Monday, April 27, 2009


These are pics from my first foray into bookbinding. I was in a four-day workshop learning eighteenth-century French commercial binding techniques taught by Jeff Peachey. Awesome!

The above are pictures of the sewing frame, where the text block gets sewn together.

These chords will be laced into the boards to make the front and back covers of the book.

The above pictures are of the covered and laced book. The frayed chords above are laced into the boards through three holes and then pasted down. Historically, I leaned too late, they would not have been pasted. Oops.

This is the spine covered in vellum. I pared down this parchment to back the spine; it's shaped like a comb and attached between the chords. You can see the signatures (groupings of folded pages) and sewing through the skin. Cool!


I used a plough (or "plow?") to trim the edge of the text, according to historical practice. But I messed up in two ways: 1., I forgot to make the covers a little bigger than the textblock (squaring the boards), and 2., I trimmed it at a skewed angle. Crap.

So I trimmed the text block further and removed the old boards. I then attached new boards and laced them more simply. I trimmed them after this.

This is while I was sewing headbands (small decorative bands of colored thread). This took a while. You can see that by this point we painted the edges of the pages red.

Subesequently, I messed up on paring down the leather to cover the whole book. This frustrated me because I got the parchment pared down, and leather is thicker and softer. But no dice. So I can't learn all of bookbinding in one weekend. But I did learn a lot and it was a rare and amazing opportunity!


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