Size matters! – Το μέγεθος μετράει!

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Notebook2(Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά πηγαίνετε στο τέλος του κειμένου)

See this binding? Looks fairly simple right? It is, only it ain’t…

Comparison2Take a look at the second photo, I placed an average sized book next to it so you can get an idea of its dimensions. As you can see the notebook is about 4 times bigger. Binding books of this size can be challenging and since commissions of the sort are not frequent I thought to make a post regarding some peculiarities one might come up with during the process.

Let me start with an anecdote first. I have had the luck to spent a year next to a great Greek binder. During one of the days at her bindery a chubby man dashed in and asked “how much?” pointing at the first binding he laid his eyes on. The binder mentioned a price and the man immediately showed a smaller one next to it and asked again. To his astonishment she replied with the same price. “But this one is smaller…” he said a bit annoyed. “Hmm… yes, you’re right…” she answered indifferently and then said a much higher price, which of course made him leave.

This small incident comes to mind often and I have been sharing it on occasion to underline that no matter the size we always apply the same techniques during the binding process. A bit bigger or a bit smaller doesn’t change a lot of things. When the book is very big or very small though the binding behaves differently and the binder must plan ahead and also find ways to overcome difficulties that may arise.

-Planing ahead
Upon accepting such a commission make sure your equipment can accommodate such a binding. It would be frustrating to find out your sewing frame isn’t large enough and probably start looking for a carpenter just after you have sawed the signatures. If you’re short on time you can always make do with a crude DIY wooden frame, as long as the threads are tight. Respectively, check your backing and finishing press, pressing boards etc.
Sewing-backing-spine layers-Use numerous sewing stations.
Above a certain size case bindings simply don’t cut it. The book’s mass will gradually detach the block from the boards. It is preferable to go for a french binding with laced in boards and saw for numerous sewing stations. The perfectionist me wanted 9 but practical me slapped him in the face and decided 7 was good enough in this case.
A book 4x times the size of an average book correspondingly leads to 4x time for the various binding stages; It usually takes me 20-40 mins to sew a book, this took an hour and a half. Sawing, backing, leather paring and dyeing afterwards were proportionally time consuming.

-Laminate your boards.
Boards warp because they absorb moisture when paper, leather or any kind of material is pasted on them. Large boards = lot of warp and thicker boards don’t really help to prevent this. The answer is laminated boards; Use 3 thin boards pasted together to accomplish the desired thickness. NOTE- the board in the middle must have its grain opposite to the other two, meaning horizontally.
I make laminated boards 80% of the time. I believe the trouble is worth it since they are much more resilient and I find them easier to work with.

-Choosing headbandsHeadband1
If you’re going to bind a very thick book and intend to make handsewn headbands think twice about the design/pattern. I remember having spent a day and a half sewing headbands for two volumes. A 1or2 colors simple headband with a bead on the edge might be a more practical choice than a 3colored double-core french headband or a chevron headband.

-The big cover up.
Finding a leather big enough can be a problem. I waited two weeks for some leathers to arrive and the larger hide among them was full of marks, alas I had no alternatives. I decided to do a bit of cheating; Since handling such a huge surface would be quite difficult and stressful I divided the cover in segments and cut the hide in 5 pieces. Made my life a LOT easier. I “masked” the meeting points by overlaying thin leather strips lined with tooling.

flat1-A pressing matter.
As mentioned earlier, make sure you have sizable pressing boards.
The nipping press is quite important; Large books are harder to press properly since the pressure diminishes outwards from the center. If your press can exert the needed force then no problem. However if it’s not strong enough you might be up for a nasty surprise along the way. Four-screw presses tend to exert pressure more uniformly across a surface but are also more troublesome to use. Make sure your press is up for the task or talk with a local binder to arrange use of press space during the crucial stages.

The binding weighs some 5+ kilos. There’s still the owner’s insigne to be tooled on it but it’s practically finished. Have to admit though, difficult as it may be binding such large books the feeling when handling it at the end is very rewarding.

Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά -> Το μέγεθος μετράει- Άρθρο βιβλιοδεσίας

Open2

An interesting find – Μιά ενδιαφέρουσα αγορά

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(Για να διαβάσετε το άθρο στα Ελληνικά πηγαίνετε στο τέλος του κειμένου).

Mr Stavros M. is a diligent amateur bookbinder and a frequent visitor of my studio. Apart from that however he’s also a keen searcher of anything related to bookbinding and always comes up with interesting findings! One of those was quite remarkable, a unique press he discovered at an antiquarian shop downtown…
Finishing press 4Update; Jeff Peachey notified that this is a woodworker’s press called “miter jack“. For once more it is very interesting to see how the same tools and equipment can serve different crafts. The design is in all aspects ideal for spine work to the very last detail.

