The Time Traveler’s Wife Part Two: Date Stamps and Endbands

~ Letraset

I left the last blog post with an image of the reverse of the sample board I made for The Time Traveler’s Wife. Half of which was covered in the crackle-glazed decorated paper that I used for the endpapers of the book and the other half with paper decorated with some Letraset words (“DATE DUE”) and stamped with a date stamp.

I have sheets and sheets of Letraset in an old retro plastic set of drawers that was gifted to me by my Dad who spent his career as a Graphic Designer which I often look at but never really have a use for, until now! Letraset was a company known mainly for manufacturing sheets of typefaces and other artwork elements that could be transferred to artwork being prepared. They produced dry-transfer lettering sheets, the fonts were applied using a dry rub-down transfer technique.

~ Letraset and type drawers in my studio

As the novel is about a man who travels backwards and forwards randomly in time with the excerpts of the story split into dates, I went through the book page by page and wrote down them down in the order that Henry moved through the book. There were one hundred and thirty eight dates in total, jumping back and forth in time which I would split across six columns – three on the front doublure and three on the back doublure.

Given the two main characters met in a library I designed them to appear like the loan cards you get inside library books, stamped with due dates. The dates that appear on the doublures were to be the dates in the order that they appeared through the book. 

~ Example of a library card that the doublures were based on

I used the Letraset to transfer the title “DATE DUE” and a three column table onto some Zerkall to use for the paper doublures, the reason for using the Letraset was to give a more handmade look rather than printing a table directly from the computer.

~ Stamping the dates onto the paper for the doublures

I had a rubber date stamp but it only went from 2012 to 2023 and I needed dates to range from 1968 through to 2053! I looked into buying a vintage stamp for the older dates but they too only held around 12 dates on their carousel. I also enquired with a company about getting a bespoke stamp made but that was going to be very expensive, and neither of these options was going to give me enough of a range.

The only way I could see around this problem was remove the rubber strip with the year on it from my existing stamp (none of the years on the strip I needed anyway), and just use this stamp for printing the day and month of the dates I required. When digging through my box of rubber stamps I found an old self-inking stamp, I pulled it apart so that I just had the plastic grid from inside that was used to clip small individual rubber characters to. I was then able to use this to print the year next to the day and month.

~ The rubber date stamp that I altered to stamp both the doublures and the book edges

I used a variety of different colour ink stamps including red, grey, brown and black to tie in with the cover design. I had to clean the stamp between each one on a scrap of paper. To make use of this I cleaned the stamp of another piece of Zerkall so that I could then use it at a later stage to line the box.

~ The paper I used to “clean” the date stamp on – to be repurposed into lining paper for the wooden box
~ Above shot of the date stamping in progress with the coloured ink pads

I decided to use the dates stamps to also decorate the sanded top and bottom edges of the text block. These had been sanded flat beforehand and then they were stamped randomly with the dates.

~ Date stamping the top and bottom edges of the text block

Once the top and bottom edges had been decorated I could sew the endbands. I put a slip of paper into the centre fold of each of the sections so I knew where I could tie down when sewing the endbands.

~ Preparing the text block for sewing the endbands

The endbands were sewn on a double core. The larger of the two cores was made from a strip of leather laminated with some vellum. The vellum side was orientated so that it was facing the book edges to keep the edge of the headband crisp and square. The smaller core was made using a strand of cord that I coated in PVA and let dry to add some stiffness to it. The endband was sewn using threads in grey, black, red and gold.

~ Sewing the endbands

The spine was then lined with a strip of leather, cut to the width of the round of the spine with the skin side glued face down with paste to the round of the spine. The book was kept in the laying press and wrapped in bandages whilst the glue dried.

~ Lining the spine with leather

Once dry, the bandages were removed and the leather was sanded with coarse sandpaper to remove all the lumps and bumps from the spine. You can see in the below picture where the tapes lie beneath the leather.

~ Sanding the spine lining leather

The end of the endband cores were cut off at an angle once the endbands had been sewn. A one-on, two-off hollow was stuck down on top of the leather on the spine after it had been sanded. The leather and the hollow were prepared overlong and then trimmed to the height of the endbands once dry.

~ Detail of the endbands and spine linings before they were cut to length

The boards were then cut to size and laced into the text block. The boards were made up from two layers of 1mm Gemini board that were laminated together. On the front face of the board I laminated two layers of 145gsm watercolour paper, and on the inner side of the board a layer of Kraft paper.

I marked the position of the tapes on the boards and chiselled some grooves through the boards at an angle from the front joint edge through to the back. The grooves were opened up by wiggling a thin metal spatula back and forth and then the tapes were pushed through. They were glued into position using a mix of PVA glue and paste, rubbed down with a teflon folder and were then left to dry with the boards closed. Once dry, the ends of the tapes were stuck down into recesses on the reverse side of the boards.

– Lacing the boards onto the text block with the tapes

The final part of the forwarding process was bevelling the outer edges of the boards using my palm sander.

– Sanding the boards to bevel at the edges using a palm sander

So concludes this section of the blog post, part three is all about the bit I enjoy the most: the embroidery!

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