Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lt. Danenhower's Narrative of the Jeannette, 1882

Another book from Chet Ross Rare Books here is Lieutenant Danenhower's Narrative of the Jeannette, published by J. R. Osgood & Co. in 1882. (First Edition) It was a half binding with black leather spine and marble paper boards, and it basically just needed rehinging. But, Mr. Ross wanted corners added and the leather to be brown instead of the black as the original. I think brown was a good choice for this book. It feels more "just right" with brown, of which color also enabled me to antique it slightly on the surface. (If it were black, I wouldn't have been able to do so, and the leather would have appeared too new, compared to the beautifully aged marble paper.) This is a thin book, so stamping the title was tricky - I'm glad that our smallest micro type fitted on the narrow spine!! OR I'd have to stamp it vertically, which would be less attractive, to say the least. Anyway, I thought somehow, Lt. Danenhower's goggles are strangely modern looking and are cool to me. So, I took a picture of his frontispiece portrait. (He had an inflammation issue with one eye, so one of the goggle glasses is stained?) Oh, by the way, based on the library label, this particular book was one of the very first books to be collected by The Ames Free Library in Massachusetts, considering the library was officially opened in 1883. (This book was acquired on October 11th, 1882. Shelf No. 326,14. Accession No. 6875.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Dutch Arctic Expedition and Route, 1877


Whenever I finish a job, I always ask my master if there are any rush jobs that need to be done immediately. Master's mind is normally too preoccupied with what's in front of him so that he forgets things occasionally. After I completed Mr. K's books, I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to work on, as a habit, not really expecting he had anything. Boy, how wrong I was. He gave me 14 books from Chet Ross Rare Books to work on. 14 books, yo! and I have a week or so to complete most of them. Thanks A LOT!!! Fortunately, Mr. Ross's inquiries are usually for minor restoration/repairs, so I've finished four of them already. Since the books I've so far finished involved minor repairs like mending the internal hinge, paper repair and fixing bubbles on the boards, I didn't record them for my blog. But I thought this one I just finished might be an interest to some people (after mentioning "reconstruction" previously), so I took some pictures of the process briefly. This is A Dutch Arctic Expedition and Route by Samuel Richard Van Campen, published by Trubner & Co in 1877. Mr. Ross wanted the strange black residue (?) filled in the hole of the spine removed and wanted us to "patch" it up. First of all, I'm always astonished about how "creative" people can be when it comes to "restoration of books". (haha...) You see, it seems that there was a library sticker or something on where this hole is, and somehow, someone cut it out from the spine instead of just removing it. And in order to hide the hole he/she created, this person filled it with this black (scary looking!) thing which I have no idea what is. It's not a wax nor tar or lacquer. It's like some sort of a plastic? Whatever it is, it sure reminds me of my grandma's famous gigantic mole on her back. (and she was proud of it, for some peculiar reasons..) Anyway, I took it off, and reconstructed the missing part. I could have just patched it with cloth that I custom colored to match the surrounding area, and call it good. But I wanted the missing piece and the original spine to look like one again. So, I drew the graphic on it. It's not perfect as drawing things on the book cloth is difficult, but at least it won't shout "Patched Hole Here!" at you, and I think it came out alright. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

M'Mahon's Gardening, 1806





So, this is it. The last book for Mr. K. It's The American Gardener's Calendar by Bernard M'Mahon ( First edition, 1806). The order instruction only said, "facsimile" without any specific notes, so, that got me thinking. Does it mean a full facsimile binding, or facsimile spine rehinging. Well, I chose the latter as it's the first edition, and the original boards are very beautiful. Thus, they must be preserved.  - just needed corners and edges restored. A couple of corners needed to be reconstructed though. In case people are wondering how bookbinders "reconstruct" missing pieces of boards, I took some pictures of that. This was relatively a minor reconstruction, but the process is basically the same whether your dog ate a big chunk of the board or it just got worn out over the years like this one. Leather dying was a bit tricky for this particular book. Somehow, I found it unusually difficult to match the color and texture to the original boards. Well, I guess the leather I was using was one of those that doesn't react precisely to my "command". Anyhow, I think it came out alright, after all. Oh, by the way, I haven't posted any pictures of head caps on this blog before, so I took a picture of that, in case someone's interested.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Family Farm & Gardens & the Domestic Animals, 1859



Another of Mr. K's books here is The Family Farm & Gardens & the Domestic Animals by E.G. Storke, 1859. It was a simple external and internal rehinge job that didn't give me any problems. So, I restored it blind folded.                   just kidding, yo... I won't be able to make the repair invisible with eyes closed anyway! (In case you wonder about the invisibility, I took a picture of a close-up of a rehinge section.) Well, Mr. K's last book is gonna be done tonight, so I'll be posting it here soon.

