Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lovely February at The Gilded Leaf

I finally made it out to the Gilded Leaf to meet with Bob and finish up my first medieval book. It has been a strange month since my last visit. I've been practicing paring leather and I have to admit...I'm terrible at it. I'm a little nervous about all the paring that Bob has planned for the weekend. Off to Maryville I go!

I made it to Maryville in the late afternoon and started working right away at paring leather. Guess what? I'm not so bad at it after all! It helps when you have a Sharf Fix machine! It still took me the rest of the day to pare the leather for my spine, round out the back and cut off and extra material that might show through the leather. The leather is pared so finely that any little bit of dust or stray thread will come across glaringly! So I cleaned my book block as best I could and applied the leather to the spine. It was so exciting, like baking a souffle for the first time, or at least that is how I would imagine souffle baking would feel as I have never been much of a genius in the kitchen. Once I applied the leather to the spine, we moved on to measuring and cutting jigs for our corner pieces. Then back to the paring machine and to bevel the leather edges with my home made paring knives. I'm getting pretty good at this! {but still pretty slow}. While I pared away, Bob took a break and played his musical compositions for me and they were incredibly beautiful. What a talented fella. Here are some pics from the leather application process...

{click on any image on this page to enlarge it}

In the above photos you can see Bob demoing the corner application and also tying down the leather spine with twine so that it could rest for the night and form beautifully against the raised cords that I had sewn on last month.

After a great nights sleep I headed back to Bob's early in the morning to finish the book! We had lots to do beginning with paring a label which is actually pared thinner than other leather. It is, in fact, pared so thin that you can see daylight through it. As you may imagine it took me a few tries to get it that thin without tearing through it. We turned on the hot plate to warm up the tools for leather tooling. While the tools warmed up, Bob introduced me to the gold stamping machine and we stamped my initials onto the label. The rest of the day was spent blind tooling and gold leafing the spine and leather corners.

and as the daylight faded and the stars came out, I finally had a completed book...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Down To Business

I just returned from a wonderful visit with Bob in Maryville. We spent the weekend rounding and backing the spine of the book blocks that I brought with me, we also ploughed and attached endsheets as well as sewing a headband and adding edge decoration. I have learned so much about historical practices and I have also learned better studio practice for myself. I'm so excited to share some photos from my weekend although they are sparse because Bob had me working steadily day and night.

The first thing we did on Friday was make some tools. In the first photo Bob is cutting the old blade off of my paring knife. He then sent me out to the shop to grind a new, shallower blade. He also gave me a piece of hack saw blade to grind into two smaller paring knives. He cut a few strips of leather for me to pare with a Shar-fix and then I applied wheat paste and wrapped them around the handles of my newly sharpened knives. {the large piece of leather you see in the center frame is an entire goat skin}

We started working on my book block on Saturday. I rounded and backed the spine and then we moved the block into the plough to smooth out the head of the book. This was a slow task as you can only move the blade on the plough a fraction of a millimeter at a time.

After ploughing we lightly sanded the head and applied an edge decoration. It was then time to sew on the headband. Bob talked about making sure that the edge decoration, the endsheets, and the headband color and design all adhere to the historical period of the book. I thickened the book board and shaped the inside spine edges to fit into the curve of the shoulders that I had smoothed out with a hammer and bonefolder earlier in the day. I also beveled the interior of the cover so that it would come up to meet the block. I then punched the holes for the cords, laced them and pounded them in place. Using a large paring knife, I cut the cords and extra cover material off and glued it all down.

There's plenty left to do. We ended the weekend with a quick paring demo of which I felt completely inept but I hold out hope that the motion and pressure will click with me as I practice more in my home studio over the coming month. Stay tuned for some wood carving tests and lots more books!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Working at Brown Dog Bindery

I thought I would add some photos of my own Brown Dog Bindery in Smyrna, Tennessee.

The studio with overflowing in boxes...

Today I am cutting paper for three book blocks that I will bind on to cords in preparation for my first weekend with Bob at The Gilded Leaf.

Taking a break: Lunch in the Bindery

I also have a few commissions to work on today; designing & burning covers...

Some quick shots of the shop. It's very cold out there so not a lot happening right now but you can see my mess from warmer days:

pile of milled wood from the peach tree that I cut down over the summer, boxes of pre-cut book covers hanging out over the table saw, my drill press with a scary looking bit hanging there like a snaggle-tooth, and my propane torch which comes in handy when you want to scorch something.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Visit to The Gilded Leaf: December 15, 2011

My husband and I took a day and drove to Maryville to meet Bob Roberts and his family and to tour The Gilded Leaf Bindery. Bob & I have a special challenge as we are a master/apprentice duo that live 4 hours away from one another and have incredibly busy schedules both in our respective binderies and teaching in our localities.  It's a challenge that we can work through, I know I'm looking forward to the trip to Maryville each month.

Bob's bindery is incredible, chocked full of ancient books, presses, ploughs, rolls of leather, and nearly every tool you can imagine a fine bookbinder's all here. When we arrived Bob's assistant was in the process of rebinding a pre-Civil War book. Bob quickly showed us around the bindery, talking shop with my husband about all the new tools he can look forward to building me in the coming months. Bob's wife Caroline was incredibly sweet and treated us to cake and pie {of which I have a great love}. After several oohs and ahhs, lots of note taking, and pic snapping, we said our goodbyes and made plans for January. It started to drizzle as Chris & I headed back to Smyrna but we were both so excited about everything we had seen that we didn't stop talking about The Gilded Leaf until we were nearly home.

Here are a few pics of our day, mostly of equipment and odds and ends. I threw in one of Chris at the Smoky Mountain Brewery which is near the hotel where I'll be staying. They have plenty of great locally brewed beer for taste testing! Look for lots more images of my studio practice here at Brown Dog Bindery and, of course, my next meeting with Bob in January!

That's All!