I am terrible at estimating the time it takes to do things.
Last time I bound a complex book, it took me a full day to do the tooling. And then another to do the gilding. So when I set out to make a book for Kingdom A&S this year, I spent two weeks on the binding (which is the usual time I take), and budgeted a single weekend for the cover.
Oh, yeah, and it’s important to mention that there were two parties in that same weekend, as well as a trip to the garden store for some discount pepper plants.
The book’s binding is really nice, actually. Once I fixed this, that is:
That’s a failed attempt at the chevron endband, before I remembered that I need to space my warp threads out more. Which I did (sadly, those photos are on my other hard drive).
Saturday I sat down to do the binding part, but then realized that I had forgotten to make pasteboard, which is what I had planned to do for this one, rather than using the thick, clunky commercial chipboard. I also made my own wheat paste. This means two days for the binding.
Sunday I read through my sources again, and discovered that all the extant examples I’m looking at are at least 1/3 again as large as the bookblock I was working with. Undeterred, I found one example that was the right size, minus the complex outer fillet that I didn’t want to mess with anyhow. My method for transferring these designs involves bringing a scan into illustrator, tracing it in vector, and then taping a piece of tracing paper over my monitor and tracing the design again in pen. I know this sounds really insane and convoluted and like more work than it’s worth, but regular paper is too thick to use as a transfer medium, since when you press down on it with a stylus it tends to press outward more than you’d like, and the lines are terribly difficult to find. So you see? The tracing paper method, while bizarre, is actually not too bad, especially considering that you can get the image exactly the right size, and you don’t have to use extra paper.
I spent the time on Saturday before the evening’s festivities (you will be missed, Arnora!) watching all the episodes of Supernatural ever (Dean, I think I love you) and tracing the design three times. THREE TIMES. For those keeping count, this leaves one day plus evenings to crank out the leather tooling. I thought, “I’ll just go home and work on this after the party. If I stay up really late, surely I’ll get this done, right?” I am such an idiot.
At 4a.m., I called it quits. I had transferred the design and gotten what is now the outer border roughly tooled in. For some bizarre reason I had decided that transferring the design via little pinpricks through the paper and into the leather was the best idea ever, until I realize it took forever, and that my previous stylus-pressing method was actually quite serviceable.
Still undeterred, I woke up the next morning and dove back in, tooling the deep outlines on the inner design, and the beginning on the crosshatching and dot pattern in the border. I ate lunch, I watched more Supernatural (no, I take that back, Dean. I definitely love you). I got halfway through the detailing on the border.
I called it quits.
At this point, I had spent over 16 hours on the tooling, and had finished approximately 1/4 of the work needed to make a complete book. And there is still the gilding to be done. And the affixing to the block.
Most of the time I’m bad at knowing my limits. I push myself too far and quit far too late. This time, though, while dozing in the car on the way to B’s Memorial Day barbecue, smelling the pie WH cooked using the peaches we bought during the half hour I ventured from the house on Sunday while it was still light out, I made the wise decision to call it quits on pushing myself to get finished by Friday afternoon.
(Not to be one to give up completely, I will be using the unfinished cover as part of a non-competitive display entry on the process of Islamic bookbinding, so that it may be at the very least quite educational.)
It’s looking good. I know that with this extra time and patience, it will be lovely:
I’ll be sure to share more photos as it progresses.