tutored by an experienced jewellery maker years ago and got all the basic metal crafting skills from her, and have no regret spending time (and money!) on the education. Well, by the way, just so you know that you can make your own book clasps easily by having only a few basic metal craft tools. (No molding, soldering or engraving involved, Yey!) All you need is a bench pin, a sawing frame with a blade, a flax shaft (for making holes), few grades of sand papers and a sheet of metal. If you wanna make your own rivets, you're gonna need a ball-peen & cross-peen hammers and a metal rod. These tools and materials aren't expensive at all. Shown on the picture (right) is an unfinished clasp that I started making several years ago. (became too busy and forgot about it..haha.. ) As you see on the picture, they are put together by only rivets. (See my design lay-out sketches. The visible one's are dome rivets, the invisible ones are flush rivets. This process that doesn't require any "heat" as to soldering & molding, is called "cold connections".) Obviously, it's missing the key and needs to be polished/executed better, but you get my point. You can make your own clasps in a few hours with only the basic metal crafting skills! But first, you should get an instructional book on metal crafting to know how to use those tools, etc.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Custom Portfolio Folder

I had been away from bindery for about a week due to family business, and just came back last week. Before I left, I laid out exactly what needed to be done in order to get to work as soon as I got back. But you see, that sort of seemingly practical planning doesn't normally work if you are away from work for a while. We often get clients who need their work done in a hurry, and sure enough, we had one client patiently waiting for us. He, Mr. Jeff James asked for a custom leather folder for his art portfolio which he needed within a matter of days. Generally, as you can imagine, rush orders make me really nervous because there's no time for any errors. This particular order made me really antsy because we happened to have only one large enough hide in stock that could be mottled the way he wanted, and, also, it involved a custom metal plate of his logo that had to be ordered from a third party, (which arrived yesterday afternoon, the day before the due date!!! Ouch!!) As usual for a job that strictly requires no mistakes, I had performed a mental exercise of mottling the hide for about an hour, created portions of special dye mixtures (some call me an alchemist! haha), and tested and re-tested the effects of the dye on scrap leather. The result turned out to be very beautiful which looked as if it were a Brother Grimms folklore story book, yet was a tad darker and "dramatic" than what Mr. James asked for... Boy, how nervous I was!, thinking that he might not accept it.. Well, he picked up my work earlier today, and I'm so relieved that he was pleased with the finished product, and more importantly I made the deadline! Whew! Have a great time at SCBWI Summer Conference, Mr. James!