Byzantine in-process

by katekbarber

We finished up our amazing Byzantine bindings a few weeks back, and while I’m super happy with it, I did a really bad job of taking in-process photos. Below are the sequence shots that I can cobble together.

Sanding the wooden boards. Here we are sanding the spine edge of the board to create a soft rounded curve so that the board seamlessly blends with the spine.

Sanding the wooden boards. Here we are sanding the spine edge of the board to create a soft rounded curve so that the board seamlessly blends with the spine.

After the spine sanding, it's time to cut out sewing channels between the sewing holes on the boards. This channel should be between 2-3 thread thicknesses deep so that the thread will sit flush with the face of the board.

After the spine sanding, it’s time to cut out sewing channels between the sewing holes on the boards. This channel should be between 2-3 thread thicknesses deep so that the thread will sit flush with the face of the board.

With the channels complete, it's time to add a shallow zigzag channel (one thread thickness deep) between the sewing channels.

With the channels complete, it’s time to add a shallow zigzag channel (one thread thickness deep) between the sewing channels.

Here, the text block has been trimmed and been put between scrap board in the backing press. For this structure, the sewing stations are sawn-in rather than punched in a jig. This is so the sewing will sit down into a groove rather than sit up off the spine. When sawing into the spine, it is really important that the text block is even and square so the channels are an even depth and straight. Once I've confirmed that the text block is square, I can transfer the sewing station channels to the spine edge with a pencil and square. These marks will be used as sawing guides.

Now that the boards are ready, it’s time to prepare the text block. For this structure, the sewing stations are sawn-in rather than punched in a jig. This is so the sewing will sit down into a groove rather than sit up off the spine. When sawing into the spine, it is really important that the text block is even and square so the channels are an even depth and straight. Once I’ve confirmed that the text block is square, I can transfer the sewing station channels to the spine edge with a pencil and square. These marks will be used as sawing guides.

Sewing success! This structure has a unique sewing feature—The text block is sewn in two halves! In this picture, you can see that there are two loose threads at the spine edge. These are the ends of the two halves of sewing that will be woven around the opposite half to connect to the two sides of the book together.

Sewing success! This structure has a unique sewing feature—The text block is sewn in two halves! In this picture, you can see that there are two loose threads at the spine edge. These are the ends of the two halves of sewing that will be woven around the opposite half to connect to the two sides of the book together.

Once the book is sewn, a slight round and linen spine lining are added. Next comes plowing, which is essentially trimming down the text block to the board edge with a super sharp blade. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this step.

Once the book is sewn, a slight round and linen spine lining are added. Next comes plowing, which is essentially trimming down the text block to the board edge with a super sharp blade. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this step.

After plowing, the edge of the text block is silky smooth and begging for gorgeous endbands to be added! Here you can see the start of magic.

After plowing, the edge of the text block is silky smooth and begging for gorgeous endbands to be added! Here you can see the start of magic.

After 6 hours, the endbands are complete! All that's left is to cover this bad boy in leather.

After 6 hours, the endbands are complete! All that’s left is to cover this bad boy in leather.

Leather and book prepped and ready. You can see the special curved tongues cut out at the head and tail edges of the leather. These will allow the leather to open and shape around the endbands.

Leather and book prepped and ready. You can see the special curved tongues cut out at the head and tail edges of the leather. These will allow the leather to open and shape around the endbands.

A huge defining feature of this book, aside from the fancy endbands, is the elaborate cover decoration.  As you can see here, the tools used in Byzantine bindings contain a lot of metal. Unlike modern tools, where the patterns or shapes are positive, in Byzantine tools, the shapes are negative. Because the tools contain so much metal, tooling is done cooler than with more contemporary tools

A huge defining feature of this book, aside from the fancy endbands, is the elaborate cover decoration. Unlike modern tools, where the patterns or shapes are positive, Byzantine tools are negative and thus contain a lot more metal. As a result and to avoid burning the leather, tooling is done cooler than tooling done with modern tools.

Voila, Tooling done! I didn't take any process pictures of the straps and clasps, but for finished pictures, check out my portfolio site.

Voila, Tooling done! I didn’t take any process pictures of the straps and clasps, but for finished pictures, check out my portfolio site.

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