The press has one cheek fixed in place and the second free to move on two rails. The single screw makes clamping and releasing books much faster than the double screw system while at the same time reducing the number of parts/points that undergo friction. In contrast with standard table finishing presses this leaves the cheeks practically unharmed from the wear brought by use, the screw is the only component that has some amount of wear and jerks slightly if left to rotate freely.
The cheeks themselves are also noteworthy. Some time ago I had to do a great deal of decoration for a commission and faced back, neck and arm pains. By chance I met a physiotherapist soon after and described to her what I do and the symptoms that usually follow. She advised me to find a way to have the bookspine always at an angle. While you can do that at some extent with the usual finishing press part of the spine is not accessible between the cheeks or the book is not held firmly since one has to clamp small part of it to have the spine all at hand and also at a big angle. Well, the cheeks of the press are cut at an angle thus allowing good clamping with the bookspine fully exposed and, most important, being able to work in a more upright posture. Excellent.
The press’s feet are equally noteworthy; They too are cut at an angle in the back, allowing the tilting of the press in an instant which brings the book in horizontal position without having to remove and reposition it. What more can a finisher ask for?Press before 3I gave the press to an excellent carpenter and woodworker, Antonis, for some minor restoration. He is the person making the handles for my tools- if it’s wood related Antonis is the man for the job! He took the press apart and replaced some cracked small parts that were not visible, as well as the wooden end the screw pressed against. The cheek faces were straightened, they curved in slightly, most likely from the clamping of books through the press’s long use. The rails were smoothed and oiled. Although we don’t know the press’s age it’s apparent it is quite old so Antonis decided against removing the patina.
 I noticed that the press tilted too easily, so the previous binder must have either worked with his bench against a wall and pulling the press when he desired to alter its angle, or had some wood block tucked under to prevent it from constantly tilting. I asked for Antonis to think of some form of convertible supports that would also prevent the press from tilting but could be easily pulled if Ι wanted to move the spine to a horizontal position. He came up with this clever design based on hinges and magnets, you can see its function at the photo sequence. An interesting note- Antonis used the same kind of wood for the added/replaced parts. Time has its (charming) way with materials…Convertible supportsBrass fixture1 Last but not least I did a small alteration; The screw pushed the moving cheek but didn’t pull it when rotated for release. The face of the screw end, which has certain marks on it, and the piece of wooden protrusion it pushed against allow me to assume that there was some kind of metallic component/s in place that made the cheek move in accord with the screw, much like in backing presses. I constructed and installed some brass components to make this possible again.
Now the press is finally ready to serve the craft for another lifetime, till its next owner…

Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά ανοίξτε το εξής αρχείο:
Μια ενδιαφέρουσα αγορά

From Within a Book

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In the silent aisle of that old bookshop lay a thousand stories waiting to be told. The books keep still, patiently filling the aisle’s emptiness with faint echos that become louder and clearer as one let his or her thoughts be led by them, and finally merge, until it seems as if you are breathing the stories themselves that arise from within a book…

From within a book- Emma TaylorEmma TaylorMeet Emma Taylor. Emma is a book sculptor. But she is not. You see, a book invites you in a story, a world. Emma however has the ability to do the very opposite; she invites the book’s story to our world by giving it form. Something between Geppetto and the blue fairy from Pinocchio. So, I firmly believe that behind the facade of a “book sculptor” Emma is actually a book wizard.

Supposedly a wizard never reveals his secrets. However I’ve managed, under the pretext of an interview, to trick Emma in sharing a thing or two about how she works her magic on books;

So, lets begin; How did you become a book sculptor? Call me predictable but hey, we don’t get to meet one everyday!
I saw images online of a series of book sculptures which were left anonymously in Edinburgh and just loved the concept, as you say you definitely don’t meet a book sculptor everyday or even see many images of book sculptures so it was really a bit of a revelation! I have always loved the smell and appearance of old books, so the possibility of making artwork out of them really excited me. I made the first one for a college project and uploaded an image of it to my blog ( link at the bottom ), I was astonished by the positive response and a few people had asked if I would be making anymore, so I did and as they say the rest is history!

Swan song - Emma TaylorTell us how you choose the books for your creations. Do you feel a “calling” from certain books, is it the idea of the sculpture that comes first, or is it something entirely different?
A bit of a mixture really. I like to match the book title to the theme of the piece, so often when I am perusing the many bookshops that I visit a book title will jump out at me and that will act as the starting point for the piece. In those cases I guess you could describe it as a “calling” from the book, it’s just whatever takes my fancy at the time. The books are always aged with discoloured pages, I love the off white colour and also I know it’s a cliche, but I do love the smell!

The knight and the dragon - Emma taylor

Dragon face - Emma TaylorLiving through an art or a craft is like an intense relationship; For example I love sewing headbands for my bindings and I absolutely loathe sanding book edges. Which is the least and most favorite part of making a sculpture according to you?
Well my favourite part would be adding all of the details, this is when the piece really seems to come together for me. My least favourite part would have to be adding the wadding to pad out the various forms. I dislike this part simply because it always seems to take much longer than I expect it to, also I finish the wadding and then have to go over all of the forms again covering up the wadding with strips of book pages.

