Fan Glued

(Not in chronological order!)

Paperback to Hardback

The Phantom Tollbooth, an exercise in class in rebinding a paperback. I read it to pieces as a kid. I  love the way this book turned out, especially the relief on the covers.

My first proper book binding.

The Penguin Project

I finally finished all colours of Penguins. (I know there are others but I don't have them). The red and blue were section stitched so needed more work. I trimmed the red with my new finishing press and a French paring knife in lieu of a plough. It took more off than I was happy with so I simply sanded the blue.

On the red and blue I experimented with rounding the edge of the spine side of the cover boards and the groove side of the spine board. I don't think it gives as crisp a finish.

Interestingly, although the proportions between the three sections on the front are the same between the four books, sometimes the smaller section is at the top, sometimes at the bottom.

Also interesting is the change in penguins. One is  pair, one is dancing. I thought the red book cloth was a bit dull and maybe my book had faded. But the spine penguin is downloaded from the internet and matches exactly. On the blue one I managed to save the bookshop sticker from the front and put it inside.

Printed from scratch

This is a novel I wrote, AfterZoe. I love the endpapers on this. More experiments in cover relief. G chose this one as his copy. 

 I cased it in upside down, so the wings became the front. My teacher warned us everyone does it once. In this photo the book is the way up it was suppose to be, but if you looked inside the text would be upside down.

I made another almost identical copy (but with different end papers, just visible in the banner) cased in the right way

AfterZoe for M

Another copy of AfterZoe, this one for M.  The text is inkjet printed on A5 paper. The title is embossed and wraps around from the back across the spine and to the front. 

China Blog

This book was made for X's birthday. He went on exchange to China with his school, and discovered a passion for blogging. 

The binding was very straightforward. The materials were all spoils from last years holidays. The cloth is from Talas, the endpapers from Morita-Washi, headbands from little packets of mixed colourways I bought at Ito-ya. 

The only thing I did differently was to paste only the mull down when casing in, allow that to dry, fill the inner cover between the edges of the bookcloth with cartridge to make it all one height, and then paste down the endpapers as usual. That gave me a beautifully smooth finish on the washi. Also, it meant that the book was already, effectively, cased in when I came to paste down the endpapers (as the mull was already holding the casing to the text) and so there was no issue about getting the text in straight or straining the endpapers.

The title (his name as he chose to transliterate it) is laser printed on a scrap of book cloth (from Berrima) and sprayed with artists sealant.

This was originally going to be section stitched, but Word 2000 defeated me.  Despite having made clear notes on how to get double sided two A5 to an A4 sheet booklet printing last time, I couldn't get it to print out right.  In future, in page setup, margins  I need set 2 pages per sheet, papersize A4. I did this, but having futzed for a day already, the formatting changed just a little and I would have had to reformat everything. Instead I remembered that I had some A5 paper left and printed it as single sheets.

The largest amount of work here was on the text, copying form the blog site, re-ordering, unifying the formatting and fixing the characters that broke on the way.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I have used the books for at least decades even after  they broke into pieces many years ago. The thickness of the books made it difficult to get the spine straight. Not cased in as well as I would like.

Detail in the bottom right corner of the covers. Again, it's easier to see this in life than in the photos.

Cookbooks for Mum

Two cookbooks rebound for my Mum for Christmas.

Before and after.

Dos Rapporte

One of two Dos Rapporte books I made at the same time, and by far the simpler. I probably should have made it as the try out and then used the techniques on the other, but it was  the other way around. The challenge with this one is that it is a commercial paperback, hence glued not stitched. I sawed grooves in the spine and laced and pva'd bookbinding thread in to give it more strength.

The other book, Tristram Shandy, has its own page so I won't put it here.

What did I learn from this? I had to make the spine unit three times (interestingly, the Tristram Shandy was right first time, just a little twisted), because the tolerances are small. The cover itself is bulky. I can't see any way around that as it has to match the spine unit, which is three layers, so even at 1mm card, that's 3mm. Thinner card would not be structurally sound. And I'm not keen on bulky covers.

The title is blocked. I had grander plans, with lines and sideways, off centre authors name and everything, but the simplicity suits the book. Also, it became clear that it was so fiendishly difficult to line up the blocking machine precisely that I would most likely ruin the cover. If you are trying to get a very neat result for a title centred on a plain cover, then blocking is perfect. If you are trying to do that a hundred times in a row, then you'd be stupid not to use the machine. For what I like to do, and given I will never buy one, I think I'll give it a miss from now on. But at least I know how it's done now.

When I showed G the finished but unattached cover, he gently asked me if I knew the circles were off centre.

For Christmas K gave me a copy of "The Moral Molecule", since I'm interested in both ethics and science. It was a very interesting book, which I read straight through.

It was wrapped in some great wrapping paper, which had tape and creases all over it. I couldn't remove the tape without ripping the paper, but I desperately wanted to use it for something. I salvaged just enough between the worst creases for two roughly A4 sheets, which became the endpapers here.

The bind was very straightforward and went smoothly.

Hoyles Rules of Games

Rebind of Hoyles 'Rules of Games'. We have had this book forever and use it all the time. I think this is the second copy we've worn out. I used an old pack of cards for the cover decoration. 

I used thinner  coverboard than usual. I needed to laminate the cover in order to recess the queen and the card back, however, we carry the book in a games box, so I couldn't afford to make it much thicker. The smallest boxboard I could get was .6mm, thicker than I would usually use for cover decoration. I used one layer for the cover and one for the decoration. It ended up about as thick as the board I usually use (without decoration), with easily as much strength. The Queen of Spades is a reference to Hearts, but I prefer Oh Hell.

