There are many, many variations of endbands possible. Here are step-by-step photos of doing a simple beaded endband on a functional (not decorative) core that has already been attached to the text block.

I always position the book with the fore-edge toward me. To start, I knot the ends of my two colors of thread together:



After looping the thread around the core and positioning the knot at the bottom where it will be easily hidden, I pull the top thread toward me and hold it down on top of the text block.

The bottom thread (blue) goes across the red thread to hold it down, and then is stitched underneath the core so the needle comes out the backside.


Now it is the blue thread’s turn to be pulled over the top of the core and held down.

The red thread holds the blue thread down and is stitched under the core and out the back.


Keep alternating like this. Adjusting the tension on the thread is the only tricky part; ideally each little cross stitch (“bead”) is visible.



Voila! Completed endband. Tie the loose ends of the thread at the back (I tie them onto the white threads used to hold the core to the text block).

Show Me Your Monster Face

In preparation for the Green Hill Medieval Faire, I’ve been trying something different: Monster face journals! These are tons of fun:



It all started because I wanted to learn how to do the caterpillar stitch, which Daniel Essig uses frequently, and I’ve long been an admirer of Daniel’s work. (See his site www.danielessig.com) I found a good tutorial on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8dpd-SD2jk, and decided the best way to learn was to jump in head first.

As usual, the covers on my books are quarter-inch-thick wood, which provides a good base for attaching the metal furnishings. The general facial features are molded with polymer clay, and the leather is molded over that. Thin bookbinding leathers work best, because they absorb water and stretch easily. (They are also easy to wrinkle for that leathery skin look.)

I’ve found its best to completely create the covers first before stitching, and i do a basic coptic stitch first to secure all the quires before adding the caterpillar stitching. The caterpillar really tightens things up, and it can be easy to make the stitching too tight, so I’ve had to watch out for that.

Next up, a steam-themed journal, hopefully to come this week. All these are available on Etsy, of course: www.etsy.com/stationersshop/.

Bee Book Commission


This little charmer was a commission for a gentleman who wanted a bee-themed journal to give as a special gift. The bees on the fore-edge are worker bees dutifully putting honey (nectar?) into honeycomb, and the bee on the frontispiece is a queen bee (with some shell gold accents just for sparkle).




VARF, weekend 1

First, because every post needs a photograph:

We had a lovely time at the Virginia Renaissance Faire this past weekend, despite the weather. Sales were a bit discouraging, but thunderstorms had been predicted for Saturday afternoon and our weatherproofing of the booth and contents wasn’t ideal. One of the drawback of selling items primarily made of paper is that rain is your enemy. Sunday was gorgeous, a welcome relief!

Socializing Saturday night was interesting, especially when compared to SCA events. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but the vibe was very different than that of SCA nighttime activities. The cast/crew area was a sea of modern pop-ups, and there were no campfires. Perhaps so much energy is expended during the daytime hours for the benefit of patrons there isn’t much left for the evening. I find I prefer the daytime feel of Ren Faires and the nighttime feel of SCAdian events.

Speaking of SCAdian events, our next merchanting event is Pennsic War. I am both excited and frightened. My wares will of necessity be somewhat different for Pennsic, with a larger focus on bookbinding supplies and disguises for modern devices, and the thought of maintaining two sets of inventories is looking more difficult than it first appeared several months ago. After VARF ends, I will spend the next 5 weeks frantically making new stuff. I can foresee a time when I’ll need to chose between the two types of merchanting; by the end of the year I’m hoping to have a better feel for future directions.

Loose ends

Matt tells me my blog is lonely. Thus, two posts in one day! This is the first, tying up some loose ends. Here’s the finished Kipling pic; the lighting isn’t ideal, but hey, at least you can see I really did finish it.


No prints of it will be available, though, for a variety of reasons. (Including copyright infringement: copyright precedence shows that calligraphers can use copyrighted works for private commissions but not resell such works. That means you could commission me to do Tolkien’s complete works in calligraphy, and I could legally do so, but I couldn’t then publish that calligraphy for wider dissemination. Short excerpts from longer works are a different matter with considerably more leeway.)

