A Hollow Question

Adding a hollow (aka. Oxford hollow, tube) is often used to repair books that originally had a hollow, which makes sense. What makes less sense is using it on books that originally had a natural hollow, like case bindings. It adds at least three layers of paper, and only adds the strength of one thickness of paper. Admittedly, a strong sheet of handmade paper can be incredibly strong. Adding a hollow can dramatically change the opening, sometimes in unexpected ways. Often other hinging options with airplane cotton, linen or stout tissue are preferable. Adding a hollow is best suited to a quick and fast repair of circulating collections, or on relatively recent bindings with strong covering cloth. There are times when it should not be used.

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The movement of the spine would not be significantly changed by the addition of a hollow, since the textblock hinges from the tip of the shoulder. Remember that he significant stiffing caused by the adhesive and paper of the hollow is not addressed here, it also changes the movement, and can be damaging to a fragile covering material or spine linings..

 

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The movement of the spine would be significantly changed by the addition of a hollow, since the textblock hinges from the base of the shoulder. The changes in movement can cause severe stresses to the covering material and spine lining, possibly resulting in creasing, tearing or even failure. Remember that the stiffing resulting from the hollow can also cause damage by significantly changing the movement. Because of the interaction of the case, spine linings and hinging points, cloth case bindings are sometimes more complex to successfully conserve than leather bindings.

 

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This was one of the complexities we investigated in the recent workshop I taught at the Georgia Archives in Atlanta October 24-28, “Cloth Case Bindings: Their History and Repair.”

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Georgia Archives Conservation Lab. Photo Kim Norman.

Click on the links to see a slide show of images from each day. Images courtesy Kim Norman, Preservation Manager and Conservator, Georgia Archives. Thanks for hosting, Kim!

Day 1: https://quik.gopro.com/v/PNwC9SDNeW/

Day 2: https://quik.gopro.com/v/5v0ARgYFEo/

Day 3: https://quik.gopro.com/v/0Akz24qveU/

Day 4: https://quik.gopro.com/v/1EWV9WiqcD/

Day 5: https://quik.gopro.com/v/hPB5y1FonH/

There is talk of scheduling a complementary workshop in October 2017 at the same venue, dealing with rebacking, board attachment and repair of 19th century leather bindings. This would include leather paring with English and French knives, spokeshaves and the Scharffix paring machine, as well as methods of consolidating and dying leather. Check this blog for more info as it becomes available.

The Scratches Don’t Lie and The Big Board: Impressions from Teaching in the Netherlands.

Earlier this summer, I spent a couple of throughly enjoyable weeks in the Netherlands, teaching two workshops through the auspices of Restauratoren Nederland, at the beautiful bindery of Wytze Fopma in Friesland. First there was a 3-day sharpening/ spokeshave modification class, a wadlopen and tour of Mennonite sites, then a 5-day 18th c. French binding class. It was all very, very good.

Each time I teach, I keep adding current research. I’ve taught versions of the sharpening class over thirty times, and the French at least a dozen. It sounds cliche, but I do learn something new each time.

This class, Constant Lem, book conservator at Koninklijke Bibliotheek, convinced me of the importance of the 180 degree shoulder that the French bindings often have.  I’d considered and worked on this, however working together we made progress on this historically unique(?) structural feature.

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The steel folder, which Ben Elbel calls “score!”.

Before the workshop, I visited Ben Elbel, of Elbel Libro, in Amsterdam. He has a large studio, is doing some very nice work, and has a board beveling machine that I plan to steal at some point. Ben gave me a nifty steel folder which he sells. It is a nice size for detailed work, fitting comfortably in the hand, well made, and is also useful for blind lines. It comes in an attractive die cut storage folder. Metal folders keep popping up every now and then in the history of bookbinding: the earliest I’ve seen was patented in 1889.

Below are images from the workshop.

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Examining a spokeshave blade while sharpening.  Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

One of the most important aspects in freehand sharpening involves looking at reflections and scratch patterns in the blade, in order to understand what you are doing and what needs to be done. The visual feedback lets you know how to alter your hand pressure or technique. The scratches don’t lie.

 

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Tallying up The Big Board.  Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

The Big Board is a learning tool I use in the French class to keep track of questions, deviations from historic practice, instructor mistakes, material differences, etc.  Whoever has the most observations wins a prize, in this case a small lifting knife. Often there are over 150 observations. This helps keep us aware of inaccuracies generalized from our modern craft training that can creep into the historic style we are trying to understand.

