Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Special Book for the Bride and Groom, Part Two.

This is the second installment in a two part series.  The book itself is covered in the first part, this part will concern itself with the cases.  

Since the book itself is used to determine fit and size of "clamshell" tray, I was concerned about exposing it to excess glue in the process, which invariably happens.  Glue gets squeezed out, rolled out, bone-folded out, there is always some excess popping up somewhere. Not wanting to mess up a nice cover, I made a temporary slip cover for the book.  

It's a simple cover, really, sporting the same cover print as the book itself.  In fact we liked the slip cover enough to keep it on the book up to the actual delivery of this project.

Making the Clam Shell Case.
This will not be necessarily a step by step installment.  It will be, however, a show and tell showing some aspects as I went through the building process. I will attempt to describe the process best I can.  

The first thing I did was to cut two sections of  the same board I used for the book itself, in my case 2.5mm pulp board.  Davey Board, which is binding board, might be used instead.  Binding board is a bit more condensed and somewhat less hydrogesic, which means it acts less as an atmospheric sponge. Remember that the cut pieces of this board will be literally smothered with glue, and as glue dries, tensions on the boards will vary, which is why a book, or nipping press is essential, or at least some nice, heavy books to serve in the absence of such a press.  In fact, some binders use only book weights!  But a press makes things so convenient. <grin>

 Ok, binding board cut, using the book to size with.  I measured the sides of the book and left room equal the that measure, in my case about an inch, on three sides.  One side is trimmed right to the book edge because it will be the open side when the "clam shell" trays are closed.  For the top part of the clam shell I also added twice the thickness of the binding board, or 5mm.

Can you see the pencil lines?  I score these lines half way through, and cut off the squares in the corners.  These will be folded to form the sides, top and bottom.

 Here you can see the sides folded and the corners cut.  I use that caliper to measure thicknesses.  That cutting mat is amazing!  Got it at Hobby Lobby.  Super investment, because not only does it somehow resist the blade without dulling it, but also provides squaring angles which helps for straight hand score cuts!

I use the box halves to determine the cutting sizes on the book cloth directly.  Right now I am going to wrap the sides, so I left one inch on either side of the one inch folded side, a total of three inches.  Keep your bone folder handy.

Glue pot and brushes are handy too.  I am about to brush the glue on the folded board sides. I want to make sure I have even coverage.  I will be gluing one side at a time.

Here we go!  Starting at the right side, I glue and roll in a counter clockwise rotation, spreading the glue on each side as I go.

I leave not only an inch top and bottom, but also on the ends as well.  I need enough to do a good wrap. A good wrap is a wrap that gives me enough material to pull the cloth nice and taught (not too taught) and even over the edges.

Glue, spread rotate, press, rub the excess glue, repeat.  I did this on all three sides. It takes a bit of carefulness to make sure the box is rotating such that the one inch margin top and bottom is maintained.

And . . . I complete the wrap.  Now, I had to use both hands, so taking pictures of each step was impossible but I can describe what I did after this: I cut the corners of the margins such that I could fold them over evenly.  The open side (the edge with no side) required two cuts, one at an angle so that when I folded the cloth over, there wasn't a bunch of already-folded-over cloth layers to glue over. At the ends, the bottom cut folds up and around the bottom of the tray, the side folds around.  In that order. (the top has already been folded.)

After the sides are folded and dried, a piece of cloth is cut to fit into inside, with about two inches of cloth going beyond the open edge, so it can wrap and be glued to the bottom side, which will, in turn, be covered by the case itself.  At this point, I close the top tray over the bottom to make sure it covers well.  And . . . it does!

Here is shown the boards in gluing position, laid out on the bookcloth itself.  I need to leave about an inch and a half  for margins all the way around.  The space between the spine and cover boards are two board thicknesses, or about 5mm.  After this, the cut book cloth is glued.

All pasted up and ready to go!

Here is where I did not take photos because I didn't want to get glue on the camera (it pays to have a damp rag nearby to quickly wipe glue off hands and fingers!)  The boards are glued to the book cloth, the edges are folded over just as it is with a case bound book.  Then another piece of book cloth is cut square, almost the size of the open case, coming within about one sixteenth of an inch of the edge.  This means that both sides of the case, front and back, are thoroughly covered.  The trays are then glued to the inside of the case, open sides to the hinges as shown in the picture above.  The bone folder is used to crease down the spaces between boards and spine to form the creased hinge.

