Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adventures in Medieval Bookbinding, Part 2 : Tegumentum Rubrum

The second medieval leather binding in Monica Monica Langwe Berg's book, Bookbinding: :Limp Bindings from Tallin is called "Tegumentum Rubrum" (for those of you who just dropped by, see my earlier posts here and here for more information about this book and my binding project).

I did a quick search in an online Latin dictionary, and "tegumentum" means "book cover." "Rubrum" means red, and names of all of the bindings in Monica's book refer to the colours of the original book covers.
The original Tegumentum Rubrum, according to Monica, is a German law book from 1282 (all of the bindings covered in her book are in an archive in Tallinn, Eastonia). The cover was made of two pieces of leather stitched together, with a toggle closure made from a rolled-up piece of leather.

Here I am about half-way through making my version of Tegumentum Rubrum:

I chose to use two pieces of thin brown deerskin for the cover. The original binding had two rows of very fine, elegant stitching around the edges, but I did one row instead, and used thicker thread--I wanted a more rustic, handstitched, lets-get-out-and-hew-some-timber look.

In the photo above, my cover is "pointing" toward a picture of the original Tegumentum Rubrum. To the left of my cover is a stack of paper ready to be sewn in, and to the right is the toggle, half done and waiting to be attacked with my handy chisel.

And now, as I neglected to take more photos, I will skip right over a few stages, and show you my finished book:

You will notice on the spine that there are exterior supports for the stitching (the dark-coloured squares). For the supports on this book, I used pieces of a really lovely dark maple leather. I am quite excited about the look of these exterior support thingies, and will definitely be making more books with them.

This is how it looks when open. I used hemp twine for the loop closure. I will keep this Tegumentum Rubrum for myself, as it has a few little flaws, but will make another one soon to put in my Etsy shop.

Stay tuned for my next thrilling adventure in medieval bookbinding--Tegumentum Spadix! :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Peak At My Studio

Jennifer, at Gypsymarestudios recently posted some photos of her studio, and asked other artists to do it, too. I love seeing photos of other people's studios, so I thought I'd join in. Here are shots of my bookbinding studio:

I'm starting work on the second of the limp leather bindings that I talked about in my previous post, so I have some possible leathers spread out on my worktable right now. Decisions, decisions....

This is another work table where I punch holes in the leather covers so I can stitch the pages to the cover. There are some finished covers, plus my handy hammer and awl. Lots of hammering goes on here. Probably drives the neighbours crazy when I have the windows open in the summer.

This is what I see outside while I'm hammering. Notice the frost outside along the bottom of the window. Brrrrrrr!!!

My bulletin board. I never take anything off--just keep pinning on new layers.

My supervisor, Gretta.

An excellent old card file where I keep spools of bookbinding thread.

And finally, another work table with some of the books what I made :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Adventures in Medieval Bookbinding, Part 1: Tegumentum Subflavum

In a previous post, I told you about my exciting new book purchase--one on medieval Estonian bindings, written by Monica Langwe Berg. In her book, Monica recreates eight of these bindings (the originals are in an archive in the city of Tallinn, Estonia) with the idea of inspiring other bookbinders to create their own versions of these lovely old bindings.

I 've spent the last couple of days working out how I wanted to do the first binding (which Monica calls "Tegumentum subflavum"--any Latin speakers out there?). According to Monica, this binding dates from 1531, and was originally owned by Jesper Kappenberg. It was a "table of accounts for consumption taxes." Not a very exciting purpose! I thought it would be much nicer as a place to record thoughts and drawings. Here is a little bit about my process in making my own variation of Tegumentum subflavum:

First, I got the all-important cup of tea (in my favourite mug) and some tunes sorted out:

The cover is made from two pieces of leather sewn together lengthwise. I chose to use black and brown cowhide. I picked out a few possible thread colours (I use waxed Irish linen thread to sew my books). The red thread won out.

I made a paper pattern for cutting the pieces and marking stitching holes. I usually use a paper pattern when I'm working out a new design, since I always end up changing things. After I have a final design, I make a permanent pattern from matboard.

Next, using Monica's instructions, I set forth:

I used a backstitch to sew the pieces of leather together. It's funny that two things I thought were fun but not especially practical when I first learned to do them--typing and hand embroidery--have turned out to be very, very useful after all.

