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.