Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Being there.

A lovely evening.

After getting to the Guildhall only a few minutes late I and the other bookbinders set out the books on plinths. After a little chat about where they should go everyone was happy.

What was really nice was being able to see the other books. To think that they had been made in a few weeks is very humbling.

Just in time, the reception hall began to fill with the good, the great and the authors.

Steve Toltz and A Fraction of the Whole. It was very nice to meet him. he said some pleasant things about the binding.....

One of the top things about the evening was, for the first time, the binders were seated at the authors table. The tension, the food and the chat.

The bindings will be on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the near future, please check out my other Blog for details when they are made available to me.

This will be last entry till next time. Bye...........

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Big Night.

Well, tonight is the big night.

The D J has been checked out and it still fits, shoes polished and hair will be combed. All of this for one evening in the Guildhall.
The evening will start at 7pm with a reception. Dinner at 8pm, with the announcement being televised on the BBC Ten O'Clock News at 10.25pm. We are then kicked out at 11.30pm.

My small part of this is the presentation binding of 'A Fraction of the Whole' by Steve Toltz.

I have enjoyed this binding, the text made it easy for me. The image of brother, both with ideals, both with gifts, both flawed.
As you can see from the image, there is not even the barest hint of gold leaf, the tooling is limited to black line work and the lettering, well it is hardly traditional.

Front board.

Back board.


Back board detail.

Lettering detail.

End band and edge decoration.

Front end paper and doublure.

Back end paper and doublure.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

At last, A Fraction of the Whole is finished.

Yesterday I finished the binding. When the weather improves I will take some pictures.
Only the box needs to be made so I am okay for time. This will be the fourth Man Booker/Booker binding I have done, the pressure is still the same, the time is always tight but I do so enjoy the challenge. The binding, along with the other five will be on show in the Victoria and Albert museum (London UK) as soon as I have details I will post them.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Nearly finished.

The out side of A Fraction of the Whole is finished.

The final black line work is finished, the title is in place and the composition looks as if it may work. I am never sure if the final binding works until I have finished the doubler work which will take place in the next two days.

At the bench on a Sunday. However, I am not alone, three studio members working on their books makes for a lively, if some what tempered day.
It is some times very difficult to switch from my work to that of a student if they have a question or have a problem. At least my brain is kept active.

Summer has ended, the clouds are low and the rain washes the poor summer down the drain.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Now is the waiting game, layers of varnish over the letters. 3 hours between coats and am on the fourth coat now.

Tomorrow should find me doing the black line work and starting work on the doublers (the inside of the boards) Only another three or so days work to go and the book should be finished, then the box. I should be ok, getting the whole thing ready has to be ready for the award bash on the 14th of this month ....... ten days time !

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Title, inlays and the woman.

Work is going well. I am managing to find time to teach the studio students, help the studio members, arrange for work experience people from Paris and London College of Communication. All of this along with my own work and of course the Man Booker binding A Fraction of the Whole.

The doublures are down but work continues a-pace on the outside of the book.

The in-lay work is taking shape along with the addition of a lady on the spine.

Those of you who are familiar with my work may be aware that I only include the title of the book on the binding only if it fits with the design. I usually make boxes for the books and have the title on the box.

Before anyone says ' The A is not straight' I know. The individual letters are not fixed in place at the moment.
I am still deciding on the paper, font and point. Working with only a fraction of the whole letter ( did you see what I did then ?) is most interesting. Our eye and brain fill in the missing portions, the recognition of each letter and the relationship between it and any adjacent letter is becoming important to the whole design of the book.

Back to the bench.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Black Line work.

Over the weekend I managed to get the graphics applied to the outside of the book.

Passages of the book are dark, silent screams and emptiness.

The graphics are derived from my personal collection of photos gleaned from junk shops and the like. I have no idea who the people are in the curling snap shots. I make their life, their past and futures. The contrast between the spontaneous reds and blacks and the graphics only serves to accentuate the solitary nature of the images

Black line work, steady hand, dwell, pressure and temperature all coming together.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Covering A Fraction of the Whole.

The dye was fixed, initial pasting to the leather has been allowed to dry out and then, after a second application of paste the leather is applied to the carcass.

I love this part of the process, the manipulation of the leather. The design begins to take shape,what was two dimensional has become 3 dimensional, the patterns, colours and line work have form.

Detail of the front board.

Detail of the head cap, end band and edge decoration.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Man Booker, painting A Fraction of the Whole.

Once the leather has been cut to size the turn ins are pared down, all by hand and with great care.

All of this is to prepare the leather for the first phase of the design work.

The base structure of the design is first drawn on to the leather then the dye is applied with a brush.

For me, this is one of the most important steps. If I get it wrong at this point then it is hours wasted working on the leather. It is a very direct way of working with the book and the design.
It has been said that I use the word as an artist would use a landscape, the way Steve Toltz uses the word to create a three way narrative, the confusion of life and death.

The first colour is sprayed on. A dull red, there is a lot of blood in in the text, kids fighting, mothers exploding and sports stars clobbered.

A touch of blue.

The final stage of this phase, a more acidic red. Remember the red sewing thread from a previous post ? well here is part of the reason, the tie in between the outer design and the inside of the book.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

So Far ... So Good.

Both text blocks are rounded, backed, with edge decoration and end bands. The boards have been attached, the various spine linings applied and the whole lot has been sanded. The various operations take time but it is important to get everything right.

It is at this point that one of the books will be put to the back of the bench, while I concentrate on just the one binding.

I have chosen Fair Goat to cover the book with. A fantastic and wonderful material to work with. Being very light in colour it will take dyes with ease, thus allowing me to start to layer up the images, textures, colours and objects.