And here she is, the presentation book case complete with book.  The case was dried under the nipping press, under pressure, in a closed position with the book inside. Needless to say, the case covering dried well to the trays, and a Clam-shell Case is born!

Now, what to do with the original letters?  I made a simple "cache" to hold them all together.  That cache would be larger than the clam shell case because the letters were all written on 8.5 by 11 inch letter stock. 

Here is the book, slip cover removed to show off the quarter linen spining and awesome faux vellum, hand printed cover . . .

. . . and here is the book and cache, one atop the other. Pretty vintage looking, no?  Being iridescent, no two angles of the camera or the books render the same colour!  It's an amazing type of book cloth.  As mentioned in the prior post, it's vintage stock, the book cloth may go back to the 1940s or so.  Possibly earlier.

And so, that's the project right there.  The process took altogether about three months with about 40 hours involved in the making of the actual book and covers.

The bride and groom were thrilled.  So were we.  I wish I could record the thank you message I got from Jason, who did the presentation of the book during the couple's rehearsal dinner.  That message made the whole project worthwhile!

-gary, printer
Paper Wren Press.

PS: those who wish a more detailed, step by step instruction on how to make a clam shell presentation book cover like this, click here!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Special Book for the Bride and Groom.

I was approached by friends of mine, Jason and Sheli, to see if I might be available to assist them in a project they wished to embark upon.  As I listened to Jason on our initial phone call, I was more than intrigued.  What he proposed was contacting friends and family of a couple which had their wedding date set for mid April.  These friends and family members were scattered all over the country.  The idea was for them to send the bride and groom advice and / or suggestions, along with some personal testimony, which would encourage them in their new lives together.  These letters would then be bound . . . somehow . . . into a volume which would be presented to them at the time of their marriage ceremony or rehearsal dinner.

What an awesome idea!

Up to this point my bookbinding experience was limited to smaller case bound journals and the restoration of one 17th century text book, coupled with repairs and a presentation binder for an original Harry Potter volume, aside from my current restoration of an Otterbein Hymnal which is locked 'in irons' because other revenue projects have eclipsed progress on that project for over a year.  Needless to say, while I had materials and some experience, I was a bit nervous in taking this project on.  But in the end, the idea so appealed to me, I swallowed hard and replied

"Ok.  Let's do this! "

Phase One: The Letters.
The first challenge would be getting the letters collected to begin with.  Since my nipping press is of limited size, doing a "coffee table folio" was out of the question.  I was limited to a finished size of approximately nine inches by eight inches.  A standard to slightly larger than standard size book would be possible.  Thus, our size was determined by my nipping press.

Now the correspondences themselves needed to have some metrics.  We needed the letters to be submitted to us on 8.5" x 11" pages, with a minimum of a one inch margin all around.  We did want more than a few responses in order to make an actual "book", so we did not want to place too many strictures on the writers who would be kind enough to participate with us.  Since we wanted to retain the look of hand-written letters in this book, it was determined that we would laser copy the letters, sizing them appropriately for the book.  Having the letters originally written basically following the above metrics would help in resizing the pages. And indeed, it did.

Phase Two: Determining the Ingredients.
We decided to use Neenah Classic Laid for the pages.  This is the same paper that I use for my 18th century letterpress restoration work.  It is off-white, and contains what are called "lay lines", which was a pattern left on the paper by the deckles of two hundred years ago and earlier.  Lay lines are very thin ribs which hold the paper fibres in place when pulled from the vats at the mills.  You can see their "water marks"  when you hold the paper to the light.  This is part of how I date a book, btw.  Ever date a book?   A great meal at a fine restaurant and late-nite coffee afterwards usually does the trick.

Jason wanted a large capital "F", the first letter of the groom's last name, to be the prominent theme for the cover design.  We wanted to have an Artisan look.  Jason also wanted a specific title to grace the cover.  Since the Paper Wren is a letterpress shop, I suggested we create a "pasteboard" cover, not unlike the printed paper covers of the early to mid 19th century.  This would facilitate the letterpress printing of the cover.  I would do the design itself from carved linoleum, a "linocut".  The title would be typeset using a century old titling font that I happened to have on hand, which was commonly used in the 15th - 18th century.  This book would definitely have an 18th - early 19th century look and feel.

