Built-out Clamshells for Small Books. . . .


Enclsoures for any collectible item are always a good idea, especially for the most rare, fragile, and high-end items. 

Often times a book isn't a good candidate for restoration or rebinding, or a collector may want to curate a specific style or time period for their library; a custom enclosure allows for customization without making changes to the collectible item.  

Built-out enclosures for small books allows the small books to fit nicely on the shelf and also helps to give them presence with enclosure spine titling. 


Book Presses for Book Collectors. . . .


I swear Jill has an eagle-eye sort of super power to spot a book press a mile away in the deepest darkest corner of any antique shop we wander.  We've lucked out and have found all but one of our book presses at antique shops for a fair to low price; way better than what we see on eBay or even online auctions.  When you're out and about in antique shops, keep an eye out for those little cast iron beauties.  Book presses aren't just for book binders.  If you're a serious book collector building a library or a book seller it would be a good idea to have one or two small book presses in your office or shop.    


How do I know if the book press I found is usable?  There are certain areas of a book press you should examine real quick before buying:  First, are the uprights firmly attached to the base?  And if not, will simply tightening a bolt be enough to fix the problem?  Second, does the wheel or handle freely spin? (If it is stiff but the screw looks to be in good shape, it may only need an application of grease to make it function smoothly.)  Third, is the platen (top plate that moves up and down) well attached to the vertical screw?  Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, is there any corrosion to the base plate or the underside of the platen? (If these are in fairly good shape with some small defects the press can still be used by adding pieces of MDF board, and never allowing the damaged metal to come in contact with the book.)  


Now that I've found a good book press, how do I know I'm using it correctly?  There are few circumstances a collector will find having a book press to be very useful.  For instance, when a collector has purchased a "new" book, particularly if that book comes to him from an area with a very different climate, it can be good to allow the book to become acclimatized to its new home under light pressure in the press for a week or two.  While it would be optimal for every library or book shop to maintain perfect temperature and humidity, that is unrealistic and so you'll see books adjust or change between seasonal changes.  Sometime vellum will buckle with the slightest change in temperature and humidity, and while leather bindings need to breathe, they can also display signs of cockling, and these circumstances also would be remedied with a small book press.  If you do leave your book in the press for a long period of time (longer than a week), make sure to take the book out occasionally to ensure additional damage isn't happening.     

Applying pressure:  Pay close attention to pressure!  The book should be placed squarely centered in the press and the platen should be lowered until it presses firmly on the book, but you should not have to crank the wheel or handles.  It is better to use lighter pressure over longer periods of time than heavier pressure for less time. If you can see the spine of the book buckling, you have applied too much pressure.  If your particular book has a very wide spine, with shoulders that protrude above the level of the boards (cover), sandwich the book between two pieces of MDF with the edges of the MDF coming up to, but not over the protruding shoulders before placing the book sandwich in the press (see above photo for example).      

(*If your book shows more damage than simple warping or cockling brought on by temperature and humidity changes, seek advise from a practicing rare book conservationist to discuss possible and proper repair and restoration.)


A collector or book seller generally won't need to worry about what is called "daylight" in book presses, unless their books are extremely thick and over sized.  Daylight is the maximum distance between the platen and the press bed when it is fully opened.  You can use other book weights for over sized books to avoid purchasing expensive large book presses with a lot of daylight. When shopping for your book press 3" of daylight is sufficient for most needs.  

You may notice book binders and restorers have multiple book presses with varied amounts of daylight.  Book binders need these kinds of presses simply due to production purposes.  A lot of daylight allows the binder to place multiple books in the press at once.  

Something to note about small book presses:  Nipping Press vs.  Letter-press.  What are commonly called book presses are technically termed nipping presses.  In a nipping press all the vertical pressure is applied by the turning of a screw.  Many people substitute letter-presses for nipping presses.  These letter-presses are also known as copying presses, as they were once very common in 19th Century business offices and can sometimes be easier to find.  The letter-press uses the vertical screw to set the platen (top plate) to a desired height, and then a lever is engaged to apply the actual pressure (reference definition HERE).  A general Google search for a "copy press" can be frustrating, as there is a common held belief, even among the book trade, that small book presses were all actually copy presses.  A true copy press or letter-press will always have a lever.  Letter-presses can be effectively used by collectors, but care must be taken when engaging the lever not to inadvertently apply far more pressure than is needed.  

A word is here needed about linen presses.  Book presses are almost exclusively made of cast iron.  Large wooden presses are actually linen presses.  These presses are common as statement pieces in the decor of book shops and collector libraries, as they are stunningly beautiful, but they were designed to flatten on polish linen fabric (see more about linen presses HERE).


If you don't want to search antique shops, eBay, or deal with auctions to find a book press for your library or book shop we recommend purchasing one from Bindery Tools, LLC (link HERE).  The presses listed there between $260 - $500 are a perfect size for the avid book collector and antiquarian book seller.  Also, even if you never use it, wouldn't a book press look great in your library or shop!  Yes!  The answer is yes!    

