techniques
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The tutorial pictures on this page are extracted from Bookbinding in Pictures,
Angela Sutton’s CD ROM of bookbinding instruction.
MENDING PAGES
Japanese tissue, which has very long fibres and is thin and strong, is torn to shape, pasted lightly and applied to the torn edge so that the fibres are just overlapping.  Repairs are always completed before the book is sewn. book repair: mending a tear
SEWING AND MARKING UP
The picture shows tape of varying widths, two weights of hemp cord, and waxed linen sewing thread. bookbinding: tapes of varying widths
When the book has been cleaned and repaired it is put in a press and the sewing points are marked, in this case for tapes.  This is known as ‘marking up’. bookbinding: marking up
Books are sewn together one section at a time.  This book is being sewn on tapes and the needle is in position to  make the final knot at the end of a section, known as the ‘kettle’ stitch (from the German Ketel  meaning  ‘chain’). bookbinding: sewing books
Book backs showing different kinds of sewing: on tapes, on sawn-in cords and on raised cords. bookbinding: tapes, sawn-in cords and raised cords
ROUNDING AND BACKING
Once the book has been stitched together it is rolled and hammered to turn the flat spine back into a rounded shape, which protects the sewing by reducing the strain on it when the book is opened.  The book is put into the lying press, two large pieces of wood which are tightened by means of wooden screws and a bar known as a ‘press pin’.  When the book is the correct shape it is covered by a piece of open weave cloth called mull and a strip of thin strong paper known as ‘kraft’ paper.
The book is rolled and hammered into its rounded shape. bookinding: rolling and hammering
It is then put between specially-shaped backing boards and lowered into the lying press. bookbinding:  applying backing boards
The lying press screws are tightened. bookbinding: lying press
The spine edges can then be shaped over the backing boards with the backing hammer. bookbinding: shaping spine edges
Glue is applied to the spine.
Mull is placed on top. bookbinding: placing mull on the spine
The mull is rubbed down. bookbinding: rubbing down mull
Kraft paper is placed on top. bookbinding: placing kraft paper on the spine
The kraft paper is rubbed down with a bonefolder. bookbinding: rubbing down kraft paper with a bonefolder
It is also rubbed down with the ball of the thumb to make sure it is well stuck on. lo

It can be left to dry in the press or taken out and left between pressing boards with a weight on top.

bookbinding: pressing boards
COVERS & TITLES
Books covered in leather are described as bound in quarter leather (spine only), half leather (spine and corners) or full leather. Many old books are bound in calf, but modern-day bookbinders mostly use goatskin.  This comes mainly from Africa.  It is strong and durable, and good to work with. 
Books to be bound in leather are sewn on cords which are then ‘laced in’ to the boards through holes and pasted in place. bookbinding: leather binding: laced in cords

Headbands are used to strengthen the spine of the book when it is pulled out of a shelf.  Some are glued on, but a stitched-on headband as shown here is much stronger as it is sewn on through the back of the sections.

bookbinding: headbands
A strip of pared and pasted goatskin spine is applied to the spine for a quarter-leather binding. bookbinding: goatskin spine
On a half-leather binding leather corners are pasted, applied to the book and worked into shape with a bonefolder. bookbinding: leather corners
When the leather is dry a cloth side is cut to fit the corner and glued into place. bookbinding: cloth side
A piece of goatskin for a full-leather binding is pasted and applied to the book. bookbinding: full leather binding with goatskin
The boards are held open and the leather is turned over them. bookbinding: turning the leather
Titles are applied to the back of the book by means of brass ‘finishing’ tools. bookbinding: titles: brass finishing tools
These are heated on a finishing stove so that the gold foil or gold leaf will adhere to the leather. bookbinding: finishing stove

Marbled Papers

The marbling of paper is an art that goes back several centuries.  Many of the patterns, such as nonpareil and Spanish ripple are classics which modern marblers copy and develop according to their own tastes and style. The late Ann Muir produced wonderful marbled paper in these patterns but also pushed the art to new boundaries, and was famous for her 'pictures' in marbled designs. She is much  missed in the field, but her work is being carried on by her children at www.ammarbling.com.  One of her former employees, Jemma Lewis, has set up her own business and is producing new designs based on the old ones. She can also reproduce papers from a small sample. See www.jemmamarbling.com. Marbled papers are also produced by Payhembury, Victoria Hall and Christopher Rowlatt

Marbled paper by Ann Muir

Leather & Bookcloth

Leather is expensive, but it is a beautiful material.  It not only looks and feels pleasant for the user, but it also feels good to work with, and is flexible and durable. Bookbinders now mainly use goatskin for covering books. 

In the past calfskin was extensively used as this was the leather most easily available.  Calf is still used but mainly for repairing old books.  It has a smooth surface and is obtainable in several shades of brown to match existing covers as well as a variety of  other colours and in a natural shade which can be dyed. 

Goatskin comes mainly from Africa and India, where it goes through the local tanning process, but it is treated and dyed in this country.  It is obtainable in a wide variety of colours, finishes and grain patterns, and you can often see the backbone of the animal, a slightly darker line running down the length of the skin. For most books it is necessary to thin or to pare down the skin so that it can be turned in easily over the boards of the book.  How much paring needs to be done depends on the size and weight of the book. 

Paring is done with sharp knives, either an English one, which is a long straight angled blade, or a French one, which is curved.   A spokeshave is also used, and a blade on a stand is useful for paring small pieces of leather. 

goatskin

Pigskin is sometimes used but tends to lose its strength when thinned down.

Sheepskin is not strong enough for bookbinding and cow hide is too tough.

All sorts of skins have been used at one time or another but have been found unsatisfactory in some way or other.

In the early nineteenth century, bookcloth was developed as a cheaper substitute for leather.  It was quicker and easier to apply to books, and it was then that the ‘case’ became more common as a book covering.  Many case bindings were produced that were very elaborately decorated and stamped with pictures and titling and are now collectors’ pieces.  Other plain case bindings fulfilled their function of protecting the book as economically as possible.  Modern hardback books are case bindings covered  in bookcloth.  It is manufactured in a range of colours and weights. bookcloth
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