Thursday, September 16, 2010

In 2009 I was able to take another workshop with Don Taylor at the Labatt's Visual Arts Centre at the University of Western Ontario.  This workshop focused on replicating a historical leather binding and using papyrus as the paper. 

I had not long had pins removed from a fractured right wrist (and yes, I am right handed) so even after a summer of physiotherapy my leather work was not quite as precise as I would have liked. I enjoyed the workshop immensely in spite of that little handicap.

We used onlay (the overlaying of leather on leather), tawed vellum insertions (those are the very light woven lines), some gold leafing, and some embroidery stitches (tacks in each corner and a woven stitch across an open section of leather).  I used a warm brown as my full cover leather and a rich red as the onlay.

You can see that the book is held closed with small leather straps that have rings on the ends.  These rings fit over knots of leather to hold the book closed.

You can also see that the endpaper is edged in red leather before being attached to the cover.  This gives added strength to the structure.  The cover was made from laminated sheets of papyrus (they were glued together for strength).

If you were to look closely at the pages, you would be able to see the actual striations of the plant material as it is laid vertically and horizontally.

We used guard structures when we sewed the signatures so that the fine hemp cord would not tear the papyrus.  These were thin strips of folded vellum that were placed in the centre of each signature to take the stress of the threads.  A handsewn headband and tailband was extended into a support stitch on each cover to provide stability when the book was opened.  The red leather edging covers all but the very ends of these stitches.

While those with more dexterity were able to do much more elaborate onlay work -- and some of it was truly amazing -- I was pleased with the fairly simple geometric designs that my wrist allowed me.

If you have a chance to take a workshop with Don, try it.

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