First Penguins!

After rebinding X's 'Decline and Fall', I looked at my copy of 'Brighton Rock', which was in single pages (it is 55 years old). It's kind of humorous I guess - to take something that was always meant to be cheap and disposable, bought for the price of a cup of coffee at a train station, and spend way more time and effort than it was originally worth recreating it. But the classic Penguin Design has become so evocative!

The orange cloth is so nearly a match for Penguin Orange, although the original parts of the cover are foxed and discoloured. I like the age on them. I trimmed the title section to make an even gap from the writing to the edge, but next time I might try retaining as much as possible. The long recess down the spine was so I could move the title/author so they matched the cover. Next time I might cut the spine piece in one, but when it gets taken off, it is often damaged, making that more difficult.

Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony

My Mum read this book last year and loved it, so my sister bought her a second hand copy for her birthday. On the day she said 'Oh, you could have bound it!' So I bound it for Mum's Christmas present.

I was trying to retain as much of the original cover as possible. I couldn't get the spine off in one piece, so I scanned and laser printed the spine insert.

This is the first book I used my home made finishing press for, it was a dream. Sanding the edges for the edge decoration would have been difficult with my old boards and clamps. As it was, I got them billiard ball smooth. But there was something odd about the foredge, and I had great difficulty getting the colour to take. I used acrylics for the base colour and gold ink for the splatters. I'm going to try ink for the base colour next time. I finished it with beeswax, although the wax was quite hard to spread.

 Note to self, don't use cotton balls to spread the colour, the cotton fibres get embedded and pull off the colour when you separate the pages.

I pieced bookcloth on the cover to make the three regions which echo the original covers. I scanned the original covers and bound in laser printed copies as the original covers would be too stiff. The endpapers I bought on spec in Berrima about a year ago. I didn't want to deviate too much from the original look of the book, and although I wasn't sure about the different shades of blue, I'm very happy with the outcome.

Beginnings of the Penguin Project

There's something so iconic about an old penguin. I've been planning to rebind one of each colour. There's something that really appeals to me about taking a book that was designed to be affordable and ephemeral and making it much fancier and more substantial.

The orange I did a few years ago (Brighton Rock is a favourite and it literally came to pieces).

The 'Raffles' (green - mystery and crime) was/is my Mum's and was destined for the bin when it, also, came apart. It's been sitting in a shoe box until this week.

Finally got around to it, using my new finishing press (thanks Jim at affordable Bookbinding Equipment and my new dedicated press bench (thanks Gordon).

Still waiting in the shoe box are a red and a blue - both also Mum's. I think that's all the colours of the originals. Except maybe grey and I've never seen one of those. (Actually Wikipedia tells me there were cerise-travel, yellow-miscellaneous and purple-essays. So I'm a few short)

This was one of those binds where everything went right. Only needed slight trim out of end papers. Pushed the case well against the spine to get a good square.

The Game of Wine

This paperback is a favourite of JM's.  While I was in New York I visited Talas and bought myself lots of  materials. The teal book cloth comes from that. I love the colours, and I'm very grateful that he was game for me to try something bold and modern looking.

On the same trip I also discovered printable bookcloth, which I used for the cover insert. I scanned the original book cover and printed the section I wanted (with a bit of photoshopping to remove some of the cover design that was intruding). I printed it on my laser printer and sealed it with spray from an art shop.

This is the first book that I labelled the spine. I used the second hand handle letters I bought earlier in the year. I used my metal ruler as a guide for each tool to keep the letters straight and in line.

The marbled endpapers were from a art store I stumbled across in San Francisco (my suitcase was mostly paper and bookcloth coming back). I  'made' endpapers with a soft green cartridge paper, leaving  the cover side unglued. I intended to paste down the cartridge, fill between the  cloth on the inside and then paste down the marble. In the end I filled first then pasted both down in turn. The cartridge  gave a good base to the soft marbled paper. Next time I will  try pasting down the mull only, making the cover smooth, then pasting the endpaper.

The Snows of Kilimajaro

I like books that have back stories and this one has two.

The book is a paperback copy of "The Snows of Kilimanjaro". It belongs to PP, and he had it in his backpack when he climbed Kilimanjaro  a few years ago. He tells me that  they found what appeared to be a leopard skull above the snowline, whether an eerie coincidence, or put there by a fellow Hemingway fan  he wasn't sure. 

When the book came to me it was water damaged and held together by elastic bands. Not much I could do about the water damage, but I think the new binding suits the material. The  photos are two that P took on Kilimanjaro and a wikimedia commons photo of Hemingway on safari. 

The spine is Hemingway's signature traced using an ascona tool.

The second story is mine. G had four hours in the S.F. office just before we flew home, which didn't give me much time to do anything. I went to an amazing art store called Blick, where I bought too much paper, including the endpaper this book. Six months later I went to the Bookbinding conference in Canberra, where one of the guests was an extraordinary man called Jim Canary (Lily Library, check out this interview about exhibiting the manuscript of 'On the Road'). He had brought with him some of the paper that he is involved in making in Nepal, including this paper which I had already bought in San Francisco.


I bought three or so fan glued texts years ago from someone who had edge decorated them but didn't want them. I recently got a laser cutter and decided to see how it would go cutting the inlays for me. It cut the debossing layer of cardboard and the paper inlays really well. I could even tell it to cut a mm off the 'holes'. That gave me the perfect shape to use to press the book cloth into the debossing. 

I also tried cutting the two pieces of book cloth on the laser cutter. Also a win, although I should have glued the maroon in place and then butted the teal up against it rather than both together. There is the fraction of a hair gap in some places.

The trunk was freehanded over foil with an ascona tool.