Bindings for You – Cloth bindings


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It’s been a while but Bindings for You are back, this time in cloth!
Three classic works of literature available for you to acquire.

Key features:
– Covered in bookbinding cloth

– Handmarbled paper
– Handmade cloth endbands
– Handtooled titles on leather labels
– Line tooling in foil on both covers and spine.

Title tooled on irregular pieces of leather, hinting at the frozen landscape included in the story but also at the fragmented nature of Frankenstein’s creation.

The books are Everyman’s Library editions of:
– Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (available)
– Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (available)
– Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (available)

Cost – 100 euros for each volume (excluding shipping)

If you’d like to own of them you can:
1) Order through email –
2) Visit my Etsy shop The Bookbinder’s Bench

Upcoming: leatherbound copy of Orwell’s 1984

You can browse other available bindings by visiting Bindings for You subpage!


Cloth Bindings


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  In the past 6 months, due to a combination of commissions and the seminars I’ve been giving, I have made more cloth bindings than I’ve made in 9 years of bookbinding.

 To be honest I wasn’t really fond of them until recently. I always felt cloth very restricting as a covering medium: it stains easily, is far less susceptible to decorative techniques compared to leather, less pleasant to work with and of course inferior in durability.
 However, working with it more often I’ve also come to appreciate its virtues: big variety of colors readily available, doesn’t require preparation, easy to work with, disposable (in case things get messy) and very cost effective.

Here are some examples of work from recent cloth bindings.

Nausicaa by Hayao Miyazaki
 The film version use to be on the TV here often, I remember watching it as a kid. Masterfully illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki (widely acclaimed director and animator) for over a decade, Nausicaa is an interesting story with rich and diverse lore.

  The person who commissioned it wanted a classic cloth binding in a color that would represent the earth’s polluted landscape in the story. I combined it with an amazing marbled paper from Jemma Lewis. It was supposed to be a much simpler quarter binding but I wanted to try out this style instead, which was more complicated than I had imagined, and then matching endpapers are a must, but then I also figured it needs some (which turned out to be a lot) gold tooling/framing to really show, and by the time I had finished the binding I realized it took 3 times more work than initially planned. Fellow colleagues, do you feel me?!?

The Holy bible
L.K. brought this bible which was owned by his uncle. It is of sentimental value to the family and -as is often the case with bibles- it was falling apart. The late owner had made a few efforts to keep the book in one piece, most notably sewing the spine (notice the sewing holes) and the front cover in a coil fashion.

  The original plan was for a new simple cloth binding, however I thought it would be interesting to preserve the original covers and spine which, through the repair efforts and the hand-drawn cross, tell the book’s story, that it was used and loved a lot. Plus the cliche stamp on the old covers looks lovely.

 What is interesting with this particular cloth binding is the recessed covers in which the original ones are inlayed as panels. It was the first time I tried this and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I made sure to remove the original cloth covers with a substantial layer of old bookboard still attached to them or else they could tear easily or be permeated by the glue and soil or loose shape.
 The exact opposite was required for the original spine cloth though: it had to lay completely flat on the new spine and follow its flex, keeping the coverboard layer would make it protrude (and thus prone to detachment) and less flexible.

Notice the french groove? Quite neat if I may say so!

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
What do you do when you simply can’t find a way to split a title/word in a grammatically correct way?
Answer: what word? what order?

  Problem with thin spines is that you have to either tool with very small type size or tool vertically. The first one leads to an impractical result – a book’s author or title need to be distinguishable on the shelf. The second can easily lead to misaligned letters, plus it’s not always possible, especially with long titles or author names.

  There was another thing as well: I could not split “Labyrinths” in any grammatically correct way because of the 4 consonants at the end (seriously, what’s wrong with you english language?!?). So I decided to have some fun by going around the problem and at the same time elevate the title into a small design element, hinting at the title’s meaning by altering the correct order of letters and adding a small gold trail line!

I’m really fond of using letters and a book’s title  as part of the decoration (here are some examples from my work). Will do a post featuring some great works by various binders on this decorative approach in the future.

Brass Band Nippers II


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Band nippers are used to adjust the leather tightly around the spine bands when covering the binding. An essential tool for every bookbinder.

Introducing Brass Band nippers II
The Brass Band Nippers offered by Dimitri’s Bookbinding corner have found home in binderies located in over a dozen different countries around the world and have received much praise for their design and functionality by professional binders and bookbinding enthusiasts alike.