The witches 3 - Emma TaylorYou are obviously a booklover. What does a book represent for you?
For me books represent stories and not just the ones that are written in them. Each book tells its own history and within that history is often many owners. Some owners who have treasured the book and added a slip of tissue paper to protect a particularly fragile page, others who have had a new set of crayons for Christmas and have tried them out by colouring in a few of the black and white illustrations and finally the giver and receiver named in the inscription inside the front cover.

Wind in the Willows 1 - Emma TaylorI am all for book arts and book sculpting in particular. However I’ve heard in discussions, more than once, that using books in this way is sacrilege. What would you say in regard to that perspective?
I will simply describe what happened when I bought a book from a market stall recently. The said book had its cover hanging off, so when I handed it to the owner of the stall he discreetly put the cover back into place; he was obviously very surprised by my choice and sheepishly asked for £1.50. I happily handed over the money as I saw potential in the book, where as he obviously considered it to be somewhat past its best. Although many people had obviously glanced at the damaged book and completely ignored it, I had chosen the book not for the purpose of reading it (as this may have been an issue because a few pages were missing) but to create a sculpture out of it, thereby giving it a new life as an object to be admired and once again appreciated.

Emma taylor 1Bear with me, we’re almost there! What are your thoughts and feelings during the making of a new piece?
I am always excited to start a new piece and intrigued to see what it will end up like, I do make a rough plan but I tend to deviate from this. However by the time I finish the piece it’s as though I can’t actually see what it looks like anymore. I think this is because I spend many, many hours working on each sculpture, so I tend to get absorbed in the piece and know every millimeter of it and so my image of the piece consists of all the different elements and everything that they have involved. After what I like to call my ‘cooling of period’ I can then see what it looks like and assess what I feel has worked and what hasn’t.

And last but not least; What would you like to achieve by creating all those wonderful sculptures? Is it art for the sake of art or are you trying to communicate something through your creations?
The first piece which I made focused on the decreasing demand for books as they are sadly being partly replaced by eReaders.  To me the possibility of the end of the book is a tragic one and so the continued aim of my work is to present the book as an object to be admired. I am simply presenting the book in a new light. Although people are no longer able to read the books I use, they are instead given a visual image to view. 

You can see more of Emma’s work at her blog http://fromwithinabook.tumblr.com/ and at facebook https://www.facebook.com/FromWithinaBook

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Black Beauty - Emma Taylor

Tool presentation – Παρουσίαση εργαλείων

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About a week ago I presented my tools to ARA Greece (association of Greek bookbinders). It was a pleasant evening and I would like to thank the members for their warm welcoming and especially Thaleia Michelaki for arranging the whole thing as well as Evangelia Tsitoura for the photos.

ΜΙΕΤ- presenation 1ΜΙΕΤ- presentation toolsΦωτογραφίες από την παρουσίαση των εργαλείων μου για το σύνδεσμο ελλήνων βιβλιοδετών και φίλων του βιβλίου. Θα ήθελα να ευχαριστήσω τα μέλη για το θερμό καλωσόρισμα και ιδιαιτέρως τη Θάλεια Μιχελάκη που οργάνωσε την παρουσίαση καθώς και την Ευαγγελία Τσιτούρα για τις φωτογραφίες.

Επι τη ευκαιρία, έχετε υπόψιν σας τα Deco Papers? Η Θάλεια και η Ορσαλία φτιάχνουν μαρμαρόκολλες και paste papers σε μοναδικά σχέδια.
marbling papersΟι παρτίδες διαφέρουν μεταξύ τους, και τις 3 φορές που τα είδα υπήρχαν καινούργια σχέδια! Είναι ελάχιστες οι πηγές χειροποίητων χαρτιών (και υλικού γενικότερα) βιβλιοδεσίας στην χώρα μας, τα deco papers προσφέρουν ιδιαίτερες επιλογές που μπορεί κανείς να δει από κοντά στο κέντρο της Αθήνας.

Have you heard about Deco Papers?Handmade marbled and paste papers by Thaleia and Orsalia, two binders in Athens. Each batch has unique designs!

Modifying your bench for a lying press

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On the occasion of a recent discussion at the Book arts web list, I thought to share with you all how I’ve set up my lying press.

Lying press - Incorporated on benchThe discussion was regarding the positioning of lying presses on the bench workspace, how to keep them in place and other practical suggestions/ideas.
When I bought the press I got myself a taller and more robust bench than the one I’ve been using. However the bench was quite large leaving little room for the press to be on its own separate base.
I thought of a certain setting that saved me both a lot of room and a decent amount of money that would normally go in making a sturdy base for the press. Part of the bench surface, about a 1/4th, is a separate plank with a large parallelogram gap. The press was mounted over this gap and held in place with a few screws here and there.

