Sunday, 18 March 2007

A good start and a problem with Rexine

One of the reasons I always wanted to learn bookbinding was that my grandmother had learned it and I always admired the look of her hand-bound books (the other reason is my love of books). When I told her that I was going to enrol in a bookbinding course, she said she would give me all her equipment and materials, which she had not used for more than 15 years. When I told her I had enrolled in the course she went and unearthed several bags of stuff from where she had stored it, deep in my uncle's basement, and brought me everything. This included tools like saws, scissors, files, several bone folders, a cobbler's knife, a sewing frame, two portable book presses and a gilding press, two rounding hammers, and materials like mull, thread, binding cords and tapes, headbands, binder's board, carton paper for making hollow back bindings, heavy endpaper paper, marbled paper for covering books, several meters of Rexine and three bags full of leather and fish skin leather. Not all the leather is bookbinding quality, but some of it is (including two whole skins) and the rest I can use to make bags and other stuff out of. This generous gift has saved me tens of thousands of krónur in buying materials.

All I needed to buy to begin with was bookbinder's glue, waxed sewing thread (the thread granny gave me had turned yellow), needles, and white paper to use in endpapers. The books I already had, and some of my sewing/quilting equipment turned out to be useful for bookbinding purposes, such as the cutting mat, circular cutter and heavy quilter's rulers.

I still need or want some more stuff, but I will wait a bit to buy it as I am going to the USA in the summer and can probably get some of what I need there at lower prices than here. I also want to learn to make marbled paper and paste paper for covering books with, as the only supplier for such paper in the whole country is not exactly cheap. Their supply of paper is limited and so is their colour choice for Rexine and their selection of bookcloth is very limited, which is not surprising as they primarily sell leather for crafters and artists. Book glue, brown paper and bookboard I can get at reasonable prices from art supply stores, but I can see that if I am going to be able to have my books looking like I want them to look I am going to have to find a reliable online supplier of bookbinding materials. I am sure Rexine is made in other colours than the conservative burgundy, dark green, dark brown, navy blue, bright red and black currently available here.


I mentioned in my previous post that I'd had problems smoothing down the Rexine on the spine of some of the books I was binding, but it seems it may not have been my inexpert handling of them that caused the problem, but something else, namely the age of the Rexine. I forgot my Rexine at home yesterday when I went to class and so I bought some from the teacher and it was so much easier to handle than the old stuff I had been using. It was much more supple than the old stuff and instead of a couple of minutes working on one corner of a book with it, it took barely 20 seconds to get the corners done like I wanted them, and the spine coverings were so much more easy to do and the adherence to the boards was very good. As a matter of fact I even covered a whole book in one piece of Rexine and it went splendidly. However, I think I will not throw out the old Rexine, but will try to find some other uses for it, for example as a covering for a paper folder I have made to keep my scrapbooking paper in. Since that is for my personal use I will not really mind if the covering isn't perfect.

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