Not stopping there and in my effort to provide the bookbinding community with useful and long lasting tools I have redesigned the brass band nippers and their manufacturing methods using feedback, personal experience and the aspects that made them popular to offer you an improved version.

Precision made

The tool remains entirely handmade. However, introducing precision machinery in various stages of the tool’s making has resulted in more even and smooth surfaces and  -most importantly- better function.

More robust
The tool now has an additional 20% of mass compared to its predecessor making it even more resistant to wear and continuous use. Made to last, it will accompany you for a life-time.

Bigger and wider jaws
The jaws have been enlarged and also feature a wider span to make sure that you can have good results with bands of various thicknesses.


Each Brass Band Nipper is made entirely by hand and finished to produce smooth jaw edges suitable for fine bookbinding work.

Solid Brass
As with the previous version the tool is made from solid brass, a timeless metal used in many bookbinding tools. Brass doesn’t rust and won’t stain your book spine.

Practical design
A simple and efficient spring at the top facilitates use by spring-back action.

PRICE – 120 euros

1) Sending me an email at
2) Or visit my -> Etsy shop. (note: etsy fee added to the cost)

NOTE – 50% discount for orders made by bookbinding guilds, academies or institutions. The discount applies for one tool ordered for use by the guild, academy (etc) itself. Please contact me directly if you are interested.

Techniton Politeia – Interview with Jana Pullman


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jana-pullman-venus-adonisAlthough Book Arts are a constantly growing world, receiving more and more interest – especially in recent years, they remain for the most part unknown to the general public. One of the blog’s goals since its beginning has been to bring people closer to the art and craft of bookbinding and other associated crafts. To make them understood and appreciated.
Some time ago I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Emma Taylor From Within a book. Since then I have been entertaining the idea of more interviews with bookbinders and people from the book arts world in general.
Following the philosophy described above, Dimitri’s Bookbinding Corner will present you with a series of such interviews, which will be less technical in nature and more of an invitation to step into the binderies and workspaces of various artisans and illustrate different kinds of craftsmanship.

Today we have a special guest who was kind enough to talk with me about her experiences and perspective on certain matters as a bookbinder: Jana Pullman.

Jana began working with books in 1983 while pursuing her BFA and MFA degrees in art. She is the owner of Western Slope Bindery at Minneapolis, specializing in custom bindings and repair of books. She focuses her artistic energies on fine binding and participates in book exhibitions. During many years of working in book arts she has been a printer, papermaker, bookbinder, illustrator, conservator and instructor.
She teaches at the famous Minessota Center for Book Arts and various other venues and travels often to give seminars.

Her inventiveness and  long experience in the craft are evident in her work which she showcases at her blog About the binding through numerous pictures and well detailed presentations of the creative process.

jana-pullman-open-horizon_2In her own words:
My primary artistic work in the Book Arts is in the area of design bindings. I create unique bindings for specific books using materials such as leather, wood, handmade paper and gold tooling. I work with the books to find a design that complements the style of the text and illustrations as well as the intent of the authors.

There is a high expectation of craftsmanship in design binding and this pushes me to improve my techniques and explore new approaches. I am always intrigued by the opportunity to use new materials as well as utilizing historical elements and techniques. Throughout the book’s long history individuals have found many answers on how to work with books and I enjoy exploring that history.

I believe that does it for an introduction – now on to our interview!

– Hello Jana and thank you very much for this bookbinding talk.
You teach bookbinding at the distinguished Minessota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). You are also very active in giving seminars and courses at various locations in the US. Last but not least you own a bookbinding blog the posts of which are full of step by step pictures, thorough descriptions of the process involved and lots of bench tips&tricks.
Sharing the craft is obviously a big part of your life as an artisan. What are the reasons behind such a stance?

jana-pullman-pasting-down-onlaysWhen I started to learn about bookbinding I had several wonderful instructors. Soon I thought I too should pass on these methods and understanding of the craft to others. After teaching my first class I found that I enjoyed interacting with my students and telling them about the techniques of bookbinding and my love of books. Over the many years that I have taught book arts classes I have also gotten good relationships with a lot of students.

janas-class-2– Teaching bookbinding, as with any handcraft, is challenging on many levels – can you give us an insight from the instructor’s perspective?