Book position - Using the press spaceI’ve clamped a rather large book so you can see its position in relation to the bench; the book protrudes downwards, below the bench surface. This is another advantage this setting has to offer in comparison with simply having a lying press on an ordinary bench where you have to stack objects under its bars to achieve the desired height for a large book. It’s also very steady when used as a backing press. When I don’t saw or back books I place some wooden sheets on the press and use the space to keep books or things I’ll need during the task at hand.

The whole idea has payed off ever since and I’ve found it most helpful. Though I designed my bench like this anyone can modify an existing bench accordingly with the right power tools.

Some Bookporn

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Being both a booklover and a binder I search for books that are good looking, well printed and affordable. Books that are great to have but at the same time lend themselves for a good binding. And I’ve realized that’s a hard combo. Penguin books for example (don’t shoot me Penguin fans!) are neat looking and affordable, but the paper quality, the absence of folios and pocket size are not ideal characteristics for a long lasting book, let alone a quality binding.
From time to time I discover commercially available editions that get my binder/reader seal of approval. Today I recommend you my most cherished finding;

Folio societyFolio Society
I have been drooling over Folio Society’s editions for a long time, almost 3 years.  In July I realized I had some money to spare and so I decided to order 6 books before everyday trivialities unavoidably claim those savings. I knew Folio books are wonderful. Upon their arrival my opinion was changed, wonderful was simply too small of a word for them…

Folio's Arabian nightsMy order included books I intend to bind and others I want to keep. They are superb editions in every aspect. The books are bound in -what else!- folios instead of the commercial “perfect binding”. The paper is heavy and of good quality. The illustrations accompanying most of their titles are marvelous and -most important- excellently printed. The typography is great. The cover concepts are inventive and artistic, frugal when they must and exuberant when they can. They are mostly bound in Buckram which is known for its resilience as a covering material, and each book comes in its own hard case.

For what’s more Folio society offers an amazing variety. From treasured classics, be it romantic novels or sci-fi, to less known but carefully picked works of older and newer authors. From historical writings to scientific ones. From Shakespeare to Confucius.

Folio's once and future kingSure, Folio’s books are somewhat expensive and yes, there are thousands of (even more) luxurious editions out there. But as far as value for money goes Folio’s books are the best I’ve seen so far. A treasure to have and ideal material for binding purposes.

Πηγαίνοντας στο βιβλιοδέτη…

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Αυτό το αρθράκι αφορά μερικά πράγματα που είναι καλό να θυμόμαστε όταν θελήσουμε να δέσουμε ένα βιβλίο. Γνωριζοντάς τα διευκολύνετε τον βιβλιοδέτη να εξυπηρετήσει εσάς και το βιβλίο σας με τον καλύτερο δυνατό τρόπο!

-Ο χρόνος

timeΣτο σύχρονο κόσμο έχουμε συνηθίσει όλα να γίνονται άμεσα και γρήγορα: Τα φρούτα και τα λαχανικά μας περιμένουν έτοιμα στα ράφια του σουπερμάρκετ, αγοράζουμε και παίρνουμε επιτόπου τα καινούρια μας έπιπλα ή συσκευές, τα κείμενα μας τυπώνονται σε λίγα δευτερόλεπτα στο φωτοτυπείο. Όμως η βιβλιοδεσία δεν λειτουργεί έτσι… Είναι μια χειροτεχνία και ως τέτοια θέλει χρόνο.

Πολύ συχνά επικοινωνεί μαζί μου κάποιος που θέλει να δέσει μια εργασία ή ένα βιβλίο για δώρο μια βδομάδα πριν την μέρα που πρέπει να παραδοθούν. Αυτός ο χρόνος είναι οριακός ακόμη και για την πιο λιτή βιβλιοδεσία, μια απλή ραφτή πανόδετη χωρίς διακόσμηση. Υπάρχουν πολλά στάδια στα οποία αφήνουμε το βιβλίο να στεγνώσει από την κόλλα και η δουλειά πρέπει να περιμένει ως την επόμενη. Εάν πρόκειται για δερματόδετο τόμο ο οποίος θα βαφτεί στο χέρι τότε μπορεί να χρειαστούν 2 ή 3 μέρες μέχρι να απορροφηθεί το χρώμα, να επιτευχθεί ο επιθυμητός τόνος και να στεγνώσει το δέρμα για να δουλευτεί. Θα μπορούσα να γράψω μια ολόκληρη λίστα με λεπτομέρειες τέτοιου τύπου που απαιτούν η κάθε μια το χρόνο της. Ακόμη και αν ζητηθεί μια εργασία που έχει διάρκεια 4-5 ημερών είναι πιθανόν ο βιβλιοδέτης σας να μην προλαβαίνει να την έχει έτοιμη σε αυτό το διάστημα για ένα σωρό λόγους (πχ άλλες παραγγελίες που ήδη τρέχουν).
Εάν λοιπόν θέλετε η βιβλιοδεσία σας να είναι έτοιμη εγκαίρως επικοινωνήστε από νωρίς με το βιβλιοδέτη και ρωτήστε τον πόσο χρόνο θα χρειαστεί η συγκεκριμένη εργασία. Σε αντίθεση με τις δουλείες γραφείου οι προθεσμίες στα χειροτεχνικά επαγγέλματα ορίζονται από την φύση της εργασίας οπότε όσο νωρίτερα γίνει η συνεννόηση τόσο το καλύτερο.
Προσωπικά θεωρώ πως για μια απλή βιβλιοδεσία είναι καλό να μιλήσετε με τον βιβλιοδέτη 2 βδομάδες πριν και εάν πρόκειται για μια ιδιαίτερη παραγγελία (ένα καλλιτεχνικό δέσιμο, ένα περαστό κλπ) 1 μήνα ή και παραπάνω.

