Friday, February 16, 2018

Snake & Papyrus

I've started recording books that I've worked on in a logbook since 2008~2009, and the logbook is becoming full; I needed a new one made. Well, I've been really preoccupied with work and haven't gotten any time to do my personal stuff in the bindery, but boy, it's become serious! It has only a couple of pages left now. So, I finally decided to free up some time yesterday for a quick & easy yet cute binding with scrap materials that were scattered around the bindery.

This is just a simple, nothing special, personal binding that might not be worth showing-off, but I thought it might give you some creative ideas for your project by using unconventional materials.

This is a quarter binding with a butt-jointed white snake and papyrus. They are super easy to work with, (idiot-proof!) yet the final product is cute and exotic. Just for the sake of the papyrus, I printed out some Egyptian hieroglyph graphics off internet and have used it as endsheets.

Snake is fun to work with because of their natural exotic markings; they come in different colors and textures as well. The things that you have to be careful of are the scales and the thickness and the width of the skin. Some snake skins have pretty good finish on the surface so that the scales don't easily fray, but they often don't. In that case, you have to make sure to tame the scales down by applying some adhesives after the book is bound, then wipe it off. Also, the thickness of the skins aren't uniform. The head/neck area is a lot thinner than the ones around the tail. It becomes obvious as the size of the snake gets bigger. For example, the neck area of Python is almost a paper thin, while the tail area is as thick as a card stock. So you have to determine which part of the snake is suitable for binding. Finally, as you know, most snakes are long and thin, thus there's a limit on the width. As the snake get's bigger, the skin gets also wider, but it gets thicker as well. Even if you find a beautifully marked skin, it might be too narrow for the size of your binding. Basically, you have to sort of give & take when working with snakes, or, for that matter, other exotic animal skins.

My master once bound a 9"x 13" full Python binding by butt-jointing the skins, but it's an another matter. haha.. The binding was a bit too much, if you wanna know the truth!

Other unconventional materials are fish skin, stingray, turtles and toad! Fish, toad and turtle skins can be used on the spine just like snake, but the stingray is too thick and stiff that it can't be used on the spine, though the unusual pearl marking is tempting to be used on the spine.  I took some pictures of some of those materials, so check them out. - by the way, the small, palm size brown skins on the picture are of Cane Toad from Australia. They are so small that it had to be butt-jointed to be used on a binding. But hey Aussies! I heard you guys have an epidemic of those toads that are making your dogs high on its poisons in your yard. (hahaha. Check this out.) Don't just kill and dump them. Send me the skins! I'll make the ugly little buggers beautiful!

Fish Skins:

Stingray & other exotic skins:
Garlin Neumann Leathers Co, Inc.  

Toad skins:


  1. Would like to see the contents of that book! Love the binding. Love the "Dobbie" video. Think I will avoid toad.

    1. I just write down the titles of the books that I restored in it. The most boring thing to look at. By the way, I had to look up the word "Dobbie" on Google. hahaha. I hope Oxford Dictionary might consider adding the word someday. But, it reminded me of a scene that I encountered some 20 years ago, where a guy was arguing with his girlfriend on the street, saying "I'm gonna O.J. you, B*tch!!"

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  3. Cool work as always! There is a Tandy Leather store near me (yes, a Tandy Leather) and they have piles of snake and other exotic stuff I can dig through. Do I need more stuff? No, of course not.