Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miniature Holy Bible w/ brass edging & a clasp, 1860

I love brass clasps and edging, especially when they are on miniature books. I posted some pictures of one of those books about a year ago, and I could see that others love them as much as I do. (based on the large number of visitors to the particular post.) So, I'm posting another one here. This is a miniature Holy Bible, published by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1860. This humble black leather Bible turned into an eye candy of a treasure with a brass uni-clasp and ornate edging, - the design of which feels as though it were influenced a bit by William Morris or a precursor to Art Nouveau of England. It's very pretty.

As for the restoration, client asked for a simple re-backing with false-raised cords on the spine without any gold lettering. A trouble we normally encounter when dealing with a book with metal edging is the lifting or removing of the edging pieces in order to re-back or re-hinge the spine. For this Bible, because it wasn't wise (or possible) to remove the whole metal pieces, I lifted small sections up enough so that I could do my job, and they were gently hammered back to the original state. I'm so glad it's done in time.. I personally have only a couple of more Christmas orders to go, Yay! ;-)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Money is a mere object

On my post on Cook's Voyage, my friend and colleague, Mihai from Romania, left a brief, yet commissarial comment about a daily dilemma that "common" bookbinders have to face, which prompted me to write this post. The following is his comment, (copy-pasted);
Very very beautiful! In my experience, I m faced with a dilemma: doing the best restoration job I can or listening to what the client wants. I ve often volunteered to sew a book on my own time when the client just wanted it glued, so it would cost less, because the book was worth it. I feel bad doing a cheap job, but I realize not every client affords intricate and laborious solutions. That s why now I tend to be less critical of poor bindings I see from older binders, because I realize that even if they wanted and knew how to do better, the clients would have refused and stuck with the cheap versions. Thank you for sharing!
This matter is so close to home to me as a "common-public-serving" restorer that I wanted to fly to Romania on the first flight available just to be able to put my hand on his shoulder, and say "I hear you, man..". (haha...)

We, the common binders, serve mostly for the ordinary folks often with limited funds, so we have to balance and find a solution as to what's best for the client and what's best for the book. Like Mihai, although my clients wouldn't know this, I often end up doing way more than I'm paid for because I can't possibly do less of a work just because the money's not enough. Money, after all, is a mere object. My dignity as a craftswoman and the destiny of books I handle, aren't.

This, rather old fashioned sentiment of mine sometimes can't really apply when the uncompromisable required labor exceeds well beyond the client's budget, resulting the client to lean towards an "option" that totally undermines the quality of work. In a rare case like this, my answer always is and has been and will be; I could not possibly put my name on a kind of job that you are asking me to do. Take my word or leave it.

A situation like this is rare yet has happened before, but clients always understood where I came from and chose to go with my direction though I, of course, spent extra labors each time. The bottom line is, I always take any job regardless if my belief and sincerity are received, and do the best and right thing for the book despite my labor, every time.

Remember, "You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you." Again, money is a mere object, guys. ;-)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Custom made Camel bone folder

About two months ago, someone stole one of my beloved bone folders that I crafted to fit my hand perfectly when I first started apprenticing over a decade and half ago. I loved that bone folder. It was entrusted to me by my master, and I fashioned it in a particular shape and etched my initial on it. The bone folder was amber in color and somewhat transparent, and I loved that about it, too. Well, some god damn bastard took it. I don't blame him/her though, because the bone folder was really nice looking.

Normally, when I lost something, or something was taken from me, or something bad has happened, I'm always like, " Well, I'm glad it wasn't my wallet that was lost." or "I broke my legs, but I'm glad my arms are alright." or "Maybe, the person who took my $20 hadn't eaten anything for a week, and was desperate. I may well have saved his life." The point is, I sort of take matters like these real easy.

But, this bone folder incident had been bugging me so bad that I just couldn't get over it. I even dreamed about it, too. It was that serious. Losing something so personal and special to me is bad enough, and keeping myself feel miserable over it is even worse. So, I decided to give myself another bone folder. - It's similar to giving a new pet to someone who can't get over the death of their pet in order to recover from the grief.

I never like commercially available bone folders which have no character, so I bought a couple of pieces of Camel bone, and made a new bone folder today. I choose Camel bone because it's off white and has a really nice translucent caramel texture. Bone folders are super simple and easy to make. - All you need is a saw, file, different grits of sand paper from rough to fine, a piece of leather to polish at the end. It should only take about an hour and half to two hours to make it, so, you should try it, too. ;-)
For in-depth insights on bone folder: Folder or Bone knife