Binding Cicero – Δένοντας τον Κικέρωνα


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It’s been a long trip in the company of the famous orator from ancient Rome and I’m happy to finally present you the bindings of Cicero. Are you ready for an extensive reading (you can skip the later half of the post which is more technical)?

Dimitri's-Bookbinding-Corner---Cicero-full-coverI have an affinity for the history and culture of Rome. There’s something special about this city which became the crucible that -perhaps more than any other- paved the way (see what I did?) for our modern civilization. It is the amalgam of mankind’s greatest aspirations and worst inclinations, and the continuous clash of the two elements drove each other to extremes until Rome was torn apart many times. It is amidst the chaos of this clash that Cicero can be found.

At this point allow me to make a recommendation, not related to bookbinding. If you want to get to know about Rome in a way that is both entertaining and accurate watch HBO’s Rome, a two season 2005-2007 series. The series gives the most historically accurate represantation that I know of the era and all that defined it and it is evident that the producers went to great lengths in order to create a full and vivid image of Rome, from its streets to its people, their beliefs and mentality, from the power struggles and glory to everyday life’s small details. Apart from those it is a well-knit and interesting story blending excellently fictional characters which have depth with historical figures and events, with good directing and casting and overall great production value. Try it and you won’t be dissapointed.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Cicero with case1Back to bookbinding though. When my client got in touch I was very interested to hear that I wasn’t just going to be binding Cicero but a Folio edition as well. I have talked in a previous post about Folio Society and their wonderful editions. These books would be a joy to bind and I loved the topic as well.

CiceroMarcus Tulius Cicero is one of the most important figures of ancient Rome and his intellectual magnitude defined literature not only during his time but in a vast way until today as well. He was a philosopher, politician, lawyer, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist (check the Wikipedia article). His most influential attribute though was his excellence in the use of words. Cicero was one of Rome’s greatest orators, and widely considered among the best throughout human history in general, and his prose and speeches transformed Latin. According to Wikipedia; “he is credited with transforming Latin from a modest utilitarian language into a versatile literary medium capable of expressing abstract and complicated thoughts with clarity”. Quntilian declared that Cicero was “not the name of a man, but of eloquence itself” and Michael Grant said ” the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any other language“.

He also lived during a most turbulent time; the republic had succesfully expanded a great deal and was about to enter a troubled period that would transform it into an empire. Civil strife, conspiracies and power struggles along with the growth of Rome’s influence defined Cicero and in return he played a key role in the turning points of the city’s history and Rome itself.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Cicero with case2We discussed a lot with the client on the details of the binding and what its visual result should convey. However almost from the get go there was a certain idea in my mind; that of a golden river traversing the binding. This came to be the cornerstone of the whole design.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Cicero SpineMy thoughts behind this element were the following.
Cicero and the events and identity of Rome are intertwined. The design should emit a sense of splendor, novelty, but also of distortion and transformation. The river symbolizes the gradual transformation of the Roman republic (wide beginning at the back cover) to civil strife and power accumulation by ambitious individuals which led to the decline of the Senate (narrower part of the spine), eventually leading to an empire with a single dictator (narrow part at the front cover). At the same time it represents the “flow of words”, the growth and enrichment of the Latin language which is a core aspect of Rome and Cicero’s personality, leading to a finesse peak – a pinnacle of form and meaning. Combined with this visual element Cicero’s name on the spine adopts a narrative role – it shows us that he was pivotal in all that transpired.

The cover however would feel empty with just that. There was need to fill the rest of the binding in a way that displays its content but at the same time remains discreet. The golden river in the middle zone dominates the design, I couldn’t have something as intense – rather the opposite, so in order to celebrate Cicero I decide to blind tool parts of his orations in Latin. The text is in capitals and you can also notice the absence of punctuation – that is how Latin texts were written or inscribed on surfaces. I took exerpts from his speech “Against Catilina”, one of his most famous orations. You can locate the renown phrase “O tempora, o mores” (“what times do we live in?”) in the text.

Dimitri's-Bookbinding-Corner---Cicero-Headband The final result was two full leather fine bindings gilt in 22 Carat gold leaf, bound in Maroon Valencia goatskin. They feature leather joints, handmarbled paper, handstitched endbands (french, double core, 3 color) from silk thread, blind stamped decoration and gilt leather onlays. I also made two bookbinding cases with velvet interior and covered in cloth.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Cicero both books with cases
From here on it gets a bit technical folks. Carry on reading if you’re a bookbinding enthusiast or wish to get a glimpse of how such a binding is made!

Separating the signatures - Sewing - roundingThere were many things that had to be factored in realizing the design, which proved quite challenging and time consuming. After the book was covered the metal dies for the latin text had to be made. I didn’t trust a hot-stamping machine to make the impression since if something went wrong (for example misalignment) the binding would be ruined. I opted for wet-stamping which is a traditional method of leather forming and would allow more control over the process. The dies would be pressed with a gradual increase in pressure over the leather which would have been moistened right before.

Metal dies - Shaping the diesMaking the dies to align was one of the major problems I had to tackle, both when designing them and during the pressing as well, so I had to come up with various solutions. They were very large to leave a uniform and equally deep impression so they were pressed in multiple stages, for example first the upper half of the back die, then the lower half, then all over again.
The initial pressing was the most difficult, if the die didn’t leave a deep enough impression over most of its surface then I wouldn’t be able to place it in exactly the same way when the process would be repeated, resulting in a double impression that would totally ruin the binding.

Trimming the margins Surface gilding allows covering a large surface with gold leaf. It is a demanding technique and although I had experimented a lot this is the first time I use it on a binding and in such a scale. I’m very pleased with the result – and I rarely feel so.
My guide for the technique was James Reid Cunningham’s article on surface gilding in Bonefolder Vol 6 No1 from the Book Arts Web. If you feel like having a go you can find the PDF at the bottom of this post. It is well written and comprehensive, thorough and accompanied with step-by-step pictures.

