Speaking Out About Girdle Books!

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I’ll be teaching a class on making Girdle Books at SFCB beginning next Saturday, January 25, 2014. It’s a series of 5 Saturdays where students will fold paper, sew text blocks onto cords, then cut and shape quarter-sawn oak boards and lace them onto the text block. Covering in leather with a long “tail” that is tied into a turk’s head knot allows the reader to carry the book hanging from their belt – or girdle as it was called then. The students will shape the wood, drill it and lace on cords and after covering they will work metal for clasps.

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The Hand Book Binders of California have asked me to speak about my work on Tuesday, February 4th at 7:00, if you plan to attend, get there a little early as I think I start near 7:00. I’m speaking at SFCB located at 375 Rhode Island St., San Francisco.

While I will be speaking out about girdle books – I promise to be unfettered in my comments. I may even talk about my own work and bring a few things I’ve made. This being my latest example of a medieval pocketbook. After the big send-up that my friend, Simran Thadani gave me at the Colophon Club last week, I’ve got to step my efforts to entertain! 😉 See you on the 4th!

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Medieval Pocketbooks in Oakland

Four people showed up for the Medieval Pocketbook and made steady progress throughout the day.

The text block consisted of six signatures  totaling 96 pages. They folded, punched and sewed on cords.

Punching holes in signatures in preparation for sewing

Punching holes in signatures in preparation for sewing

When that was completed, they pasted up the spine and set the text block aside. The next challenge was to take wooden boards and shape them with a chisel. The shaping is designed to keep the book from being too heavy and remove edges that can hurt the owner or get damaged in use. Two students had never used a chisel before, so they were excited to develop some skill in using this tool.

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Once the boards were shaped, they drilled the boards to accept the cords and cut a channel for the cords to lay in.

A quick lining of the spine with linen helps to consolidate the connection of text block to board attachment.

They chose leather and decided about metal decoration next. In some instances, leather was applied prior to metal, and in others, metal went on the boards first.

Metal selection

Metal selection

As the afternoon wound up, the books were completed to the level each student wanted. (One student wanted to make an exposed model to remind her of the structure).

Notes by Jennie Hinchcliff of RedLetterDayZine

Notes by Jennie Hinchcliff of RedLetterDayZine

Making something from paper, thread, wood, leather and metal gives one insight into the mechanics of the reading machine called “book” and it continues to enthrall the craftsperson that makes one.

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Finished books!

Finished books!

I’ll be doing this again on February 9th, for those that couldn’t make it last Saturday.