Friday, March 20, 2009

Slay a bookbinder

I recently found this on another bookbinder's website:

Writing in 1898 Kenneth Grahame noted that:

“As a general rule, the man in the habit of murdering bookbinders, though he performs a distinct service to society, only wastes his own time and takes no personal advantage”

In 1904 he expanded on that thought, perhaps because some book had still not been completed/delivered:

“Not in that he bindeth books - for the fair binding is the final crown and flower of painful achievement - but because he bindeth not: because the weary weeks lapse by and turn to months, and the months to years, and still the binder bindeth not: and the heart grows sick with hope deferred.

Each morn the maiden binds her hair, each spring the honeysuckle binds the cottage porch, each autumn the harvester binds his sheaves, each winter the iron frost binds lake and stream, and still the binder bindeth not.

Then a secret voice whispereth: ‘Arise, be a man, and slay him! Take him grossly, full of bread, with all his crimes broadblown as flush as May; at gaming, swearing, or about some act that hath no resish of salvation in it!’

But when the deed is done, and the floor strewn with fragments of binder - still the books remain unbound…”

Hah! It really cracks me up. On that note, I just finished binding a book. It's a sampler of 4 different link stitches and 2 different kettle stitches, bound on wooden boards. I used instructions from J.A. Szirmai's The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding.


Derek said...

The binding looks great!! How long did it take to do?

Jessica White said...

hey derek,
i've been told to answer that question with "10,000 hours". the actual sewing time for this book was probably around 3 hours, but it did take a lot of research and practice, and a few years of link stitches to get there.

it was fun to do, though, and fun to look at and play with now. i'm thinking of offering it as a workshop sometime in the future.