Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bookbinding Courses

Bookbinding Workshops at Conways of Halifax

Beginners day courses available covering simple techniques such as single section bindings, hard and soft cover along with Japanese stab bindings.

More advanced courses to follow.

‘Christmas Paper Crafts’ 
Make a Japanese Stab Bound Book and Pop-up Tree Card
with Roger Grech and Sarah Peel. Suitable for beginners, all abilities welcome.

Get into the seasonal spirit with a brand new bookbinding and paper engineering workshop at Conways of Halifax. In this full day workshop you will learn how to make a traditional Japanese stab bound notebook, using authentic materials and tools. Learn about different sewing patterns to bind your pages together and choose from a range of Japanese and decorative papers to complete your book. You will also construct and decorate a pop-up tree card and along with the Japanese   bound notebook they would make the perfect festive gift. 

15th December 2012 10.00am-4.00pm  Price: £45

 ‘Single Section Notebooks’
Make a selection of single section Notebooks, with Stephen Conway and Roger Grech.
Suitable for beginners, all abilities welcome.

With the skills gained from this workshop you will be able to make simple yet high quality notebooks from home, with no need for specialist equipment. The skills gained during the day workshop will also give you a good grounding in the basic binding 
techniques needed for more advanced forms of the craft.

9th February, 9th March, 6th April 10.00am-4.00pm 2013  Price: £45

For booking details and Information on Advanced Courses please contact:

Fiona Conway
Conways of Halifax
01422 353767

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Leather Jointed Endpapers

Just working on a Quarter bound Journal with Leather Jointed Endpapers, and I thought I might as well document and share them with you. Back in Post1 I made mention of many different forms of endpapers. I tend to stick to the ‘Made’ endpapers that were used then but from time to time I do like to dabble in the madness that is the Leather Jointed Endpaper.

Leather jointed endpapers when completed and affixed to the book give the appearance of the leather both on the outer cover and on the inner joint. Mainly used in fine bindings it doesn’t hurt to keep your hand in now and then.

For each endpaper you are going to need:

2 white folios
1 colour folio
1 colour single sheet cut 10mm wider than the colour folio
1 piece of leather
All pieces are over sized.

For the whites I’ve used the same paper as my book block, Somerset Book White 115gsm. For the two coloured components I’ve chosen a grey and light brown Ingres paper 90gsm.

First paste out one side of the colour folio and apply it to the single colour sheet with the ten millimetre excess protruding from the folded edge. Give it a firm nip in the press then place under weighted boards to dry. Repeat the process for the other endpaper.

When dry trim the excess ten millimetre piece of coloured paper down to five millimetres and sand the edge down to reduce its profile. Paste out and fold over the folded edge and firmly bone it down. Again repeat the process for the other endpaper.

While they are both drying we can now prepare the leather for the joint. The leather needs to be pared very thin, if it’s left too thick it will cause problems when sticking it down later.
For this I’ve used a paring machine but you can use a knife and spokeshave. If you were going to use a spokeshave I would pare a larger piece of leather so you can clamp it down easier and then cut both pieces you need from that.

I’ve pared my pieces down to about 0.3 of a millimetre then further edge pared one side super thin. Each piece is roughly five centimetres wide and slightly shorter than the endpaper for ease of positioning.

When the endpapers are dry remove them from the weighted boards. Paste the endpapers folded edge and attach the leather hair side down onto the folded edge of your endpaper leaving a little of the folded colour visible. Remembering to put down the super thin edge pared side of the leather. This stagers the material at the fold, making the edge less bulky. Give both endpapers a gentle nip and leave to dry under weighted boards.

When dry we need to attach a compensation sheet to the leather. This will be removed at the end but needs to be there during binding, otherwise the endpaper will have an uneven thickness and the leather will mark the adjacent sheets. 

When making any book where something will be added after binding you need to use compensation sheets i.e. photo albums. If we just applied the leather after all the binding had been completed the book would not function properly. This way the leather joint has been part of the construction from the beginning.

To attach the compensation sheet first trim the edge of the leather to give a good straight edge. Stretching may have occurred during paring.

Now attach a piece of card/paper the same thickness as the leather to the trimmed edge with scotch tape on the flesh side.

