Brass Tools by Eidolon House!

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If you know my wife you know that as soon as she decides she wants to do something she basically becomes obsessed with it (remember when those sheep showed up so she could learn about wool and how to process it from animal to yarn?).

Last year she became obsessed with brass and the tools I use for my bindings; so much that on our way home from participating in the East Texas Fiber Fest, she says to me, and I quote, “that was fun, now moving on to brass”, and of course I was on board as I’ve never met a bookbinder who isn’t obsessed with brass.

I’ve designed beautiful tools that we’ll make available to the public throughout the year beginning in a couple weeks; everything from tools specific for restoration to tools specific to countries and time periods, and of course fun modern designs too! We’ve been having so much fun designing and making these tools, I can’t wait to share them with you. #brasstoolsarecoming.🎉

Crossing the Bench: Historical Rebind, Geneva Bible, 1570.

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We recently had the pleasure of rebinding this fantastic copy of a Geneva Bible, 1570.  The text block was the cleanest copy we've seen of a 446 year old book.  Even though the text block was in good condition, a book this old still needs to be handled with care.  As you can see from the photo above, the binding was falling apart, so our client wanted a historical rebind rather than saving the old binding (which was not an original binding).  

We carefully disbound the book, consolidated the text block, rounded and backed the text block, hand embroidered chevron end bands, covered the book in hand dyed (by us) calf leather, hand tooled the leather in a 16th Century design, saved the book plate from within the old binding and placed it in the new binding, hand cut and engraved brass clasps, and finished the binding by cosmetically aging it. We also made a leather enclosure to match the binding. 

This book had been previously rebound by Francis Fry (1803-1886), a bibliographer, editor, and book collector. It's been said that he had nearly 1,300 bibles and testaments; mostly in the English language, as well as special editions of the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Cranmer (The Great Bible).  Fry produced the first complete Tyndale New Testament facsimile by tracing each page and then making copies through the process of lithography. 

Preserving bindings as a preservation practice is very 20th Century; rebinding in the 1800's was a common preservation practice, which is why so many books we now work on and/or rebind - though over 400 years old - have bindings that are actually quite modern.  Unfortunately, because the quality of leather and other materials in the in 1800s was so inferior, those modern rebindings aren't lasting the test of time.  I love adding my work to the history of these relics.   

Take a look at the binding process:  Binding project took 38 hours, with 1,075 individual tool impressions. 

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A Custom Binding: An engagement for the books.

We had the pleasure of creating, I dare say, the most beautiful binding for a marriage proposal ever!  My client and I met several times over about a year and a half discussing, designing, and finalizing this binding/ring box.  I was able to apply several different artistic mediums to create this binding; it was a challenge and a blast at the same time!  

Book Stats:

  • The design in collaboration with our client was a sort of an Arabian Nights theme, but mostly what our client had imagined he wanted the binding to look like.  I hand drew the front and back cover images and then had them made into printing plates. 
  • 14 page poem written by our client, I then hand calligraphed on watercolor paper with a dip pen and ink.
  • Two capital letters illuminated with watercolor and 22k shell gold.
  • Two thirds of the text block is converted into a box to hold an engagement ring, lined with silk and crushed velvet.
  • Text block sewn on five raised cords, laced into wooden boards, covered in alum tawed goat from Siegal Leather. 
  • Doublure and fly leaf are of ivory domestic watered silk.
  • Boards, silk pages, and text block gauffering tooled in silver using approximately 1,822 individual tool impressions. 
  • Illustrations on the front and back boards printed with letter press plates and painted with watercolors and 22k shell gold. 
  • Boards inset with 20 peach diamond-cut sapphires, 11 green diamond-cut Tsavorite garnets, 6 blue diamond-cut sapphires, and 6 red rubies.  
  • Double core French end bands in pink and light green twisted silk.
  • Total building and binding time: 108 hours.

See the process in photos.

We hope the lovely couple lives happily ever!

Historical Rebind: 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

Before historical rebind - 1611/13 "She" KJV Bible.

We had the pleasure of restoring and rebinding another 1611/13 King Jame Bible, "She" edition.  This will be our fourth!  It's always an honor to rebind these great historical books.  

We're pretty sure this cover is an original cover.  Our client however wisely wanted a new binding.  We saved the boards and are making an enclosure for them, which will stay with the book, I'm sure.  When rebinding a book this old, there is always going to be extensive paper conservation, which was the case in this book.  The cords were just okay, and we thought about leaving as much of the original cords as possible by splicing in new cord with the original.  When we thought about the time it would take to do that, we decided against it, also, new cords are better for the book than half rotten ones to ensure it will last another 400+ years.  

Here is the breakdown of the restoration and binding: 

  • Disbind, saving the original boards.
  • Paper mends throughout the text block.
  • Resewn text block with new cords.
  • New hand embroidered end-bands, aged to match  the original end-bands.
  • New binding in calf leather, hand dyed by us, on new wooden boards.
  • Historical leather tooling design in blind and gold. 
  • Just over 600 individual tool impressions (mostly on the spine).
  • Total time for this project 91 hours.