Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Record Gallery !

I've started working on a couple of large Family Bibles, and as usual, the clients asked for new family record pages added after the originals which have been filled by their ancestors. I scan the records and clear any written names and dates, clean up the dirty surfaces, print them out and put them in the Bible. I often say this on my blog, but I strongly recommend people who are fortunate enough to have their Family Bible to do this: Keep the tradition alive for your future generations. I thought I should show you some of the beautiful Family Record designs I've collected over the years, hoping that it might encourage people to consider preserving their family heritage for years to come. This will be my last post for the year 2012, and I wish you all a Happy New Year! P.S. I had to make these pictures really small to post on my blog, so they aren't crystal clear. I apologize for that..

Friday, December 28, 2012

Report on The Art of War in Europe

I don't seem to post my works on cloth binding restorations here as much as leather bindings, so I decided to put this up. It's Report on The Art of War in Europe in 1854, 1855, and 1856 by Colonel Richard Delafield, under the order of Jefferson Davis, printed by George W. Bowman. (1861, Washington D.C) The client asked to preserve everything, including the written names of Jefferson Davis and George B McClellan, along with a bookplate depicting firearms on the front endpaper. (The picture on the right. I wonder if it was one of those official Army's book plates in the Civil War era.. I have to ask Mr. Jaffe about it.) Restoring cloth bindings is way trickier than that of leather bindings' because aged cloth is extremely fragile to work with and matching the color and texture of new material to the original cloth perfectly is time-consuming and difficult. Well, troublesome jobs always end up being on my table, so no surprise there. - (Master would say things like "Oh, your tiny fingers are perfect for an intricate job like this. *grin*"...) Anyway, as I examined the original case, the entire edges were worn out horribly in a way that convinced me that the book needed a brand new case. (Pictures on the left.) I could patch them up and rehinge it, but for this book, I knew that the extremely fragile cloth material wouldn't react well with rather intense restoration process, resulting the end product to look terrible, let alone the fact it wouldn't have enough integrity to last long. By creating a new case, I needed to peel off the entire front endpaper with the written names and a bookplate, so that I could put it back onto the new endpaper. I antiqued the new endpapers as well, so that they match the original endpaper and don't shout out "NEW!". (The picture in the middle.) The original spine, the front and back covers were inlaid back onto the new case. Well, everything turned out as I expected it to be, and I thought I was done there... then, I remembered there were dozens of folded maps in the book....You see, normally, folded maps and graphics are crumbled and torn and need repairing. In this case, there were DOZENS! Well, I just finished mending them at last, and the book will be on the way to the East Coast soon.
--------About the Bookplate---------
Mr. Jaffe said: "The item in question is a universal bookplate. They are made so the owner can write his or her name in the blank space.Unfortunately it has very little value."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lemprière's Classical Dictionary, 1804

I haven't posted any of my works over a month on my blog, so maybe, you thought that the winter finally got me and I suddenly took off to the Caribbean, and was chillaxing on the white sand in a bikini, sipping a coconut shell filled with mojito on hand. Noooo. I'm still stuck here! I just always forgot to take pictures of my works, "before" or "after", so I couldn't post anything on my blog. Well anyway, here's the update:: Probably because I didn't put out annual Christmas flyers extensively this year, (I got lazy..) things have turned out to be much calmer than I thought it would be, thus Christmas orders are basically all finished. So I've started digging out the oldest orders from the shelves and started working on them. My task now is to finish everything that's came in before September by the end of this year. The oldest one I saw was from April. (!!?!WTF!!) This one, shown on this post, came in in July.... (Ouch!) It's A Classical Dictionary : containing a copious account of all the proper names mentioned in ancient authors : with the value of coins, weights, and measures used among the Greeks and Romans, by John Lemprière, D.D, printed for  T. Cadell & W. Davies. (1804 Edition) I find Greek / Roman mythology fascinating, so this seems to be a great dictionary to read or flip through in my spare time and is something I'd like to add to my library. No, I won't run away with my client's property, so don't call the police! haha. Anyway, the client asked for a new leather spine re-hinged with a facsimile gold tooling, and edges and corners touched-up. The leather's dyed to match the original. The bottom headband was missing, so I've sewn it with a thread that I dyed to be close to the remaining top headband's.