- Το χαρτί και τα νερά του

νερά και κείμενοΤο συγκεκριμένο θέμα αφορά τους ανθρώπους που τυπώνουν κάτι και έπειτα πάνε να το δέσουν. Πολύ σημαντικό και ας φαίνεται κάπως εξειδικευμένο.
Μέσα από την διαδικασία της παραγωγής το βιομηχανικό χαρτί αποκτά “νερά”, σαν αυτά που έχει το ξύλο. Τα νερά, που συνήθως δεν φαίνονται, επηρρεάζουν σε μεγάλο βαθμό την συμπεριφορά του χαρτιού και το πως αλληλεπιδράει με άλλα υλικά και ουσίες. Ο σωστός τρόπος για να τυπωθεί ένα βιβλίο που πρόκειται να δεθεί ειναι ένας: με τα νερά κατακόρυφα. Εάν το βιβλίο είναι τυπωμένο με τα νερά “κόντρα”, δηλαδή οριζόντια, τότε η ζωή του βιβλιοδέτη γίνεται δύσκολη και το αποτέλεσμα είναι μια βιβλιοδεσία με αρκετά προβλήματα για τα οποία δεν μπορεί να κάνει και πολλά.
Σε οτιδήποτε περιλαμβάνει περισσότερους από έναν τεχνίτες το λόγο έχει αυτός που θα δουλέψει τελευταίος με το αντικείμενο. Συμβουλευτείτε πρώτα το βιβλιοδέτη και μετά τον γραφίστα και τον τυπογράφο. Τα νέρα του χαρτιού είναι μεν το σημαντικότερο θέμα αλλά υπάρχουν και πολλά ακόμη που ποικίλουν ανάλογα με το τι πρόκειται να δεθεί. Μιλήστε με το βιβλιοδέτη και εάν χρειαστεί φέρτε τον σε επικοινωνία με τον τυπογράφο σας προτού γίνει η εκτύπωση. Εάν δεν έχετε ακόμη βρει βιβλιοδέτη αλλά πρέπει να γίνει η εκτύπωση βεβαιωθείτε πως ο τυπογράφος θα τυπώσει με τα νερά κάθετα.

- Αναζήτηση

Κλασσική βιβλιοδεσίαΌσες φορές έτυχε να χρειαστώ ένα τεχνίτη (ξυλουργό, μηχανουργό, ράφτη, σχεδιαστή κλπ) προσπαθώ να ενημερωθώ για αυτό που θα ζητήσω, κάνω πολλές ερωτήσεις και επισκέπτομαι αρκετά εργαστήρια κάθε φορά. Είναι ευνόητο πως δεν διαθέτουν όλοι τον χρόνο ή και την όρεξη τελωσπάντων για τέτοια έρευνα. Όμως έχουμε στη διαθεσή μας το ίντερνετ, το οποίο βρίθει από υλικό βιβλιοδεσίας.
Αναζητείστε εικόνες, διαβάστε άρθρα. Κατανοώντας, έστω και συνοπτικά, την φύση της εργασίας που θα ζητήσετε μπορείτε να κάνετε καλύτερο προγραμματισμό (χρόνου, κόστους κλπ) και θα γίνει καλύτερη συνεννόηση.
Δεν είναι σπάνιο να υπάρχουν μη ρεαλιστικές προσδοκίες από τον βιβλιοδέτη: Για παράδειγμα έχουμε τόσο εξοικειωθεί με την εικόνα της κλασσικής βιβλιοδεσίας 19ου αιώνα από ταινίες και media, που οι περισσότεροι θεωρούν πως ένα τέτοιο όμορφο δέσιμο με χρυσά διάκοσμα και μπορντούρες είναι απλή υπόθεση. Η αλήθεια ωστόσο είναι πως μια τέτοια βιβλιοδεσία -μια πραγματική βιβλιοδεσία τέτοιου τύπου και όχι μια απομίμηση- απαιτεί εξαιρετικές ικανότητες, μεγάλο χρόνο ολοκλήρωσης και έχει υψηλό κόστος. Αυτά γίνοται εύκολα αντιληπτά μέσα σε λίγα λεπτά στο ίντερνετ. Μια γρήγορη ματιά online μπορεί να είναι εξαιρετικά κατατοπιστική και θα βοηθήσει στη διαμόρφωση του αποτελέσματος με διάφορους τρόπους!

