Victorian Bookbinders Guild

For all interested in the Art, Craft and Practice of Bookbinding                                             

Made a book but no label? Now is your chance to plan a label, and come along a make the label with either cloth, paper or some leather. Check out the additions to the post at the bottom of the file

We have a small blocker available, and some hand tools and a stove for the adventurous. We will have about 4 or 5 sets of brass type, between  10 to 18 point in size and I will try to get a picture up soon showing the styles. To be effective it will need to be planned, unless there are a lot of  one word titles, and allowing for 5 minutes to prepare we should be able to do 20 or so titles in the couple of hours. Bring along your books, written title layouts and some enthusiasm, and I am sure it will be rewarding. Please register so we know what to expect in attendance and materials. It was a great hit last year and should be a productive time.   Not sure how to prepare? Drop me an email and I will get back to help you.

Gold Titling for our demonstration and hands on May Meeting.

Prepare your title/book/materials and bring it along.  We will have limited time so the preparation will be important for getting everyone to make at least one label.

Using the blocking machine to produce titles is quite a simple task, but to achieve good results there are a number of things to consider.

1/ Layout.  As always the design of the layout to suit the type and style of the book can either enhance or degrade the final work. In an ideal world we would have 10 or so different type styles in perhaps 3 or 4 sizes each. In the real world we are likely to have quite a few less than this.  At the meeting I will have my three most often used (cause that’s all I have in brass) type sets.  The largest is an un named set sans serif style 30 point ( about 10.5mm high), its limited as its missing a few pieces over the years, so some long titles with repeat letters might find it’s a letter short. See the list attached.  The second is Coronation 16 point (about 5mm high), a very comfortable and easy size to use, and the third is Edinburgh 12 pt (4mm) needs good eyes or a good set of glasses, and gentle touch. I will have all three at the May Meeting.

2/ For a Book Front

I suggest planning the title using tracing paper the size of the book front.   Decide on the type size maybe in 2 or 3 lines, and draw lines the size of the type. Allow each letter the same size say 10mm for the largest type (in reality the type for each letter varies in width) and hand write in the relevant titles. Don’t worry too much about exact spacing of the letters, as we will correct this when the type is placed in the blocker.

Repeat for a sub heading or multi line title.

3/ Set the blocker.

When we set each line in the blocker, we will also set on the blocker table a couple of guides from scraps of board held in place with masking tape. This will allow us to set up the book centred left to right, and the move it up and down to get the type to the vertical position as drawn using our tracing paper template to achieve the position. Experiment a few times with pressure and temperature (read below) until you are confident of getting the correct impression before working on the final case.

4/ For a book spine.

The blocker can do this well if the case is not yet on the book.  Get a piece of book board same as the spine piece, and set the type in the blocker. As before, experiment a few times with pressure and temperature until you are confident of getting the correct impression. Mask the template to the spine of the book, making sure its central to the spine, and in the correct vertical position, nearer the head rather than the tail of the book (It looks better than if its exactly central, and of course it will read from head to tail, especially important if you have already blocked the front of the cover.)  Remember to put the spine cutting piece inside the spine as padding when you block if is a rounded spine with little lining.   Mask a couple of guides in place or even the cover itself, check again the position after taping,  carefully remove the template, check again and then block.

4 Blocker Temperatures.

Different materials require different temperatures so some trails may be needed on the same cover material. So never throw away the cover off cuts until the job is completed. In addition if you make a mistake, then you can always male a cloth label from the same material and glue in place over the mistake. But then we never make mistakes so you can ignore that advice!!

The temperature required is also dependent on the foil type being used. Remember from a creative view, many colours of foil including black are now available, but some experimentation may be required. If buying rolls of gold always get the data sheet, and keep it for when you forget which setting for which foil. Even different colours and brands of Gold have different heat requirements. I use a digital control on my blocker as it allows me to adjust, and once I find the right setting for the particular foil I record at and can instantly reset for each roll. About 120 C is a good starting point. The temperature is important for the glue adhesion, too low no adhesion too high then the edges adhere, and the imprint “splatters”. Any overprint should simply rub off, if it doesn’t reduce temperature, in 5 degree C steps, at least 5 minutes between adjustments.

5/ Blocker pressure and dwell time.

 Good consistent blocking requires some judgement. The 30 point large type I use requires significant pressure and at 120 degrees C about 2 seconds (count one thousand, two thousand) to achieve clean impressions.

 The 16 point requires a much lighter tough and perhaps only one second,  the 12 point just a very light touch, and one second. Less than that in time and the glue does not activate. More temp and pressure and the small type will cut into the cover material, and result in “splatter”

6/ Leather Labels.

All above for cloth are starting points for leather, except leather, unless scivered very thin, will easily allow the type to penetrate into the leather and have significant splatter. (Some call it flash)

7/ Using Printers type instead of  Brass type.

I have several sets of printer’s type, and early on I damaged some of it easily. It is much softer than brass type so needs careful treatment and softens with higher heat. So I don’t recommend printers type unless the Blocker, or Cockerell type stove (used with hand type holder) has a good digital control. I will never use printer’s type with a gas stove, as these heat so quickly that just a few seconds too long and the type is round blobs.  

8/ Making Labels.

When making labels all the above applies but its easier to make a label as there is no risk to the book, and its easy to repeat until you are satisfied.  But when you make a label, then decorating the label with edge lines can really lift the final item, and it’s a lot easier to do the line work when it’s a label than to do so on the spine or the front cover.

9/ Mistakes.

We all make them, but if you mess up the title, make a new one on the same cloth and glue it over the mistake, and few will ever realize it wasn’t intentional, or make it into a feature with a carefully selected alternative cloth or leather label.

10/ Enjoy the experience as you do more, blocking, labelling, and gold work add a new dimension to the binding, and  will be seen as an integral part of the construction and design.

 Here is a pic showing the 30 point and 1 Point styles, and look carefully, its one I messed up and added a label over the mess. I adjusted the lighting to show up the joins.blocking sample

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Victorian Bookbinders Guild Inc.  Incorporated 1981     Registration No A2896  ABN: 97 853 169 281     PO Box 355, Seddon West, Victoria 3011