**This album is now listed as a made-to-order item in my Etsy shop: Sappling Bookcraft & Letterpress.**
My best friend is getting married to a super cute girl, and they, as a couple, really identify with the movie Up. They’re going for a vintage aesthetic for their wedding and they asked me to see if I could replicate the album from the movie. I did my best, changing the My Adventure Book to Our Adventure Book. I used the same leather as I did for my bonded leather experiment and the changes I made based on my previous experience worked really well.
First, you’ll notice that the leather is a bit redder than in the previous book, although they started out the exact same color. I tried printing on it with ink, and that didn’t work, but as I went through my stash of supplies I found some RIT dyes that I bought over a year ago and only used once. They’re meant for synthetic/natural blends, and that sounds like bonded leather to me. I roughed the leather up a bit with a fine grit sandpaper and brushed on the undiluted dye with a sponge brush. I let it sit overnight then wiped it down with a damp cloth. I didn’t want any residue to come off on the brides hands, or worse, her dress. It took a few wipes for the cloth to come away clean, but the leather was clearly redder. So that’s exciting; I’m already thinking of exciting applications for RIT dye and bonded leather.
Next, I got some nice raised bands on that spine. Before when I failed to get good raised bands, I suspected I would be able to if I did false raised bands and pressed them really good, and that’s what I did. I molded the spine by curving and layering lots of strips of oaktag, then glued the leather with the already raised bands to the molded spine. I couldn’t figure out how best to press the pieces of the spine together with the resources in my home studio, so I just held it in my hands for a long time while I watched Once. The ideal thing would be to have a board the thickness of the textblock with a round edge, form the spine around that, and “press” it overnight with ace bandages or the like.
The third modification I made was to those pokey corners.
Instead of mitering them, I pulled the corner in and pleated the leather. It is kind of bulky, but not terribly so for this book with the extra-thick covers from its split-board construction.
As far as other details go, I dyed the paper for the cover by hand, carved the letters into the front cover, then glued the paper down. It’s pretty tricky doing this because the paper wants to pull out of the indentations as it dries, losing a lot of the detail.
In fact, most binders I know recommend only doing simple shapes like this.
With that in mind, I glued out the board instead of the paper. When you put paper down on a glued-out board, the paper expands much more than the board, creating bubbles and wrinkles, but that extra surface area is exactly what I wanted so I could press the paper into all the letters and really get good detail. I pressed it overnight with four layers of felt between the cover and the pressboard so the felt would really squish into the indentations and define the letters well. It turned out pretty good. I cut the letter onlays out, colored them, glued them down, then pressed again. It looks kind of “crafty,” but I think that works for the aesthetic of the album.
When I was thinking about the construction of this album, I was thinking about other albums I’ve bound or seen and how much I dislike the interruption in the gutter caused by the guards. The guards are necessary to account for the bulk of the photographs that will be added later, and if you do a stab or post binding, you don’t see the guards, but then the album won’t lay flat, and I hate books that don’t lay flat. It just rubs me wrong to have to wrestle with a book to get a look at its pages. So I decided to do the traditional French fold (the double thickness and fold of the pages lends stability under the extra weight of the photographs) with a modification: I folded all the guards except on in the same direction (See diagram: green are the endsheets, blue are the pages, red is the one with the guard folded the opposite direction.
This allowed me to conceal the guards and the stitching while allowing the book to lie flat. The sewing was a little fiddly reaching inside the folds, but not too bad and definitely worth getting rid of the interruption in the gutter.
The last thing I wanted to mention about this album is the endpapers. I was at New York Central Art Supply getting paper for the book block, and there was this woman looking at a new shipment of papers they just got in. On the counter were these beautiful antique ledger papers from India. The Hindi is pleasingly graphic, and there were some marks in pink and blue, which I was informed were the supervisor’s signature signing off on the ledgers. I liked the logo-type thing in the upper left corner, and there were three holes near the top of each sheet where they were stuck on a ledger board of some kind. Just a lot of character and the dimensions were nearly exactly what I needed for the endpapers of this album. It’s like it was meant to be. The paper was calling to me, so I plunked down $10 for two sheets. They were just a tad narrow, so I tipped them into a folio of the same paper as the book block.
There you have it, my longest blog post to date about my most involved book to date.