Before applying glaireFirstly I masked the outline of the area I wish to gilt and applied the glaire, a chemical solution that will bond gold with leather when heated. Applying the glaire is tricky; one has to evenly spread a thin layer with as few brush strokes as possible. Less and the gold won’t adhere, successive or overlaping applications of glaire will show when then gold is applied and using anything but a brush as soft as a baby’s hair will result in poor results.

Gilding process1Applying the gold is stage 2. I used my Polishing Brass tool to do so. The gold is applied in pieces that are heated with the tool in multiple successions until the bonding element of the glaire is activated and the gold melts and blends in the leather. Too much heat and the gold will be ruined, too little and it won’t adhere uniformly leaving non-gilt patches here and there – a disaster!
Another thing that can go wrong is having sharp lines visible at the places where the gold leafs overlap. It has taken me a lot of effort and gold leaf -that thing is expensive mind you!- practicing but I believe the result is great; I challenge you to find the edges of the gold leafs on the finished binding, there are 6 meeting points on each.
The design was also double-gilt; it was gilt entirely and then all over again with a second layer of gold. I found that by doing so the gold has a much deeper color and shine and the meeting points of gold leafs become impossible to distinguish. Double the cost though…

Up close there are small parts and areas, especially on the second binding, with clusters of tiny holes/streaks showing the leather underneath. As can be seen in the pictures of Cunningham’s article that is a result of the leather’s grain and irregular surface. It can be avoided if someone “crushes” the grain using the polishing tool but then much of the leather’s allure is lost…

Cutting the lettersI was inspired to do the title on the spine in this particular way by Luigi Castiglioni, a very talented designer binder. Spend some time to see his marvelous bindings and “making of” pictures. The general idea is to surface gild a paper-thin strip of leather, cut out the letters and then paste them as onlays on the binding.

I also used my most treasured marble paper, one I’ve been saving for years. It is not visible in the photos but the marbler used a paint that imitates gold instead of some yellow hue, which shines and makes interesting plays with light upon handling.

Last but not least, I used a Valencia goatskin from Harmatan to bind the books. For all you people interested in trying bookbinding leather from them here’s a review of sorts.
I want to underline that my experience has been overall great. There are two things however that I’d like to mention.
First one has to do with leather thickness. I bought 5 leathers two of which where from the Valencia range they offer. Although they were listed as 0.9 thickness, upon arrival I was dissapointed to find out that one of the 2 was closer to 1.5. That is way thicker than 0.9. Not all binders know how (or want for that matter) to pare down an entire leather with a spokeshave and even if that’s not an issue I wouldn’t have bought the leather if it was listed as 1.5. If it was 1.0-1.2 I could make do but that is simply too much.
The second and most important has to do with packaging. The leathers were practically wrapped around with a cardboard, and not a thick one at that. They were shipped to a relative of mine in the UK who then brought them to Greece, so maybe it’s their way of packaging leathers for inland shipping. Nonetheless it is fairly insufficient and any mishandling along the way could easily bent the package and crease all of the skins… Cardboard tubes or triangular boxes are very resilient and must certainly be inexpensive if bought in bulk, can’t really see why they didn’t use one.

These aside the leather was excellent in every way. Great texture, works like a charm, tools and pares very well. My only complain is that while the color is really vivid under natural or strong light it loses most of its intensity and appears almost dark under normal room light. Other than that it is a wonderful leather and a pleasure to work with.

Till next time!

Bonefolder vol 6 no 1

Λεξικό βιβλιοδεσίας – Μέρος Ι


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(An article about the greek terms of Bookbinding and their equivalent in english. For all my enlish readers; If you intend to leave your country behind and come to seek your fortune as a bookbinder in Greece then this will definitely prove to be an important reading.)

Σας λέει κάτι η λέξη τεζάκι; Εντάξει, αυτό ήταν εύκολο… Πόσοι από εσάς όμως ξέρουν τι είναι το ρεφελάρισμα ή που χρησιμεύει το κομπάσο; Γνωρίζετε μήπως την αγγλική ονομασία για την τέλα;

Κόκκαλο..Το υπέροχο κόκκαλο της φωτό (το δεξί απ όσο ξέρω) ανήκει στην MHR από Bookbinder’s Chronicle.

Με αυτό το άρθρο επιθυμώ να βοηθήσω όσους αναζητούν υλικό σχετικά με την βιβλιοδεσία online και δυσκολεύονται λόγω άγνοιας της αντίστοιχης αγγλικής ορολογίας (μεγάλος μπελάς αυτό!) και την εξοικίωση με τους ελληνικούς όρους για εκείνους που κάνουν τα πρώτα τους βήματα στην τέχνη αυτή.
Όπως είναι λογικό δεν πρόκειται για ενδελεχές λεξικό της βιβλιοδεσίας, έχω συμπεριλάβει κυρίως λέξεις που είναι δύσκολο να βρει κανείς την αντίστοιχη αγγλική ή να περιγράψει τι προσδιορίζουν.

Θα επακολουθήσουν και μέρος ΙΙ και ΙΙΙ που θα περιλαμβάνουν: κάποια από τα ανατομικά μέρη μιας βιβλιοδεσίας καθώς και στάδια, τεχνικές και είδη που θα συναντήσει κανείς.
Στο μέλλον είναι πιθανό να προστεθεί περαιτέρω υλικό στο παρόν αλλά και στα επόμενα μέρη, καλή ανάγνωση!


Douglas Cockerell - Sewing the bookΤεζάκι – Sewing frame
Ξύλινη κατασκευή η οποία χρησιμοποιείται για το ράψιμο των βιβλίων. Πρόκειται επί της ουσίας για ένα πλαίσιο και τη βάση του, πάνω στο οποίο τεντώνονται κάθετα κλωστές (οι “σπάγγοι”). Τα τυπογραφικά του βιβλίου τοποθετούνται πάνω στη βάση με τη ράχη τους να ακουμπάει στις κάθετες κλωστές προκειμένου να ραφτεί το βιβλίο.
Εικόνα από το βιβλίο “Bookbinding” του Douglas Cockerell.

