Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Binding

OK, this a completely new type of project for me.  Yup, I seem to do that a lot.  I have this vision of what a medieval friar would look like and what he might carry.   Well as I go through the list of things that I think the friar might have I keep adding projects to my list.  The one big thing that I think is lacking from my complete kit is a copy of the scriptures.  I need to have a copy of at least some biblical texts.  While I don't read Latin and I'm quite certain that I never will I decided to make a "period looking" book that I could carry.  I do some scribal stuff but there is really no chance that I'll copy the bible and bind it up to carry along.  I had to make some compromises.  This project is basically my first attempt at book binding.  Once I work through the process I may or may not decide to bind an actual vellum book some day.  For now the goal of this project is to create a period looking book which I can also use as a journal to read and write in while at the week long event.

In the image below you will see all the supplies I have at this point to do the initial binding.
I printed out two sets of text to be bound.  One volume contains the first four books of the new testemant and the other volume contains only the Book of Matthew and the Psalms.  
 - Jute cord
 - Bag of needles
 - Linen thread
 - Awl
 - Printed texts
 - scrap leather
 - pliers
 - Hobby saw
 - Planks of wood
 - Clamps

I brought jute cord and scrap leather to bind the book.  I decided against the strips of leather and went with two types of jute instead.  One book has a single thick strand of jute and the other has two smaller srtips.  I used a heavy linen thread to do the sewing.  

I started out by clamping the folios together. One volume had 4 page folios, the other one had 10 pages.  This entire project is a practice/proof of concept so I wanted to do subtle difference to see what worked better.  

I clamped the folios together and marked the places where the binding would go.  I then used a small hobby saw to score the backs of the folio to make small slits to sew through.

After sawing you can see the small slits inside each folio where I will sew through.

I have seen rigs set up to sew a book together.  I didn't go into anything elaborate like that.  I simply held the folios in my hand and stitched them one at a time to the cords.  As I added each folio to the stack I stitched it not only to the cord but to the last folio as well.  This makes sort of a zig-zag stitching pattern over the cordage.

First book bound.  This volume is the the book of Matthew.  I intentionally made two volumes of different sizes to see how thickness and page size affected the binding process.  The stitching process took about 1.5 hours I believe, which I don't think is bad for a first attempt.

I put the book in between two planks and tightened some clamps down on it.  As I was doing so I rounded out the back of the book to make sure it aligned properly with an slight arch to the back of the book.  I then set it aside for some future day and moved on to the thicker volume.

This smaller book was printed in four page folios.  Each finished page is 1/4th a sheet of standard printer paper.  Since this was a test case I didn't want to use any sort of expensive paper in case it didn't work well.

I clamped the book together, marked the edge and sawed the binding just like last time.

Here is the thinner jute cord used for the thicker book.

More than 1/2 way done and the book is really starting to look like a real manuscript.


When the sewing was complete I bound the book up using the clamps.  I only had two planks with me at the time and I was doing this at a friends house so I'll have to clamp it up better later.

I am really surprised how easily this went together.  I finished all the work you see on this page in one evening at a friends house at "guild night"  It was probably about 3.5 hours of work total to get to this point.  So far I am really liking book binding and I think I may have to try transcribing a real book so that I can bind a "real" medieval book some day.