Θα βρείτε περισσότερα άρθρα σε σχέση με την βιβλιοδεσία στο Portofolio μου (ακολουθήστε το link).

Για το λίγο καλοκαίρι που απέμεινε εύχομαι ό,τι καλύτερο!

A spellbook for Lolth – Σημειωματάριο fantasy

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Three weeks ago I was called upon a quest; to make a special fantasy style journal… Quest complete, xp gained, level up!

Spellbook - LolthΔερματόδετο σημειωματάριο τύπου περαστό με δέρμα βαμμένο στο χέρι. Χαρτί Mineralis May 90grs. Κεφαλάρια χειροποίητα με μεταξωτή λωστή. Διακόσμηση με δερμάτινα επιθέματα και ασήμι 1000. Λίθοι Γρανάτη στα 8 χιλιοστά.

Headbands - margins 1Mister A. contacted me and said he wanted to make a special gift, a journal that would have a dark and mystical feeling about it. From the images he sent me as pointers my imagination was caught by Lolth, an evil goddess of the dark elves which is half human half spider. Most of the fantasy journals I bump onto are usually predictable- spam some pentalphas and Celtic motives on it and you’re good to go. I suggested to make something a bit classier but not without the extravaganza this style is noted for. Although much more expensive than originally agreed my client told me to go for it.

Preparation for spine1I made some serious estimations before I started and… I was wrong in all of them! This journal had 3 times the work I anticipated and its sheer cost (materials- other expenses) reached 100 euros.
Starting with the paper I opted for Mineralis May which has a handmade look to it, feels “soft” and pulpy and performs well with pen ink. I hand painted the leather and saw the headbands with silk thread. I also made sewn in leather joints. As soon as the binding was forwarded (->most of the structural work) I started the preparations for the massive decoration that was on the plan.

Part of the decoration was the runes included in the framework (bottom of the post for reading instructions), that was pretty straight forward. For the webs I used pure (1000) silver leafs. Since most of the lines are small or curve quite a bit I couldn’t use a roller, they had to be gilded inch by inch using a stylus (oh the horrible neck pain…!). In fact ALL decoration was achieved with just the stylus set. The figure of Lolth however was the trickiest and most time consuming of all. I’ve made a picture where you can see 6 of the 8 steps involved in onlay work. The 7th is adhering the onlays and the 8th, which can be omitted if a different type of result is desired, is to finally blind tool on top once more to equalize the onlays to the leather’s surface and refine their shape. Jana Pullman is a master in onlays and has detailed posts with images on the process.

Process steps 1GranatesLast but not least I felt adventurous and wanted to have a go at some semiprecious stones, it is after all expected from a self respecting fantasy journal… They were 8 small Granate stones but I felt like frickin Sangorski and Sutcliffe! Gems are awesome- period.
Applying them was tricky. I didn’t trust the sockets to stay in place because even with strong epoxy the board layer beneath them can always tear off under pressure so I devised a way to ensure their rigidness till kingdom come. A circular piece of very thin brass was welded at the bottom of each socket much like a tea cup and its coaster. That enlarged the adhering area but the main reason I did it was because I needed to be able to “keep the sockets down”. I removed the leather at the corners so the stones would not just sit on the cover, that wouldn’t look nice, but rather be sunk beneath and protrude from it. After gluing the sockets I covered them with inlays. Now the stones were held in place both from the top and the bottom. Mission accomplished, cheers!

PS- For all you lovable geeks who just HAVE to know what the runes say you can decipher them using the Drow alphabet. The reading goes from back to front cover and you start at the lower left corner of each going clockwise, the sentences at the bottom are both upside down because of that. The dots signify the end of each verse.

Titus Andronicus – Τίτος Ανδρόνικος

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Dear readers, this is how obsession looks like… Allow me to explain!
Titus AndronicusA year ago I decided to take part in the international Designer Bookbinders competition the results of which were announced very recently. I signed the form, payed the fee and everything was peachy. The topic of the competition was simply “Shakespeare”, which I found great cause in many cases these competitions are about binding a specific book that all binders have to obtain. While that is certainly challenging I believe freedom of choice regarding the book indulges creativity more and Shakespeare is as inspirational of a topic as it can get.

First quartoI acquired (not without trouble) a wonderful copy of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s (said to be) first tragedy. The copy cost some 450$ and was printed in 1901 by the famous Ballantyne press. It’s no surprise they became famous; every single aspect of the edition is astonishing and, along with Leon Bakst, I can say it was the best book my bench has seen so far.

