a Cloth Bound Book
the state of the book before I started work on it. Published
in the early 1900s, it's now almost 100 years old and has done
a lot of living! In the first picture you can just about see
bubbling in the cloth which is also very dirty and worn. The
second picture shows the end of the book and the split that
runs the full length of it where the endpaper has parted company
with the paste down.
than not, the stitching in books, even ones that are 200 years
old, is still sound and it is only the covers that have been
unable to withstand the ravages of time. The book itself does
not therefore need stripping right down and it is just the casing
that needs to be renewed. I had hoped to avoid having to resew
this one, but once I had taken the cover off and began to clean
the spine, it was obvious that the original stitching was also
in a bad way. The final row at the bottom of the spine had actually
vanished altogether, so there was nothing for it, but to take
the book completely apart.
centres of each of the pages were very creased, so these have been
dampened and pressed in the nipping press to remove the worst of
the creases. It's very effective as the before and after pictures
has been sewn onto tapes. The larger sections on the top and bottom
are the new endpapers. These are made slightly larger than the
sections of the book and then trimmed to size later on.
speaking, I try to find the best match I can for the endpapers
and this sometimes involves dying the paper. One book I rebound
for a friend was handed back with the aroma of fresh coffee still
wafting from the pages as cold black coffee had proved to give
the nearest colour match. (I'm not sure I'd want to try this method
on a valuable book though!)
book has no special value except for the pleasure it gave me when
I read it, so I can take more liberties with it. I've printed
off some coloured endpapers decorated with sprigs of lavender
as the title of the book is "London Lavender" by E.
the sections have been sewn onto the tapes, the first and last
sections are tipped onto the sections next to them with paste.
This is because they are the most vulnerable to strain when the
book is being used, so it adds some extra strength. When the paste
has dried, the endpapers are trimmed to the same size as the rest
of the book.
is now ready to be rounded and jointed. I can't show the rounding
process as I don't have any free hands for the camera when I'm
doing it, but the aim is to obtain the curve on the spine that
you can see in the pictures. I have used backing boards to make
the joint. These are precision made beechwood boards which are
slightly thicker at the top than the bottom to obtain the maximum
grip. The top surface is finished with brass plates which have
a small overlap so that they will sit in a laying press. The book
is carefully placed between the backing boards so that only a
fraction of an inch is left showing above the brass plates. The
press is then screwed as tightly as possible so the book cannot
slip. (Being slightly built, in my case this involves turning
the press on its ends and heaving the handles as hard as I can.
Who needs a gym for exercising?!)
Once it is
firmly in place, the spine of the book is carefully hammered with
a large faced bookbinding hammer to form the joints. These will
provide support for the boards.
speaking a book like this would have machine made headbands, but
I'd like to co-ordinate the colours with the endpapers and cloth,
so these ones are hand sewn. Plus I enjoy doing them!
A layer of
scrim (sometimes called mull) is glued onto the spine. This is
followed by a layer of kraft paper.
is to make the case. Greyboard is cut to size. The thickness used
depends upon the size of the book and also the depth of the joint.
It is important
that the grain of the board runs lengthwise down the board and
that all the sides are perfectly square. The edges of the boards
are sanded to take off the sharpness which would otherwise cut
into the bookcloth.
planning to do a quarter cloth binding. On a book this size, the
cloth covering the spine extends over roughly one quarter of each
board. A strip of manila is glued between the two boards to add
strength to the spine. (Somehow, probably due to the way the light's
falling on it and me not being a very good photographer, the manila
looks as though it's curving outwards in the picture although it's
actually slightly concave.)
glue has dried, the cloth is trimmed to the correct size. Unlike
leather bindings, which are much thicker and need an angled cut,
bookcloth only requires a steel ruler and a sharp blade.
a leather binding, the book and the case are still two separate
items at this stage.
the spine before the cloth went onto the boards simply because
my hot foil printer is too small to be able to do it afterwards!
of the board has now been covered with a contrasting bookcloth.
I've used the hot foil printer to print a narrow border down the
front and back of the book where the two contrasting cloths meet.
is still separate from the book.
to capture colours accurately with a digital camera, but the second
picture gives an idea of how endpapers, headbands and bookcloth
have all been chosen to complement each other and to reflect the
title of the book.
step is to paste the endpapers onto the case. The book is then
put in the nipping press for at least 24 hours, until all the
glue is completely dry.
One of the
tests of a successful binding is to check that the book opens
easily and without straining the endpapers.
of the endpapers. If you look closely, you can just see
the tapes and the edge of the scrim beneath the endpaper.
These add strength to the joint.
slip case protects the book. This one replicates the book
itself with a black spine and blue sides.
Lavender by E.V. Lucas, the book shown in all the pictures, was
rebound between 2oth & 26th August 2006