Our printer died before we left for France so I have purchased a far superior model this side of the channel. I am now awaiting it’s arrival which is holding me back a bit with my commission work hence dipping in and out of a few projects at once. Hopefully it should arrive this week coming so I can concentrate fully on one binding at a time.

I have been folding lots of stubs for stub bindings since I have been here. I did a fantastic Designer Bookbinders masterclass with Lori Sauer in the Autumn last year at the St Bride Foundation on the subject and have found so many applications for this binding style already.

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One binding I have begun working on is a 1832 publication of a book on British Butterflies. Whilst pulling the sections apart it immediately became clear that the binding had been sewn on sawn-in cords resulting in large holes in each of the sections.

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Another anomaly is that each of the sections is a different thicknesses as a result of illustrated plates being stuck in throughout the binding. The plates are all hand-coloured with watercolours and will provide the inspiration for the binding colours and design in due course.

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I decided to repair all of the holes with Japanese tissue and paste in order to create a far a more sound text block for rebinding.

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Due to the fact that the sections are all different thicknesses made working out the stubs quite confusing! Many calculations plus a lot of measuring with my vernier gauge helped me to work out what I needed to prepare. Each stub is folded three times so that it is four thicknesses of paper. In order to match the thickness of the text block, I have to add four extra stubs that will not been sewn to a section, I will evenly space them throughout the sewn text block. The majority of these stubs are black, but will have a dash of orange mixed in.

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My decision for using a stub binding technique for this book is the fact that there are plates stuck throughout this book. Binding in this style will help with the opening at the spine to aid the viewing of these images as the sections should open flat. I also intend on retain original edge gilding.

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Second on my list of stub bindings is for a copy of ‘Sonnets From the Portuguese’ published in 1925. The content of the binding is 44 love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for her husband Robert Browning. It was first published in 1850, around 5 years after they were written. Elizabeth was initially hesitant to publish the poems as she felt they were too personal however her husband insisted and urged her to do so. In order to retain some privacy, they were published as apparent translations of foreign sonnets, hence the name, “Sonnets from the Portuguese”.

The binding originally had a vellum cover that had warped significantly. The pages are in the wrong grain direction hence deciding to adopt the stub-binding method for it to aid with the opening of the book. I decided to fold and sew a single stub on each section, the stubs then being sewn together onto tapes. This has allowed me to treat the text block like a normal binding (all the sections behaving independently), therefore I will be able to round and back the book as usual.

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Although I have been held up with the design and production of my endpapers due to the lack of printer, I have managed to get on well with the design of the cover. The last sonnet in the book, Sonnet 44, has been the main source of my inspiration for the design which begins,

Beloved, though hast brought me many flowers, 

Plucked in the garden all summer through…”

I have been experimenting with the text to see how well I can recreate the flow of handwritten script using embroidery and I am pretty happy with the results.

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I also intend to add a gold-plated brass element to the cover design in the form of a pen nib so I have been working on forming that this week. I need to set up the soldering equipment I have brought here with me so will report on that at the time I do it.

Finally, I have taken inspiration from all of the flowers in our garden to create an embroidered posy that I shall hopefully use as part of the cover design. There will be a blog post about flowers from our garden coming up in due course…

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