The story of Titus Andronicus unfolds in ancient Rome. It begins with the joyous return of general Andronicus after a successful campaign and slowly spirals into a full revenge-driven blood bath. The story feels in some ways similar to a Tarantino movie (I can hear Shakespeare scholars gasping after this “crude” comparison but that’s how it is!). Overall it was a great choice.

Shakespeare rounded and backedAs soon as I got the book a certain design came to mind. It was perfect for Titus and sooner than later I began work. It involved a new technique that I had found by accident. I did countless tests and tried the whole decoration more than once on blanks that were prepared exactly like Shakespeare. Things were going as planned and three months before the deadline I started binding the book itself. However, when it came to decorating the actual book everything was simply a disaster. The technique involved a treating of the cover’s entire surface so there was no room for corrections, I had to do it all over again. I had gained confidence through the numerous tests and practice I did over months so I bound the whole thing again. Once more though the decoration would fail, in a different way this time. I couldn’t get my head around it, I bound it a third time with a similar outcome. It was as if the damn thing didn’t want to be bound! By then I had become fixated and most importantly I was out of time.

Headband 1The book was bound once more. Now however it was a matter of a day or two to miss the deadline. I had no time to think and prepare something to my heart’s desire. I came up with a different binding, the one you see here. The leather is hand dyed dark grey goatskin sprinkled black to lightly imitate a type of tombstone marble. Romans made ancestral masks by producing molds from a person’s face. Using this as a base of reference and also taking elements from ancient theatrical masks I made a number of onlays that were hand painted and blind tooled. The onlays are thick on purpose to resemble a mask hanging from a mausoleum wall. Some of the masks represent basic characters of the story, if you’ve read the play you’ll probably be able to recognize one or two. The Latin words act as a tombstone inscription- “what drove the life of these people”- and were tooled using 22 carat gold. The headbands are made from silk thread.

Although I finished it just in time I never sent it. It was not what I had imagined, it didn’t represent me the way I wanted. Call me excessive and you won’t be wrong, for me it’s either “all or nothing”. Just like the characters in Shakespeare’s play became willingly fixed on something they could stop or avoid I too became obsessed with doing THAT design, which ultimately proved to be a huge mistake. And that’s how an almost year-long spanning chapter closed. The experience was stressful and frustrating on many levels but looking back I have to admit I learned a great deal, both purely technical but also regarding the approach of such endeavors in general.
Fellow binders (or craftspeople of any sort!), care to share your story of obsessive craziness?

Watermark1I leave you with the wonderful watermark I discovered. It becomes visible if you hold the first blank pages of the edition against a light source. I did some research on the paper and experts informed me that it is of special making. Wasn’t shocked; it was the most durable and pleasant paper I have ever worked with. Till next time!

Πόσο κοστίζει μια βιβλιοδεσία?

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The big question
After popular demand here’s the post in english as well;
How much does a binding cost

Για περισσότερα άρθρα στα ελληνικά σε σχέση με τη βιβλιοδεσία επισκεφθείτε το portfolio μου.

“Ώστε είσαι βιβλιοδέτης λοιπόν, πολύ ενδιαφέρον! Αν ήθελα δηλαδή να δέσω ένα βιβλίο πόσο θα κόστιζε?”
Αυτή είναι η πραγματικά απίθανη ερώτηση που με μαθηματική και απαρέγκλιτη ακρίβεια με περιμένει όποτε τύχει να εξηγήσω με τι ασχολούμαι. Και είναι απίθανη διότι απλούστατα δεν υπάρχει σαφής απάντηση. Αναγκάζομαι λοιπόν και γω να περιοριστώ σε ένα “εξαρτάται…” οπότε ο συνομιλητής μου συνειδητοποιεί απογοητευμένος το μακροσκελές του πράγματος και άλλαζει βεβαίως θέμα.

Υπάρχει μια φράση στα αγγλικά: “Educate your customers”. Εάν έπρεπε να την αποδώσω ελεύθερα αφαιρώντας την αυστηρότητα που φαινομενικά την διακρίνει θα ήταν “Γνώρισε καλύτερα την τέχνη σου στους ανθρώπους που την αναζητούν”. Όποιος γνωρίζει πώς και γιατί κάνει ό,τι κάνει ο τεχνίτης κατανοεί την αξία του αντικειμένου που παίρνει τέλος στα χέρια του.
Σε μια προσπάθεια λοιπόν ξορκισμού αυτού του αιώνιου ερωτήματος που ταλανίζει το νου των βιβλιοδετών θα μοιραστώ μαζί σας τις παραμέτρους της απαντήσεως.