On the side note, I see this publisher's name T. Cadell every so often, so I googled him out. It turned out that his shop was located right next to John Chapman's, who was a physician and a renown publisher who had relationships with George Elliot and other avant-garde writers on the Strand, London. Also, sounds like Chapman was the "homeopathic doctor" of Charles Darwin? hummm Homeopathy.... I remember a good documentary on Homeopathy by BBC Horizon.. (My favorite TV program!) Before you spend $ on this so called "pseudoscience", you might want to check this out.   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

To be or not to be...

I recently received an e-mail from a person, who's thinking about leaving her professional career and starting a business based on a craft that she's been doing as a hobby and that she truly loves. She asked me for some advice. Well, I'm certainly not the best person to give advice to anyone about such an important matter, but since she wasn't the only person who has asked me similar questions this year somehow, I thought I should copy-paste what I wrote to her here on my blog, in case there are others who are trying to make a similar transition in their lives, and want to ask me (!!) my take on the matter. Anyway, it's long, so you needn't to read it if the subject doesn't apply to you.
I truly apologize for getting back to you so slow, - I've gotten quite a number of e-mails from Youtube / blogger folks lately, and have become inundated with replying to them. 

So, how I got into this profession? Humm, to make a long story short, I happened to stumble upon this craft when I was a freshman at a college, and started my apprenticeship at the bindery I now work for. No, I didn't go to "bookbinding school" nor do I own a degree in conservation. My knowledge and skills are obtained by the good ole' traditional way of this trade, - apprenticeship. I'm from a stereotypical rigid Japanese family of bureaucrats which believes "arts are for dreamers and losers", so in my circumstance, there was absolutely no way for me to pursue an actual academical education relating to bookbinding &/or conservation. As I had no intention of becoming a lawyer or doctor or anything that my family wanted me to be, and I refused to be controlled for the sake of their face value any longer, I went hundred percent independent from my family and I took a longer and harder road to get where I am. By doing this, I chose my emotional happiness over materialistic satisfaction that we tend to think of as the essential factor of happiness. This means, I knew that I wouldn't be able to live in a million dollar house and cruise in my own yacht in the future. In exchange, I've gotten a life full of "tangible happiness" in a true sense. I have a roof over my head, and a job I love & respect. What more do I need?

Over the years, I've seen dozens of "want to be a bookbinder" come and go from this bindery. They never made it in a professional field, except for one who's now moved to California, continuing her education as a conservator. Most of those were young, in their early~mid 20's who were in search of a direction of their lives. Or, in the 40's~50's who started to reexamine the true meaning of happiness and began to reflect the lives of their past and dreaded the inevitable future of the mundane. I believe that those who had professional careers for a long time, like yourself, could afford the time/ resouces to establish their new "business of their passion". I think you can live off being a craftswoman if you commit to it 150%, (I've been doing it for the past 16 years without any financial issues.) but I cannot say it will give you as much salary as you've been earning from your current job. The reward, however, is that it will give you an excitement and meaning in your life. It's your choice.

That being said, if you decide to alter your life's path, you certainly have to be more than "excellent" at what you do in order to live comfortably. I'm very sure you are excellent at what you do, but when you start charging for your products, you have to be better than excellent. I just mentioned that most apprentices never made it to live as a professional bookbinder. That's mainly because they all tend to overestimate their abilities so that they became too comfortable with their own mediocrity which they misunderstand as "good enough". They all lack of patience and diligence. As an extreme instance, I remember one of them, who used to be an executive of a company somewhere, decided to leave the high-life and to learn the trade of bookbinding. After just a few months of staying at the bindery, she somehow decided that she was so good at bookbinding (which was far from good in truth... sigh... delusional was what she was..), and because she knew how to run a company, she purchased all those expensive bookbinding equipments that she barely knew how to handle, and started her own bookbindery from her spare garage. Well, needless to say, the "business" failed.

The mentality required in any arts and crafts, in my opinion, is to keep seeking for the perfection, thus to never get satisfied with your work. And if your priority becomes to be money making over your excellence in your trade, you will eventually fail. Please keep this in mind.

Those I know who are in an art/craft related business/profession normally function fine if they are married. When their business is slow, there's always someone who's keeping them afloat financially or emotionally. If you are single, I think you have to work twice much harder to sustain a kind of life you seek.

Well, because I don't own this bindery, I don't need to worry about actually running the business. All I have to do, basically is to bind the darn books! No paper work, no restocking supplies, no dealing with grumpy clients!! So, the situation is a bit different from yours. But looking at what my master has accomplished, you can do it, too!