Garry Harrison - Indiana University Libraries Preservation DepartmentΚόκκαλο – Βone folder
Το βασικότερο εργαλείο στη βιβλιοδεσία, το οποίο και χρησιμεύει σχεδόν σε όλα τα στάδια. Παρά την ονομασία του, που προκύπτει από την πιό συνηθισμένη εκδοχή, υπάρχει πλέον και σε συνθετικά υλικά καθώς και hardwoods. Το κόκκαλο διπλώνει, σημαδεύει, τσακίζει, ισιώνει, μετακινεί, διαχωρίζει, φτιάχνει καφέ, στρίβει τσιγάρα, καθαρίζει το εργαστήριο και εκπληρώνει ένα σωρό ακόμη περιστασιακές λειτουργίες. Αν θέλετε να καταλάβετε την αξία του δοκιμάστε να κάνετε βιβλιοδεσία χωρίς αυτό…
Φωτογραφία από Gary Harisson -Indiana University preservation department.

Sarah Bryant - Big Jump PressΚομπάσο – Divider
Πρόκειται για ένα είδος διαβήτη που επιτρέπει την αναπαραγωγή ενός μεγέθους σε διαφορετικές επιφάνειες χωρίς να χρειάζεται χάρακας η συνεχής μέτρηση αποστάσεων.
Φωτογραφία από την θιασώτη του κομπάσου Sarah Bryant – Βig Jump Press

Σε διάφορα στάδια της βιβλιοδεσίας το βιβλίο τοποθετείται υπό πίεση προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί μια ομοιόμορφη κόλληση, να ισιώσει το χαρτί, να μη σκεβρώσει μέχρι να στεγνώσει η κόλλα, να ισοπεδωθεί κάποιο διακοσμητικό στοιχείο, κτλ. Υπάρχουν 3 βασικά είδη πρέσας -και οι παραλλαγές τους- που θα συναντήσει κανείς σε ένα βιβλιοδετείο.

279575089338217835_7NeLcdaT_cα) Σφυριστική – Backing press
Η πρέσα στην οποία γίνεται το σφύρισμα της ράχης, καθώς και άλλα στάδια ή τεχνικές ( πριόνισμα, ξάκρισμα στο χέρι, χρύσωμα ακμών, κτλ). Το κύριο χαρακτηριστικό της είναι ο οριζόντιος κοχλίας , η πρέσα είναι δηλαδή “ξαπλωμένη” σε κάποια επιφάνεια ή βάση, όπως φαίνεται και από την άλλη αγγλική ονομασία της: lying press. Παραλλαγή της αποτελεί το finishing press που είναι μια μικρή πρέσσα με δύο κοχλίες.

35c568c4a910794555b195e9a0d83ac8β) Μικρή/επιτραπέζια πρέσα – Nipping press
Πρέσα μικρού μεγέθους στην οποία τοποθετούνται τα βιβλία ύστερα από διάφορα στάδια που απαιτούν τo στέγνωμα κόλλας, έτσι ώστε να φύγει ο εγκλωβισμένος αέρας, να κολληθούν οι επιφάνειες ομοιόμορφα και να μην κυρτώσουν από την υγρασία.

γ) Μεγάλη πρέσα – Standing press
Πρόκειται για πρέσα μεγάλου μεγέθους. Κάνει ό,τι και η επιτραπέζια με τη διαφορά πως χωράει πολλά βιβλία μαζί και μπορεί να ασκήσει πολύ μεγαλύτερη πίεση.

Sonya Sheet's John Jacques shearΨαλίδα – Board shear
Αυτό που λέει η λέξη: ένα τεράστιο ψαλίδι που επιτρέπει στο βιβλιοδέτη να κόβει το χαρτόνι ίσια, σε ορθή γωνία και σε οποιαδήποτε διάσταση με 2 κινήσεις.
Φωτογραφία από Sonya Sheets – John Jacques shear (είναι προκλητικό το πόσο ωραία είναι αυτή η ψαλίδα!)


Αμυλόκολλα – (Wheat/Starch) paste
Κόλλα φτιαγμένη από φυτική ύλη που χρησιμοποιείται ευρέως στη βιβλιοδεσία. Η λιπαρή της σύνθεση επιτρέπει το χειρισμό και την προσαρμογή των υλικών για κάποια ώρα αφότου περαστεί και έρθουν σε επαφή. Είναι επίσης υδατοδιαλυτή.

Τέλα – Callico/Mull
Πλέγμα που τοποθετείται στην ράχη του βιβλίου για ενίσχυση.

Μαρμαρόκολλα – Marbled paper (Ebru)
Διακοσμητικά χαρτιά που φτιάχνονται με ειδική τεχνική και ποικίλουν σε σχέδια και χρώματα. Χρησιμοποιούνται συχνά για εσώφυλλα καθώς και εξωτερικά στο κάλυμμα του βιβλίου.
Φωτογραφίες από Susan Pogany και Robert Wu.

Εάν αναρωτιέστε που μπορεί κανείς να βρει μερικά απ’όσα αναφέρονται παραπάνω μπορείτε να επισκεφτείτε το άρθρο μου σχετικά με τους προμηθευτές.

How books are bound by the Chelsea Bindery


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Here’s an excellent video that was recently shared on the Book Art’s Web by Peter D. Verheyen, showing the process of binding a book in Chelsea Bindery.
A number of reasons makes videos like this very rare so consider spending 10 minutes of your life to get acquainted with the craft of Bookbinding!

