This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
IN this and the articles that are to follow, the decoration of the book-cover, or "finishing," as it is termed, will be dealt with in detail. It is a subject capable of infinite variety of treatment at every stage. For instance, the worker may soon, with a little practice, become an adept at originating suitable designs for his book covers and, with the assistance which leathers of every conceivable colour can give him - which, cut into dainty shapes as flowers, leaves, geometrical forms, or even as animals or figures, according as the contents of the book may suggest as appropriate, may be inlaid into the covers, together with gold, silver, or other metal leaf - supplemented by a box of good water-colours, should be more than compensated for his trouble by the excellent results which it may reasonably be hoped will ensue.
No worker need use the same design twice over, and, in fact, it adds greatly to the value of a book if it is quite unique in design an< execution. Drawings for this pur pose should, at any rate for begin ners, be very simple. Care must be taken that they are perfectly accurate, as errors in this respect cannot be hidden on a book-cover. Always take care, too, that each design is in proportion, both in itself and in its relation to the size of the book. It must of necessity be conventional, but above all it should be graceful and pleasing to the eye, or the result when worked out will not be satisfactory. The line drawn out, it is best to arrange a scheme of colour, an idea of the effect of which can be easily obtained by painting in the design with water-colours before finally deciding on its suitability. The covers of books may be decorated on the inside as well. Here again there is scope for varied treatment. The edges of the leaves can be finished off to correspond, whether by plain colour-
Fig. 31. - Two Sets of Gouges.
Fig. 32. - Fillet ing or gilding, or by ornamenting them with designs.
Fig. 33. Polishing Iron.
The tools required for "finishing" are two sets of gouges - tools whose edges are sections of curved lines: one set of pallets, similar tools with straight edges (Fig. 31); a smooth-edged wheel, about five inches in circumference, for working long, straight lines, called a fillet (Fig. 32); a polishing iron (Fig. 33), and a few tools for making rings and dots of various sizes. An oil or gas finishing-stove is a necessity - the gas stove is preferable. It is fixed with a circular grooved rim, on which a number of tools can be laid at the same time, with their ends meeting over the jet of flame in the centre, so that they are heated ready for use at any moment. If tool-flowers or leaves are required, they can be either bought ready-made or cut to the worker's own design. It is advisable not to have the flowers more than half an inch in diameter, as the larger they are the more difficult they are to work, especially if the design be a very solid one. It is quite possible to work small flowers with gouges, but this method takes much time and requires very good work to make it effective. The design for the tool-flowers must be exceedingly accurately drawn, as it is usually copied exactly by the tool-cutter.
Fig. 34. - Paper folded for design.
New tools need preparation before use by being rubbed down, first on the finest emery-cloth and then on the rough side of a piece of leather, as the sharp corners are apt to dig into the leather; and, too, new pallets and gouges are invariably too thin. The tools should be gripped
Fig. 35. - Gouges marked on design.
Fig. 36. - Position of Fillet in use.
An Inlaid Border
Design For Book Cover OR (Reduced) For A Lady's Card-Case. By E. de Rheims.
Inlay circles with tones of yellow and brown, and the leaves different tones of green, on a green morocco background.
(For suggestions for treatment in oil and water colours, see page 185.) firmly by the handles and rubbed round and round with a circular motion, with the surface kept quite flat. The gouges should all be numbered to size, the numbers being marked on the handles with ink. The tools must be placed on the stove in order, a wet sponge in a saucer standing near, on which to cool each before using. It needs constant practice to gauge the correct heat for the tool, but, as a general rule, it may be used the instant it stops hissing. It is better to use it too cold than too hot.
Take great care of the tools. They are made of brass, and the constant heating tends to soften them, so that every knock they get leaves a mark which will show on the book, especiallv in gilding. Two kinds of "tooling" can be worked with these tools: "blind-tooling" and "gilding." It is better for the beginner to practise on an odd piece of leather, which has first been pasted on to a piece of millboard, before doing a book.
The design to be worked must first be drawn out on paper. Thin cartridge is the most useful, as it is fairly tough. Cut a piece the exact, length of the board of the book, the width being the smallest degree narrower, to allow for the leather creasing along the joint. This must then be folded exactly in half both ways (Fig. 34). Draw the design in one quarter, double the paper over, and rub the back of the drawn side with a pointed folding-stick. The pencilled lines will show through the paper; so rub along them, and not all over, as, it stretches the paper. The design will trace off on to the opposite corner, and it must be pencilled over, doubled down, and rubbed off in the same manner again to get the second half. A piece of looking-glass, if held upright against one portion of the drawing, will give its effect when doubled.
The next step is to lit the design with gouges. One must be found for every line and curve, at the beginning and end of which last a mark or clash is made, and the number of the corresponding gouge written against it (Fig. 35). This plan of procedure prevents delay in the subsequent tooling. The ultimate effect of the design depends very considerably on the way in which the gouges are fitted. Always use the largest possible gouge, and make the different ones slightly overlap. The great thing is to show the joins as little as possible, and this is easier when the gouges overlap than when they just meet.
The design is fixed on the book-cover by a touch of paste. 'bake care to get it exactly square, and use as little paste as possible. Then turn it over face downwards with a weight on the top till it sticks. When it is dry, proceed to mark the design through the paper on to the book with the proper gouges. The paper must not be torn 0r burnt during this process. The tool should be held upright and firmly gripped in the middle of the handle. If using a gouge, have the inside of the curve towards you, place the nearest corner in position, then the further corner, and press flat, but do not dig the corners in. Short straight lines are marked with pallets; long ones are marked at each end with a small pallet. and drawn in with a straisht-edse and folder when the paper is removed, afterwards being finished with a fillet. The corners left by the niche in the fillet are for the beginnings and ends of lines. The fillet is held with the right hand and guided by the left thumb (Fig. 36).
Flower-tools are pressed down flat first, then slightly rocked both ways to make sure of the edges marking. Round flowers always have a mark on one side of the brass handle, which shows the top. Always put them down on the design right way upwards.
When the design is all traced, lift one corner of the paper gently to see that no lines have been overlooked. Next, take the whole paper off, damping the corners slightly if they show signs of tearing, and wash off the paste. Mark the book all over again, as the paper is apt to make the lines blurred.
If straight lines only are wanted on the cover, they may be marked on to the leather direct with compasses, afterwards being ruled in with a straightedge and folder.
For blind-tooling, the leather is now well damped with water, and when half dry each tool is stamped repeatedly till the impression is a rich dark chocolate-colour. The chief difficulty in tooling is to gel all the impressions of equal depth and tone. Small tools have a tendency to dig in too far, and large ones, on the other hand, will not mark sufficiently. The worker will find the results better if he stands at his work, rather than sits, when using tools,1s, as in this way they can be more evenly controlled. In blind-tooling the lines must be kept very clear. If the leather is too damp, the tooling will be smudgy; if, on the contrary, it is too dry, the lines will not darken. It must be kept damp till the cover is finished.
If there are any wrong marks made, they can generally be got rid of by slightly damping the leather and lifting the surface with a needle, but without in any way damaging it.
When the cover is quite dry, go over the whole design again, this time previously polishing each gouge on a piece of leather before using it. This gives a polished appearance to the tooling. A piece of leather for the purpose might be kept stretched and nailed down, inside upwards, on the bench or table.
Blind-tooling is most effective when executed on Niger morocco, which is a goat-skin and dull Venetian red in colour. Undressed morocco and pigskin are also generally blind-tooled, in which case they are damped with equal parts of lemon juice and water instead of water only. Call-skin is damped with water. When washing a book always apply the sponge evenly all over, as washing in patches is apt to mark the leather. Blind-tooling can, of course, be clone on other leathers, but does not look so well, and for those gilding (which will be fully described in the next chapter | is far more effective.
Till the book is entirely finished the pages should be kept covered with a cap, and each board provided with a covering as well.
E. de Rheims. (To be continued.)