Παρεκτός και αν ξέρει κανείς ακριβώς τι θέλει είναι προτιμότερο να ρωτάει “τι καθορίζει το κόστος”. Η βιβλιοδεσία, όπως κάθε έργο των χεριών, ΔΕΝ έχει στάνταρ κόστος. Και ο λόγος είναι γιατί εξαρτάται από αμέτρητους παράγοντες. Ποιά είναι η αξία του βιβλίου? Χρειάζεται συντήρηση? Τι τύπος βιβλιοδεσίας θα εφαρμοστεί? Τι υλικά θα χρησιμοποιηθούν? Θα υπάρχει διακόσμηση και αν ναι πόση? Τι χρόνο έχω στη διαθεσή μου? Αυτά είναι μόνο μερικά από όσα περνάνε εκείνη τη στιγμή στο μυαλό του βιβλιοδέτη. Εάν είστε σε θέση να τα προσδιορίσετε τότε εύκολα θα σας ανακοινωθεί ένα κόστος.

Αλλά ας δούμε και αντίστροφα το θέμα… Εάν πείτε, όπως κάνουν μερικοί εξαρχής και μας λύνουν τα χέρια, ότι “θέλω να διαθέσω το Χ ποσό” τότε αμέσως θα σας εξηγηθούν οι επιλογές που αντιστοιχούν σε αυτό. Απο κεί και πέρα τίθεται ζήτημα τι πιστεύει ο καθένας πως αντιστοιχεί στο ποσό που ανέφερε. Τα χειροποίητα κεφαλάρια μπορεί, ανάλογως το σχέδιο, να απαιτήσουν πολλές ώρες από την δουλειά ενός βιβλιοδέτη. Είναι μια μικρή λεπτομέρεια μεγάλης ομορφιάς αλλά όπως γίνεται κατανοητό είναι αδύνατον μια τέτοια επιλογή να συμπεριλαμβάνεται σε μια βιβλιοδεσία των 50 ευρώ…

Και τέλoσπάντων, μιας και ανέφερα κάποιο χρόνο, φτάνουμε στο πιό σημαντικό… Είναι συχνή η περίπτωση ανθρώπων που σαν ακούσουν μια τιμή ρωτάνε “Δηλαδή πόσο σου παίρνει να το φτιάξεις;”. Δεν-έχει-σημασία. Και είναι απλό γιατί δεν έχει: διότι μπορεί για παράδειγμα να χρειάζονται λίγα λεπτά να πατηθεί ένας τίτλος με φύλλο χρυσού αλλά θέλει χρόνια για να φτάσει ο βιβλιοδέτης να το κάνει σε λίγα λεπτά. Αυτό πληρώνει κανείς όταν αγοράζει κάτι φτιαγμένο στο χέρι, την ικανότητα του τεχνίτη.

Πέρα από την ικανότητα ωστόσο υπάρχει και κάτι ακόμη που διαθέτει το ξέχωρο μεριδιό του στην τιμή και συνήθως το προσπερνάει ο κόσμος- Η έμπνευση.  Χρειάστηκε αυτό που σας παραδόθηκε έμπνευση για την δημιουργία του; Το να παραχθεί κάτι καλαίσθητο κατά παραγγελία είναι -πιστέψτε με- δύσκολο. Μια ιδέα που υλοποιείται σε μερικές μέρες μπορεί να δουλεύεται επί μήνες στο μυαλό του δημιουργού… Πώς κοστολογεί κανείς κάτι τέτοιο; Ένας ικανός βιβλιοδέτης είναι σε θέση να κατασκευάσει μια βιβλιοδεσία η οποία θα διαρκέσει αιώνες. Δεν απαιτείται έμπνευση για κάτι τέτοιο μα μεγάλη γνώση, εμπειρία και ικανότητα. Όλα αυτά όμως, που έχουν τεράστια αξία από μόνα τους, οδηγούν σε τεχνική αρτιότητα και όχι σε αισθητική (με την έννοια του έργου τέχνης). Εάν επιθυμεί κανείς ένα δημιουργικό αποτέλεσμα πρέπει να κατανοήσει πως είναι λογικό το καλοφτιαγμένο και αισθητικά ιδιαίτερο να χρεώνεται παραπάνω από το απλώς καλοφτιαγμένο.

Αυτά είχα να μοιραστώ πάνω στο δαιδαλώδες ζήτημα του κόστους. Η αλήθεια είναι πως ο κάθε βιβλιοδέτης έχει πάνω κάτω ένα “τιμοκατάλογο” τον οποίο θα σας πει αλλά επί της ουσίας το θέμα τιμή δεν είναι ποτέ χαραγμένο σε πέτρα. Συζητήστε μαζί του τι θέλετε. Προσθέτοντας ή αφαιρώντας  πράγματα από την βιβλιοδεσία σας αυξομειώνετε ανάλογα και το κόστος της.
Ως τελευταίο θα θελα να αναφέρω πως όσα έγραψα είναι καλό να μας συντροφεύουν σα σκέψεις όχι μόνο περνώντας το κατώφλι ενός βιβλιοδετείου αλλά και οποιουδήποτε εργαστηρίου γενικότερα.
Sangorski & SutcliffeΤεχνική αρτιότητα και υψηλή αισθητική από το παρελθόν και τους Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Από τις αγαπημένες μου βιβλιοδεσίες. Εικόνα από Bauman rare books.