The materials required are " bookbinders' mill-board," some tape or narrow ribbon, various sheets of paper and some ordinary wheat-flour paste. The tools are a T-square, a straight, flat ruler, a sharp-pointed knife, a pair of scissors and a paste-brush. For covering one can use leather or cheaper substitutes, such as buckram and printed cretonnes or linens. Buckram is the best for the joints of the portfolios, and as a complete covering, if it is required to decorate when fin ished by the pen or brush. It is hard, with a smooth texture, and possesses the great advantage of not stretching or shrinking to any appreciable extent when paste is applied to it. Indeed, this latter attribute is so important that a word of warning may come in here - to test any other material before using it, and to discard it if it stretches or shrinks when wetted.
To begin with the practical construction: First make some thick wheat-flour paste. For this the flour should be mixed slowly, with cautious additions of a few drops of cold water until it is as smooth as cream. Then add quickly some boiling water in which a tea-spoonful of powdered alum lias been previously dissolved. Stir it constantly as the water is being added, and then pour back the whole into a saucepan and keep stirring it over a fire until it thickens to the required consistency.
The result is a firm, adhesive substance that, owing to the presence of the alum, will keep several days. Corrosive sublimate, a far more powerful antiseptic, is such a deadly poison that it cannot be recommended; a few drops of oil of cloves, however, will assist in its preservation and impart a fragrant odor to the paste.
It is necessary to have a firm, pointed steel blade - an ordinary penknife will do, but a shoemakers' knife is better; also a flat ruler, with a metal edge if possible, and some smooth boards for pressing the finished work, with a few bricks or other weights, unless a regular napkin press be available.
As the first stage of the process is somewhat "messy," it is best to make a good batch of "carcasses" in useful sizes, and keep them ready for after decoration when needed. Having decided upon the size, first, with the assistance of a T-square, mark your lines at true right angles upon the cardboard. Then, laying the piece flat upon a wooden board or, better stili, upon a piece of glass, place the metal edge of your ruler to the pencilled line. Now, pressing very firmly upon the rule with the left hand, run a sharp-pointed knife lightly down upon the edge of the ruler; repeat the cut, using more pressure again and again, until the severance is made. The process needs boldness and care, or a slice of one of the fingers of the left hand may easily be detached with the cardboard if the knife should slip.
we will suppose a reading cover for a single number of a magazine is the subject of the first trial. For this two boards 9 x 11 1/2 will be needed. This size is a quarter of an inch larger than the page each way. Next cut the pieces of paper for lining the inside of the covers the exact size or the page, 8 3/4|x 11. Then cut off a piece of the fabric, whether it be bookbinder's muslin, the " buckram " specially recommended, or ordinary stiff linen, such as that used for rolling window blinds, 14x3, and another of the same material, 10x3. Now paste these strips very thoroughly, allowing each to remain a few seconds before going over it again with the paste-brush.
Lay the first with its moistened side uppermost upon a flat surface. Place your two pieces of cardboard (AA Fig. 1) parallel upon this strip, B Fig. 1, remembering (and this is very important) that the width you allow between them will represent the holding qualities of the finished portfolio. For a single number let them be not over a. quarter of an inch apart, parallel with each other and with the edges of the strip; see also that they leave equal portions of the strip top and bottom for turning over. Now turn over these pieces and lay the strip 10 x 3 (which should be at hand ready pasted) to meet the turned over ends of the first strip, and thus complete the inside of the hinge. Lay a sheet of paper right over the strip and rub it with firm pressure to make the pasted material adhere smoothly; turn it over and rub down the other side in the same way. If properly done, the result is a rough portfolio, the complete foundation for all the after' decoration, whatever it may be. To strengthen the corners, pieces of the same material used for the back strip may be applied, CC, Fig. 1. These turn over as shown in DD, Fig. 2, or covered over entirely, they improve both the finish and the lasting quality of the portfolios. They are not needed, however on small portfolios, as, unless skilfully applied, they are apt to produce a clumsy appearance. Their proportionate size in CC, Fig. 1 has been purposely exaggerated to explain their shape.
Having proceeded so far, if you intend to finish the work in the ordinary common style, paper of any variety, whether plain or previously decorated, should be the shape F in Fig. 2, and pasted on as there shown. It will be seen that the paper covers some of the material used for the back and corners; so, in planning out your materials, allowance must be made for this
necessary overlapping. A quarter of an inch is sufficient, but it is better to allow too much than to find by too great economy you have spoiled the whole.
When the whole portfolio is to be covered (with a patterned silk or linen, or a plain material for decorating) it is called " whole binding, " and a shape shown by the dotted lines GG, upon Fig. 2, will be required. For another style, known as " Roxburgh," or " quarter-binding, " shown in Fig. 3, the material used for the sides covers the corners, but yet allows the back strips to show; in this instance the back piece is arranged to be much wider than for the so-called " half-bind-ng" of Fig. 1.
It is often impossible to mount thin silk directly upon cardboard; indeed, it should never be attempted without a previous covering of white paper, if the silk be white, or a suitable color to match in other cases. If a sheet of paper be pasted and the silk laid smoothly on and dried under pressure, it may then be used as easily as ordinary paper. This, however, sometimes stains the silk. The best plan is to cut the paper to the exact size required, to gum the silk to it, using a very thick mucilage at the edges only. This, when dry, may be cut to a straight edge - otherwise always a difficult task - and applied as readily as if it were a firm fabric. Finally, paper slightly smaller each way than the cover, should be neatly pasted on the insides.
How strings to tie the portfolio should be affixed is shown in Fig. 1, although they are really not applied until the stage shown in Fig. 2; but it was easier to explain the manner of their insertion in that diagram. After the outer covering is pasted on, but before the inner lining sheet is fixed to each cover, a slit should be cut with a sharp-pointed knife right through the cardboard. Through this the ribbon should be passed and its loose end pasted down. The lining paper may be trusted to secure it finally. When wide ribbons are used as decorative features of the cover, Fig. 4, they are passed through in the same way. This needs some care, but can be accomplished with a little patience. Where the fabric is too rough in texture to permit lettering by ink or paint, it is best to embroider the title required on the ribbon. Paint it thereon in opaque water-colors after it is fixed in place.
When a portfolio is intended to preserve a book, such as a paper-covered novel, and not to be used at will for a variety of volumes, a preparatory stitching of the volume to be encased is desirable.
But if the cover is to be used for blotting-paper, for a railway time-table, or the successive numbers of a periodical, it is best to arrange strings of elastic at the back to tie the contents in place. If some narrow ribbon be passed from the inside through the back piece about half an inch from the top and from the bottom and tied in the middle of the open pamphlet or magazine, the contents are easily removed and replaced at pleasure. - Arts and Crafts, London.