Coptic binding - leather, Finnish reindeer vellum, linen thread, imitation gold leaf
124 pages of black 100gsm Hahnemühle Ingres paper (16,3x12,5x2,3cm / 6.4"x4.9"x0.9")
This one I nearly finished last autumn, but it took me until this week to glue down the endpapers. I use very little leather in my books nowadays, and it's been years and years since I last made something you could call a designer binding. It's not because I feel uncomfortable working with leather (quite the opposite, actually) nor have I made any concious decision about using leather. Maybe it's a little bit because of the price of good quality leather. When I first learned to make leather bound books at school, I always had lovely hides to work with. Sure some were a pain in the derriere, but most of the time the leather was wonderful. Stepping down a notch or two on the quality (and thus, price) isn't really an option to me. I see no point in putting my time and energy in the work when I know the end result will never be worth the effort. Quality work deserves quality materials. And I simply find it too stressing to worry about whether or not I will find customers that not only think alike but also have the money to go with the attitude. Cutting down the high end stuff from my to-do-list makes life simpler, even though I sometimes think I'm just taking the easy way out. Or something. Well, clearly I've given it more thought than I thought I had.
The reason I got thinking about the things I no longer do, despite once being so familiar with them, was that I'm currently making some books that are both rounded and backed (check out the link if you have no idea what I'm talking about, Papercut Bindery has this very informative post). Backing is another thing I haven't done in years. It's not something you need to do unless you're making a fancy leather binging or something else you simply decide needs a backed spine. Most of the times you can finish a book without even thinking if you should back it. Now I just decided it was time to get a little more serious with my skills. It was backing after all that got me serious about bookbinding. It was a week or two into my bookbinding studies (back in 2004, time is such a difficult thing to grasp) when we were making our first leather bound books (quarter, I think). I finished backing my book block and showed it to my teacher who said it was virtually perfect. I think it was quite exactly then that I knew I could become great at making books. Not because my teacher thought my backing was great, but because I could see it was not and knew how I could do it better the next time.
So maybe I'm trying out the things that used to come naturally just to make sure I still know I have a chance to become better than I already am.