The Grasses of Great Britain Part Five: The Doublures and the Box

With the leather on the book it was time to move on and get the doublures stuck down. I removed the capping from the text block that I had applied earlier in the process to protect the book block. I then pulled away the waste sheets that were tacked to the leather joints, making sure I removed all the little scraps of paper and glue from the back of the leather.

Both boards of the book were opened up and placed between stacked boards to support them and the text block. I cut mitres into the end of the leather joints and then brushed on PVA glue and carefully stuck them down in position. I made sure it was well rubbed down with firstly the pressure of my fingers, and secondly a Teflon folder. The joint was left to dry for about 10-15 minutes before closing the board and repeating on the other side.

The turn-ins and leather joint were all trimmed square and a piece of watercolour paper stuck down as an infill in the centre of the board. Once dry this was sanded flush, along with the leather turn-ins, to remove any bumps or level changes.

I then stuck down a piece of Zerkall paper, cut a few millimetres smaller than the size of the boards. This again was left to dry before sanding flat. Once I was sure that both of the board insides were flat and perfect it was time to stick down the paper doublures. These were cut to about 2mm smaller than the size of the board, roller-ed with PVA glue and carefully positioned into exactly the right place before being rubbed down with a teflon folder through silicone release paper.

And so the binding was complete – hoorah! The text block was carefully opened for the first time by easing down pages gradually from both the front and back in increments.

~ Opening up the text block for the first time

I always tend to make wooden containers for my bindings. I use a master craftsman to prepare and construct the carcass of the boxes for me and when they are ready I line them and add details including titles and clasps. The box for this book was to be made from tulipwood (otherwise known as Poplar) which is a lovely stable wood with a fine grain, quite green in colour that I thought would match well the colours of the binding.

~ The box design

I designed the clasp of this box to look like the title panel of the binding: made from green leather and shaped like a losenge. Inside the clasp I laminated a magnet in place, with the corresponding magnet drilled into the wall of the base of the box so concealed from view.

The cut leather edge of the clasp was painted with acrylic paint to conceal the laminations and the whole thing was sewn to the lid of the box through small holes drilled using my Dremel. I added a tiny extra detail of one of the illustrated grass seeds from the endpapers in the centre.

The box was designed to be lined in the base with a fairly deep foam pad as my intention was to create a three-dimensional blade of grass to install into this layer of the box as a little ‘surprise’ once the book was taken out. The little area where this 3D grass would sit was cut out in a shape to match the title label of the book and was lined with paper around it’s perimeter and felt on the top of the foam pad.

The grass piece was made by carving a piece of foam to shape and spearing it onto a piece of thick brass wire. The whole thing then had paper mache strips wound round it and it was left to dry.

I glued a layer of gold leaf to Japanese paper and when dry cut out tiny tear-drop shaped pieces from it. Some of these pieces I intricately added French knots of thread to in different colours, gluing the loose ends down to the reverse of the paper. These were then stuck at their more bulbous ends down the length of the paper mache, leaving the pointy ends free of glue to stick up for effect.

The stem was also wrapped with a strip of the gold leaf and once complete the grass was attached to a piece of the green leather using both glue and also a piece of thread.

A small hole was drilled into the wall of the base of the box for the metal stem to locate into, and the green backing leather was then glued in place holding the whole thing securely.

~ Fixing the 3D grass into the base of the box

The lined foam pad was then stuck down in the base of the box, over the 3D grass element, and weighted down. The walls of the base and lid lined were then with paper-covered spacers in the same colour as used for the stubs of the text block.

~ Lining the wooden box

To see images of both the completed book and box please go to the Grasses of Great Britain page in the Fine Bindings section of my website.

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