Clansman Blank Book

clansman book

22.9 x 16.8 x 2.5 cm

Blank book of cream-colored Kaskad paper sewn on tapes and covered with heavily textured green Clansman goatskin. Headbands of red and gold glass beads, bookmark of wine-colored polyester ribbon, and endpapers of machine-assisted marbled paper. Gold foil tooling.

When you do anything enough, you finally reach that time when you know that a binding is going to come out well. All those processes and steps that used to be risky become relable. It's a good feeling, and this book was the moment I realised I've reached that stage with bookbinding.

My mother keeps a journal, and it's been my pleasure to supply her with two previous volumes. During her most recent visit, she expressed an interest in having another book made.

clansman bookReviewing my leather roll, we came across one of the last skins of Clansman goat that Hewit's made. It was a relatively small skin, heavily textured, in a deep green. The texture included a certain amount of extra detail along the spine of the goat, which became the spine of the book as well.

book edgesI made the book block of cream-colored Kaskad paper, and trimmed it with my press and plough. The trimming came out glass-smooth, a far cry from the ragged trimmings I used to produce. I attribute it to finally knowing how to really sharpen my plough.

spineThe book has a flexible spine, meaning that the spine material is pasted directly onto the backs of the signatures. When I started binding, I did hollow backs, which can hide a poorly thinned leather edge. A flexible binding, however, shows badly shaven leather. Although there is still a perceptible lump where the turned-over leather ends, it's much less visible than when I started binding. This is down to both knowing more about how to sharpen my paring knife, and being able to use it more delicately.

toolingThis is the one area where I haven't really improved over my initial attempts. I have all the equipment to do proper gold tooling, using glaire and gold leaf, but I almost never do it. Why? Time, primarily - by the time I get to tooling a book, I'm usually out of time before it needs to be sent off. And I rarely have the time to practice tooling. I think this is an area that will take some time to develop.

All in all, I would say that this book has been a valuable checkpoint for me. I've realised, binding it, that the last two years have given me more confidence, and more skill, in many areas of bookbinding. (The tooling, however, is a humbling reminder of how far I have yet to go.)