General info for your library or shop:  An optimal environment for collectible books, ephemera, and fine art is a controlled environment.  Temperature should be kept between 68 - 72 degrees.  Humidity should be kept between 30% - 50%.   Check out our article about proper care of leather books HERE.   Additionally check out our article about how to condition your leather bindings HERE.  


Eidolon House Bindery Tour

Welcome! We're happy you're here! 


About a month ago Joseph and I were talking about how cluttered our bindery was feeling, and how it felt like everything was falling down around us, even after cleaning and reorganizing, and more reorganizing; we were just feeling like we needed a refresher of sorts, and so that is exactly what we did!  

We keep long work hours, and so it really makes sense to work out of our home, otherwise, we'd never be home, right?  When you spend the majority of your days and nights in one space, it's smart to make it useful and efficient, organized and clean, comfortable and beautiful.  I think we've put together a great bindery, library, sitting room; whatever you want to call it.  This is a place for us to create and continue to grow our small business!  

Farm & Fiber at Eidolon: Life Lately.

Okay, I know I say this with every blog post, but I CAN NOT believe how fast this year is flying! Is it really September?  I'm still in the mindset of Spring, man. If you follow along with our Insta Stories, you often see us during our evening break chillin' around the firepit with our cute farm animals. It's become a routine ever since we had our baby lambs earlier this year, and one I look forward to everyday.  For me (Jill) working from home has been a huge challenge, simply because I enjoy getting out into the world, seeing people out and about, and I do miss the routine of the hustle and bustle of going to a traditional job. So getting out of the bindery and visiting our animals is so rewarding, and really that breath of fresh air I need to stay motivated and focused on projects. 


I think oftentimes people want us to show more of what we're doing in the bindery rather than out on the farm, and we do plan on showing more of our life in the bindery; we're just in the process of remodeling it, so it's not quite ready for its close up just yet. Also, I have a hard time when people start asking who owns the book we're working on, or how much money is that book worth; frankly that information isn't anyone's business. If you want to talk about the history of the book, the author, the binding style, the paper stock, type fonts, we're all in, and will talk for days about that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, more often than not, human curiousity takes over and people seem to be more interested in information that we just won't give out. So if we seem closed off when it comes to our bindery work, I'm sorry about that. We have been sent emails from other binders telling us we're snotty and look down our nose at them. For us, our closed off attitude is about being protective, that's really all it is. 

 We'll miss this space, but we're excited to expand! 

We'll miss this space, but we're excited to expand! 

Lately, in addition to regular bindery work, and remodeling and moving our bindery, we're gearing up for our first Fiber Festival that's happening this November where I'm selling my hand spun yarn and threads, raw wool from our rabbits and sheep, and other roving I have from a variety of different fiber animals, as well as our adjustable frame loom, antiques, notions, antique prints and engravings. Of course we'll have old books and new ones we've made there too! I'm really excited to meet fellow fiber enthusiasts. 


We're always making improvements on our homestead, something that is a constant work in progress. Animals wear things out fast, and so does East Texas weather. We built fencing around our house blocking off our front yard, so now our sheep won't escape when we open the gate to back out of the driveway!  All of our fencing just needs paint—another project to add to the list—but we'll eventually get it done.  We're also in the process of building a dog run which is basically the hugest dog crate ever made; we built it using cattle panels. Our big dogs will not be able to dig, chew, our bust their way out of this baby; a reassuring feeling animal owners enjoy.   


As always, we've worked on amazing books and have built beautiful enclosures this summer too!  After eight years as a full-time conservator in the rare book field, I still am amazed at what collectors find, and how well they take care of their collections; it makes this conservationist (Joseph) very happy.


With so many projects going on at once, and our constant checking off that to-do-list as fast as we add to it, I see why time flies by so quickly; we know everyone feels that way.  We hope y'all had a great Summer, and are looking forward to a wonderful Fall season, I know we are.

Stay tuned for our new and improved bindery reveal in the coming weeks (same location, just expanding)! Now, back to the books!  

 1830 First edition Book of Mormon before and after restoration. 

1830 First edition Book of Mormon before and after restoration. 

Crossing the Bench: Historical Rebind with a Concealed Fore-Edge Painting & Graphite Edge Treatment.

When my client asked for a fore-edge painting on a historical rebind, I was pretty excited! I had the freedom to choose the image and the treatment, which is always nice, but can be nerve racking too. 


This book is an 1876 Doctrine and Convenients that once had a ratty old cloth binding; now it's bound in the way it always should have been, in our opinion, because the cover of a book really should always be beautiful, and probably always leather. 


We rebound the book in calf leather that we hand dyed, then tooled the spine and boards with a classic 19th Century Design. The center tooling on the spine is a build up of a smaller tool, which is one of my favorite ways to tool on leather.  


We marbled these lovely French Curl end sheets, and Joseph painted a landscape image of the LDS Nauvoo Temple. He then concealed the painting with a graphite edge treatment. 

We gave this book the VIP treatment, and we loved every minute of the restoration project.   We thought it would be fun to film a short video of the graphite edge treatment process, and the reveal of the fore-edge painting. Enjoy, fellow book lovers!