Preparing for classes is challenging but it also gives me reasons to explore new techniques and find ways to present different methods to a class. Over the many years I have taught, I have learned more and have strengthened my own ability to do the work.

jana-pullman-book-ready-for-gold-tooling– Your work is really diverse, from traditional (historical style) fine bindings tooled in gold to a variety of unique design bindings. What was the most challenging binding project you ever tackled and why would you describe it as such?

jana-pullman-gilt-and-gauffered-edge-3A few years ago I was asked to rebind a book of William Shakespeare’s plays in the style of a binding done during Shakespeare’s lifetime. I had to learn more about techniques and styles in the late 1500s. I enjoyed gold tooling prior to that, but this project made me find new ways to improve my work. When I wanted to try a new method of tooling I began by creating another book for myself to see if I had come up with the right technique. So I took a lot more time to practice and then finish the Shakespeare book than I need to do with most of my other bindings, but I was very happy with the work when it was done. This is described in one of my blog posts.

– You are proficient in the use of various techniques, either regarding the structural properties of a binding or its decoration. Which technique would you say is the most enjoyable to you? Can you describe it and mention what makes it special?

jana-pullman-paper-reliefFor a structural challenge I really like the Bradel bookbinding. This style of binding can be traced back to the 18th century in Germany. The origin of the binding is uncertain, but the name comes from a French binder working in Germany, Alexis Pierre Bradel. It gives the book a strong connection between the pages and the cover. For a design element, the spine can be wrapped in one material and the covers wrapped in another.
Another way to finish the cover is the method known as the “milimeter binding”. What distinguishes the technique is that cloth, leather of vellum trim is added at the head, tail, fore-edges and corners of the case for greater durability while making the book look more elegant. The rest can be covered in a decorative paper.
I have three posts about Bradel bookbinding.

jana-pullman-bradel-binding–  You have been in the craft for a long time. What stands out more for you during your journey as an artisan?

I can always learn more about books and improve my ability to make them. I also encourage anyone to look at the history of books because you can find ideas and techniques that can give you inspiration for your own projects. When I see a picture of an old book, I make a drawing of it and then make a few more drawings with variations to give me more ideas for new bindings.

jana-pullman-omar-khayyam– On a different note…
Despite those who are convinced the book as an object will become obsolete in the near future, it appears there is a slow but steady shift of mentality back to traditional crafts. In an age of run-of-the-mill products people are starting to appreciate once more the quality and uniqueness of a handcrafted item. Bookbinding is also part of this. What’s your view on the matter?

A handmade item has a unique appearance and you can see the artist’s work, which gives it more details and design elements that are not found in industrialized items. When I show my books to people they are always fascinated that it was handmade. I also think they wonder if it is something they could do as well.

jana-pullman-the-dreamtime– Last question:
Although this re-appreciation of bookbinding has helped in the strengthening of bookbinding communities and public awareness regarding our craft this seems to more evident in well-faring countries. Bookbinding is in decline in Greece (where I live) and from what I hear in many other countries of similar conditions as well. Here almost none is taking up the craft…
With these two different sides of the bookbinding world in mind what would your advice be to an aspiring binder today?

Because bookbinding has a rich heritage around the world you should always look to see what is being done both locally and internationally. The work of other artists can give you new ideas and challenges to move you forward with your work. You can learn a lot from other binders and then pass it on to more people which helps build a bookbinding community that you are part of.

Hope you enjoyed our talk with Jana Pullman! If you haven’t already do spend some time to visit her blog About the Binding and website Western Slope Bindery and get acquainted with her wonderful work!

You can read more interviews at Techniton Politeia.


Celebrating 6 years in blogging and 1000 likes

When this blog began 6 years ago little did I know that it would become such a driving force and a foundation upon which much of my progress and future plans have been built. It has kept me focused, gave me the opportunity to learn a lot, encouraged me to work hard and, most of all, it inspired me…

kain-ergast2Dimitri’s Bookbinding Corner has evolved in many different ways but its purpose, the spark behind its creation and momentum, remains the same: storytelling.
I wanted to share the stories behind my bindings and my journey as a bookbinder. But I also wanted to bring people closer to the very world of bookbinding. To make its vastness, beauty and wonderful stories known.
And to serve such a purpose the blog had to be an inviting place where the binding enthusiast, the apprentice and the seasoned binder alike would converge and find diverse and interesting content.