Wood's Complete Natural History, 1898


Here's another book of Mr. K. This is Wood's Complete Natural History by Rev. J. G. Wood, published by Orange Judd Company in 1898. You'd think that this book just needed a new cover made, but actually, I had to completely re-sew this one because it was stapled. I've seen quite a few books that are put together by staples, and many of those have contents compiled in gathered signatures instead of loose sheets. Yet, somehow, the manufacturer didn't sew them at the end. Hummm, well, they must have saved a quarter of a cent by not sewing it, but why on earth did they spend money to create signatures that they didn't need? Maybe, the book block was a left over from other edition of the same book which was actually sewn? I don't know.... Anyhow, in case some people are curious about how they put the staples on this particular book, I took some pictures of them. You see, those "cheapen it" type people seemed to have pursued the least expensive way to staple such a thick book block. They stapled from the front & back slightly off to each other so that the staples on opposite sides don't meet. Anyway, I took it apart and resewed it. I was just gonna inlay the original cover graphics on the cover, but both front & back the original graphics had different pictures printed on their back sides, so I didn't wanna use them to inlay. - if I did, the graphics on the back will be forever gone. So, I scanned & printed them for the cover inlays, and kept the originals inside the book in clear plastic sheets that are sewn with the book. By doing this, it allows both sides of the graphics to be viewed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Memoir on the Cultivation of the Vine in America, 1828


One of our regular clients, Mr. K dropped off several books about four months ago, and his name, along with a few others, has gone up to the top on our "back-log" list. Looks like my master has finished a couple of his books already, and left others for me to work on. (He's gotten preoccupied with publishing jobs recently.) This is one of them, which is A memoir on the Cultivation of the Vine in America by John Adlum. (Second Edition, 1828) Mr. K collects books on agriculture/gardening related subjects, and he's one of those hand full of rare clients who puts an absolute confidence on us regarding "the fate of his books". He comes in, gives brief information about each book, asks what we would do to them, and leaves. NOW, looking at those books master left for me to work on, I see only "a word" instruction for each book with no pricing, no material choices.. NOTHING! (thanks a lot, master.....) Anyway, as for the restoration of this Adlum book, I preserved the original endsheets with written notes by putting the internal cloth hinges, and since this book needed a new spine, I rehinged it by completely replacing the original paper spine material with a new book cloth, instead of lifting the original paper spine and insert a new material to rehinge. The thing is, Mr. K is one of those people who actually reads books he collects, so his books require integrity. So I decided to do the rehinging the way I did because a paper spine won't last long. I could have stamped a title on the new spine, but I thought it'd look better with a matching label. I custom colored the label paper to match the cover in terms of its hue and texture, and laid out the text with the same circle ornaments. Kinda cute, eh? Anyway, I've finished 4 other books for him already, and there's one more to go! Mr. K is traveling all the time around the world, so in case he's on the other side of the globe again, I'll ask master to tell him about this blog so that he can see his dear books before he's able to pick them up. I'll be taking pictures of his other books later tonight, so you might see a couple of additional posts of Mr. K books soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mottling / Marbling / Dyeing leather


I was custom-dyeing a leather for a job last night, and had dye left over on the table. So, I decided to record the leather dyeing process that I've developed over the years. BUT I failed. The lighting in my bindery is awful for taking photos, and the particular place where I dye leather has the most horrible lighting situation that creates light reflections all over the leather surface on the pictures. Well, I'll have to figure out how to deal with the stupid lights in the future. Though it became obvious that I couldn't record the process, as I didn't wanna waste the dye, I just went ahead and created some mottled leather pieces for future use. Since I usually custom dye leather for specific jobs I work on, I don't really have much liberty to be creative. But because those that I made last night didn't have any "requirements", I just made them as I felt like it. Anyway, it's very hard to explain exactly how I dye leather with words because there's not "1,2,3" instruction to it. All I can say is "Experiment with dye!", and make sure to treat the leather at the end so that the dye doesn't come off. (Rub the surface with a dry rug real well, and take off the excess dye, and after it's done, use a wet rug and rub it. If the dye comes off, it's NOT good. Keep doing the Dyeing/rubbing until the dye stays, then finish it by putting on the leather finish so that it's permanent.) Well, just using the leather dye, you can antique the leather like the ones I've posted on my blog (see the Custom Leather Dyeing on my label), as well as a marbling effect (top middle and two left pictures) or even  Pasta EspaƱola effect easily without using acid. (the top left & right). All dyed leather pieces on this post were created with the tan kidskin. (pictured on the right, second from the top.) Make sure to test the color on the leather before dyeing because the color you see in the dye gets dramatically different when it's applied on the leather. Anyway, have fun creating textures! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Swedish Bible