Next paste one side of a white folio and place it on the side of the colour folio with the attached leather joint, sealing the leather between the white and coloured folios. Gently nip then place between weighted boards again. Repeat for the other endpaper.

Finally paste between four or five millimetres of the final white folios folded edge and tip onto the white folio you have just stuck down. Bone down then open this final folio and fold it around the whole endpaper so it’s wrapped in the final white folio.

This will be the waste, which in this case I will use to form a tongue that will fit between the split boards of my covers. I’ll show you those another time.

For now trim them down to match your sections. Mark up for sewing as before and pierce. The rest of the book block is also pierced with the kettle stitches sawn.

These endpapers are sewn on in the same way as the Made endpapers we used in the previous posts.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Shipley Alternative

I'll be here on the advertised dates joined by a couple of very lovely friends. 
The Shipley Alternative is a great Makers Fair and always has a lovely atmosphere.
Come along for the cake if nothing else!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Japanese Stab Binding Courses

Two more courses available for those pre-Christmas gift ideas.
Firstly a small select workshop at Hannah Lamb's studio on the top floor of the Butterfly Rooms in Saltaire. As well as a traditional Japanese four-hole binding, we will be making a simple single section pamphlet. Please follow the link to book your place.

The second workshop is at Hive in Shipley. This workshop is geared more towards Christmas gift ideas with a festive Japanese bind and a Pop-up Christmas card! This day course will be co-hosted by Sarah Peel of littlepaperbird.
Again please follow the link to book your place.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bookbinding Workshops

Bookbinding Workshops at Conways of Halifax
Beginners day courses available covering techniques such as single section bindings, hard and soft cover and simple Japanese stab bindings.

More advanced courses to follow.

Please contact Fiona Conway at
Or myself, Roger Grech at

Sunday, 29 July 2012

10. Endpapers

We’ve reached the final stages now, just the endpapers and that’s it.

Right then, first thing we need to do is prep the inside of the boards to receive the endpapers. To make life a little easier place some boards under the cover when open to prop it up and then use a blanket to protect the leather.

We’re going to trim back some of the turned in leather so we need to mark where to make the cut. Use the point of your bone folder and a straight edge.

For our first cut I use a No 25 scalpel blade and using the back of the blade cut in from the edge of the board. Not the other way as you may add a little too much pressure and cut into and through the joint.

Now using a No 10 A scalpel lift the excess corner leather and peel away. As you get to the joint lay the blade flat on the board and trim the excess.

We need to now remove the waste to reveal the endpaper. So fold it a couple of times to make it easier to hold and then pinch and tear making sure you’ve got the waste and the Fence attached to it.

Now cut a piece of good quality paper that fills the inside area of the boards that matches the depth of the remaining leather turn in and paste on.

Finally place some waste paper inside the endpaper to protect the rest of the book and paste out the remaining leaf.

Remove the waste and gently holding the pasted endpaper down, close the cover onto it.

Turn over, open and smooth off with your folder.

I now place acetate sheets between board and book block and leave to dry under weighted boards for at least 24 hours.

When it is dry I like to give the cover a light waxing. This isn’t necessary but I feel it sometimes gives the leather warmth and makes the joint a little more supple.

That’s it. It has been a long journey but we got there in the end.

I hope you've enjoyed these posts, but if there is anything I haven't covered in enough detail please let me know. Everything I do is self taught so if there is anything you feel I could be doing better or a way of making it more simple please don't hesitate to contact me.

For our next outing I think we will do something a little more straight forward. We’ll do a Traditional Four Hole Japanese Bound Journal.  

Saturday, 21 July 2012

9. Covering The Book

We’re almost at the end of our journey now. A lot's going to happen in this post and if you are following it I would read it thoroughly before attempting to cover your book. The reason being, once you get started you can’t really break off.

Our first job is to mix up some paste. There are many forms of paste from basic flour to cornstarch and refined wheat starch pastes. There are ready made pastes on the market and they can be useful to have around for some jobs, but you’ve already gone to this much trouble, what’s making a little paste.

The reason for using paste as opposed to PVA is that it penetrates the leather and the board causing a very strong bond. It is also reversible if required.

