An Investigation of Seventeenth Century English Bookbinding Tools in Randle Holme’s  “Academy of Armory” to be presented at The Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence 2021 Online Conference October 9

I’m making great progress on my bookbinding tool presentation. But I need a longer title….

Randle Holme’s 1688 Academy of Armory contains the only known images of seventeenth century English bookbinding tools. It has been almost forgotten in bookbinding literature, and wasn’t included in Pollard and Potter’s standard reference, Early Bookbinding Manuals: An Annotated List of Technical Accounts of Bookbinding to 1840. Holme describes six essential tools: a folder, a beating hammer, a needle, a sewing frame, a lying press, and a plough. The relationship between actual books of the time and the tools used to make them will be explored in this presentation. A demonstration of reproduction folding sticks — and a discussion of the difficulties in deciphering extant evidence of them — will end the session.

It only costs $79 to attend the entire conference. This includes the opening reception for the WILD/LIFE exhibition, Peter Verheyen on fish-skin in bookbinding, Karen Hanmer on an even more simplified binding, Radha Pandey on Indo-Islamic papermaking, and a roundtable discussion on exhibiting books. I hope to see some familiar faces there, in little squares.

Register here for this online event!

If you can’t attend the conference, or are thirsting for more information concerning Randle Holme and 17th c. bookbinding tools, an article will soon be published in The New Bookbinder 41.

New Tool for Sale! Fraying Shield

A stainless steel fraying shield of my design. There is not a standard term for these in English, but they are called Aufschabeblech in German.

I’d seen versions of tools like this fraying shield (sometimes called a fraying plate) for a couple of decades. Some are just a simple “V” cut into a pressing tin thickness piece of metal. Why bother, I thought? Who needs another specialized, single purpose tool for such a simple job? I’ve been fraying out the cords on scrap pieces of binders board or card stock just fine.

But recently Peter Verheyen engaged me to design and make one for him. He details some historic ones and has a video of him using this one in this blog post. I became intrigued by some of the subtleties of this simple tool. Once I had a prototype I liked, I had a familiar, nagging feeling. Why the hell didn’t I do this sooner? Even if you don’t buy this one, I urge you to make one for yourself and see!

Fraying out test. Check out the fluffy, evenly thinned slips!

The speed of fraying is quicker, and the quality of the resulting slips much better than using binders board or card stock. They are very even and it is easier to control how thin they get. This is due to fraying on a hard and flat surface, rather than an irregular surface that abrades. The thinness of the steel helps too, so that you can start fraying just next to where the cord exits the endsheet. The shield itself is made from an unhardened stainless steel, soft enough that it won’t damage your knife blade. Traditionally, though, the back of your knife is used. So far it has worked with all the different plys of linen cord I’ve tried, from 2 to 12. The stainless steel is also safe for contact with binding materials.

Fraying shield. Stainless steel, 2 x 6 inches. Buy it here, introductory price only $25!

Upcoming Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshops, Fall 2021

Making tools is not only engaging and fun, but entirely practical since the result is set of tools you can use daily. Book conservators, other conservators, bookbinders, technicians, artists and others will find this workshop valuable. Filing, scraping and polishing are meditative activities, no previous experience required. Working Delrin and bamboo is a great way to start toolmaking and we will make folders, lifting tools, microspatulas, hera, and creasing tools. Most of the skills and techniques taught are transferable to wood and bone toolmaking too. Fair warning: making your own tools is highly addictive!

Thankfully, the pandemic is subsiding in New York, but I originally created this workshop specifically to teach online with a kit, and it has worked well for the past four sessions, so I will keep it up for a while.  So far 49 students from 7 countries have completed this workshop.

All aspects of making tools with delrin and bamboo will be discussed in detail: design considerations, cutting, filing, rough shaping, final shaping, and polishing. The workshop consists of two 3- hour synchronous zoom sessions with PPT’s, videos, discussion of handouts, demonstrations, Q&A chat sessions, and working together. Also included is one month access to web resources, PPTs and videos demonstrating key techniques.

The workshop includes a kit with enough materials to make nine tools with a retail value over $300. A set of hand tools is also included: a cherry bench hook, scraper, burnisher, a file for plastics, and a variety of sanding and polishing supplies.  All you need is a stable work surface, a few common hand tools, and some time to work outside of class.

DATES: There will be three sessions:  September 11 + 18, October 16 + 23, November 13 + 20

Saturdays, .  12-3pm Pacific,  1-4pm Mountain, 2-5pm Central, 3-6pm Eastern, 8-11pm GMT, 9-12 CET, 10 – 1am EET, 5am – 8am (+ 1 day) JST, 6am – 9am ( +1 day) UTC

COST: $390 US  Register here

International participants need to contact me confirming they wish to attend, I will save a seat and send you an invoice enabling you to pay by credit card. I will hold the seat for 24 hours after I send the invoice. The cost is $440 Canada, $465 EU and other countries, and $490 Australia and New Zealand.  This includes kit shipping. Up to 3 kits can ship in one box internationally, so if you place one order for 2 or 3 people there will be substantial shipping savings, with the second and third places costing $390.

SCHOLARSHIP

A generous patron has offered a scholarship (worth $390 — $490) for the “Delrin and Bamboo Toolmaking Workshop”, to be held November 13 + 20, 2021. The award is intended for a book conservator, bookbinder, or technician new to the profession, with less than five years working experience, who is in need of financial assistance. Domestic and international applications are welcome.

To apply, contact me with the subject heading “Tool Making Scholarship Fall 2021”. 

The application should consist of two paragraphs, the first explaining why this scholarship is necessary to the applicant, the second detailing how it would benefit the applicant’s work. Applications are due September 1, and the successful candidate notified September 7. Submission not adhering to this application process will not be considered, and unsuccessful candidates will not be notified.

Some versions of the tools you will make in this workshop.