I’m happy to say that as time goes by it feels more and more to be going in the right direction…!

It’s also a great coincidence that only a month before such an anniversary the blog’s FB page has reached 1000 likes.
The blog’s readers and followers, from all around the world, have shown amazing support – κeeping up a blog like this is hard work and your words have played a significant role in keeping it rolling.

So this is for all you people! – As promised a huge giveaway with 3(!) winners will take place 3 weeks from now.
1st prize – a full sized quarter leather journal with a lovely handmarbled paper.
2nd prize – a small full leather copticstitch journal
3rd prize – a 20% discount on anything bought from the blog’s Etsy shop, the Bookbinder’s Bench.
If you want to take part head over to Dimitri’s Bookbinding Corner on FB!

I’ll leave you with the picture of journal I made recently.
Here’s to another great 6 years! Lots of nice things in store, stay tuned!


Σεμινάριο βιβλιοδεσίας και Καινούριος χώρος


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( To my english readers – post in english at the bottom of the post)

Το blog αυτό, o ψηφιακός χώρος της δουλειάς μου, παραμελήθηκε εδώ και κάποιο διάστημα προς χάριν του πραγματικού: ύστερα από μήνες και μήνες αναζήτησης και έπειτα προγραμματισμού και πακεταρίσματος το εργαστήριο μετακόμισε σε καινούριο χώρο!

dimitris-bookbinding-corner-%ce%b5%cf%81%ce%b3%ce%b1%cf%83%cf%84%ce%ae%cf%81%ce%b9%ce%bfΠρόκειται για ένα συμπαθητικό και άνετο υπογειάκι στο Νέο Ψυχικό και όλοι όσοι ενδιαφέρονται είναι ευπρόσδεκτοι να το επισκεφτούν κατόπιν συνεννοήσεως!

Με την ευκαιρία αυτή θα ήθελα να σας ανακοινώσω την έναρξη κύκλου μαθημάτων βιβλιοδεσίας. Παρακάτω οι λεπτομέρειες.

(Ραφτή πανόδετη βιβλιοδεσία)


Το σεμινάριο αυτό αποτελεί εισαγωγή στην τέχνη της βιβλιοδεσίας με την τεχνική του καλύμματος (case binding). Με την ολοκλήρωση των μαθημάτων θα έχετε στα χέρια σας ένα δεμένο βιβλίο και τις γνώσεις για να δένετε βιβλία με απλά υλικά και εργαλεία.

Έναρξη μαθημάτων: μέσα Νοέμβρη
Αριθμός μαθημάτων: 6-8 (αναλόγως τον αριθμό των ενδιαφερομένων)
Διάρκεια μαθήματος: 3 ώρες
Μέρες και ώρες: Απογεύματα καθημερινών ή πρωί/απόγευμα Σαββάτου. Οι ακριβείς μέρες και ώρες θα οριστούν κατόπιν συνεννόησης με τους ενδιαφερομένους.

Εάν θέλετε να συμμετάσχετε αφήστε μου ένα σχόλιο εδώ ή επικοινωνήστε μαζί μου στο

Συνοπτικά τα στάδια που θα δούμε:
1) Λύσιμο του βιβλίου και ενίσχυση των τυπογραφικών
2) Πριόνισμα των τυπογραφικών για το ράψιμο
3) Ράψιμο του βιβλίου σε τεζάκι
4) Ψαροκόλλημα ράχης
5) Στρογγύλεμα ράχης
6) Πέρασμα εσωφύλλων
7) Κατασκευή απλού χειροποίητου κεφαλαριού από δέρμα ή ύφασμα
8) Ενίσχυση ράχης
9) Κατασκευή καλύμματος από χαρτόνι
10) Ντύσιμο καλύμματος με ύφασμα και διακοσμητικό χαρτί
11) Πέρασμα του καλύμματος και ολοκλήρωση της βιβλιοδεσίας


Things have been quiet here at the blog for some time, but for good reason; after months and months of search and the extensive planning preparations and packaging that followed the bindery has finally moved to a new location!

It’s a comfy basement located in the northern suburbs and you are more than welcome to visit if you ever happen to be in Athens – Greece!

A seminar on case-binding is to take place there soon. It will be an introduction to bookbinding and participants will learn the basics of bookbinding (european sewn bookbinding). By its end they will have made a binding and will have the knowledge to bind books using simple tools and equipment.