Then I sewed the pages to the cover (oop, forgot to take a photo of that part :)

This is a card showing the stitch that I used on the spine (it's the one at the top of the card). The first time I try out a stitch, I often work it out first on a card. Saves having to take the book apart over and over, because if I don't practice that stitch before assembling the book, mistakes most surely will be made. I got this tip from Abi over at EvilRooster.

Finally, I added a tie closure made with twined red thread. I learned to do this kind of twining last fall in a class I took from Dan Essig.

And at last here he is, Mr. Tegumentum subflavum:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Moon Journals

Here are a couple of new moon journals I recently finished and posted in my Etsy shop. The first one is a grey suede journal with red stitching, and has a quote by Willa Cather:

"The sky was a midnight-blue, like warm, deep, blue water, and the moon seemed to lie on it like a water-lily, floating forward with an invisible current."

The second one (seen below) has a quote by Walt Whitman:
Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the East,
the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house-tops,
ghastly, phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.
The Willa Cather one has already sold, so it looks like I'm not the only Cather fan! It's been so much fun seeking out these quotes--a good excuse to revisit some favourite authors. And it's interesting to see all the different ways the moon is viewed, as representing romance, otherworldliness, insanity, beauty, and on and on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Book Tag

It's time for a confession. Dear Dana, over at A Cat In My Lap, tagged me clear back in November, and I'm embarrassed to say that only now am I getting my scattered thoughts together to complete the book tag.

The rules are:

Link to the the tagger, list 7 random book facts about yourself, and tag 7 more here we go:

1. I am a book junkie. I have a stash of unread books tucked away so there's always a new book to read once I've finished the current one, and I get a bit nervous if the stash starts getting too small.

2. Sometimes I turn the corners down on pages to mark my place (but only in cheap paperbacks). Some book lovers would consider that an evil act, but sadly, there it is.

3. I hand-built 326 books in 2008. I'm not sure whether to be happy or a little freaked out by that fact.

4. When I'm making books, I like to listen to music. Sometimes I dance around a bit.

5. One of my earliest memories is of seeing my mother sitting in her armchair in the living room, smoking and reading novels.

6. I grew up in a fairly remote part of Idaho (in the U.S.), and went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. All of the library books fit into one bookcase. I used to start at the "A" titles, read my way through to the "Z" titles, and then start over again.

7. When I was studying literature at university, I lived in a tiny little apartment with a cat who would lay on top of my books and purr loudly. I knew exactly how he felt.

Now, on to the tagging. I'm only tagging five people, but that's a goodly number, I think. Here they are:

Judith HeartSong, that wonderful artist who, of course, loves art books;
Rhonda at Myhandboundbooks, a fellow bookbinder who trained to be a librarian;
East of the Sun, who inspires with her art and photos of Cornwall;
Kiley, another bookbinder who keeps the tradition alive;
PG, of Middleofnowhere, who often includes the most wonderful book quotes in her blog posts

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Here is a link to a fun digital book by bubbly numbers:

Be sure to watch each page for a little bit (and turn on your speakers, as there is music). Sometimes a surprise will appear....

Update: as I had no graphic to go with the digital book, here instead is a completely gratuitous shot of my dog, Gretta, who wandered into the kitchen the other day with a piece of a Post-It note stuck to her bum. Definitely not a high-tech dog:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Leather

In a previous post, I told you about the fab leather stash I bought from a retiring bookbinder. Alas, that leather is dwindling away, so it was time to find a regular supplier for my leather bookbinding needs.

It wasn't easy--I sampled some Ebay leather suppliers, but the quality wasn't consistant. Some of it was great, some I wound up not using because it was kinda crappy. Finally, I found a supplier that has proper leather--the kind that has that great leather smell (I grew up on a ranch, so the smell of good leather always evokes saddles, and horses--I was totally in love with horses, not in a scary Equus way, but in a horse-crazy girl kind of way....but I digress....), and feels strong, but soft, and has really nice texture. Here is a photo of my latest order-- black, golden brown, and walnut brown :

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Bonefolder

A new issue of The Bonefolder (an online bookbinding and book arts journal) came out recently.

In it was an article by Monica Langwe Berg on medieval Eastonian limp leather bindings. I immediately ordered Monica's book on these bindings, and it's sooo lovely! Monica recreated eight bindings that are in an archive in Tallinn, Eastonia, and her idea for the book was to give enough instructions that someone could be inspired to create their own variations of the bindings. So, over the next few weeks, I'll be posting my versions of some of the Tallinn bindings. This kind of project gets bookbinding geeks like me all in a lather--can't wait to get started! :)