Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Limp Binding

Helen Schultz (AKA Meisterin Katarina Helene von Schoenborn)  taught a class at Pennsic this past summer. Unfortunately I did not go to Pennsic but I did get to have a little fun anyway. Erika Hepler took Helen's class and made a book. She also went back for a second class which was a slightly different design. She wasn't able to take the class but purchased a kit to take home. I was lucky enough to get to play with the kit and learn how to do a limp binding.

The binding is rather easy to do and produced a very practical and attractive little book. If you have a chance to take Helen's class in the future I'd recommend it.   The binding is based on the following image which comes from the book "The archaeology of medieval bookbinding" by J. A. Szirmai

This binding really is a simple.  A small piece of leather is used to cover the spine.  This serves as a functional and decorative piece.  Some of the stitches go through and are used to hold the quires together.  Most of the stitching on the spine in this case are decorative.  I punched a hole for all the stitches using an awl.

The decorative stitches were done first.

Once all the decorative stitches were done I glued the leather to the piece of parchment which was going to be the book cover.  In this case it was a piece from an old drum head cut to size.

Once the glue set I used an awl again to punch the hole for the metal buttons which would be used to close the book.

All of the quires are stitched together right through the spine.  A small loop is left when stitching through the spine to form a chain stitch.  This style stitch matches the decorative stitching on the spine already and holds the quires in place.

I scored the lines where the cover would need to fold over pages.  I used a metal letter opener to score the line and then folded it over for a sharp crease.

I stitched the leather buttons on the cover in the same method as the decorative stitching on the spine.  I used a bit of waxed thread to finger loop braid into a short cord.  That cord was stitched through the leather button and is used to close the book.

Added a few decorative beads and the book is finished.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Brass Points (Aiglets)

I had plans on working on late 16th century outfit which would require a lot of lacing.  I had previously considered buying the following types of mass produced aiglets: 

Image result for brass aiglets

Rather than buy them I decided to try my hand at making my own.  This is the type of doublet I was interested in making.  Notice the number of lacing holes along the bottom.  I would need lots and lots of brass aiglets.


I started with a couple different proof of concept attempts.  Once I determined the size I wanted I cut out a bunch of trapezoids from a sheet of brass.


The process I worked out worked very well.  I had a cold chisel which I previously rounded over for making armor.  The smooth rounded edge worked great for setting in the inital curve on the aiglets.  I used the chisel backed on a piece of VERY thick leather.  The leather had just enough give to it to allow the brass to cave in a bit.


Once I set a shallow groove along the length of the aiglet I used a small hammer on my 2 pound anvil to hammer over the edge.  Once there was a small amount of curve set in the hammering served to simply close up the aiglet to a nice even cone.


Once I had made about 5 or 6 I was able to crank them out.  Each one takes about 5 minutes to make and that includes the finishing filing. 


Once done I used a small drill bit to drill holes in the aiglet at the top.  Here you can see the aiglet mounted to one of my silk laces.

Girdle Books

I was offered a barter arrangement which is generally the way I "sell" my stuff.  Somebody asked me to make a girdle book in exchange for some homemade cheese.  Cheese was super tastey and well worth the trade.    The second book I made just asked me to make it.  I found a period book with the text which was perfectly appropriate for a friend.  When I saw the book, I knew it must be made and it must be made for this individual.  The following are some of the process pictures.

Finished the book and added a sort of knot at the top.  I have seen these types of knots before but never tried one.  I found a couple tutorials online but this was the best I could do.  Not perfect but looked OK.

I put a light coat of oil on the leather.  I liked the color of the binding without any additional dye so chose only to oil the leather for protection.


Close up of the rough cut of brass to use for the clasp for the smaller book.

Here are the boards I used.  I had split some logs recently.  I now have a power planer so making my own book boards from scraps of firewood is far cheaper than buying quarter sawn boards.


Glued and tied into the press.  I used a wheat paste which sets slowly.  Let dry for a couple days.

The requester wanted a book with pages from a particular year and language.  I downloaded the pages of the book and cleaned them up a bit.  I had to use a photo editor to combine a consistent color of the pages and sharpen some of the poorly photographed pages.

 Rough cut out of brass pieces.

Template used for the brass.  Cut out and a very small amount of hammering required.


Brass corners.  One book had corners, the other didn't.  Based on the persona of the recipients I chose not to embellish one book.  It is a simple book of rules for a simple Catholic Monk.  Only a clasp was included.  This book was bigger and would likely get bumped around a bit more so I added some basic corners as protection.


Stack of quires.  Printed and stacked in groups of 4 sheets per quire.

Ready for gluing.  I covered the pages with waxed paper and some painters blue tape to protect them.'

This is the Salvation Army brass plate I used for all of the hardware.

The finished girdle books.


Books all stitched up and bound to boards.  Ready for covering.


This book had a double binding.  The first layer was a very thin lamb skin with the flesh side out.  Once covered and dried I then Covered it again with the nicer quality calf skin.


Slightly more decorative hardware for the thicker of the two books.


Sewing up the books using a custom made sewing frame.


The two books finished and oiled up all ready for the happy couple.