The New Collection Almost Finished

A Few Glimpses Before the Release

As the new collection closes in towards its inevitable finish, it’s about time for me to share some details about the work at hand.

In the middle of November, I started sewing 5 ledgers with a peculiar format in mind. It was quite fun until I got to the largest one, which is more than 40 cm in length. It was a challenge to at every turn.

On the picture you can see the three different sizes of the ledgers. There will be two of the small and medium ones and the largest one by itself.

When I make a collection I try to keep all of the journals in the same stage. Firstly, I construct the endpapers by cutting the leather strips, parking then and attaching them to separate decorative paper ends. After that, the paper folding takes place, followed by the sewing.

The journals right here are just after being sewn and await for their spines to be rounded, after which the covers will be attached. I prefer sprinkling the edges and sewing on endbands after the covers are attached.

It gets a bit tiresome to do the same thing many times over but I feel it would be a lot more tiring to get in the zone to finish one and then start from the beginning on the other.

My biggest laying press. At first I was a bit intimidated by it size and weight and wasn’t sure how quite to handle it. I’ve grown quite fond of it since.

I sometimes ponder how this tool along with many others made specifically for bookbinding haven’t changed for the last few centuries. It’s a bit of a time capsule. I’m a bit sceptical of mechanized guillotines and I quite like the idea how this press and plough can last me a lifetime if maintained properly.

The largest journal really stretched the capabilities of my finishing press. The leather however was a joy to work with and let me say a few words about leather.

I’ve so often used various shades of brown but I knew I wanted to incorporate color into my journals, even though I wasn’t that comfortable at first. To be honest, I would’ve continued using brown leather if they hadn’t run out from my local supplier. It’s a shame but thin veg tanned goatskin is a true rarity in Bulgaria. I guess there isn’t a big market for it, I don’t know.

At that point I thought to myself that I no longer have any excuses to settle for anything but the best.

I really enjoy blind tooling. It’s a lot more stress free than gilding. Again, the type of leather used is really important. The crisp contrast is achieved only with proper heating of the tool and a bit of moisture but if the leather can’t absorb that moisture properly… you’re out of luck.

After blind tooling, the hard part comes and it’s time to apply the gold. I use mostly 23.5 carat leafs and it took about 50 of them to decorate all of the five journals for the next collection.

It takes a lot of preparation and precautions even before the work begins. It’s a time consuming process in which you need to be careful with the delicate pieces of gold leaf, the temperature of your tools and the way you apply the tool to the leather.

Everytime I fret over this step. I’m still quite unsure of myself and have more ahead of me until I can approach the job with calm and confidence. I do continue on because there aren’t many things that produce such a feeling of accomplishment and awe than clearing the excess gold and sink your eyes on the shine this beautiful metal creates.

After the tooling was done, I packed everything, cleaned up the bench and sorted everything out in the workshop. I went out to my dad’s small workshop in my home city in order to finish and attach the silverwork.

I like to keep things clean even during work but the room really feels different when the work is done. It’s like it’s gone quiet and doesn’t wish to be disturbed for a while. Could say the same about myself.

Little by little the silver additions are falling into place. A lot of measurements are needed in order for everything to be right where it belongs without crooked positioning or edges sticking out.

Me and my dad were constantly joking how people will probably not appreciate the key aspect of the whole deal: the almost hundred nails holding everything together.

It’s a couple of days work to make all of them. Every journal and its metal parts needs its particular set of nails with the right length, strength and head size.

So let’s take a moment to respect the humble nails and rivets that remain somewhat hidden but are so much important.

My dad. He did an amazing job with this new collection and I’m happy to say that his contribution has helped us make a tremendous leap of quality in our work. I truly feel that from now on we’re not just making books but heirloom pieces.

I hope you enjoyed this laid back tour into the process. I’ll give the journals a lot more justice when they’re released for sale and explain the artistic side of the process. They’re due to be released in a few days.

Best wishes!

Stopan

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