Two things to keep in mind as you watch the video;
Firstly, what you see are highlights of the binding process. Various stages are not included, probably to allow a shorter duration and make it more comprehensible.
Secondly, don’t be deceived by how smoothly everything is performed – this is the result of good craftsmanship. Every action, from cutting away a slice of leather to tooling the title with a single motion, requires a lot of dexterity and experience.



A Matter of Laws – Part III


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Read here for Part 1
Read here for Part 2

This has been a long and complicated project, mainly because it required the coordination of various things, but the 3rd and final binding marks its end.

A Matter of Laws, all 3 bindings - Dimitri's bookbinding cornerThe principle of Legality in European criminal law – which was shortened to “Legality”- is a recently published book by Christina P. We talked an extra lot with the client regarding the decorative approach; it should be something that would stand out on its own but at the same time fit in with the other two bindings.

Legality 1 - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Legality 2 - Dimitri's bookbinding cornerAs I was given to understand the book tries to find the balancing point between the need for a sentence and human rights when a crime has been committed. Obviously a topic of great significance and dispute that is unlikely to be ever settled one way or another. How does one find the line where those antithetical factors meet?

If you recall the theme of the bindings intended to make a correlation between Mathematics and the law system. Well, this one screamed for “golden ratio”!
According to Wikipedia “In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities”.
This ratio is represented by the Greek letter phi (φ) which equals 1.61803398875. Φ can be found in/on many patterns in nature, living creatures and man-made objects or structures and is supposed to be aesthetically pleasing. The golden ratio is graphed as a logarithmical spiral and an example of it in nature would be the Nautilus shell.

Legality 3 - Dimitri's bookbinding cornerI did a leather case binding with small colored onlays and blind tooling. I sewed triple colored french headbands and used one of my favorite (hear that C.P.?) handmade marbld papers for endpapers.

Here’s a picture of all three bindings snugly waiting in their travelling case which will be packed to withstand a fall from the Eiffel tower!

A Matter of Laws, travel case - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
You can revisit a Matter of Laws part I and part II to have a look at the other two bindings!

I used my Stylus set, BFM tool, Versatile typeholder and Line rollers for this binding.

Now, what was that thing that Cicero said…

A Matter of Laws – Part II


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Actus Reus 1 - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner
Read here for Part 1
Read here for Part 3

Here is the second of the three bindings revolving around laws and legal matters. Actus Reus is Latin for “guilty act” and according to Wikipedia is “sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, …, (which) when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, “guilty mind”, produces criminal liability“. In other words, for many legal systems a crime to be treated as such needs to comprise of both an intention or motive and some kind of act.

Actus Reus 2 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerThe idea behind this decoration was that a crime is a distortion of “normality”. If one considers society as a continuity of sorts, lines that flow uninterrupted fulfiling a specific purpose each, then a criminal act is a violent alteration that either breaks or diverts those lines in various ways and creates inteference. The image of a seismograph came to mind. The flow is restored when the effects diminish, representing society’s return to normality. Laws facilitate this process.

This is a case binding on a lovely terracota leather with hand-dyed blue onlays. The headbands were handsewn and I used hand-marbled endpapers. I used my Bookbinding Finishing Multitool, Line Rollers and Versatile typeholder to accomplish this design.

Actus Reus 3 - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner

A Matter of Laws – Part I


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Read here for Part 2
Read here for Part 3

Christina P. approached me some months ago with an interesting commission in mind; she and two other people are researchers of a Dutch university and they have been involved in a project regarding criminal laws. The idea was to bind the book each researcher has written during the project.

Mens Rea 1 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerBindings of legal content are usually expected to be uninteresting – bound in dull colors and maybe tooled with a small amount of classic decorative motifs, right? Christina, quite the daring spirit, wanted something more design-oriented and so I suggested that we make three design bindings, different from each other but with a unifying theme related to the books’ content. Something that would perhaps be unexpected and -maybe- even thought provoking.

Mens Rea 2 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerThe way I perceive it Laws are an artificial construct of the human mind, a structure that uses axioms and values (whichever those may be) as building blocks and establishes its integrity by the connections/correlations each block has with the rest. A structure that obeys and fuctions through certain rules, thus becoming their proof and projection. There is another thing that works in a similar way; Mathematics. The Wikipedia definition is “Mathematics is the body of knowledge justified by deductive reasoning about abstract structures, starting from axioms and definitions”. What could be more abstract than the concepts of right, wrong and Justice? And is not the strive of the human society to produce a system of laws an effort to somehow “quantify” those concepts by using axioms as a base? I believe that, although there’s room for debate here, the analogy is more than obvious.

Mens Rea 4 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerEnough pondering though, time for work! Because ideas are great and all but as a craftsman you have to translate all that into something tangible.
The first book is Mens Rea by JΒ. Mens Rea is Latin for “guilty mind” which -again according to Wikipedia- is viewed by criminal law as one of the necessary elements in various crimes.
In order to utilize this as a base for the binding’s design I tried to tackle it on a more abstract level – what would the mind of a criminal look like? I remembered pictures I’ve seen showing the chaotic trajectories of particles and thought it as the ideal representation of the criminal mind. A single thought starts from a point in emptiness until, after expanding enough, it bursts into a thousand different ones that move on unpredictably, a chain reaction. One could say that inspiration and creativity could be described by the very same process, isn’t that ironic?
You can argue that this is actually Physics and not Mathematics, but I tink there’s a certain amount of overlap – you can’t do Physics without using Mathematics. I used particles and their trajectories as a portrayal of quantifiable aspects, kinda like fractals.

particles 2aaIn any case I used this image to create the design. The end result was a case binding with hand-dyed green leather and hand-dyed yellow leather as onlays. Onlays are made by thinning leather to almost paper thickness and then carefully pasting it down. There are a lot of different onlay techniques and many ways to perform them.
The endpapers are paste papers from Decopapers. The binding also features double colored french headbands which were hand-sewn. I sewed the yellow parts gradually wider to make a correlation with the design, hinting at the expanding thought which eventually leads to crime.