The paste I have used here is made by adding 25g of shoufu refined wheat starch to 250ml of boiled water that I’ve aloud to cool. The mixture is then heated in a double boiler for about 20-30 minutes until it thickens. When ready sieve into a sealable jar, and allow to cool before use. This will last 3-5 days if refrigerated. For more paste recipes please follow this link

I have used plain flour before, and it is more than adequate but shoufu is incredibly fine and makes a lovely paste.

You’re going to need to prepare your area, and have everything you need close to hand. Various bone folders, shears, various brushes, scalpels and some thick string.

Before you start, make sure your fingernails are clipped and take all rings, watches etc off. While the leather is being worked it can be marked very easily.

We now need to perform a couple of small yet important tasks on the book itself.

Firstly we need to cut back the corners of the boards close to the joint at head and tail. This angled cut allows the leather to be formed into the joint and stops it from possibly tearing over time.

To do this open the cover and slot in a thin plate just in case your knife slips and you cut into the spine. I use a No.25 scalpel for this. Repeat at all four corners.

Next we need to slit open the hollow back at a depth matching the amount of leather to be turned in. When this is done place the book aside.

Make sure your work surface dust free and clean as anything can and will mark your leather.

Ok, now take your leather and dampen the ‘hair’ side of the leather. This makes it more supple and helps draw the paste into the leather.

Now give the ‘flesh’ side of the leather it’s first pasting. This primes the leather. Have a pair of tweezers to hand just in case you brush starts to shed hairs.

Allow this first pasting to soak in for a little while.

Now apply a second layer of paste to the leather and some to the spine and joints of the book.

Place the book, front side first, onto the pasted leather keeping to the markings.

With the palm of your hand carefully bring the leather over the spine and onto the back.

Now up end the book and rest it on it’s fore edge and smooth the leather over the spine and down towards the fore edge.

With your folder and fingers start to work the turn ins. Work on one side at a time turning the leather in towards the spine.

The next stage, in my view, is one of the most difficult in the whole process. 

We need to feed the leather into the slit we made in the hollow back. This can be quite frustrating due to hollow sometimes being a little stiff. For this purpose I’ve made a couple of wedges that help to keep the hollow open.

When the leather is tucked in, make sure you leave some excess leather poking out to form the ‘caps’ later. The amount you leave needs to be enough to come over and partially cover the headbands. Repeat the process on the other spine edge.

Before we start on the fore edge we need to set the joints. Take a gilding or pressing board, open the cover and push the board up against the edge of the book board.

Paste the fore edge turn ins and using you folder and fingers turn them in crisply.

Now pull open the leather at the corner, pinch the leather together and with your shears trim the excess.

Reopen the corner, re paste and start to pleat the leather at the very corner over the board. Bring the turn ins together and smooth off with your folder. Repeat on the other three corners.

Cut a piece of string long enough to go all around the book from head to tail. With the string mark the joint top and bottom on both sides.

Now tie the string around the book located in the marks you made. This can be annoying and an extra pair of hands wouldn’t go a miss!

We’re now going to work on the head and tail caps. To protect the rest of the book I wrap some Archival Kraft around so as not to mark the leather.

With a small thin folder flatten out the excess leather at the cap making sure it looks even. 

Take the same small thin folder and flatten the leather close to the joint, up against the tied string making them nice and neat.

With a pointed folder pull out the edges of the caps, easing them out against the string.

Finally with a flat folder push straight down onto the cap. This will flatten it, forming a cap that will partially cover and protect the headband and mimic the thickness of the boards.

Now place acetate between the boards and book to prevent any excess moisture getting to the book block and press between lightly weighted boards and leave over night.

Next day while the book is still a little moist we need to perform a controlled opening. This basically lets the book know that it is a book and better start acting like one.

First try to open the cover. If it opens freely, all well and good. If not, slightly dampen the joints at head and tail where it is thickest with a soft brush and start to ease it open. Eventually it will open freely. Do the same to the other side. 

Now with the book lying flat take a page either side and open them flat working your way to the centre of the book.

Replace the acetate and return to the weighted boards.

Our final stage will be to fill and line the inside of the boards and apply the endpapers, which we will tackle in the last of these posts.

Thanks to Rick Whitham for taking the photo's for this post. Would have been quite tricky otherwise!