6 - 7 June 2020 The Wax Tablet—or pugillare—is a simply charming little book that preceded the codex by several centuries. It was used for all kinds of written material of the time, from tax invoices and shopping lists to poetry and letters. Recent research has shown that such letters were often sent to soldiers on the frontiers of the Roman empire. The pugillare is made from recessed wooden panels which are filled with molten beeswax colored black with soot. Holes are drilled into the panels which are then held together with strong thread. Users scratched their writing into the surface of the wax with a wooden or metal stylus, which revealed the light wood underneath. After a message was written the wax could be smoothed out for re-use. The model we will make in class is based on original tablets found at the Roman settlement of Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall, and those on display at the British Museum.
In this introduction to letterpress printing using a Vandercook proof press, participants will learn the basics of hand typesetting, layout and locking up; registration, packing, inking and safe operation of the press. Attention will be paid to precision and details that affect quality of outcome.
We will produce in collaboration a limited edition small poster of a whimsical bookbinder’s alphabet that can be cut up to make a simple concertina binding, each participant receiving at least one poster as a keepsake and one to turn into a book. Depending on progress, the books may be assembled during the workshop or at home afterwards.
Attendees will be allocated letters ahead of time in order to compose the text. Guidelines and help will be provided!
Traditional clamshell boxes are made from two trays and a case ‑ the trays being glued to the case in a large press. This presents a problem for people who don't have such a press, and the All-in-One Box is the answer to that problem, since it can be made at home with a few hand-tools. It has several special features including reinforced double walls ‑ which are further strengthened with a lining of jaconet ‑ and an ingenious method of covering using one piece of bookcloth, that gives it a streamlined look. The class will focus on accurate measuring and cutting the parts of the box by hand using a heavy metal straight edge, millimeter ruler and boxmaking blocks, which together eliminate the need for a board chopper. Participants will make a bespoke box for their own book using these precise methods of construction, and will finish by adding a gold blocked title label.
Traditional leather bindings are usually bound with laced-on boards for many good reasons but this takes time, which is precious in today’s fast market. To keep up with demand, the leather case binding came along and with it a decline in quality. There is, however, a way to create a high-quality leather binding with all the requisite attention to detail, without laced-on boards or compromise.
In this two-day workshop, you will learn what to look for in a quality leather binding and how to bind the book. I will explain the correct balance between the board thickness, raised bands, squares, head caps and how they all correlate. You will start with a prepared sewn bookblock, rounded, backed and end-papered ready for headbanding, spine lining and covering. The leather will be partly pared with some fine tuning left for you to complete.
Owing to the time involved in making a full leather binding over two days, it will not be possible to tool the book during the class but you will take it home to decorate at your leisure. This workshop is all about the finer points of producing a quality period-style leather binding.