Thursday, December 23, 2010

shakespeare book rebinding

finally! i finished the enormous project of restoring & rebinding the shakespeare book. here's the story: my neighbor's family friend purchased "the complete works of shakespeare" many years ago at a garage sale. the 900+ page book was printed in 1890 and was a bit of a wreck. he wanted to have it rebound as a christmas gift for his niece, an english teacher. even though i had a single book rebinding under my belt, i decided to go for it - so i did my research and did the best i could to get this ancient book back into a readable state. below is the process from being to end:

as you can see, the covers were literally falling off. when i first examined the book, i was horrified at the fact that the binding consisted of rusty staples & cracked old glue. i thought it would have at least been sewn together.

i started deconstructing the book, carefully scraping off old chunks of glue and taking out staples. i made sure to keep each signature (section of pages) in order. as i made my way through the book, i found this weird flattened thing:

i used a special thin, but strong, japanese paper to repair the fold of the signatures & other sections & tears throughout the book. i hand cut the pieces into 3/4 inch wide pieces...

applied wheat paste to the japanese paper & then placed it on the fold of the broken signatures. i put the repaired sections under weight to dry and trimmed the edges once they were dry.

from there i made a guide for the sewing holes & used an awl to punch the holes through each signature. and WOW there were a lot of signatures!! i also made some end sheet sections, since the original piece didn't have them.

i rigged a makeshift sewing frame from cardboard boxes, packing tape, & a wooden loom piece (my nickname is macgyver) and started sewing the sections together.

more sewing....and the final height of the spine was 4 1/2 inches! i put a thin layer of glue on the spine and let that dry overnight.

after the book was dry, i measured (& double & triple checked the measurements) and proceeded to cut the board & bookcloth for the covers. glued everything down...put on headbands, strengthened the binding a bit more, made a hollow tube for the spine, then cased in the book - the hardest & most nerve wracking part. i glue the end pages into the covers & hope (pray) i don't get glue somewhere it shouldn't be, or place the pages crooked/backwards/upside down and hope that i measured everything correctly so the book will close how it's supposed to. and it did :)

the final piece - i put a little title plate on the front & used some sweet marbled paper that complimented the japanese bookcloth.

as with all new projects, i learned a TON of new stuff and am inspired to try making a few books this way. i also decided i need this sewing frame and book press for future books. hope you enjoyed the post :)


manD said...

Nice work!!

Erin said...

You're amazing.

Orion Designs said...

What a huge project. I think it turned out amazing -- you're very brave for taking this on!

You definitely deserve those new tools -- and get yourself a book cradle while you're at it (even I have one of those)!

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brand-eye said...

wow, what a job! looks great.