Monograph of the Meropidæ Part Three: Forwarding

Part three of the blog post about the Monograph of Meropidæ binding explains how the forwarding of the book was done. I made up some endpapers by first paring some bright orange goatskin to 0.4mm in thickness for the leather joints. Two strips were then edge pared on one side and laminated between a bi-folded sheet of bright green paper and a single sheet of the same turquoise paper as I used for the stubs, thus making endpapers that were ready to attach to the text block.

On the first and last sections of the binding I attached an extra folded paper guard around the stub for the endpaper to be glued to in order to secure it to the text block keep it from moving, as you can see in the below right image.

The text block was knocked up as square as possible at the spine and head edge and placed between boards under a weight. PVA glue was applied to the spine edge between the tapes, rubbed in with my finger and then left to dry. It was important not to get any glue onto the tapes at this stage as movement was still required here during the rounding and backing process.

~ Gluing up the spine edge before rounding and backing

Once the glue had dried I took the book out from between the boards and gently started to round it using a backing hammer. It was turned over from one side to the other a number of times in order to apply the same shape to both sides. Once I was happy with the round I put it between backing boards in my laying press.

~ Rounding and backing in my Olive and Oak Piccadilly Press

The shape of the round was further worked on initially using the pressure of my thumbs, working my way along on both sides trying to pull the stubs into an even shape. Once I felt I had achieved the correct round I then worked the spine a bit further to create the shoulders using my backing hammer.

The book was then removed from between the backing boards and the shoulders further worked into shape by folding them over the edge of a thin steel rule. Once this stage was complete the book was put back into the press between some scrap boards in order to work on the edge decoration.

I decided to retain the gilt top edge of the book but the foredge and bottom edge had been trimmed and required sanding to get them level. The foredge was sanded using sandpaper wrapped around a tube of the correct diameter for the round. Once I was happy that the pages were all level (no mean feat for a binding this large!) I applied an edge decoration using acrylic paints. I used watered down paints and a fine brush to apply little lines of colour in blues, greens and yellows to mimic the look of the embroidery on the cover of the binding.

I worked on the foredge first, then moved onto the bottom edge, graduating the colour across the area of the edges.

Once the edge decoration was completed it was time to turn my attention to the endbands and spine linings. For the endbands, I made these up using strips of leather to match the colour of the leather joints and the cover leather.

Thinly pared strips of orange leather were wrapped around a core of leather and vellum that were laminated together for the first endband piece. Thinly pared strips of turquoise leather were also wrapped around a cord core for the second smaller endband piece. Once these two were stuck together they formed a double core. To add extra detail I applied a piece of orange/turquoise thread in the centre of each of the coloured strips.

It was then time to start lining the spine. The made endbands were stuck to the spine first, along with some Aerolinen, cut to the width of the spine and stuck in between the tapes. A layer of leather was stuck skin-side down to the spine using paste. The book was wrapped with a bandage to hold the spine linings in place once they dried. The leather was sanded flush once dry to get rid of any lumps and bumps on the spine from the sewing threads and tapes beneath the spine layers.

~ Lining the spine with a leather layer for sanding

A one-on, two-off hollow was glued to the spine of the book, and once dry carefully trimmed to the length of the ends of the endbands.

Boards were made by laminating with two layers of 1.5mm Gemini board, one layer of archival Kraft on the inner side and two layers of watercolour paper on the outer side. Channels were chiselled through the boards for the tapes to pass into. The boards were laced on by pushing the tapes through the boards using a thin metal tool. They were then glued in place using a mix of paste and PVA glue and left to dry.

The boards were then bevelled on the three outer edges using a palm sander. This process allows the boards to be a decent thickness for the size of binding but visually slimmer at the board edges making the binding appear more refined.

I am always pleased once I get to this stage as I am then able to start preparing the leather for my favourite part of the binding process – the onlays and embroidery! Part four of the blog posts will provide a real splash of colour as I explain this part of the project…

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