Friday, August 23, 2013

The Innocents Abroad, 1869

It's rather embarrassing to say, but I've never read The Innocents Abroad, Twain's most popular work, featuring the narrative of his travels in Europe. I'd certainly enjoy his humorous cynicism and ironical observation of the unjust contradictions that the righteous would proudly justify, and his timeless critique of the all-too-human society. But I haven't read it. I feel like an illiterate fool. If the client of this book was reading this, he'd certainly be disappointed!

And boy, was I disappointed in the previous restorer of this book. I put the pictures up here, so I don't think I need to point out what I don't like about it in detail, but the strange and sloppy patch-up job on all four corners and the hinge with an unmatched material which needlessly got broken prematurely made me let out a big sigh for sure. Depressing as hell. Anyhow, I re-did what was supposed to be done in the first freaking place, but there are always some sort of problems when it comes to fixing someone else's job, that makes my job imperfect, which pisses me off big time. And the crap he/she left underneath had to stay forever. Don't I just loath it.

Anyway, as you can sense from my whiny rant above, I'm not in a cheery mood lately. Sorry about that. It's just that I'm under pressure and stress that I thought I should let it out a bit.. sigh..

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Smollett's Don Quixote, 1755

There's a strange yet rather frequent phenomenon in the bindery that we jokingly call "psychic clients", wherein the client of the book that we are JUST about to work on would call to check the status of his/her book. It's actually scary! It's as if I'm sending some sort of a "telepathic signal" to them unconsciously, or they are sending me one so that I would pick their books to work on. ahhh..

The book featured in this post is one of them. I was digging out orders (books) which were 6, 7 months old, and I picked a couple of them and placed them on my workbench. As I was wondering which one to work on first, the phone rang, and somehow I knew who it was.... AHHHH!!

Anyway, this is a two-volume set of Smollett's Don Quixote. (1755, First Ed. London) It required re-hinging and reconstruction of the top and bottom of the spine, as well as facsimile sewn headbands and repairs of the corners. Also, a part of a skiver label was missing, so I created a patch, on which I re-tooled so that it appears as if there was never a missing piece. It's always difficult (often impossible) to lift the original spine leather without cracking for re-hinging when it's glued to the spine of the book, (called tight-back.) and this wasn't an exception. It was, as always, a nerve racking task. There's a young, preteen boy (I think he's 12.) who visits the bindery at night occasionally when his parents are working in the building. He showed up when I was at a critical point of lifting the spine leather, and just couldn't possibly be interrupted. But, he started running around the room and talking and laughing loud and all.. Ah,, you know what I did? I yelled at him.. I feel horrible.. I have to apologize to him next time I see him... :-(  But for now, just for the sake of it, I'm sending him my apology, telepathically. hummmm f.o.r.g.i.v.e. meeee ~

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Homemade Beeswax !

I recently acquired a big chunk of honeycomb from a friend of mine after asking him to spare me some honey that he makes. (He's a beekeeper, painter, sculptor, tattooist, chocolatier, organic food maker, a building contractor, certified hemp crop grower (it's legal here.), a yoga instructor and soon to be a daddy. Amazingly, he does everything full time successfully.. Yeah, you go figure.. Don't try this in your country though,,, or you'll end up living on the street. Only in America, guys...) When I saw the honeycomb, I was at a loss of words, but soon realized that I could use the darn beeswax in the bindery! He told me how to separate the honey and beeswax, so I tried it. And here's the result! It sure looks usable, but I think it has a trivial amount of honey left in it that might be an issue for an actual use for my clients' property. So for now, I'm just keeping it aside and planning to test it in the future.
On the side note, I might travel to Germany next month with a renown bookbinder from New York. I may write about it when the plan actually solidifies.