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Sulby, Presspahn Hollow and French Joints – it’s all in the Quotation

Ark-Bound Creatures

We’re delighted that we have another book in works here at the Avenue Press. Called Ark-Bound Creatures, it’s a collaboration between Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley. The book is currently ‘at the binders’ being transformed from printed pages into a beautifully bound book.

When looking for a binder I tried several and the best was the Green Street Bindery the same bindery who bound An Insect Alphabet for us. They sent the quotation with a detailed list of the work they would undertake which appears to be written in an ancient code. Here’s what it said they would do:

Quotation

I thought you might like a translation of this ancient language, so here goes:

T/size 150x145mm(P): T/size means trim-size, which is the final size of the pages of the book. The size is height first and then width. I’m expecting the book to be a little shorter than this as the binder will need to trim the pages to make them level and the folding and gathering of pages will make some edges of the pages protrude from the block of pages.

64pps 8x8pp flat sheets supplied by customer: pps means pages, this means that the final book will have 64 pages. pp means page, so 8x8pp means that I’ve supplied the binders with eight sets of printed sheets, each of which has eight pages printed on them (four on one side and four on the other).

Ark-Bound Creatures

We to fold text sections: The binders will fold each single sheet of paper twice to put the pages in the right order and the right way up.

Endpaper (176g Parchmarque): The book will need endpapers – the pages at the beginning and end of the book – to join the text block of pages to the case. One side of each will be pasted to the inside of the front and back covers with the rest ‘free’ as the first and last pages.

Here is progress so far:

Wrap 4x8pp sections: The book has four signatures of 16 pages each rather than two signatures of 32 pages each. The individual folded sheets have to be inserted into one another so that the pages appear in the right order and form a ‘signature’: a bundle of pages which will be separately sewn together through the fold.

Gather: Gathering means putting the four folded sections of folded pages (the signatures) together in the right order so that the flow of pages is correct.

Sew 4 sections: This book is being casebound. That means the pages are joined together by sewing the pages together and then casing the pages in a hard cover made of board. Sewing with linen thread holds the pages securely and crucially allows the book to be opened fully. This isn’t a softback or ‘perfect bound’ book where the separate pages are simply put into a bed of glue which means the spine cracks. It’s a book built to last.

Sulby line: Sulby is a company which makes bookbinding equipment and holds patents for machinery to trim pages

Trim: The book will have trimmed pages which will have neat edges rather than showing the rough edges of hand-made paper or the uneven edges of folded sheets. Folding of the pages results in folds of paper at the top of the book block of pages which means you can’t open it because there’s a folded edge stopping you. The edges need to be trimmed to remove the fold so that you can see inside the folded paper.

White edges: The quotation says there are white edges just to make sure I’m not expecting the three edges of the book to be coloured or gilded as gilt and coloured edges are an extra cost.

Flat back: The spine of Ark-Bound Creatures will have a flat back rather than a curved back along the spine.

Presspahn Hollow: Presspahn is a firm which makes specialist papers, card and board. Presspahn hollow is a thin card used in the spines of casebound books.

Full bound: The cover to Ark-Bound Creatures is going to be full bound. That means that the printed paper cover covers the whole of the book cover. A quarter bound book has the spine covered in one material and the rest of the cover in another. A half bound book has th spine and the corners covered in one material and the rest in another. A three quarter bound book has the spine and the whole of the front edge of the book (called the fore-edge) covered in one material with the rest in another.

Printed paper case: The binders can use a variety of different materials to glue onto the board covers. They can use printed paper cases or cloth, imitation leather or leather covers. I’m just using printed paper, although I’ve chosen Canson Mi-Teintes, a heavy-duty textured paper which is acid-free, meaning the production method has left it pH neutral and so it won’t go seriously brown with age as the acid eats the paper from the inside.

2.25mm Greyboard: Greyboard is a board made especially for bookbinding. It is stiff, relatively smooth and leaves a clean edge when cut. It will form the hard back of the covers and be covered in heavyweight printed paper.

No blocking: It’s important for the binders to note that I’m not expecting them to use foil blocking on any combination of front, back and spine. Foil blocking is a way of putting metallic lettering or designes on book covers and is available in gold, silver or several other colours. They also do blind embossing, where they use pressure to make an impression without using any foil.

Cased: The final assembly of the book is called casing. This is where the book block is placed withing the outer case and secured to it.

French joints: A French joint or French groove is a bookbinding style where the spine of the book is separated from the front and back covers by a groove running from head to tail. This a stylish way of making a ‘crease’ where the cover can be opened without twisting the spine. If it didn’t have the groove running alongside the spine it might be called a Tight Back or a German Tube!

Pack into kraft parcels: One of the curiosities of the bookbinding world is their love of brown paper. I’ll be fascinated to see how my books are delivered. Probably in brown cardboard boxes, but will they be wrapped in kraft paper inside? I can’t wait to find out. Only a few weeks to go!

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