I happened to have two inventory items which would come in handy: a roll of vintage butternut book cloth which might be as old as seventy-five years, and a vintage package of imitation vellum paper.  I do not know how old this paper is, it might be thirty years old or more.  It is the best imitation of flesh-side vellum I have ever seen, or handled.  It actually has the touch and feel of pounced vellum.  Now, how handy is that?  These sheets were about nine by twelve inches square, just a bit larger than standard office copy paper.

I decided that to serve as a sort of divider between the individual letter pages, which I knew would vary from one to perhaps several pages per response, I would insert a high quality onion skin paper.

The text block itself would need to be "Perfect Bound", because there was no way to execute a hand sown block which would require paper that was twice the size, folded to create signatures.  

Since this book would be case bound, I chose a 2.5mm board for the covers, and decided to attach the book cloth spining to the spine of the text block itself.  While this would be unconventional, it would serve to further re-enforce the spine.  To explain:  a sewn and hammered spine arches outward, in a convex manner. as the text block is flexed, or opened.  A perfect bound edge is concave, and flexes inward, like a pad of paper. Thus normally the spine covering is not glued to the actual text block spine with perfect bound volumes, but float free (sometimes far enough to drop a pencil through!).  Sewn volumes have the spine casing or cloth or leather, whatever material is used, actually glued to the spine of the text block, because here, very little flexing is occurring.

The binding on this book would be what is called "Quarter Bound" using the butternut cloth, and further, would be packaged with a matching clam-shell presentation case.

Phase Three: the letters arrive.
Jason met me at a coffee shop in Orlando (where I always love to meet clients: Panera Bread!) and delivered the letters.  We touched base on a few points, and soon I was gathering materials.  It took about three weeks for the responses to trickle in, so while we were not behind schedule, neither were we ahead.  We had to get things going!

The respondents were amazingly compliant with what we asked for (thanks, guys!!).  This really made sizing the text area for the book pages proper quite easy.  We decided also at this point, to include a special cache for the original letters that would match the clam-shell presentation case.  It would needs be a bit larger owing to the letter sizes.

Jason did a lot of foot work for me by doing the scans of the letters, and delivering to me, along with the actual letters, a flash drive with the .pdf files.  All further sizing would be at the printer itself.

Phase Four: the creation of the text block.
The letters themselves were arranged according to the look of the actual letters themselves.  For instance, on letter was a single page using large hand-drawn capital letters.  This became the "title page".  It was perfect!  Reading the letters were very touching, I really felt like I was getting to know the family.  Wow.  I tried as best as I could to keep immediate family members close to the front, especially parents. As mentioned, the letters had onion skin serving as separator-dividers.  This all had to be cut together.  I did cut the onion skin separately.

I decided to make one trim only.  Normally, an assembled block is trimmed, glued, mulled, liner covered, and then final trimmed.  I don't like to expose text blocks to a lot of trimming.  As a perfect bind, one trim would be adequate, I thought.  So I trimmed the pages directly to the finish size, ensuring a good margin around the text on each page.  Then, modifying my sewing frame, I began the text gluing process.

I used the steel cutting jacket to jog the pages against, with two wooden hornbook paddles to jog the text block sides. The pages were then held into place by the top and bottom braces. After clamping, the steel jacket was removed, and the evenness of the spine edge was checked.  The block was then turned spine-side up and glued with pva glue, dried, then covered with muslin mull, then glued again.

 The spine was left to dry in this manner for a few hours.  I might add that I had wax paper between the clamps and pages, to protect the pages from any glue overflow.

Phase Five: printing the book cover.
I chose a Goudy inspired capital "F" to dominate the cover design. The cover text was typeset in a 36 point blackletter font that dates back to the early 20th century ATF days.

As you can see, I left the linoleum block's edge as part of the design frame.  I left a cleared space below the "F" to make room to include the book's title, which was printed when the linocut image dried.  I printed several covers, actually, because I needed to do several positional "takes", in light of doing different "tests" of placement when the paper is actually glued to the board.  I thought I could calculate the image position, and indeed I could, but I thought safety in numbers and having choices would be best.  Besides, you never know when extra cover prints may come in handy!