The blind tooling was performed using my Stylus set, although I did certain parts with the assisantance of a pyrography tool – mainly the end of the small spirals due to their irregularity which prevented me from using gouges. I also used my Versatile typeholder for the lettering.

The second book will follow in the near future, until then cheers!

Mens Rea 3 - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner

“Poems, poems everybody…!”


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“Do your worst!” shouted in defiance yours truly as he was backing books in his bindery during the relentless summer heat of the sun-scorched Athens. “Do your worst vile summer for I will not be deterred by your stupefying blaze, nor will the books remain unbound on my bench! I’d rather die and my remains be found hanging from the press with the backing hammer still gripped by my unresting hand!”. And the battle carries on…

The bookbinder has always been the unsung hero and this post pays homage to his endeavors and hardships, frustrations and desires, flaws and virtues and overall magnificence. Take some time to read a few interesting poems devoted to bookbinders, one way or another…
Presented in order of chaos, from bad to worse;

By Susana Dominguez Martin - Encuadernacion de Arte1) The Gilder’s lament
One of the decorative techniques in bookbinding is edge gilding, which was popular until the late 19th century. The gold is laid on the edges of the book, sometimes adorned with tooling as well. It is a very demanding technique that requires skill and experience.
Even so, things can go wrong as you will find out in this poem by a frustrated gilder from the 17th century.

Image by Suzana Dominguez Martin from Encuadernacion de Arte

My size is prepared,
The leaf is laid out,
My agate is polished and smooth.
The press, it is loaded,
The edge has been scraped,
I feel like I’m in the groove.
I put on the size,
I lay on the gold,
My confidence reaching its peak.
I polish the edge,
Till I see by its shine,
The edge of perfection I seek.
I take the book out,
Fan open the leaves,
My heart stops still in mid-beat.
Where has the gold gone,
I look all around.
As the leaf flakes onto my feet.
Oh, where did I err,
I did everything right,
But the gold, it just didn’t stick.
I love the gilt edge,
But the process is such,
That it leaves me feeling quite sick.

Papercut binder by Roger Grech2) How not to do it!
Backing is when the book’s spine is given a “mushroom” shape by striking it with a bookbinder’s (or cobbler’s) hammer. It takes time, effort and a lot of ruined books to be able to perform a good backing. The blows need to be in a sweeping manner, initially delivered almost horizontally while progressively moving to a steeper angle.

Image by Roger Grech from Papercut bindery.

A bad backing can be a horrific sight! And that’s why the following poem by Tom Conroy (a fine binder from Berkley California) is a prospect terrifying beyond words for the bookbinding mind…

Malcolm bashes books he backs,
Hammer falling straight and hard,
Lets them set in crooked stacks,
Asymmetric, dented, jarred,
Twisted heads and crumpled tails.
Seems to think he’s driving nails.

Foolish lad! He now is binding
Toolmakers’ catalogues
Full of hammers for the finding,
Hard as hearts and big as logs.
Out they come when backing’s noised.
See the books with hammers poised.

Malcontented books back Malcolm
Bash his spine from head to tail,
Straight blows! Hard blows! None can balk ’em!
Malcolm crumples with a wail.
He lies crooked on the ground.
Futile tears won’t bring him round.

The_Scream3) The curse
And now my personal favorite; A Solemn curse by Ben Burnisher pronounced upon a Master Bookbinder, circa 1880.

What follows is the absolute nightmare for every bookbinder there ever was. Period. Everything described is a heart stopping, mind numbing and blood chilling prospect.
Dimitri’s Bookbinding Corner honors the writer of the poem with the award for the most inspired and horror invoking but also elegantly phrased curse.

May rats and mice devour you paste,
Your paper and your leather;
May your hand letters be defaced,
Your types all mixed together.

May all your pallets, stamps and rolls,
Be on their faces battered;
Your beating stone packed full of holes,
Your hammer in pieces shattered.

And may your standing press fall down,
Your pressing boards be cracked;
May your law leather all turn brown,
Each law book edged in black.

May you be bothered all your life,
With workman brandy lovers;
With sandy boards and dull plough knife,
Thin paste, and horny covers.

And May your gilding all rub off,
Your roll burn through the leather,
And you hereforward be obliged
To finish in dry weather.

And may your polisher upon
The face be full of scratches,
And every cover you put on
At least have twenty patches.

May all your colours be too strong,
So as to rot your leather,
May all your books be lettered wrong,
Your fly leaves stick together.

May your laying press all get broke,
Your books be wrong collated;
And may you with foul charcoal smoke
Be almost suffocated.

May your apprentice run away;
Your business be diminished;
And may booksellers never pay
You when the work is finished.

God grant that the distressed may be
from Constable to Beadle;
And live till you can’t feel or see
Your press-pin from your needle.

Fellow binders, before you condemn Ben in total disgust for uttering words so foul, please take a moment to appreciate the imagination and passion that went into the creation of such a poem. Remarkable truly!

And with that I wish you all a nice summer!

Small journals II – Μικρά σημειωματάρια ΙΙ


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3Lots of interesting things going on, hopefully I’ll be able to share them in time. In the meanwhile enjoy some pictures from small leather journals I’ve been making on the side for The Bookbinder’s Bench. 56

Προμηθευτές – ειδικό αφιέρωμα: Τι και που!


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(to my english readers; this post lists a number of suppliers for bookbinding materials and tools that I shop from regularly and are located in Athens. If you plan on visiting drop a line and I’ll take you shopping!)