Λεξικό βιβλιοδεσίας – Μέρος ΙΙ


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Για τους καινούριους αναγνώστες ιδού το Μέρος Ι!

Σε αυτό το άρθρο θα δούμε όρους σχετικούς με την ανατομία μιας βιβλιοδεσίας καθώς και με κάποια από τα στάδια της δημιουργίας της.
Όπως έγραψα και την προηγούμενη φορά δεν πρόκειται για ενδελεχές λεξικό του επαγγέλματος αλλά συμπεριλαμβάνει κυρίως όρους που είναι συνήθως δύσκολο να γνωρίζει κανείς τον αντίστοιχο αγγλικό τους ή να περιγράψει τι αφορούν.
Επίσης να τονίσω πως οι όροι στα ελληνικά αποδίδονται όπως τους διδάχτηκα κατά την μαθητεία μου, αντιλαμβάνομαι πως κάποιοι ενδεχομένως να τους έχουν υπόψιν με άλλες ονομασίες, φαινόμενο συχνό στον χώρο της χειροτεχνίας.


Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - First quarto from Titus AndronicusΤυπογραφικό – signature
Τα “φυλλάδια” από τα οποία αποτελούνται συνήθως τα βιβλία. Πρόκειται για μεγάλα κομμάτια χαρτιού που διπλώνονται προκειμένου να σχηματιστούν οι σελίδες. Οι πιο συχνές μορφές τυπογραφικών είναι το “quarto” (κυριολεκτικά το “τετράδιο”) και το octavo, το γνωστό 16σέλιδο.
Εικόνα: το πρώτο τυπογραφικό από τον Τίτο Ανδρόνικο του Ballantyne Press.

Ράχη – Spine
Το κομμάτι που είναι ορατό σε εμάς όταν το βιβλίο είναι όρθια τοποθετημένο σε ράφι.
Η ράχη, κάτω από το κάλυμμα, αποτελείται από το σύνολο των διπλωμένων τυπογραφικών. Αυτή ράβουμε, κολλάμε και ενισχύουμε προκειμένου το βιβλίο να πάρει τη γνωστή μορφή του. Η κατανόηση της μηχανικής λειτουργίας που επιτελεί καθώς και η σωστή διαχείριση του όγκου και του σχηματός της παίζουν καθοριστικό ρόλο στην ποιότητα και την μακροβιότητα μιας βιβλιοδεσίας.

Πινακίδες – Boards
Το μπρος και το πίσω μέρος του καλύμματος, τα κομμάτια που ανοιγοκλείνουν και προστατεύουν το βιβλίο.

Dimitris bookbinding corner - Endband blue-redΚεφαλάρι – Endband (Headband)
Πρόκειται για το κομμάτι που εξέχει από τις άκρες της ράχης. Στη σύγχρονη εποχή του φτηνού βιβλίου κεφαλάρι ονομάζεται γενικά το σημείο αυτό του καλύμματος αλλά κανονικά είναι ένα επιπλέον στοιχείο που ράβεται ή κολλιέται στη ράχη κάτω από το κάλυμμα.
Σημείωση του γράφοντος: η λατρεία προς τα χειροποίητα κεφαλάρια είναι υποχρεωτική.

Ακμές – (for-) Edge
Οι άκρες των σελίδων, το κομμάτι που είναι ορατό όταν είναι κλειστό το βιβλίο. Σε μερικές περιπτώσεις διακοσμούνται με κάποιο χρώμα και παλαιότερα συνηθιζόταν το χρύσωμα τους ή, σπανιότερα, η ζωγραφική πάνω τους. “Foredge” ονομάζεται η μεγάλη ακμή στο ύψος του βιβλίου.

Αλυσιδάκι – Kettle stitch
Είναι οι ραφές πιο κοντά στις άκρες της ράχης (μη ορατές στο εξωτερικό μιας  ολοκληρωμένης βιβλιοδεσίας). Οι ραφές αυτές, όπως μαρτυρεί και το όνομα τους, περνούν η μία μέσα από την άλλη αντί να συγκρατούν τα νεύρα/σπάγγους του βιβλίου.