This was taken during the actual printing.  I might add that I hand "rolled" the flywheel when making these imprints.  This control of the dwell time for the actual print surface contact, simulating the action of a hand press more or less.  When you are only doing a few images, hand rolling the press is practical.

These photos were taken during the printing of the typeset title. The linocut was printed the day before, and dried.  Notice that I have not mentioned the name of the font?  That's because I forgot.  At the end of this blog entry I'll run out to the shop and look it up and post it.  Hey, it's been a long day, colour me tired! <grin>

Phase Six: tipping in the end-sheets
I chose a charcoal Canson hand-made semi calendered paper for the end sheets.  This colour is a darker neutral that provides excellent contrast with the text block.  I just plain looks classy!  The text block is beginning to look very "healthy"!

Elmer's Glue is not the most commonly used of bookbinding adhesive. I use Elmer's Glue for several aspects of  case and block gluing.  It is an excellent PVA glue, a little denser than glue applied by brush, but for glueing-in end-sheets, it's hard to beat the squeeze-top cap.  I still use a separate sheet of paper to serve as a boundary to keep the glue confined to one-eighth inch from the spine, facilitating a fine glue edge.  The photo above shows the block at this point in the process, with the mull and end-sheets glued in.  Next will be applied a re-enforcement sheet which will be glued over the mull, extending about an inch over the mull edges.

Phase Seven: Casing In!
The 2.5mm boards are cut, leaving room for the board ends to "hinge". The hinge is that part of the book between the spine and the spine-end of the board.  The boards are laid out with the book cloth carefully measured and placed between the boards to cover the spine and about an inch and a half (or a bit more) overlap on the face of the front and back boards.

 The cover, with text block inserted but not yet attached, are then placed in the nipping press to dry.  The "nipping press" is the familiar Book Press, sometimes called a "Copy Press", and is used to keep everything flat while things are drying so warps do not show up.

Another view of the spine drying.  The paste paper cover has yet to be applied to the boards.  That will be the next step, after which the block and boards are once again placed into the press to dry evenly and flat,  then removed.  At that time the rear of each board is painted with glue, along with the inside of the book cloth spine lining, and the whole is enclosed over the block and end-sheets and again, placed into the press to dry.  This is where the end-sheets cover over the rear of the boards and the cover wrap-over.  The spine is dried with pressure applied to it against the text block spine.  This is not normally done with perfect bound blocks because of the direction of flex as described earlier: it is left unglued and allowed to fold, or protrude outwardly away from the spine as the book flexes open.  Since I wanted the extra support afforded by the linen book cloth spine lining, I broke with convention in the name of re-enforcement.

This is a shot of the paste paper sizing stage.  Notice the linen spine is already set, attached to the boards.  I am positioning the faux vellum printed cover to just cover the edge of the book cloth on the board.  The paper is always glued over the cloth, not vice versa.  This was something I observed in all my 1820s - 70s volumes so bound.  In fact, I learnt the process by reverse engineering one of the actual books.  The only thing I am not doing is waxing the cover, which I do not believe is necessary on this particular book.  This is not a mass produced book that's going to be beat to death.  Also, wax will stain over the years.

And here she is, fresh off the nipping press.  Covers, paste paper, and quarter linen edging is equal on both the front and rear boards.  Yes!!  That's something that really requires attention.  Presentation is everything, and symmetry is paramount because it's so noticeable.

I always get butterflies in the stomach when I open one of my books for the first time!  You don't see the sheets when the book is closed and placed under the press. You hope everything you did, all your positioning and placement was accurate.  You are a bit nervous that you didn't tip the sheets wrong.  Or,  that somehow you missed a spot with the glue, or that bubbles formed.  A lot can go wrong!  Some can be corrected later, but not everything.  As it is, this one came out . . . perfect.  ( whew!! )  Don'cha love that charcoal colouring?   I still just sit and stare at this photo.  Colour me geeky.

There is also nervousness going through the pages.  Is on upside down?  Heh, you might laugh.  Trust me, it's been done by the best of binders.  As it is, everything turned out great.  Nothing beats riffling the pages of a book you just built.  Like running your fingers through your sweetheart's hair.  

You can't tell I love books, can you?

Stay tuned for the next installment: the Clam Shell Cover!

(P.S.: the font is called "Cloister")