Για όλους εσάς που ασχολείστε με την βιβλιοδεσία, επαγγελματικά και μη, ιδού μια ενδελεχής λίστα με τους προμηθευτές μου! Ποιοί είναι, τι έχουν και που θα τους βρείτε.
Να σημειωθεί πως είναι όλα -με μία εξαίρεση- μαγαζιά που βρίσκονται στην Αθήνα, ως επί το πλείστον στο κέντρο της πόλης. Είμαι βέβαιος ότι υπάρχουν πολλά ακόμη που διαθέτουν ίδια ή παρόμοια προϊόντα, η λίστα όμως περιλαμβάνει τα μαγαζιά που έχω δοκιμάσει ή ψωνίζω τακτικά και έχω μείνει ευχαριστημένος.

1) Μερινόπουλος και Σία
Το βυρσοδεψείο αυτό από την εξωτική Άμφισσα , που αποτελεί οικογενειακή επιχείρηση, προετοιμάζει διαφόρων ειδών δέρματα. Είναι όμως το μοναδικό (εν γνώσει μου τουλάχιστον) πιά στην Ελλάδα που παράγει δέρμα ειδικά για βιβλιοδεσία.
Πρόκειται για κατσίκι φυτικής δέψης το οποίο μπορείτε κατόπιν συνεννόησης να προμηθευτείτε άβαφο και αγυάλιστο σε φυτική απόχρωση, γυαλισμένο σε φυσική απόχρωση και τέλος χρωματισμένο. Το πρώτο είναι το δέρμα που χρησιμοποιώ (και βάφω) στο 90% των βιβλιοδεσιών μου. Φουρνιά από φουρνιά διαφέρει αλλά σε γενικές γραμμές δουλεύεται άνετα, ρεφελάρεται, βάφεται και χρυσώνεται καλά. Και κυρίως συμφέρει: 1 τομάρι βγάζει συνήθως 4 βιβλία. Φτιάχνουν επίσης περγαμηνή.
ΤΗΛ- 2265022421 6948897450

Καρανάσος2) Καρανάσος & Σία
Τον ξέρετε, σωστά; Στη οδό Μιαούλη στο Μοναστηράκι υπάρχουν δύο μαγαζιά Καρανασαίων, αντικρυστά μάλιστα, το ένα έχει είδη δερματοτεχνίας και το άλλο έχει δέρματα. Μεγάλη ποικιλία σε χρώματα, υφές και μεγέθη. Ανάμεσα στα πολλά που διαθέτουν έχω συχνά εντοπίσει και κάποια κατάλληλα για βιβλιοδεσία.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Μιαούλη Μοναστηράκι 
ΤΗΛ- 2103250988

1) Τσοκάκης Δ. – Fine handmade papers
Ανοιχτός καθημερινές, Κυριακές και αργίες, με βροχή ή χαλάζι, σε πυρηνικό ολοκαύτωμα ή εισβολή εξωγήινων, ο Κος Τσοκάκης έχει ένα εκτενές υπόγειο με χαρτιά απ’όλο τον κόσμο. Γνώστης του αντικειμένου του θα προτείνει το κατάλληλο χαρτί για κάθε περίπτωση (μη διστάσετε να εξηγήσετε λεπτομερώς τι ψάχνετε) καθώς και το που θα βρείτε επιπλέον προμήθειες ή υπηρεσίες αναλόγως το project σας. Πολλά χειροποίητα χαρτιά.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Νέα Σμύρνη  ΤΗΛ- 2109313544

2) Χαρτιά Περράκης
Ο Περράκης διαθέτει μια μεγάλη λίστα χαρτιών παραγωγής στην αποθήκη του. Αν τους περιγράψετε τι χρειάζεστε θα σας εξυπηρετήσουν αλλά είναι προτιμότερο να προμηθευτείτε το δειγματολόγιο τους και να πάτε έπειτα κατατοπισμένοι.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Αλκμήνης 10 κοντά στο Γκάζι   ΤΗΛ- 2103412111

3) Μόρδος Ματαράσσος Σαμουήλ
Αυτό το μικρό υπογειάκι αποτελεί συχνή μου στάση για χαρτόνια (για καλύμματα, κουτιά βιβλιοδεσίας, κλπ) αλλά κυρίως για χαρτί Σαμουά που είναι φτηνό, ανθεκτικό και χρήσιμο σε διάφορες βιβλιοδετικές περιστάσεις.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Πολυκλείτου 2 Μοναστηράκι (Κάθετος στη Βίσσης)  ΤΗΛ- 2103216462

Πλατεία Αγ. ΕιρήνηςΕδώ θα αναφέρω μια περιοχή αντί συγκεκριμένα καταστήματα. Μπορεί τα βράδια η πλατεία Αγ. Ειρήνης και οι γύρω δρόμοι να είναι από καιρό το hot-spot της πόλης αλλά για μένα τα πραγματικά θέλγητρα της γειτονιάς αποκαλύπτονται μέσα στη μέρα: Χυτήρια, τυπογραφεία, αργυροχρυσοχοεία, ραφτάδικα και εργαστήρια κάθε λογής κρυμμένα σε υπέροχα παρακμιακές πολυκατοικίες δεκαετιών γεμίζουν την περιοχή από την πλατεία έως το Σύνταγμα. Όπως είναι λογικό τα συνοδεύουν οι αντίστοιχοι προμηθευτές, στην δική μας περίπτωση οι υφασματάδες. Πίσω από το ναό και στους τριγύρω δρόμους βρίσκεται συγκεντρωμένο πλήθος υφασματάδικων (πολλά στη συμβολή Σκουζέ και Καλαμιώτου) στα οποία θα βρείτε κυριολεκτικά οτιδήποτε. Αρκετά από τα υφάσματα που θα συναντήσετε μπορούν να χρησιμοποιηθούν στην βιβλιοδεσία.

“Μα που θα βρω εκείνο το κάτι που μοιάζει έτσι και κάνει για αυτή τη δουλειά;;;”. Συνοπτικά η απάντηση είναι “Στην Αθηνάς ή κάπου εκεί κοντά!”. Χάριν όμως της λίστας θα το περιορίσω σε 3 μαγαζιά που υπήρξαν συχνά η λύση σε τέτοιου είδους απορίες.

