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Posts Tagged ‘field book of western wild flowers’

  1. My Hand // Leather Embroidery Samplers – Part One

    April 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Since my last embroidered leather binding, I’ve had the urge to experiment with various traditional stitches in leather. Through my experiments I aimed to find which stitches would translate the same way on leather as they do on fabric. In addition, I wanted to know if I could easily keep a stitched line straight during the covering process.

    I began with a rough sketch of each sampler, a total of six. The stitches I chose were divided into categories (such as chain stitches, variations on the back stitch, couching, etc.) and then laid out onto each sampler sketch. I choose to experiment on both goatskin and buffalo which were pared down to the thickness I use when covering a full leather fine binding (~.5 for the buffalo and .7 for the goat). 


    Then, I cut down a piece of Japanese tissue to the size of the plaquette board and adhered it to the center of the leather. Once the pieces were dry, I proceeded to draw out a 1 x 1 mm square grid onto each sampler. This grid made it incredibly easy to lay out the stitches and to make sure I kept them even and straight. Before I began a stitch, I figured out the hole placement and spacing. Then with my pin vise I made pin-pricks through the leather. Laying out the holes beforehand made the act of stitching easier and faster. 


    After completing all of the stitches on a sampler, I prepped the leather for covering. Excess strings were trimmed and pasted down in line with stitches on the backside. This way any strays would not be visible on the front side of the leather. Once I readied my bench with the proper tools, the leather pieces were pasted up with wheat starch paste and attached to the board. After folding over the turn-ins and working down the corners, I stuck the plaquette under a press between foam and press boards. The foam pushes down the leather around the stitches much easier and quicker than I could. 

    When working with embroidered leather, I don’t wet out the piece before pasting up as I normally would. I do however add some moisture to the turn-ins to aid in the covering process. 


  2. My Hand // Field Book of Western Wild Flowers: Part Three

    October 31, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Part One can be read here
    Part Two can be read here

    I need to backtrack a bit. Part two ends with the covering of the matching leather doublures. The remainder of the design elements that are going to be explained in this post were applied before the doublures were pasted down. Part two has been revised accordingly. 

    The final steps to completing the design included the addition of a gold border and the title. In the early stages of designing the cover, I wanted to create the gold border through surfacing gilding. Which would have been done before covering because I didn’t want to risk getting gold leaf on the embroidery stitches. However, after a few tests I decided my supply of gold leaf was too yellow against the dusty pink buffalo skin. The border was therefore painted onto the leather with a fluid acrylic pigment. This is the same technique I used on the fine binding for The Songlines

    The title has been tooled with handle letters in the typeface Gill Sans. Buffalo can often feel spongy under the tool and requires slightly more pressure to achieve a crisp impression. I’ve found that buffalo will not blind in the same manner as other animal skins and can be a bit more finicky to tool. So with a bit more patience, the title was gilt in gold leaf one letter at a time. 


    With the completion of the binding, I was set to make a custom clamshell box. The box reflects the binding in terms of color and design. The spine of the box is covered in matching leather that has also been embroidered. The design is derived from an illustration in the book and includes similar onlays from the book’s cover. The stem was embroidered freehand and Margaret Armstrong’s name has been hand tooled with gold leaf. 


    The trays are covered and lined with the same handmade paper from Katie MacGregor that are used as the endpapers in the binding. The rest of the case and joint are covered in brown Canapetta bookcloth. A layer of Volara foam was added to the outer tray as protection for the embroidered stitches. 


    I am really pleased with my first attempt at an embroidered leather binding. I plan to continue experiments with this technique, as well as incorporate other sewn elements. I recently had the opportunity to showcase this binding at the Standards of Excellence Conference in Washington, DC. Through the ‘Mix & Mingle’ event, I got the chance to speak with and meet many new bookbinders while discussing my binding on top of receiving wonderful compliments and suggestions. 


    Finished binding next to clamshell box.


    Side profile. Detail of edge decoration and hand-sewn headband.

  3. My Hand // Field Book of Western Wild Flowers: Part Two

    October 15, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    If you missed part one, you can find it here.

    After hours of embroidery work, I was finally ready to cover the binding. The book itself had been removed from its original case binding, taken apart signature by signature and resewn. Once rounded and backed with boards attached, the edges were ploughed and sanded down in preparation for edge decoration. At this point, I had been filling in for Jeff Altepeter at North Bennet Street School and conveniently the students already had everything set up for edge decoration and gilding. I spent the day perfecting the edge, experimenting with the application of gouache through various brushes and sponges. Finishing off the edge with the sprinkling of gold leaf. 

    The hand sewn double-core French headbands came next. I love sewing my headbands in an asymmetrical pattern and by extracting colors from the binding. Sadly, I didn’t take any in-progress photos of these two steps, but you can see hints of the edge and headband in some of the images to follow. 

    Now, back to covering. 


    After applying a healthy dose of wheat starch paste, the embroidered leather was wrapped around the binding, being folded and tucked and squished into place. The leather had expanded after paring more than expected, so covering became difficult to keep the shape of the design within the confines of the board. 


    The covered binding was put to rest under control weight between a bed of felt and acrylic boards. The next day I eased open the boards. Once the finishing design elements were added to the front cover I was able to line the inside of the boards and joint with matching edge to edge leather doublures. The handmade paper fly leaves are a perfect color match and came to me by happenstance from papermaker Katie MacGregor at Standards last year. 


    Part three coming next week…

  • Visit My Bindery
    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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