Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Holy Bible by Montgomety Ward & Co., 1903

You might've wondered how the distinguishably deep, beveled covers of large antique Family Bibles were made. They aren't curved or chiseled, nor sculpted, but are actually molded. Typically, the boards are constructed in two laminated parts; the flat base board and the molded top layer board. So, if someone asks me to make a cover like one of those antique Family Bibles, it's a bit of a trouble because I don't have a mold or an appropriate machine. As you can imagine, it's a time consuming work to create such deep ornate bevels, manually.

I was digging through the backlog shelves last week, and found this Bible, which came in at the end of last November. Horrifying! How in the world was this Bible left untouched for this long!? It appeared to be a straightforward restoration work, but as I examined the order form, I found out why no one wanted to touch it. The client asked for a brand new full leather binding with a similar design on the cover. He wanted ornate bevels... The original binding was bound in bookcloth, so the degree of the beveled lines weren't as deep as that of typical leather bound Bible's. But, the new binding was to be in leather, so the bevel would have to be deep or it wouldn't look good. Sigh.. I had to cut out 4 sheets of rather thick davy boards precisely in shape and sculpt the bevels and define the lines with finishing tools. My hand still aches from this work... Ah, a future of arthritis awaits..

I created a crisscross texture on the surface and antiqued the leather in order to make the bevels and blind tooling to look more defined. I hope the client forgives us for taking so long to complete his Bible.. Pray for me..

Oh, by the way, I'm planning to go to Vancouver Island (Canada) next week. Probably, I will be leaving on Friday, the 21st. We'll be in Victoria for a couple of days, then leave for Port Hardy. Our current intern, Mr. B, is going to visit his family there, and he generously allowed my master (One of those Bigfoot enthusiasts... sigh..) and I to go along with him. It'll be beautiful there at this time of the year in the NW, and will be a nice break from work for me.


  1. You cut out 4 sheets of rather thick boards precisely in shape by hand?
    Wow,I understand why your hand will ache:)

    BTW,happy holidays!


    1. ahh.. It was painful, but what had to be done had to be done. Troubling jobs always seem to end up on my work bench! In fact, my master "entrusted" another troubling job to me yesterday that has been giving me a headache. He's such an ass!

  2. Absolutely beautiful! A work of careful and considerate love. A motherly love for her children as I see it.
    I confess I have been working with leather, tooling and creating leather products for everyday use. Never did I consider bookmaking until suggested by a Christian brother of mine. After researching I have found your youtube videos and was captured by your work. You have inspired me by you loving work. Thank you so much! And what an honor to revitalize God's word to last for hundreds more years. Awesome to think your work will become a traveler through time.

    1. Michael C, thank you very much for such kind and thoughtful words. This is the best message anyone has ever given me about my work. Thank you. When I read our comment, it surprised me very much; for, as if you could read my mind, what you said at the end is the very reason why I love what I do, and have a great deal of respect for this trade. Although I can't say I'm a good, woman of God by the standards, it is the reason why I love restoring Bibles for people.

      Thank you again for leaving a comment on my blog.

  3. Very true, that the original bindings of many "Family Bibles" can not be saved. What you performed here is a standard of quality and beauty that should have already been the norm in this country for decades, or longer. Great job!