Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fritz Otto Makes a Box with Lid (Kasten mit Hals)

As we saw in Fritz Otto Says Be Safe, he is working on keeping his bench skills sharp.

Here he is making a box with lid to be covered in salmon parchment.  He's following instructions from Fritz Wiese's Sonderarbeiten des Buchbinders. The book was bound by Altmeister Arno Werner and is from his collection. The fish monger's wife brought the raw skin of the fish over requesting a small box for jewelry... Let's see what we can up with for her, especially since she also dropped of a 70+cm salmon skin to make into parchment.


Fritz Otto is going to make the variant on the left.
The diagram shows a cross section of the components and how they're covered.

Fritz Otto redeeming himself after miscutting the boards for box.
The Meister was demonstrating in a live FB feed and was most embarrassed...
Because parchment is so transparent, Fritz Otto painted the exterior
of the box black first. Then he glued the parchment onto the sides,
 and is now paring shark leather to go on the ends. It was a small salmon fillet.

Here he is edge-paring the shark leather.

One shark leather panel is on at the top of the box, next he'll glue on the other.
When done, he'll put felt on the base, something that'll also hide the turn-ins.

Here he test fitting the panels that will go inside the box that will create "neck"/Hals
that will keep the lid in place. They are made from card stock and covered fully
on one side and turned in enough on the other to cover the "neck."
You can see that he has already pre-folded the salmon for the lid.

Pieces going in as they should... So far so good.

Everything fits... Good!
Long sides first, then short sides between those during final assembly.

Getting ready to glue the salmon onto the sides of the box.

Almost done with the turn-ins.

Test fitting the lid. If you click on the picture, you can see the join for the "neck."
This way of creating the "neck" is pretty simple. There are more complex ways
to cover the box that wouldn't show cut edges.

Lid fits, and the shark and salmon go together well.

Not bad...

Can't deliver to fish monger's wife yet. Still need to put paper on
the inside of the lid's sidewalls, and then some felt on the base.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Fritz Otto Says Be Safe

Fritz Otto is playing it safe, saying at home, and keeping his bench skills sharp. In this case, he's making a box with lid to be covered in salmon parchment.  He's following instructions from Fritz Wiese's Sonderarbeiten des Buchbinders. The book was bound by Altmeister Arno Werner and is from his collection.





Sonderarbeiten des Buchbinders as bound by Arno Werner

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Fishy Sunprints

Did something different today, made sunprints from my pieces of fish parchment. Love how the texture of the skins came through.

Artic Char

Sea bass & lane snapper

Lane snapper, sea bass, and Arctic char

Mackerel, Arctic char, and haddock

Haddock, sea bass, and lane snapper

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Old Man and the Sea

We saw Fritz Otto helping turn that delicious mackerel into parchment. Here the binding one of the half-skins was used on, Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. The other half goes in the skin archive. Below the binding I just completed.

Here the top-edge Fritz Otto made. Acrylics in paste with some stippling for waves...
The book is still in-process, and the colored flyleaf will be tipped to the next leaf
just along the fore-edge as one of the last steps.

The mackerel skin was backed with gray Morike paper and cut out to match the
contours of the skin. The mackerel is a standing for the swordfish in the story.
Scars/distressed areas on the skin represent the  life and death struggle of fish and Santiago.

The book was sewn on three thongs of shark leather, a metaphor
for the sharks that ate Santiago's swordfish...

This is a Dorfner-style open-joint binding. The parchment
was not covered or trimmed back, so shows the contours
of the fish. Doublure and flyleaf Cave Paper "layered indigo day."

The boards were covered in Pergamena dyed goat
parchment, title stamped in graphite foil. 

Here the completed binding. Shark thong ends capped by weathered
wood representing Santiago's boat. 

To learn more about making parchment from fish, see:
"Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding
Book Arts arts du livre Canada (Vol 10., Nr. 2, 2019)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien (Wooden tools)

Habe vor kurzer Zeit noch einen Katalog für Buchbindereibedarf erworben. Der unten, Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien, stammt von der Firma Edmund Junghändel in Nürnberg, 1927. Drin sind allerlei Pressen, Heftladen, Vergoldekästen und sonstiges. Junghändel war u.A. Fachgeschäft für Buchbinderei-Bedarf, Grosshandlung für Buntpapiere und verkaufte auch Maschinen für die gesamte Papierindustrie.

Recently acquired another bookbinding supply catalog for my library. The one below, Holz-Werkzeuge für Buchbindereien, focuses on wooden presses and related equipment for binderies. It was issued by the firm of Edmund Junghändel in Nuremberg, 1927. Junghändel also sold other binding supplies, was a wholesaler for decorated papers, and sold machines for all paper industries.



