Yesterday everyone was sent home because the snow didn’t look like it was going to let up and the buses and taxis stopped running. I was all psyched up to reback yesterday but had to postpone until today, so I was all ready to go once I arrived.
I would like to say I took loads of pictures of the process, but once it came to actually doing the work I just got on with it. I prepared my leather by pairing it along the edges, headcaps and spine, leaving the joint areas at full thickness. The team here uses Canadian Wheat Starch Paste to reback, it is a much stickier dryer kind of paste with a yellow color.
I dampened my leather, pasted up, left it to soak in and then pasted it again before placing it on the book. Next I shaped the leather around the raised bands working from the middle of the spine outwards. Alessandro kindly went through his reback process before I did mine to show me his method and several tips and tricks to use along with way. He uses two teflon folders to shape the bands, one on each side. I found this trick to work very well, it does not bruise the leather and gives good definition to the bands.
Once the leather was molded to the spine I attached the remaining to the boards without stretching it and started working on the caps. They use a piece of foam to work on the caps (another good trick) to keep the table from making parts of the leather go shiny. Once the caps were the shape I wanted I wrapped the book with a bandage from head to tail to keep it closed tight.
They do not have a tieing up press here so instead they use a tool Nicholas Pickwoad taught them how to make, shown in the picture above. All you need is a piece of wood, two pieces of binders board, a screw and some twine. You make notches in one side of the binders board and wood to hold the twine in place (note that I accidentally used this tool upside-down, the notches should be on the bottom…works much better that way:) You then use the twine to tie up the book and give the raised bands definition. If you need the twine tightened after you have tied everything up you can use small pieces of binders board to twist the twine tighter (also shown above).
Now I get to wait 24 hours for the reback to dry, then I will open the book carefully to ease the joints into flexing. Only a few more steps until this one is finally done!