Saturday, July 24, 2010

A crash course introduction to bookbinding. In miniature.

Yesterday's studio visit to David Hodges came nicely timed, just days after I finally watched this video on John Carrera's recreation of the 1989 Pictorial Webster's Dictionary (alas embedding is disabled so you'll have to click through)

So it was pretty exciting to see some of the same things I'd seen on the video, but in real life.

But first, David examined the fabulous 1/12th scale, readable*, Peter Rabbit book I brought along as an example for him (I tried googling the company that made it, but the best I can do is
a collection of lustworthy images...) After he examined it and commented on how it was made I said "You know. I've looked at this book but never actually seen it". I then asked what the yellow bit at the end of the spine was.

So David showed me a 19th century bible he's mending, and explained how it was stitched together. I was most pleased that I recognised the way it was bound from the video:He then told me about
headbands. And what they were for. He showed me that this bible had a false headband, that looked like a headband but didn't actually do anything.Which is what he suspected my Peter Rabbit had.(The latent embroiderer in me became a little bit entranced at this stage...)

The David showed me a recent book he'd bound with headbands:(note cover of 19th century bible in the background...)

I heard the story of his first press (and was sidetracked by the beautiful shelving above it!)And then we started talking miniature (while drinking tea and eating Almond Fingers)My trusty mini composition note book tells me that the blue book is a quarter bound with paper covers, 3 cm high. The green is full bound in book cloth and the red is full bound in book cloth with gold tooling. (Please tell me that that is as meaningless to you as it is to me?)

I nodded in what I thought was a wise way, while sneaking a second almond finger and admiring how small he managed to go already but wondering how we could get his work smaller...
(On top: Peter Rabbit)

I'll never make an Investigative Journalist, because at this stage I forgot to take notes. Here's a photo of the method he used to make his books. Just don't ask me what it is, OK? (I blame the sugar high)

This is the doohickey he used to make the goldleaf across the red book. He heats it until it's 98 degrees (and he can tell if it's the right temperature by touch!)then he presses it on some goldleaf and then into the book: He has other designs he could use, but they're all too big for this task...(Pity, I really like this one!)
And then the conversation left the miniature realm as I asked questions about the slanted type drawers I saw up in storage and was introduced, via a very long and exciting story, to his Bucket of type: Which had the button jar lover in me raring to sort out.

My final shots were of the view from David's workshop:
(how special is this? Although I have the overwhelming urge to provide suitable (knitted) winter attire for these two):
(* Alas, for me now, only in full sunlight with eyes slightly crossed. When I recently gave up and visited an Optometrist he said my sight was 2% down from perfect. And I knew that that was the difference between reading teeny tiny script with ease and having to do the crossed-eyes-angle-towards-the-light-dance)


Ampersand Duck said...

It all makes perfect sense. And alas, it would be very hard to make even smaller books (although I'm sure it can be done). I guess it's a matter of dexterity!

Love the tooling. And ergh, a bucket of type is a headache and should be left to some time when he is recuperating from some horrible lurgy, when there is just *nothing* else to do other than gnaw your own foot off in boredom...

Flotsam Friends said...

Loving your blog!! Have you seen this?
Thought you might like it! Pruxxx

Di said...

Thankyou for the wonder Pictorial Websters video. How amazing is that letterpress - all hail Guttenburg!. What an incredible process. Thanks again. PS Can't wait for your exhibition, the blog entries about it are tantalising.

H. Bean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H. Bean said...

I loved looking at this post again, so cool that his miniature books are properly made with mull along the spine & everything.

I'd really like to try making a miniature book again. I made a small one about 5 years ago for a friend which turned out ok, but it definitely could have been better (& smaller).