A New Collection on the Way!
Fifteen Small Journals Bound in Goat and Kangaroo
Since mid-June I have been busy with the difficult task of sewing, binding and decorating a total of 15 journals that will be part of the new collection.
The last two collections from last year, Stalwart and Autumn Journals brought much advances to my skills, and for half a year thereafter I was busy perfecting what I’ve learned, mostly by doing commissions. After all that I really wanted to do something new and different.
The size of all the notebooks is A6, 14 of them have a volume of 350 pages and the last one is massive one with a volume of 700 pages.
I wanted to try the same techniques, but in different conditions and that is why in this collection there is a slight game with contrast. Mostly because the notebooks are going to be bundled in pairs. All of them are bound in a nice, soft-to-touch, veg tanned goat skin, but half of them are lacquered to darken the the leather and allow it to be gilded as well.
The 15th notebook, however, is more interesting in every respect, it unifies the qualities of the others and surpasses them in many ways. Unlike the other journals, it is bound in vegetable tanned kangaroo leather, woven Gothic endbands from leathers strips and reinforced at the outer corners with massive silver corners.
The kangaroo skin is very special not only for its characteristic odor or beige-pink color, but also for its very smooth surface, very similar to calf skin. It was beautiful to work with at all stages from thinning, to dyeing and binding. The leather strips with which the enbands are woven are also of this skin but undyed.
Silver corners are something that I haven’t done with my journals, but the plan is for them to become a regular presence as my bindery was joined by my father’s newly created silversmith workshop. We both are tremendously excited by the future possibilities.
I’ll leave the big journal for a while to get back to the rest. I feel like I’m becoming quite attached to the blue sprinkled pages on the journals. I’ve managed to find the perfect compound for the job – methylene blue. I’ve done my previous attempts with ink, but I found it unstable to work with. Methylene blue will not stain when wet, in contrast to the ink instantly, which would have poured even further into the pages.
I’m feeling more and more confident when trying to bend some traditional techniques that at first I was just trying to recreate as best as possible. I take great pride with the new model for endbands I’ve come up with, which are strongly inspired by Byzantine and Armenian braiding techniques, characteristic of the manuscripts of the past. They are also a major influence of the Bulgarian manuscripts, since in form and appearance they are not that different from each other. The endband core was made with 3 pieces twine and sewn with 7 “stitches” to the book body.
I started weaving from right to left, passing under the odd stitches, and the return is under the even stitches, but also under the previous thread to produce a spiral sleeve. The first 4 rows are of one color and another 6 of a contrasting thread. After the first line of the contrasting thread I attached 4 Japanese glass beads of 1mm, using a thin silk thread.
My idea came from a mistake. I was looking at a photo of an endband that was obviously woven with many twisted threads, and knots were formed that I initially thought as beads. I loved the idea very much. I think more attention should be drawn to this part of the book, as it really takes a lot of time and effort to create. For the two endbands of a small notebook, at least one and a half hours of work is needed.
I am quite glad to share these few recollections from the work process you can expect the collection to be ready by the end of August. After that a lot more photos and details will be shared.