Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love PVA.
Shortly after posting limp leather bookbinding, Wuukiee asked me if I might make such a book for her. Feeling overwhelmed, as is the tendency at this time of year, I said that I could, but that I probably wouldn't be able to get anything done until after Christmas. Then, last night, looking through my stack of art paper, I found a few sheets of Rives lightweight - nice paper that unfortunately had a few wrinkles in it. It seemed perfect for a blank book.
Rives lightweight is a nice, decent weight art paper. I tore four sheets into quarters, using a straight edge, and then folded each of the quarters into an octavo signature. (I had tried folding them into sextodecimo signatures, but the paper was simply too thick to do this.) This gave me 16 signatures, 3.25 x 5 in.
I normally sew bookbindings on vellum tapes - they are strong, flexible, and cheap. But I wanted to try something new, so I sewed eight of the signatures onto undyed goat leather tapes, about 13 inches long. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with the tapes, but I liked the look, and wanted to learn to work with other materials.
After determining the proper color for the cover, I cut a piece of red calf, to the same pattern as is used in limp leather bookbinding. Rather than scoring the hinges with a straight edge, I cut them, on the inside, with a razor blade, being careful not to go alll the way through the leather. The four edges were folded, using a bone folder, not scored. The excess leather was cut away in the same manner as described in limp leather bookbinding.
Then *gasp* I glued the leather flaps down to the inside of the cover using PVA! Normally, I don't like using PVA, as it is non-reversible, but for a notebook that almost certainly will not be rebound, it seems reasonable. Given the amount of time that is saved, and that I am using an acid-free PVA, it seems a reasonable alternative.
I cut slits for the tapes in the cover, as described in limp leather bookbinding, but not in the endpapers. Since the leather was glued together, it was possible to mark the cuts on the inside and cut through mulitple layers of leather without any problems. The tapes were pulled through all the slits, then in a circle through the last pair of slits, effectively tying the tape in a knot.
Each of the three tapes can be tied in a knot, to hold the book closed.
The first and last pages of the book block were glued to the covers, as endpapers, using PVA. This covers up the irregularities in the cuts to the leather.
Overall, I feel satisfied with the outcome from using PVA to hold the book together. I was able to work more quickly and still obtain a quality result. I was able to glue things together and just hold them till the glue dried, instead of having to press them. For non-restoration appications, PVA appears to be a good choice.
The book is 3.5 x 5.5 x .875 in., 62 leaves (124 pages), bound in bright red calf leather, sewn with linen thread on undyed goat leather tapes.