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Posts Tagged ‘bradel binding’

  1. My Hand // Recreating the Stepped Roofs of Bermuda on a Book

    August 25, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    A client of mine presented me with a copy of Residence in Bermuda, a promotional text published by Bermuda Trade Development Board in an edition of 2,000 copies. This particular book was copy 591 and bound as a quarter cloth binding with a simple stamped label. My client wanted the book to be rebound in a more artistic binding, extracting colors and inspiration from one of the many photographs printed in the text.

    In search of inspiration I began to page through the book when I came across one image of a watercolor painting of an iconic Bermuda home. The imagery became my direction for the exterior of the binding; the exterior walls of the house were painted a sherbet pink, which popped against the white stepped roof. The vibrancy and brushstrokes of the surrounding landscape became my inspiration for the label on the spine.


    Since the binding needed to be completed in a fairly short time period and I wanted to work the boards separately, I chose to use a variant of the Bradel structure. Peter Verheyen published an article and tutorial titled Der Gebrochene Rücken: a variation of the German case binding, which was my guide throughout its construction.

    But before any binding could take place, the book had to be removed from its original case. The spine was cleaned by removing the lining and adhesive. The pages showed sign of age with some scuff marks here and there, which called for a bit of surface cleaning. The exterior folio was guarded with tissue to stabilize the paper in preparation for sewing. The original endpapers were quite beautiful and richly printed. However, they were not salvageable for the new binding, but I’ll come back to that later. So I created some new endpapers using three sheets of Canford paper in blush, plum and forest (all colors derived from my inspiration source).

    With the forwarding complete, I attached a piece of pared buffalo skin in the same sherbet pink of the house to the spine. The benefit of this particular binding allows the binder to use a specific material on the spine and another for the boards, so the cover is completed in three parts. This German-style of binding is very similar to the French simplified binding.

    While the book lay to rest, I started working on the boards (which in my opinion are what make this binding superb). In order to best represent the iconic stepped roofs of Bermuda architecture, I decided to create stepped boards. Once I had the final size of my boards, I went to work figuring out the proper dimensions of each layer. I made a single template of each layer which I used to draw out their placement on the boards. Each layer was attached with PVA and pressed. Finally, I glue out a piece of white Hahnemuhle Ingres (which was pre-dampened with a sponge), laid it over the board and put it in the press with some foam which helped sculpt the paper around each layer or step.

    Before attaching the boards, I placed the two labels on the spine which curved down around the shoulder and onto the flange which connects the boards to the binding. Using two separate leathers with matching metallic foil, I stamped the word RESIDENCE and BERMUDA in Gill Sans using a Kwikprint. The leather was then pared away to offer a rough silhouette of a brushstroke. The word IN was hand-tooled directly on the spine in palladium.


    A large book with white covers needs a box or it will never appear in such pristine condition again. The clamshell box was simply made with a cloth spine sided up with paper. The spine of the box includes a long paper label stamped in metallic pink with the title. The decorative paper label is a strip of the original endpaper. The trays are lined with a frame of Volara foam for the book to rest on, preventing it from teetering side to side.

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    My client was thrilled with the book’s transformation. He plans to present it as a wedding gift to the Governor of Bermuda’s daughter. I hope she is equally thrilled with my interpretation of her rich and colorful surroundings.

  2. Bookbinder of the Month: Haein Song

    February 9, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    This Folio Society edition of Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling was bound by Haein Song in 2010. Bound in the Bradel binding structure, the spine is covered in reverse goatskin. The front and back boards are covered in hand dyed goatskin. The geometric pattern is tooled in white. The monoprinted endpapers sit opposite a leather joint. 

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    Haein shared this image showing the the tooling in-progress. I love how clean and organized her space looks, a perfect calm environment for tooling.


    I choose to feature this binding because I’m such a proponent of using a single color to create sublty in design. Sometimes the simplest ideas can create the most extraordinary pieces of art. Using reverse goatskin for the spine creates not only a deeper red, but introduces a change in texture. For this binding, you utilize the Bradel binding, which allows you to create the exterior in three parts. Is there a fondess to this structure that you find supports your design sense more than a full leather binding?
    I like what Bill Evans, an American pianist and composer, said about that – “The simple things, the essences, are the great things, but our way of expressing them can be incredibly complex.” I’m attracted to the very essential and elemental quality of seemingly simple forms like dots, lines, squares and circles.

    When it comes to the structure I don’t think I prefer a bradel binding to a full leather binding – both have different qualities and attractions. But as you’ve mentioned a bradel bindings can provide simple design solution by changing materials or colours and there is a something architectural about that. I used a bradel binding for this book precisely because of that reason.

  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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