Figure-193-How-to-Correctly-bend-the-Signatures-Bookbinding-DiagramΛούκια – Shoulders/Hinges
Στα ελληνικά υπάρχει ένας όρος που καλύπτει 2 παρόμοια αλλά διαφορετικά πράγματα. “Hinge” είναι το σημείο κατά μήκος του καλύμματος, εσωτερικά και εξωτερικά, που λύγίζει προκειμένου να ανοίξουμε ή να κλείσουμε τις πινακίδες.
“Shoulder” ονομάζεται το σημείο εκείνο στο πρώτο και τελευταίο τυπογραφικό (συνήθως οι “φύλακες”) που είναι ανασηκωμένο σε ορθή ή σχεδόν ορθή γωνία ύστερα από το σφύρισμα. Εκεί έρχεται να ακουμπήσει η πινακίδα η οποία έχει το ίδιο πάχος.
Εικόνα: από τo χρησιμότατο

Φύλακες – Flyleafs
Κενές σελίδες ανάμεσα στο κείμενο και τα εσώφυλλα που ο ρόλος τους είναι να προστατέψουν τις πρώτες και τις τελευταίες σελίδες του κειμένου καθώς και να επωμιστούν το στρες από το ανοιγόκλεισμα των πινακίδων. Ράβονται μαζί με το κυρίως σώμα του βιβλίου.

Dimitri's bookbinding corner - Endpapers of The Yellow EmperorΕσώφυλλα – Endpapers
Πρόκειται για το πρώτο (και τελευταίο) δίφυλλο που βλέπουμε ανοίγοντας ένα βιβλίο. Οι μαρμαρόκολλες έχουν υπάρξει η συχνότερη επιλογή για εσώφυλλα τους τελευταίους αιώνες της βιβλιοδεσίας. Πέρα από την αισθητική η πρωταρχική λειτουργία των εσωφύλλων είναι άλλη: αντισταθμίζουν το κουρμπάρισμα που προκαλείται στις πινακίδες από το “τράβηγμα” του υλικού με το οποίο έχει ντυθεί το βιβλίο.

Εικόνα: Τα εσώφυλλα από Τον Κίτρινο Αυτοκράτορα.


paring action by Jana PullmanΡεφελάρισμα – Paring
Είναι η διαδικασία κατά την οποία λεπταίνουμε το δέρμα, συνήθως στις άκρες του. Αυτό επιτυγχάνεται με τη χρήση ειδικών μαχαιριών, μικρών μηχανών με ξυράφι, ή με ένα συνδυασμό των δύο.
Εικόνα: από το εξαιρετικό blog της Jana Pullman που περιέχει ενδελεχή άρθρα με φωτογραφίες από διάφορα στάδια της βιβλιοδεσίας.

Dimitris Bookbinding Corner - Rounding the book blockΣτρογγύλεμα – Rounding
Αφότου η ράχη ραφτεί (και κολληθεί) την κτυπάμε με το σφυρί του τσαγκάρη προκειμένου να αποκτήσει καμπυλωτό σχήμα. Αυτό προσδίδει και στην μπροστινή όψη (ακμή) του βιβλίου το χαρακτηριστικό σχήμα ημισέληνου. Το στρογγύλεμα μοιράζει το φούσκωμα που έχει προστεθεί από το πάχος της κλωστής κατά το ράψιμο αλλά επίσης αποτρέπει το να αποκτήσει η ράχη κοίλο σχήμα (το συναντάμε σε πολλά βιβλία που η ράχη τους ήταν αρχικά ίσια) από τη χρήση.

Σφύρισμα – Backing
Μετά το στρογγύλεμα το βιβλίο μπαίνει στην σφυριστική πρέσα για το σφύρισμα. Με αυτό δημιουργούνται τα λούκια όπου θα ακουμπήσουν οι πινακίδες του βιβλίου.

Πέρασμα – Casing (ή απλώς pasting)
Έτσι ονομάζεται το στάδιο όπου το βιβλίο ντύνεται με το προετοιμασμένο δέρμα ή, στην περίπτωση απλούστερης βιβλιοδεσίας, όταν κολλάμε το κάλυμμα στο σώμα του βιβλίου.

