Saturday, August 29, 2009

Part III, Bookbinding Workshop in Santa, Idaho

Days 6-9: Well, things are getting a bit intense now. I only have three days left, and many, many things still to do. I carved my wooden pegs (you can see them at upper left). I will hammer the pegs in the holes in the book covers, so the cords will stay securely where they're supposed to. The book is opened, so you can see where the cords came in one hole and went out another:

I also needed to cut out the brass pieces of my book clasp, and then use nippers and files to shape them. Jim believes in doing every little part of the book in the "old way", so I even designed and drew the pattern for my clasps by hand.
Here are the brass pieces for my clasps, plus the cardboard patterns and some of the files I used to shape them. The brass is some that Jim got from architectural salvage places.

And here are the clasps, ready to be attached to the book covers. The brown parts are pieces of leather that I glued around a piece of parchment, then attached to the brass pieces (sorry about the fuzzy photo--I must have been overly excited when I took it).

Next, I carved out places on the cover boards for the brass clasps to fit into. You can just barely see my pencil marks on the cover board showing where the clasps will go. This board is sitting on a groovy little thingie that hooks over the table edge and has a lip at the back edge to rest the board against. That way, I can put pressure on the board while I'm carving it without the board sliding all over the table:

My book will have a leather covered spine. Here Jim is demonstrating how to pare the edges of the leather so it won't bunch up at the corners of the book spine.

Eeek! It's the last day, time is running out, and I'm still behind. Here I'm putting a thin tissue backing on the spine of my text block.

The next thing I did was assemble the book and attach the leather to the spine. It's a pity I didn't take any photos, as it took place at 10 o'clock on the last night I was there, and I wish I had a record of my desperate attempts to coax a chunk of limp, wheat paste soaked leather around the cords and generally where it was supposed to go. In lieu of photos of that event, here are some of other accommodations on the Croft place. If I had been more adventurous, I could have set up my sleeping bag here...

...or in this sweat lodge/ tepee affair (I think they put on a canvas cover if someone stays in it).

And here is my finished book. Yay! Note the leather spine that fortunately shows no sign of the late night pasting struggle:

Here is a view that shows the clasps. I made every bit of the clasps by hand, even down to making the nails out of pieces of brass rod. I will keep this book forever, as a memento of my time at the Crofts, but will be making other books with wooden covers (a slightly different design), which I will unveil here at a future date.

And so, after nine amazing days of dirt, mosquito bites, sawing, filing, gluing and general backwoods bookbinding, I packed up my stuff, hopped in my car and headed back down the road, sad to leave, but so very happy that I came here.

You can find out more about Jim Croft and the workshops he teaches at his website: