This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The next style of "finishing " to be described is known generally as gilding. A book of "gold leaf," a "gold knife" and a "gold cushion " will be required (Fig. 37). Books covered in levant and hardgrain morocco are always polished down before gilding, but undressed morocco, niger and calf do not need polishing. The polishing iron is heated and cleaned on leather, or on emery cloth if leather is not sufficient. If used too hot, it will make grease marks on the surface of the leather. It must be kept moving over the book all the while, and a circular movement is the best. Should the grain of the leather be too rough for the iron to make any impression on it, the book-cover must be crushed in the standing-press. One board at a time is put in with a pressing-plate on either side, and the under plate covered with paper to keep the endpaper from becoming shiny; the rest of the book should be supported, for if allowed to hang, the strain on the joint is too great.
Fig. 37. - Gold Cushion and Knife.
The design is traced on the book in the same way as described for blind-tooling and the leather washed with a very little lemon juice in water. The front cover is called the "obverse" and the back cover the "reverse." Always work the reverse first.
Fig. 38. - Varieties of Dotting.
The book is painted before gilding with a preparation called glaire, which can be either bought ready made or made at home, the latter being preferable. The white of one egg and a teaspoon-ful of vinegar are well beaten up together, left to stand a day, and then strained. This is applied to the lines with a brush, a very little at a time. If the glaire is quite new, it will be necessary to paint it on about three times, but otherwise once or twice will be sufficient. Always let the one coat dry before the next is applied, and never glaire more than can be conveniently gilded in one day.
While the glaire is diving the gold must be placed ready. The blade of the gold knife must not be touched with the fingers or allowed to get greasy in any way. The gold book is opened and tapped gently with the gold knife just by the first sheet of gold. The draught caused by this raises one side of the gold sheet slightly, when the knife is slipped under and the gold picked up and deposited on the cushion. Blowing gently in the centre of the leaf will make it lie flat.
When the glaire is quite dry, the book is slightly greased and the gold applied. Vaseline is generally used for the purpose. Hub a little on the hand till it is nearly gone, then rub a pad of cotton wool on what is left. Rub the book lightly with the cotton wool (grease pad). If the design is very solid and all over the book, the gold can be placed all over as well, but if the design is only heavy in parts, the gold can be cut more or less to fit. It can be lifted quite easily by pressing the tip of the forefinger on one corner, lifting it, and slipping the knife underneath. Lay it On the book Hat and press it down with a clean piece of cotton wool. If it should crack in places another leaf must be placed on top of the first and pressed down in the same way, or, if preferred, the leaves can be doubled on the pad first, and then put on the book. When the gold is pressed down the whole of the design shows through quite plainly.
Fig. 39. - Decoration for the inside of a Cover.
Bookbinding: Shamrock Design. By E. de Rheims.
The cover should be bright emerald green. A "solid" heart should be used for the Shamrock. This rich gold dotting will give a brilliant effect.
It can now be worked. Each tool is heated, cooled, polished on the piece of leather, and pressed down firmly. Any water left on the face of the tool will discolour and spoil the gold. The tool must be pressed down in the right place decidedly, and not waved about above the impression for some time first, as that dries up the glaire and prevents the gold from sticking. If the tool slips about when it is being stamped and the gold seems to give, it is most probably because the glaire is wet. If, on the other hand, when the tool is removed the gold looks dull and shrivelled, the tool has been stamped too hot.
Fig. 40. - Book prepared for leather joints.
When all the design has been tooled, the surplus gold is rubbed off with a piece of cotton wool. Save this in a box, and if there is gold in the wadding, keep that too, as it can be sold. If tin-wool is not sufficient to clean off all the gold, a piece of native rubber can be used. Should the book look greasy, it must be washed with benzine, and if the gold sticks along the edges of the tool-impressions, it can be removed by a piece of wadding on the end of the glaire-brush, slightly damped with benzine.
When finished, the gold should look bright and solid. There will probably be places where it has not stuck, in which case it must be glaired and gilded again. The book should not be fingered any more than is necessary, as contact discolours the gold.
Very good effects can be gained by varieties of dotted backgrounds. Graduated small dots arc-about the most effective, when well graduated. Except for a large book, small dots are almost invariably to be preferred to large ones. Pin dots, closely and evenly worked, also look very fine. Sometimes a design carried out entirely in outline and dots is a success, but unless it is very well worked it is apt to look scrappy. Another way is to dot the background in groups of three rather far apart, but this is more suitable for a large than a small book (Fig. 38).
In dotting, the tool must be kept at the same angle and the book the same way up all the time, otherwise the dots will catch the light in different directions and the whole will not show at once. Dots that are far apart should be marked first before glairing. If close together, the surface can be glaired first and the dots worked in freehand through the gold.
Fig. 41. - Shape of leather joint.
The inside of the book can have plain lines round the endpaper, or slight decoration in the corners (Fig. 39).
Another very good way of rendering the insides effective is to make up the endpapers without coloured ones, and to put a leather joint on instead. This process would follow covering. A strip of leather is pared very thin. The inner corners of the book are cut off at an angle with a set square, nearly to the top (Fig. 40). The strip is cut to a corresponding shape with a straight piece to fit clown the joint and about a quarter of an inch on the first white endpaper. This must be left open while drying, as in the case of endpapers (Fig. 41).
A very handsome effect is gained if the leather margin on the inside of the book is made very wide (of course, the exact width depends on the size of the book), and the space left in the middle filled with another coloured leather, vellum, Japanese vellum, silk, or ordinary coloured endpaper (Fig. 42).
If silk or leather is used, a piece of vellum or Japanese vellum is glued to the white" endpaper, over the edge of the joint. Silk can be used for this, but it is liable to fray out. If vellum or endpaper be used for the inside of the cover, the endpaper must correspond.
for a small inside, or "doubleur," the leather must be pared thin; for a large one it is only necessary to get the edges thin. Silk is mounted on a piece of paper the exact size, which is then glued on. The wide leather edges can then be decorated with gilding or blind-tooling, according to the exterior of the book. It is advisable to decorate the inside first, as the outside is bound to be uncovered, and, if finished, might get soiled. The book should be laid open upon a block for decorating the inside.
Fig. 42. - Wide margin with joint pasted in.
During the entire " finishing" of the book it should be kept wrapped up in soft, thick cloth, to prevent damp or dust injuring it.
The handsomest of all decoration when combined with gilding, viz., inlaying, remains to be described in another chapter.
E. de Rheims. (To be continued.)