1) Καρανάσος & Σία
Όχι ο δερματάς, ο άλλος απέναντι! Ναι, έχει και αυτός δέρματα, αλλά κυρίως έχει ό,τι εργαλεία και τζιτζιμπλόγκια μπορεί να φανταστεί κανείς σχετικά με δερματοτεχνία. Όταν λέω “ό,τι μπορεί να φανταστεί κανείς” δεν είναι σχήμα λόγου, πηγαίνω 12 χρόνια σε αυτό το μαγαζί και ακόμη δεν γνωρίζω ούτε το 30% των πραγμάτων που έχει. Πολλές φορές μάλιστα ανακάλυψα κάτι που χρειαζόμουν χωρίς να ξέρω πως μοιάζει ή ότι υπάρχει καν απλώς και μόνο επειδή έψαχνα τα ράφια του ή το ζήτησε κάποιος άλλος πελάτης. Πριτσίνια, κηρονήματα, κλωστές, διακορευτές, βελόνες, ψαλίδια, μπρούτζινες γωνίες, πιαστράκια, βέλκρο, σουβλιά, μαχαίρια, λίμες, κουμπιά και κλιπάκια, μαγνήτες, σφυριά του τσαγκάρη για τις ράχες των βιβλίων… νομίζω μπήκατε στο νόημα!
Ένα από τα πολύ σημαντικά προϊόντα του για μας τους βιβλιοδέτες είναι η αμυλόκολλα που πουλάει φτηνά με το κιλό.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Μιαούλη Μοναστηράκι

2) Αφοί Ρέππα
Ο ναός του πάσης φύσεως μάστορα και τεχνίτη, σε πολλές περιπτώσεις και του βιβλιοδέτη. Διαθέτει πριόνια, μεταλλικούς χάρακες και γωνίες, μικρόμετρα και παχύμετρα, γυαλόχαρτα, μάσκες και διάφορα άλλα.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Κακουργοδικείου 3 Μοναστηράκι   ΤΗΛ- 2103212829

Φράγκος Μοναστηράκι3) Φράγκος
Πέρα από τα μπρούτζινα αμφικόχλια που χρησιμοποιούνται συχνά στη βιβλιοδεσία (είναι αυτές οι βίδες που βλέπετε συνήθως σε καταλόγους) διαθέτει και πληθώρα άλλων περίεργων εργαλείων και εξαρτημάτων όπως μεντεσεδάκια, μπρούτζινες λαβές και μικροσκοπικά καρφάκια.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Αθηνάς 20  ΤΗΛ- 2103210122

Φύλλα χρυσού (αλλά και ασημιού, χαλκού, κλπ) ελεύθερα ή σε χαρτί:
1) Κ. Ζαδές  ΔΙΕΥΘ- Βίσσης 19 Μοναστηράκι ΤΗΛ- 2103212248
2) Κατσαχνιάς Ι.  ΔΙΕΥΘ- 3ης Σεπτεμβρίου 19  ΤΗΛ- 2105222785

Για πάστες τυπογραφίας (foil) ή απομίμηση χρυσού
3) Polypap  ΔΙΕΥΘ- Κοντογιανναίων 16 Γκύζη  ΤΗΛ- 2106410653

Cookbookstore1) Ακόνισμα μαχαιριών Cookbookstore
Εάν το ακόνισμα των μαχαιριών για ρεφελάρισμα δεν είναι η καλύτερη σας -όπως και για μένα!- τότε θα εκτιμήσετε το εύρημα του Σταύρου Μ. ο οποίος κάνει πάντοτε ενδιαφέρουσες ανακάλυψεις: πρόκειται για το Cookbookstore στα εξάρχεια, ένα κατάστημα με είδη για σεφ που όμως παρέχει και υπηρεσίες ακονίσματος με laser. Έχω δοκιμάσει στο παρελθόν παραδοσιακά τροχεία και δεν μπορώ να πω ότι το αποτέλεσμα ήταν το επιθυμητό. Ο Σταύρος μου έδειξε ένα μαχαίρι του ύστερα από ακόνισμα τους και αποφάσισα να τους πάω ένα δικό μου. Έμεινα πολύ ικανοποιημένος, με 5 ευρώ (και ελάχιστο stropping έπειτα στο εργαστήριο) η κόψη του μαχαιριού έχει τέλεια κλίση (bevel), ομοιόμορφο ακόνισμα και ρεφελάρει υπέροχα.
Ιδανικό επίσης για καινούρια μαχαίρια που συχνά φτάνουν με πρόχειρο ακόνισμα ή κακό bevel από τον κατασκευαστή.
ΔΙΕΥΘ – Εμμ. Μπενάκη 17 Εξάρχεια  ΤΗΛ- 2103837140

2) Εξοπλισμός – είδη βιβλιοδεσίας Φραγκιουδάκης Omnia Libris
Οικογενειακή επιχείρηση με χρόνια στο χώρο. Φτιάχνουν πρεσάκια, τεζάκια για ράψιμο αλλά και την εντυπωσιακή 7σε1 πρέσα βιβλιοδεσίας (πρακτικά ένα εργαστήριο βιβλιοδεσίας σε ένα πολυμηχάνημα). Διαθέτουν επίσης μαρμαρόκολλες, χαρτιά και υφάσματα βιβλιοδεσίας κ.α.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Αγίου Παντελεήμονος 7  ΤΗΛ- 2108140481