The image gives some idea of the edge decoration, the goat skin before paring and one or two of the tools I use.

With a book of this nature very little of the production process is done with machinery, hand skills and an eye for detail are more important. This approach also means that I am able to really work with the book, understand the materials and be in control of all aspects of the art and craft. Well, at least in theory.

The Man Booker invites arrive.

A few days ago the invite for the Man Booker awards arrived.

The post man, a kind soul, handed me a hand written, silver envelope. On opening, the invitation thunked on to the work bench. As with these sort of invites instructions are included. Black tie, drinks and carriages and the like.
The announcement will be televised on the BBC Ten O'Clock News at 10.25.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Saturday, 20th of September.

At last I can start to think about the leather. The edge decoration has been done, the end bands sewn, the boards on, spine piece on and all sanded to a gnats whisker. All in all the forwarding is almost complete, for a more in depth view of the techniques I employ please visit the Studio 5 Blog and look for the posts called 'Beneath The Skin and Beneath the Skin 2.

A rest on Sunday, pictures will be posted in the morning of A Fraction of the Whole - work in progress.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Day 8 with A Fraction of the Whole.

So far so good. Apart from the paper quality and the wrong grain direction not making the forwarding process as straight forward as possible, things are moving along.

After secondary sewing I turned my attention to the edges of the text block. Thought the edges had been cut using a guillotine, they were just not good enough.

The result has been hours at the two screw laying press, gently sanding the various surfaces with ever finer papers. When I say hours, I mean hours.

The thing is, like most of the work we, as bookbinders, out of a hundred people, 99 would not have the experience of looking or working at the sort of work we do. It is so easy to take short cuts, the 'That will do' mentality. I try not to make books for the 99, I make them for the one who may be able to understand what they are looking at.

Back to the press and back to sanding.

Monday, 15 September 2008

A Fraction of the Whole, rounding and backing.

Much to my delight I have managed to round and back my two copies of A Fraction of the Whole. The text blocks are able to rest and set into shape over night, it is good to be getting a move on.

The studio was full of studio members and students, working on their individual projects, individual problems etc... The paper quality has not made life very easy, such is life.

The design is sort of finalised, which makes life a bit easier.

Man Booker....Sewing and the end papers.

Having read the whole book, making notes and forming the design. So much colour, killings and red. Lips and booze. Poverty and riches both in mind and environment.

I have made the end papers, they will have a leather joint.

The sewing has been done in red linen thread ( more about that later, it is a design thing ) One of the problems of this sort of text block is the paper. It is not top and is full of problems. However, the two text blocks are sewn, the end papers are hook-guarded in place and the spines set and glued using a PVA-Paste mix.

Detail of the link stitch.

Of course it is very rare to see the early elements of the book taking shape.
Next will be edge trimming, rounding, backing, possible decoration and end banding.

Friday, 12 September 2008

A Fraction of the Whole, the text blocks arrive.

Much excitement in the studio. My two copies of A Fraction of the Whole arrived.

The parcel was placed on a work surface by a nice man from the Royal Mail. Lashings of parcel tape.

Perhaps most wonderfully, knotted string. I love the stuff, reminds me of the packages from my past.
With little ceremony the string was cut, the tape split.

Cocooned in a nest of foam and crumpled paper the two sets of sheets, folded and collated.

The sets of sections are in the press and will be in there over night. Back to the reading copy.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Man Booker awards. Day 2.

I managed to get my reading copy of 'A Fraction of the Whole' by Steve Toltz.

I have to say that I am enjoying the read, so far only a 100 or so pages in and already grabbed. I wont try to explain, there are many word smiths and critics who have already ladled their praise for this first novel, I would suggest that you get a copy or read the pages of stuff about it on the web.

Steve Toltz is Australian, to this end some of the language requires translation. This in turn means that I have had to find a translation service. It is with great fortune that the RED LION ( my local) has such a service with half the bar staff being from that part of the world. Of course this also requires me to be in the Red Lion to make the most of the translation service. It is a hard life.

The reading copy is from my local book shop 'Barnes Bookshop' independent, proud and offering a service that makes every customer feel that they are welcome and important. Anyway, the dust jacket is a panoramic scene of a small town riddled with very neat bullet holes. Under the dust jacket is a hard back book. Forgive me, I feel a small rant coming up..... When buying modern hard backs, please remember that the vast majority are simply paper backs with a hard cover slapped on, all held together with an adhesive that has a life that can be measured in months.

There, thank you Doctor, I feel much better for getting that off my chest.

Back to the plot, under the dust jacket is a pink binding that matches my post it notes things.

I read through the text picking out what I think are key points, perhaps a chair or the Eiffel Tower. It is all there. Once I have completed the first reading I will distill and begin to work the design. I already have an idea of what I think will work, but I will remain fluid until the design is transfered to the finished book.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Man Booker short list is out.

Have just heard that my Man Booker binding is the top book 'The Fraction of the Whole' A first novel by Steve Toltz, From Sydney The the land of plenty (Australia)....... Will keep you up to date.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

9th of September

The 9th of September is Man Booker short list day. That , my dear bloggers is the day when I turn from a mild mannered Bookbinder into a binder possessed. I realise that to many bookbinders four or so weeks is along time to bind a single book, in many ways it is.

There are, however one or two differences to a standard binding and a designed binding. This, along with the fact that I have to read the text, research the back ground to the work and Make two bindings may give some indication that four or so weeks is pushing it.

Please return to witness the making of a Man Booker Binding.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Dear Diary

As soon as I get the text block to bind I shall let you know more.