As invasive treatments continue to become more infrequent in book conservation, the type of knowledge gained from making historic models will help keep book conservators relevant (I hope!), by increasing our knowledge of how these books were originally made.  Conservation as interpretation?

 

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Beating a textblock before sewing. Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

Not only did we have a custom made beating hammer, but we borrowed an anvil from the Blacksmith. A wonderfully solid substitute for a beating stone!

 

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Wytze’s large standing press. He said it took nine people to tilt it back upright after it was brought in through the door. A huge blocking press is on the left.  Come to think of it, EVERYTHING in the bindery was super heavy duty. My photo.

Wytze has the most massive operational standing press I’ve ever seen. He mentioned that it is the largest in Holland. He is operating the worm drive. Once the center screw is tightened as much as possible, to generate even more pressure, the drive can crank the main press screw another turn or so. The drive can be easily disengaged to quickly raise or lower the press. As a demonstration, he pressed some of our textblock paper so hard it sunk into the MDF pressing boards, creating a clamshell. It had little to do with the class, but was too impressive not to mention.

 

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Some of the class at work. Photo copyright Natasha Herman. http://www.redbonebindery.com

 

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The finished books. Photo copyright Anke van der Schaaf, 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.fopmawier.nl

On the left is an 18th century skull the Wytze found, the finished books, an 18th century (?) French (Dutch?) beating hammer on the right, and in the back, the printed handouts for the workshop bound en-broche by Wytze and Herre. We started with the same tan calfskin; the color variations on the finished books resulted from varying applications of glair, paste wash, and warm burnishing. These are powerful and inert ways to control the color and surface sheen of leather without dyeing.

The skull and beating hammer literally and symbolically bookend this workshop: we were working with the head and the hand, using theory and praxis, to learn more about the nature of 18th c. French binding.

 

 

Upcoming Workshops in the Netherlands, 25 May — 4 June 2016

I’m really looking forward to these upcoming workshops.  The organizers are making a beating hammer so I don’t have to carry mine! Dutch hospitality! If you are considering traveling from North America, Iceland Air has reasonably priced flights to Amsterdam and you can arrange a layover Iceland if desired.

 

Two workshops by Jeff Peachey – 25 May – 4 June 2016

organised by Restauratoren Nederland, the Netherlands

Two specialized bookbinding and conservation workshops lead by American bookbinder, conservator and toolmaker Jeff Peachey. Jeff combines his research of eighteenth-century French leather bindings with his practical knowledge of conservation, bookbinding and toolmaking. He will be teaching these workshops at Boekbinderij FopmaWier, a professional bookbinding studio in the Frisian countryside. Surrounded by an enthusiastic group of international colleagues and hopefully bathed in a warm spring sun, these workshops promise to be the perfect working holiday!

Making and sharpening knives: a rational approach, and modifying a spokeshave

https://www.restauratoren.nl/agenda/workshop-jeff-peachey-1/

This workshop is an intensive three day introduction to one of the most basic human tool making activities – making and keeping an edge tool sharp without the use of jigs. This workshop will use 3M micro-finishing film, but the freehand techniques learned are applicable to water, oil, or diamond stones. Participants will be provided the materials, instruction and equipment to make several knives by stock reduction of their choosing, and to resharpen any type of edge tool they bring with them as time permits. The specific tools of bookbinders will be examined: paring knives, lifting knives, scissors, hole punches, spokeshaves and board shear blades. Tool steel, edge geometry and grit progression will be discussed. A Stanley 151 spokeshave will be modified for leather paring, and there will be time to learn how to use it. The goal of this workshop is to free participants from the plethora of misinformation and mystique that surrounds sharpening and to instill confidence in sharpening, maintaining and resharpening bookbinding knives and other edge tools.