3) Είδη βιβλιοδεσίας  Γάτος Α.Ε. Coverboard
Στη μέση του πουθενά, όπου φτάνετε και έπειτα οδηγείτε για κάνα τέταρτο ακόμη, βρίσκεται η τεράστια αυτή αποθήκη με είδη βιβλιοδεσίας. Παρότι τα περισσότερα απ’όσα διαθέτει αφορούν την βιβλιοδεσία σε μεγάλη/παραγωγική κλίμακα, θα βρείτε διάφορα χρήσιμα πράγματα όπως δέρματα τα οποία προμηθεύονται από τον Μερινόπουλο. Εάν θέλετε 1-2 τομάρια, λίγο foil, χαρτόνι, μερικά μέτρα βιβλιοδετικού υφάσματος και τέλλα αξίζει να πάτε ως εκεί.
ΔΙΕΥΘ- Λυσία 34 Περιστέρι  ΤΗΛ- 2105748456

Όπως είναι λογικό υπάρχουν αρκετοί ακόμη που δεν συμπεριέλαβα στο άρθρο για να παραμείνει σχετικά σύντομο και ευανάγνωστο, αλλά και επειδή έχουν πολύ εξειδικευμένα πράγματα. Αν ψάχνετε κάτι συγκεκριμένο που δεν βλέπετε εδώ τότε μη διστάσετε να επικοινωνήσετε μαζί μου για κάποια πρόταση.

Limited edition tools and Stylus Giveaway


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Limited edition tools 1 - Dimitri's bookbinding corner

You love tools… I know you do. Yes, You the craftsman who is reading this post, it doesn’t matter if you’re a bookbinder or not. I know you spend hours browsing fancy tools on pinterest, taking sneak peaks at other peoples’ equipment at their FB page and occasionally drool over vintage pieces. You love their colors, their texture, so much potential… You even betray your loving craft on occasion and stare at tools belonging to other crafts… But I’m not the one to blame you, no, no. In fact I’m exactly like you…

The idea for a special limited edition of tools with hardwood handles has been in the works for some time now. In modern times we constantly strive to create everything from a practical point of view, function over form. But function alone does not suffice, life is not just function. It seems as if we have forgotten how to imbue the objects surrounding us with beauty. I quote what is written at a wonderful tool museum (do visit it if you find yourself) in Athens;

“Because they want the tools they make, to be beautiful besides useful. They want them to say who made them and who used them”

Limited edition tools 2b - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Being a craftsman means spending a lifetime among tools. Their purpose is to aid the artisan in his work, but who said there’s only one way to do so… Our tools, our companions in the crafting journey, should be unique, not only as a result of the connection we create with them but also because they have their own personality. As said by the anonymous writer “they want them to say who made them and who used them”. Isn’t that for a tool as close to being alive as it can get?

The tools presented are a limited edition, meaning there’s only one of each kind with the exception of the Padauk stylus sets. The handles have been crafted skillfully by Antonis the woodworker using the much appraised designs me and him came up with. A high polish has been performed without the addition of luster or polishes.

Wenge typeholder - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner
Versatile Typeholder with Black Palmwood handle.

Antonis the woodturner actually said about working for this piece and I quote “it felt as if turning iron!”. Later on he also commented “whoever buys this will actually be creating a heirloom”. And I’d like to think so; brass is a timeless material that ages well and resists corrosion superbly and Palmwood is noted for its endurance and beauty. The combination of the two has given a tool that will last you a lifetime, and a couple more for sure!

The Versatile Typeholder is ideal for tooling single letters whenever needed. Check out the original entry for the Typeholder to learn more about its use.

Padauk BFM - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Bookbinding Finishing Multitool (BFM) with Padauk handle.
Padauk is a hardwood originating from central and tropical west Africa but can also be found in Myanmar and Thailand. The wood database mentions that it “has excellent decay resistance and is rated durable to very durable”. Its vivid red color (Padauk is sometimes called Vermillion because of it) gradually turns to a deeper reddish-brown tone as years pass by, though small exposure to sunlight can prolong the process. I find the aged version even more attractive if you ask me!
The Bookbinding Finishing Multitool’s basic set is an ideal starting kit for those interested to venture in classic decoration techniques. It includes 15 interchangeable decorative heads that enable the binder through combined use to perform a multitude of designs, from simple to elaborate. Read the original entry on the BFM to learn more about its features.

Amboyna typeholder - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Versatile Typeholder with Amboyna Burr handle.

Amboyna is not actually a distinct species but rather how the burl formation of specific trees is called. A burr (or burl) is formed when a tree undergoes some kind of stress such as injury, a virus or a fungus, leading to the irregular development of its grain. That “irregularity” creates intricate patterns or color variations within burls and Amboyna is the most expensive and sought after kind. Apart from its charming appearance the Amboyna is very durable and shows excellent decay resistance.

The Versatile Typeholder is ideal for tooling single letters whenever needed. Check out the original entry for the Typeholder to learn more about its use.

Cocobolo stylus - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Bookbinding stylus with elaborate Cocobolo handle.

Coming from central America Cocobolo is renown for its hardness and beautiful color, most commonly streaks of dark brown (or black) and red. Used in a variety of objects, from pool cues to pens, from inlay work to full musical instruments, Cocobolo is an expensive and prized hardwood. Due to is natural oils it shows outstanding resistance to degrade caused by humid/dry cycles and is rated as extremely durable.

I combined the straight Stylus with the elaborate (and also revised) handle design for this unique piece. The Stylus tool gives you the ability to decorate your bound books “freehand”, your imagination (and maybe your gas tank’s capacity!) is the only limit. Keep in mind that you can always alter/modify the Stylus’ end to the sharpness of your liking. Read the original entry on my Stylus set to see the advantages such a tool offers.

Padauk Stylus set - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Stylus set with Padauk handles.

I’ve managed to provide you with 2 Stylus sets in handles made from this beautiful hardwood. A great addition to any bindery, this Stylus set considerably expands your tooling options while also making an aesthetical statement. Make those colleagues jealous!

Wenge stylus - Dimitri's bookbinding corner
Bookbinding stylus with Wenge handle.

You can have this one for free! Yup, you heard me! All you have to do is head over to the blog’s Facebook page, SHARE and like the corresponding post and answer a question. The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday the 15th of February. Good luck everyone!