View below or download here.



Ich konnte auch eine Rechnung der Firma erwerben für 3.5 meter schwarzes Calico. Die ist zwar nicht von 1927, sondern 1914, zeigt aber deren Gebäude an der Molkestrasse 1.

I could also acquire an invoice from the company for 33.5 meters of black calico bookcloth. The invoice is not from 1927, but rather 1914, and shows their building at Molkestrasse 1.


Anhand der Abbildung der Firma, daß auch die "Burg" links im Hintergrund zeigt, ist der Ort wo die Firma stand jetzt eine Schule, und die Molkestrasse auf der Seite ein Radweg geworden.

Based on the image on the invoice that also shows the "Burg" in the old part of the city at top left, the location of the company is now a school, and Moltkestrasse turned into a bike path alongside.



Saturday, February 8, 2020

Springback Fine Binding

I love springback bindings, especially the German version I learned during my apprenticeship. Below images of one I completed on the textblock of the exhibit catalog for L'Infinito, one of those international bookbinding competition and exhibitions. This one was organized by the Provincia di Macerata. Competitors were asked to design bindings for the poem L'Infinito by Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837). The catalog has a section for the 125 bindings that formed the exhibition and are considered the best of the entries submitted. The remaining 475 submissions are divided by national school and reproduced without commentary. I lifted the description from Oak Knoll Books who have a copy of the catalog available in case someone wants to bind it. ;-) I never bought the set book for the exhibit, but did get the catalog as I have a great weakness for exhibit catalogs for my personal library.

Exhibit catalogs in my library. An intervention might be called for...

This all makes for a very hefty tome, just begging for a springback binding. I wanted to show the underlying structure and love veiney calf parchment. This is what I came up with:

German-style springback; sewn on three tapes with endsheets of Roma paper; graphite top edge; red leather wrapped endband; covered with two veined calf vellum panels at top and bottom with center panel painted with textured acrylic; spine and sewing exposed in center panel and painted with textured acrylics; title stamped in gold. 28 x 25.5 x 6.5 cm. Bound 2004.

Parchment panels that wrapped around at head and tail. 

Detail of spine with the book closed.

Detail of spine with the book opened.

Looking down the "hollow" of the spine.
My tutorial for the German style of springback can be viewed here and downloaded here.

Just make sure the spring isn't too "strong." 😉

Buchbinder-Fachschule Berlin

Ernst Collin (5.31.1886-12.1942), the grandson of Wilhelm and son of Georg, followed in the family tradition and learned the trade of bookbinder initially. However, where he apprenticed and worked during his journeyman years is not known. Likewise, nothing is known about his childhood or personal life beyond what he wrote about his grandfather and father.

What little we do know comes from Ernst’s writings, where he described studying for a semester under Paul Kersten in the first class of the Berliner Buchbinderfachschule Klasse für Kunstbuchbinderei directed by Gustav Slaby in 1904.1 G.A.E. Bogeng wrote in his introduction to Collin’s antiquarian catalog that he worked as a bookbinder for many years in Germany and England.2 Ultimately, Ernst chose to follow a different path: antiquarian and writer.

Über Ernst Collin (31.5.1886-[12.1942]) selbst ist sehr wenig bekannt, obwohl er in einer kleinen Anzahl von Aufsätzen Details über seinen Werdegang erwähnt hat. Aus diesen wissen wir, dass er das Buchbinderhandwerk erlernt hat, doch nicht, ob und wo er eine Lehre absolviert hat. Ebensowenig ist bekannt, wie er zum Schreiben gefunden hat.

Als Buchbinder erwähnt wurde er in seinem Aufsatz „Ein viertel Jahrhundert kunstbuchbinder-ischer
Erziehung - 25 Jahre Berliner Kunstklasse“ wo er schrieb, daß er 1904 ein Semester lang bei Paul Kersten studiert hat, in der ersten Klasse dieser Schule überhaupt.1 Letzen Endes schlug Collin aber eine andere Laufbahn ein, die des Antiquars und Schriftstellers.


Advertisement for the Buchbinder-Fachschule, 1921.
From L. Brades illustriertes Buchbinderbuch, edited and reworked by Paul Kersten, 1921.






  1. Collin, Ernst. “Ein viertel Jahrhundert kunstbuchbinderischer Erziehung - 25 Jahre Berliner Kunstklasse.“ Archiv für Buchbinderei, Vol. 29, Nr. 9, 1929. (106-108)  
  2. Bücher für den Bibliophilen. Corvinus-Antiquariat Ernst Collin GMBH. [1923]