Bookbinding, first try!

So this autumn my apprentice sister Tece where to become a laurel and I asked our Mistress Lia if I could do her vigil book, and I could.
I started out to read a little about how to do a book but not that much.

I did not have a lot of time to spend on doing the book because of my mundane life. I did start to do it when there was not that long time left until the event where the vigil would take place. But I made sure that I would have time enough to buy one if the project would fail!

I wanted to make it light so that it would not weigh to much when flying. The event where hold in Insulae Draconis and we live in Nordmark so I choose to use thin plywood instead of thick oak wood boards that would weigh more but would have been used in the 15th century. I also choose to use a thin leather to wrap around the book. I had bought leather earlier that I was suppose to use but it was to thick to be wrap good around the boards.

First I started out with cutting and folding the pergamenata and then I punched holes and gathered the quires together. Then I sewed them on to the support leather cords that I had attached to a stool since I don´t own any book binding tools.


Then I prepared the plywood by carving out holes to thread the support cords in. I secured the cords on to the plywood by gluing them on to the inside of the board, something I did regret later. And I attached a piece of cloth to the spine, thinking that it would be good to use when hiding the cords later on. I did end up with taking it away because it did not work that good in reality as in my head.

When this was done I started to prepare the leather buy cutting it out in the size I needed plus a little bit more. Then I did draw Tece´s coat of arms framed by a laurel wreath on the leather, with a pen that was suppose to go away on leather(it did not!). I used a bone (laskben) to work the leather with (punching?).

When the leather had dried I glued it on to the book and then the book sat in press over night. After this I did slits in the corners and folded in the rest of the leather to the inside of the book and glued them on. Here I realized that the cloth would not work and cut it away. I ended up with hiding my mistakes under another piece of leather…Last thing I did was to wax the skin so that it would resist be more protected.

I also added a illumination of Tece´s coat of arm inside the book. The illumination was inspired by A coat of arms from a church in Aarnimetsä that inspired Tece when she did her arms (please tell me if I´m just making this part up).So all in all I am saticfied with my first try and I really liked doing the book and wants and will do more books! I’ve already read more about bookbinding and understand more about what I did wrong and will do different.

Next time:

  • Use wood board even do it makes the book thicker and heavier it´s more period and easier to hide the cords.
  • When and if I choose to use the thin model air plane plywood, take two of them and glue the cords between them to avoid having the cords visible on the inside of the cover.
  • Do not use that pen that are suppose to disappear.
  • Dye the leather, it will take time for it to darken to a nice color.
  • Don´t pull the leather to hard, then the board does not close that good.
  • Remember to do the endbands.
  • Add clasps.




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