Course: €375, Materials: €175 Dates: 25-27 May 2016

 

Late eighteenth century French binding structure

https://www.restauratoren.nl/agenda/workshop-jeff-peachey-2/

Apart from the French Revolution, one of the most exciting aspects of late 18th C. French culture is the existence of two full-length bookbinding manuals. This five-day workshop will focus on reconstructing a typical full calf French structure of this time period, by comparing and contrasting the descriptions in these manuals and examining extant bindings. In some respects, this structure is the end of 1,200 years of utilitarian leather binding —50 years later the cloth case begins to predominate. This class is a hands-on explication of a written text. Some of the interesting features of this book include: beating the paper, sewing 2-on on raised cords, beating pasteboards, trimming edges a plough in-boards, edge coloring with vermillion, sewn front-bead single paper core endbands, parchment transverse spine liners, edge paring calf, “marbling” the leather, and achieving various shades of brown without using leather dyes. Reproductions of 18th C. French tools, constructed from plates in Diderot’s Encylopedie (1751-1780) will be available for experimentation. Participants will learn to use and maintain a plough, and gain experience in translating written descriptions of bookbinding into the construction of a model. Extensive notations (in English) on Gauffecourt’s Traite de la Relieure des Livres (1763) and Dudin’s L’Art du Relieur-doreur de Livres (1772) will be provided. An overriding theme in this class is to interpret historic bookbinder’s techniques by reconstruction. Basic bookbinding skills are a prerequisite.

Course: €540 Materials: €100 Dates: 30 May — 3 June

Excursion

On Friday afternoon, June 3, the eighteenth-century French binding structure course will be followed by an excursion to the local archives and rare books library: Tresoar, Frysk Histoarysk en Letterkundich Sintrum. We will look at several examples of eighteenth-century bindings from this collection using our freshly gained knowledge.

Adress: Tresoar: Boterhoek 1, 8911 DH Leeuwarden. We will travel together in available cars.

How to get there: https://www.tresoar.nl/over/Pages/Route.aspx

The tutor, Jeff Peachey

Jeffrey S. Peachey is an independent book conservator and toolmaker. For more than 25 years, he has specialized in the conservation of books and paper artifacts for institutions and individuals as the owner of a New York City-based studio. He is Professional Associate in the American Institute for Conservation, has taught bookbinding workshops internationally, and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Italy. He is the inventor of the Peachey Board Slotting Machine, used in conservation labs around the world. His most recent publication is “Beating, Rolling and Pressing: The Compression of Signatures in Bookbinding Prior to Sewing” published in Suave Mechanicals: Essays in the History of Bookbinding, Volume 1. More information at: http://jeffpeachey.com

Registration

Please register by emailing: herre66@gmx.net

Please indicate which workshops you would like to register for.

The location

The picturesque village of Wier is situated in the north-west of the northern province of Friesland. In 2009, FopmaWier bookbindery was established in this village of 200 inhabitants. Wytze Fopma, owner and director, specializes in unique graphic productions, mostly in limited editions, for designers, artists, printers, editors, photographers and collectors. Wytze welcomes you into his studio to experience the quiet and space of the Frisian countryside during the most beautiful time of year. What better way to welcome in the spring of 2016?

Boekbinderij FopmaWier, Tjerkepaed 16, 9043 VM Wier, www.fopmawier.nl. Contact person is Wytze Fopma: info@fopmawier.nl

The nearest train station is Leeuwarden. From here, bus 71 leaves for Wier 1-2 times per hour. You can also be collected at the train station if you inform us in advance of your arrival.

Accommodation

The small campsite “De Brinkhoeve” is located within a two-minute walk from FopmaWier bookbindery. Here you can pitch your tent on an open field with view of the village’s historic church. Two recently renovated trailer homes and a cabin are also available at very affordable prices (€10-25,- per person, per night). Booking can be done directly: http://www.debrinkhoeve.com/ or by phone: 0031 (0)518-462287. We strongly advise you not wait too long and please tell the owners you are coming for the workshops at Wytze’s studio. If you would like to share a cabin or trailer with other participants, please advise us and we will get you in touch with other interested participants.

If the campsite is not what you are looking for and you don’t mind missing out the evening social contact with colleagues, please contact us for further information on alternative accommodation in the vicinity of Wier.

Meals

During the day, coffee, tea and lunch (Dutch bread with a variety of toppings) will be provided. This is included in the course costs. Breakfast, dinner and lunch during the excursion are at the participants’ own expense. We are happily to recommend good restaurants, supermarkets and grocery shops in the neighbourhood. It is also possible to cook at De Brinkhoeve, a good occasion to enjoy the end of an inspiring course day together with colleagues.


Organisers

Herre de Vries, contact person: herre66@gmx.net

Natasha Herman,

Wytze Fopma.