Lili Hall - gold tooling.Χρύσωμα – (Gold) Tooling / Gilding
“Tooling” είναι η διακόσμηση ενός βιβλίου με τη χρήση εργαλείων που έχουν θερμανθεί προκειμένου να αφήσουν το αποτύπωμα τους στην επιφάνεια του. “Gold tooling” είναι όταν η διαδικασία αυτή περιλαμβάνει αυθεντικό χρυσό. “Gilding” είναι όταν χρυσώνουμε τις ακμές του βιβλίου ή μεγάλες επιφάνειες πάνω στο κάλυμμα.
Εικόνα: Η Lili Hall χρυσώνει μια ράχη.

How to pimp your nipping press! – Ντοπάροντας το πρεσάκι!


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I’ve been looking for a solid metal press for a while now. Big standing presses are massive beasts and I had neither the budget nor the spare space for one. My lying press does the job but it is often occupied by other bookbinding tasks. I’ve been using a small wooden press I made 8 years ago as a nipping press but she’s past her glory and has been asking -through various squeaking sounds- for a semi-retirement for some time now.

Dimitri's Bookbinding corner - Modified and restored nipping press I found this used old press at a fair price and decided to make an addition to the bindery. It is somewhat larger, space-wise, than your average nipping press but boy – talk about beefy for its size! There’s a “1880” engraved on it (along with the number 7 on the handle. Anyone able to enlighten me on that – perhaps a model/size indicator by the maker?), which shows this fellow carries some history on his back. Furthermore the previous owner had made a modification to enlarge the pressing area by attaching 2 wide metal plates.

My problem with it was its opening span, which was less than 8cm (3.1 inches) – simply too small for pressing several books simultaneously. Owning several presses is currently not an option and having to press books in turns is impractical. I had the idea of upgrading the press by adding my own modification; 2 industrial-grade steel cylinders that increase press height.

Now the press is tailor made for my needs; it can accommodate 5-6 regular sized books, exert tremendous force and still be -by general standards- a “small” press.

Dimitri's Bookbinding corner - Increasing press heightThis upgrade should be possible with most nipping presses and can save you a lot of money and space if you need a stronger press or one that fits more books. All you need is a visit to a local machinist!

I took the press for a sandblast and painting before putting it together, turned out great.
Till next time!

Marbled Diamond pattern


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Here’s a small experiment of mine; presenting the Marbled Diamond pattern.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Marbled Diamond pattern 2The idea behind this journal was to take classic elements, most notably marbled paper, and use them in a way that would look new but at the same time convincing and natural, as if this kind of decoration could have existed as a standard form in the 19th century.

This is the design I had in mind; a diamond pattern onlaid with marbled paper. As far as I’m concerned I have never seen anything like it, however if some experienced or knowledgeable binder/conservator out there is aware of any similar historical binding/s please do share the information (and as a bonus trash my creative excitement in the process)!
On the one hand it strikes me as strange that there aren’t at least a few historical examples of such a design, even as an odd piece or excercise of creativity. Then again, judging by the time and measurements it required, production or time-efficiency wise it is a somewhat impractical design.

I opted for the longstitch because much as I wanted to try the technique I wasn’t very keen on producing a laborious sewn-in boards fine binding.

Dimitri's Bookbinding Corner - Marbled Diamond patternAs you can see I committed the sacrilege of using 2 different decorative papers for the cover and endpapers, a marbled and a paste paper. Before you grimace in disgust and search for stones to throw stay your hand and consider my reason behind such blasphemy; the marbled paper I wanted to use had the grain wrong. So, if it would be used as endpaper it would have to be placed in the correct grain, thus the pattern would be running horizontally in contrast with the vertical pattern of the cover pieces.
I preferred to match it with a paste paper of very similar colors hoping to achieve some relevance between the two designs. It’s not ideal but I suppose it wouldn’t be called “the ugliest juxtaposition of patterns one has ever seen”, to quote Brien Beidler on one of his findings!

As for the verdict, I really like the pattern and the resulting visual. I believe there’s more to it and will definitely return sooner than later for a second go. I also have a couple of ideas that could make it less time consuming and more repeatable.
As an extra note I have to admit there’s something a bit “off” about this specific journal, a few people who saw it expressed the same feeling. Longstitch aside, I attribute this to the blind tooling. I wasn’t sure about it but after completing the marbled diamond pattern the remaining spaces felt somewhat empty so I decided to do some blind tooling as a remedy. Came out a bit too “chatty’ for my taste, should have gone with double gold lines so that an inner linear rhombus would be created in each gap – more discreet.
In any case I look forward in trying the design again, next time on a more classic form.
Until then what do you make of it?

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