Gilding for Rudyard Kipling

After a brief hiatus, work on the Rudyard Kipling commission is resuming in earnest. Today I gilded the central title in 23K gold–shiny! The rest of the filigree is gold ink and sumi ink:


Inside the circle, you can see faint pencil lines marking out the spaces for four small vignettes of the seasons. Starting from the left and going clockwise will be scenes of weather in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Outside the circle in the four corners will be trompe l’oeil pictures of dogwood twigs in the seasons: flowering, green leaves, berries, and buds.

I’m hoping this will wrap up sometime early next week!

Calligraphy for Rudyard Kipling

For the next few weeks, I’ll be working on a commission of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.” It’s certainly a well-known poem, and there are several versions of posters, prints, etc. that include the poem, but most are ho-hum in terms of design. So, my first challenge was to create a dynamic design for the text that did something beyond plopping all four stanzas on the page the same way they would appear in a book.

Here is my solution for the calligraphy: revolve all four stanzas around a central point:


The penny is there mostly for scale. (This is about my limit in terms of tiny calligraphy: the distance between baselines is 1/4 inch, which means the typical height of a lowercase letter is 1/8 inch. Took me two nights to do this text in order to avoid hand cramps.)

“IF” will appear in 23K gilded letters right in the middle, where the penny is now. Over the next few weeks I’ll post images of the gilding process and the painting, of which there will be much!

Coptic endbands

Well, I’m on the fence about these endbands. I don’t do very many Coptic books, and I had some tensioning issues with these, so maybe that’s clouding my judgment. I did figure out that I need to make the top holes larger than the other holes, so that they can accommodate more thread (d’oh!). That’s why there are endbands on only one book. :-)


The endbands kind of remind me of a rope ladder across a gorge, for some reason. Maybe it’s a sign I need to watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom again.

I do love the blue and orange papers visible on the spine, though. They were the inspiration to do these two book–I happened to have two lovely marbled papers that looked good together.

Here’s the view from the top:


And the view from the front:


More Book Curses!

This past week I’ve been dedicating myself to book curses: researching the curses scribes put into medieval manuscript to discourage theft (or folks merely “forgetting” to return books they borrowed). Finally the fruits of my efforts are finished: Medieval book curse book plates. Yep, you read that right: book plates–the kind you put on the inside cover of your books to make sure no one wanders off with them. New and improved with curses! (Really, isn’t everything improved with curses? Don’t tell my mother I said that.)


The originals were painted on goatskin parchment, and the reproductions are fantastic–you can see the pores on the parchment and everything. I fear that in the future I’m going to want to do ALL my originals on parchment because they look so gosh darned beautiful. (Pergamenata, while a great substitute for parchment for SCA scrolls, just doesn’t reproduce as nicely when making prints of the artwork.)

bookplate2 bookplate1

I’m not exaggerating when I say I am bouncing up and down with glee over these. (As usual, if you want some of your very own, you can pick them up at Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/126323750/book-plates-medieval-book-curses-set-of.)

Book curses!

I’ve finally gotten hold of Marc Drogin’s 1983 book on medieval book curses (and yes, I do have a plan to put these to good use . . . heh heh). They are delightfully detailed and graphic, just as I had hoped!

A sample:

“This book belongs to none but me
For there’s my name inside to see.
To steal this book, if you should try,
It’s by the throat that you’ll hang high.
And ravens then will gather ‘bout
To find your eyes and pull them out.
And when you’re screaming ‘oh, oh, oh!’
Remember, you deserved this woe.”

I’ve also had the time to check out Julia Miller’s Books Will Speak Plain, which is a guide to identifying (and describing) historical bindings. There is a lot of good stuff in there, and I will eventually need my own copy of this. Luckily, Hollander’s sells unsewn quires of the book for only $50, so I suppose I’ll have to bind my own.