This is a Bible in Swedish (Bibeln) that I just finished restoring. I BELIEVE it's in Swedish as it looks Nordic and was published in Stockholm. (maybe in Norwegian though..??) There's not a publishing date printed, but based on the owner's hand written notes, it's gotta be older than 1872. This is one of the client's grandmother's Bibles, and he wanted us to preserve everything. - My master told me to make the Bible as close to the condition that the client's grandma had, as possible. So I did. The Bible required a re-hinge inside and out, and corners and spine repaired. Sounds like a relatively straightforward job, yeah? Nay... Repairing the paper was a bit of trouble. The acid contained in the paper made the paper brittle, and his grandma pasted some clippings and notes on the title page that I had to remove without destroying the thin paper. As a bookbinder, I don't mind doing tedious tasks, but this was a rather nerve wracking job. Anyway, they were all released perfectly and the title page is as good as it can be after paper mending. According to the client's instruction, he didn't think those damaged loose pages could be saved including the title page, so he told us to reprint the title page and put the original aside. Of course it's much easier to "discard" the damaged page and reprint it, but I wanted the original preserved, the page the client's grandma actually used. (You see, I'm a sentimentalist.) Anyway, the original spine was in a horrible condition, so it still seems to be a little rough looking, but I did all I can do to make it as good as and repairs as invisible as possible. If I remember correctly, I've worked on a book for him several months ago (another Bible like this, I think). As he's decided to use us again, he must have approved my work then. I hope he is gonna be happy with my work this time again ~~.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bookbinding 101 Making Headbands

Boy... my fingers are so dirty on this video!!! My hands are always "beat-up looking" from work, but this one's particularly horrible, isn't it!?! I think I had one too many beer and forgot to wipe the glue off my hands before filming... I sincerely apologize for that... Anyhow, this is a tutorial on making headbands which I decided to create, in case some people might not want to spend time on sewing headbands, yet don't want to use pre-made commercial headbands. On this video, I included a brief tutorial on another sewing headbands: Conservation style "One core headband". I added this simplest sewn headband demonstration in case some people have trouble with doing other styles. (session 1 & 2 of my sewn headbands videos). As for the leather headband featured on this video, I haven't publicly listed a video demonstration on paring leather on YouTube, so those who haven't had experience of paring leather won't be able to make them. (sorry..)  But, I will revise the paring leather video I've made, and list it publicly in the future. Meanwhile, only those who visit my blog can see it. The thing is, that was the very first video I made, and I think I have to re edit it in order to post it publicly on YouTube. Anyway, before going into a tutorial on case making, I will have to make another video which I will show what's needed to be done prior to making a case.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Enchiridion of Epictetus, 1670

Here's another Greek philosophy book that I've finished. It's Epictetus' Enchiridion, Epicteti Enchiridion Cebetis Thebabi Tabula et Theophrasti Charactepes Ethici, published by Oxford University (Oxonii) in 1670. The book itself was in good shape, thus a perfect candidate for restoration. BUT the client wants a brand new blue leather case for it. He wants a mottled blue leather, so I dyed the leather in a way that resembles "the universe and what could be beneath the human mind".<--me trying to be philosophical et.al. Yeah, go ahead & laugh!  Headbands are leather, & boards are beveled as I thought the book could look like marbled stone because of the texture I created. I hope the client likes it. He wanted to keep the original bookplate, so I removed it. I had a camera within reach, so I made an instruction of removing a bookplate. This is one of the methods. If you happen to collect antique bookplates, you can remove them cleanly by this method.
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I just realized that I've gotten 10 followers for this blog!?! Really!? I started this blog basically just for killing time sake a few months ago, and I usually just put up pictures of some of my recent works and say some boring stuff that doesn't mean much to anyone. So I'm amazed people actually visit my blog regularly!?! I seriously didn't expect anyone checking out my blog except for some clients, who are informed that their books have been featured here. I guess it's mostly because of bookbinding tutorial videos I started creating. Well, whatever the reason you became a regular visitor here, I want to thank you for following my blog. Peace! M.H.R~